04/24/2012 11:29 am ET Updated Jun 23, 2012

A Life Well Lived, a Love Well Shared

It sure seems like a whole lot of the most special people in my life are leaving this life. I guess that happens as one gets older, and I honestly can't think of anything worse about aging. This weekend, I joined hundreds of others to celebrate the life of a really good one -- Joe Maddox. As a result of exposure to Agent Orange during his service in Vietnam, Joe was slowly losing the function of one of his lungs. For the past several months, Janet and Joe had been in North Carolina, first preparing for a new lung, then receiving one, and finally recovering from the surgery. He was a model patient and his new lung was working magnificently. Joe died from a pulmonary embolism after he was released from the hospital. He was 70 when he passed.

By his own words, he had lived a full life, with no regrets. If this was his time to go, he was ready. The day before he died, he called his oldest and best friends. He told them he had just spent the best day of his life, with his lovely bride. At some point in their lives, many people prepare a "bucket list" of the things they want to do before they die. Joe, indeed, prepared a list that looked to be about 10 pages long, single-spaced, but not of things he wished to do. Instead, Joe's list was of things he had done in his life. It is an amazing list. He lived an amazing life.

Of all the things Joe did well during his life, asking Janet to marry him was at the top. They were married 49 years. When Joe was about to have his operation, he wrote Janet a letter. He hoped she wouldn't read it for years. At his service, Joe and Janet's son Cole read the letter. Through my tears, I could feel Joe's heart beating and was warmed by his smile. Joe loved Janet in such a pure and unselfish way. His words were both heartbreaking and awe inspiring. Joe Maddox. A life well lived, a love well shared. God bless.

For more by Dr. Lawrence M. Schall, click here.

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