I believe in my uncle.
I believe in Charles Maynard Cooke, and I believe that he embodies one of humanity’s greatest attributes. The human-will is a forceful entity, a being of immense potency and efficacy. It has the ability to solve amazingly complex and intricate puzzles, to learn multiple languages and converse fluently in each, and to make sense of the incalculable amount of stimuli with which we are bombarded everyday; most notably, however, our psyche has the ability to defy the limits of our earth-bound bodies and overcome incredible obstacles. I believe in every human’s capacity to chart their own course through the small tribulations of each passing day, and the not-so-small calamities of our lifetimes. Everyday I am reminded of the power of each individual, and of the collective force of mankind, how it is not what happens to us that defines who we are, but how we respond to these events.
My uncle was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He was told under no uncertain terms that his life was no longer the open book without an ending that he had always believed it was, where he was still young and anything was possible; but instead it had a tether, a conclusion to the story that was being written without his consent. Always a man of action over inaction, Charlie rose to contest this opponent, accepting the doctors’ grim prognosis as an opinion, not a prescription, and began brutal Chemotherapy treatments to combat the ravages of cancer.
As the poison that is the Chemo accumulated in his body, robbing him of his hair, and draining him of all energy, his lungs were scarred. The process that was meant to bring him back to life had now taken away his means of sustaining it. Yet, as he accepted a new foe in addition to Lymphoma, Pulmonary Fibrosis, he never lost his will to live. Often too weak to even be driven to the vineyard to which he once hiked, he never forgot that it was not his doctors’ predictions that dictated the end of his life, but rather his own determination that held in the balance life, and its absence.
I believe that the human-will is a force without peers, one that can carry its body beyond the ‘limits’ set-forth by an unbelieving entity because I have been witness to my uncle’s struggle. I have seen these diseases take their toll upon a proud man, but what I will always remember is not what his ailments took from him, but how he refused to surrender to them. Though such dire circumstances are by no means the norm in my life, or indeed the lives of many others, this realization of our own inherent power is important and relevant. I know that in the end we will all succumb to the infirmities associated with mortality, but at the same time I am certain that Charlie Cooke is the sovereign over his own destiny, this I believe.