Randy Pausch… finally had the time to read the articles about him this morning. He truly touched the lives of over 6 million people through his Last Lecture and his other works. He has given us the chance to come to terms with our own mortality – making us think… have we done the things that we need do? Have we made a difference?
Please take time to go through all the videos and the article in this post, for you to really imbibe what he had to say, and how he made a difference to the world.
I’m sure that you have seen the video of his talk, but if you haven’t, hope you can spare about 76 minutes of your day to watch his last goodbye to the people of Carnegie Mellon:
But I suggest that you also watch his Diane Sawyer piece in order to see how this man coped with his illness…
PART 4 (my personal favorite)
and PART 5
It’s also good to show you the Oprah guesting he did, because this is where you can see how much he loved his family (it’s towards the end of his talk).
Here’s the article written by a Wall Street Journal writer, the same person who helped him complete the book, “The Last Lecture“:
A Final Farewell
How Randy Pausch, a 47-year-old college professor, came to teach his family about love, courage — and saying goodbye
By JEFFREY ZASLOW
May 3, 2008
Saying goodbye. It’s a part of the human experience that we encounter every day, sometimes nonchalantly, sometimes with great emotion.
Then, eventually, the time comes for the final goodbye. When death is near, how do we phrase our words? How do we show our love?
Randy Pausch, a professor at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University, has become famous for the way in which he chose to say goodbye to his students and colleagues. His final lecture to them, delivered last September, turned into a phenomenon, viewed by millions on the Internet. Dying of pancreatic cancer, he showed a love of life and an approach to death that people have found inspiring. For many of us, his lecture has become a reminder that our own futures are similarly — if not as drastically — brief. His fate is ours, sped up.
Since the lecture, I’ve been privileged to spend a great deal of time with Randy, while co-writing his new book, “The Last Lecture.” I’ve seen how, in some ways, he is peacefully reconciled to his fate, and in other ways, understandably, he is struggling.
The lecture was directed at his “work family,” a call to them to go on without him and do great things. But since the talk, Randy has been most focused on his actual family — his wife, Jai, and their three children, ages 6, 3, and 1.
For months after receiving his terminal diagnosis last August, Randy and Jai (pronounced “Jay”) didn’t tell the kids he was dying. They were advised to wait until Randy was more symptomatic. “I still look pretty healthy,” he told me in December, “and so my kids remain unaware that in my every encounter with them I’m saying goodbye. There’s this sense of urgency that I try not to let them pick up on.”
Through both his lecture and his life, Randy offers a realistic road map to the final farewell. His approach — pragmatic, heartfelt, sometimes quirky, often joyous — can’t help but leave you wondering: “How will I say goodbye?”
Maybe 150. That’s how many people Randy expected would attend his last lecture. He bet a friend $50 that he’d never fill the 400-seat auditorium. After all, it was a warm September day. He assumed people would have better things to do than listen to a dying computer-science professor in his 40s give his final lesson.
Randy lost his bet. The room was packed. He was thrilled by the turnout, and determined to deliver a talk that offered all he had in him.
He arrived onstage to a standing ovation, but motioned to the audience to sit down. “Make me earn it,” he said.
He hardly mentioned his cancer. Instead, he took everyone on a rollicking journey through the lessons of his life. He talked about the importance of childhood dreams, and the fortitude needed to overcome setbacks. (“Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things.”) He encouraged his audience to be patient with others. (“Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you.”) And, to show the crowd that he wasn’t ready to climb into his deathbed, he dropped to the floor and did push-ups.
His colleagues and students sat there, buoyed by his words and startled by how the rush of one man’s passion could leave them feeling so introspective and emotionally spent — all at once saddened and exhilarated.
In 70 minutes onstage, he gave his audience reasons to reconsider their own ambitions, and to find new ways to look at other people’s flaws and talents. He celebrated mentors and protégés with an open heart. And through a few simple gestures — including a birthday cake for his wife — he showed everyone the depth of his love for his family. In his smiling delivery, he was so full of life that it was almost impossible to reconcile the fact that he was near death — that this performance was his goodbye.
I’m a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, and a week before Randy gave the lecture, I got a heads-up about it from the Journal’s Pittsburgh bureau chief. Because my column focuses on life transitions, she thought Randy might be fodder for a story.
I was aware that professors are often asked to give “last lectures” as an academic exercise, imagining what wisdom they would impart if it was their final chance. In Randy’s case, of course, his talk would not be hypothetical.
