Tag Archives: Space Oddity

David Bowie: Palliative Care Doctor Writes Letter

So much has been said about David Bowie since his recent death, that I didn’t think I had anything to add. While I certainly loved his music and associate Heroes, Ziggy Stardust and Space Oddity with my inimitable years at university, there were people who lived and breathed his music and philosophies far, far more than I. I was more of a by-stander simply listening to his music in the bar.

However, I been intrigued by how people have reacted to David Bowie’s death and how the death of a 69 year old man who has lead an incredible life could be perceived as a tragic loss, when sooner or later we all die. No one is immortal, not even Bowie. That said,  I am starting to wonder about HRH Queen Elizabeth. I’m sure the not so young Prince Charles must be wondering as well.

Anyway, in my usual manner of meandering through Google late at night like a blindfolded goat eternally sipping on that last cup of decaf tea, I stumbled across a tweet by Duncan Jones, David Bowie’s son. Duncan didn’t comment directly, but retweeted a link posted by the Marie Curie organisation to a letter from Dr. Mark Taubert, who wrote about how Bowie’s private cancer battle helped him ease the concerns of a dying patient.

A thank you letter to David Bowie from a palliative care doctor. http://bit.ly/1J73U4d  – thanks for sharing @DrMarkTaubert

 

Here’s a link to the letter.

For anyone living with a chronic or terminal illness, this letter raises some pertinent issues and gets you thinking.Then again, life has been described as a terminal disease and these issues are something for everyone to consider.

I didn’t know David Bowie personally or even from the perspective of analyzing and internalising his music and the meaning of his lyrics. I haven’t listened  to his last album either but it does sound like an effort to help people face their own deaths with less fear. He will be with them through to their very end, as well as his own.

Who hasn’t wondered what it would be like to die? Is there eternal life or do we suddenly stop…reach the end? I can’t imagine being nothing. Not existing. Can’t really imagine being a spirit either although I’d rather fancy being an angel so I could park myself back in my old chair at home and watch over the family. I might even be more use as an angel. Who knows?

Well, now Bowie does. He’s “up there floating in his tin can, far above the world”.

We’ve always known that he’s had the answers and I guess that’s why so many of us lament his passing. We still have too many questions without answers and now that the great Ziggy Stardust has gone, who is going to answer them?

Who knows?

As much as people lament Bowie’s passing, it won’t take long for someone to fill his shoes.

Anyway, I’m going to leave the last word to astronaut Chris Hadfield who sang a variation of  Space Oddity on the Mir Space Station:

Something to think about…

xx Rowena

Inspired by an Astronaut- Life Lessons from Daddy.

Life lessons seem to be contagious around here and why not? We’re a switched on family. Well, at least we’re as switched on as anyone else you’ll find out there only too willing to tell you how to live your life!

Well, now Geoff’s jumped on the bandwagon and as usual has completely dwarfed all my efforts. He struck the jackpot. He found the life lesson of life lessons to pass onto our son and for once it seems it went in one ear and actually somehow managed to stick inside of his brain…at least for now. I’m going to type the story up and stick it on his bedroom wall right where he can see it along with a photo of Astronaut Chris Hadfield if I can find one. I might just have to send off a request.

Geoff is currently reading Chris Hadfield’s: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth.  You might have seen Chris Hadfield on youtube singing his great hit: Space Oddity…a tribute to David Bowie’s legendary space song: Space Odyssey:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaOC9danxNo

He’s also been featured on 60 Minutes. He’s an incredible guy, which of course, all astronauts are. They are some kind of supreme being having been among the very privileged few who have viewed our beautiful planet from space. The rest of us can only dream and surf the net for second-hand views.

I hope I don’t get busted for breach of copywrite or anything nasty like that but I found Chris Hadfield’s reflections so inspiring for kids that it is worth the risk.

It was July 20, 1969 and Chris Hadfield and his brother had just seen Neil Armstrong land on the moon. He writes:

“Slowly, methodically, a man descended the leg of a spaceship and carefully stepped on the surface of the moon. The image was grainy, but I knew exactly what we were seeing: the impossible, made possible…Later, walking back to our cottage, I looked up at the moon. It was no longer a distant, unknowable orb but a place where people walked, talked, worked and even slept. At that moment, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I was going to follow in the footsteps so boldly imprinted just moments before. Roaring around in a rocket, exploring space, pushing the boundaries of knowledge and human capability – I knew, with absolute clarity, that I wanted to be an astronaut.

I also knew, as did every kid in Canada, that it was impossible. Astronauts were American. NASA only accepted applications from US citizens, and Canada didn’t even have a space agency. But…just the day before it had been impossible to walk on the Moon. Neil Armstrong hadn’t let that stop him. Maybe someday it would be possible for me to go too, and if that day ever came, I wanted to be ready.

I was old enough to understand that getting ready wasn’t simply a matter of playing “space missions” with my brothers in our bunk beds, underneath a big National Geographic poster of the Moon. But there was no program I could enrol in, no manual I could read, no one even to ask. There was only one option, I decided. I had to imagine what an astronaut might do if he was 9 years old, then do exactly the same thing. I could get started immediately. Would an astronaut eat his vegetables or have potato chips instead? Sleep in late or get up early to read a book?

I didn’t announce to my parents or my brothers and sisters that I wanted to be an astronaut. That would’ve elicited approximately the same reaction as announcing that I wanted to be a movie star. But from that night forward, m dream provided direction to my life. I recognised even as a 9-year-old that I had a lot of choices and my decisions mattered. What I did each day would determine the kind of person I’d become.”

You read this and you can understand how he reached his goal. That’s incredible insight for a 9-year-old.

Geoff read this out to Mister and half-way through Mister said: “I can become an astronaut”. Geoff kept reading. Mister had the right answers. He knows what he needs to do.

Now, this story has particular relevance to Mister because he is also 9 years old. It was priceless for him to hear such wisdom from a peer, another 9 year old boy who had since gone on to reach his impossible dream and be an astronaut in space.  That is certainly worth far more than a mountain of talk from his Mum or Dad. Geoff and I were both so thrilled to be able to pass this onto our son. A legacy far greater than gold.

Today, I asked Mister what he wanted to be and he muttered his reply so quickly I couldn’t understand him. I asked him to speak more clearly. There was much excitement and animation in his voice as he replied:

“I have to talk really fast. There are 600 things I want to do and I only have three minutes to talk. ”

It looks like he’s taking after his Mum.

xx Rowena & Geoff

Reference:

Chris Hadfield: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Macmillan,  London, 2013, pp 3-4.