I first spoke to him by phone the day before his talk, and he was so engaging that I was curious to see what he’d be like onstage. I was slightly ill at ease in our conversation; it’s hard to know what to say to a dying man. But Randy found ways to lighten things up. He was driving his car, talking to me on his cellphone. I didn’t want him to get in an accident, so I suggested we reconnect when he got to a land line. He laughed. “Hey, if I die in a car crash, what difference would it make?”
I almost didn’t go to Pittsburgh to see him. The plane fare from my home in Detroit was a hefty $850, and my editors said that if I wanted, I could just do a phone interview with him after the talk, asking him how it went. In the end, I sensed that I shouldn’t miss seeing his lecture in person, and so I drove the 300 miles to Pittsburgh.
Like others in the room that day, I knew I was seeing something extraordinary. I hoped I could put together a compelling story, but I had no expectations beyond that.
Neither did Randy. When the lecture ended, his only plan was to quietly spend whatever time he had left with Jai and the kids. He never imagined the whirlwind that would envelop him.
The lecture had been videotaped — WSJ.com posted highlights — and footage began spreading across thousands of Web sites. (The full talk can now be seen at thelastlecture.com.) Randy was soon receiving emails from all over the world.
People wrote about how his lecture had inspired them to spend more time with loved ones, to quit pitying themselves, or even to shake off suicidal urges. Terminally ill people said the lecture had persuaded them to embrace their own goodbyes, and as Randy said, “to keep having fun every day I have left, because there’s no other way to play it.”
In the weeks after the talk, people translated the lecture into other languages, and posted their versions online. A university in India held a screening of the video. Hundreds of students attended and told their friends how powerful it was; hundreds more demanded a second screening a week later.
In the U.S., Randy reprised part of his talk on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” ABC News would later name him one of its three “Persons of the Year.” Thousands of bloggers wrote essays celebrating him.
Randy was overwhelmed and moved by the response. Still, he retained his sense of humor. “There’s a limit to how many times you can read how great you are and what an inspiration you are,” he said. “But I’m not there yet.”
Years ago, Jai had suggested that Randy compile his advice into a book for her and the kids. She wanted to call it “The Manual.” Now, in the wake of the lecture, others were also telling Randy that he had a book in him.
He resisted at first. Yes, there were things he felt an urge to express. But given his prognosis, he wanted to spend his limited time with his family.
Then he caught a break. Palliative chemotherapy stalled the growth of his tumors. “This will be the first book to ever list the drug Gemcitabine on the acknowledgments page,” he joked. But he still didn’t want the book to get in the way of his last months with his kids. So he came up with a plan.
Because exercise was crucial to his health, he would ride his bicycle around his neighborhood for an hour each day. This was time he couldn’t be with his kids, anyway. He and I agreed that he would wear a cellphone headset on these rides, and we’d talk about everything on his mind — the lecture, his life, his dreams for his family.
Every day, as soon as his bike ride came to an end, so did our conversation. “Gotta go!” he’d say, and I knew he felt an aching urge (and responsibility) to return to his family life.
But the next day, he’d be back on the bike, enthusiastic about the conversation. He confided in me that since his diagnosis, he had found himself feeling saddest when he was alone, driving his car or riding his bike. So I sensed that he enjoyed my company in his ears as he pedaled.
Randy had a way of framing human experiences in his own distinctive way, mixing humor here, unexpected inspiration there, and wrapping it all in an uncommon optimism. In the three months after the lecture, he went on 53 long bike rides, and the stories he told became not just his book, but also part of his process of saying goodbye.
Right now, Randy’s children — Dylan, Logan and Chloe — are too young to understand all the things he yearns to share with them. “I want the kids to know what I’ve always believed in,” he told me, “and all the ways in which I’ve come to love them.”
Those who die at older ages, after their children have grown to adulthood, can find comfort in the fact that they’ve been a presence in their offspring’s lives. “When I cry in the shower,” Randy said, “I’m not usually thinking, ‘I won’t get to see the kids do this’ or ‘I won’t get to see them do that.’ I’m thinking about the kids not having a father. I’m focused more on what they’re going to lose than on what I’m going to lose. Yes, a percentage of my sadness is, ‘I won’t, I won’t, I won’t.’ But a bigger part of me grieves for them. I keep thinking, ‘They won’t, they won’t, they won’t.’ ”
Early on, he had vowed to do the logistical things necessary to ease his family’s path into a life without him. His minister helped him think beyond estate planning and funeral arrangements. “You have life insurance, right?” the minister asked.
“Yes, it’s all in place,” Randy told him.
“Well, you also need emotional insurance,” the minister explained. The premiums for that insurance would be paid for with Randy’s time, not his money. The minister suggested that Randy spend hours making videotapes of himself with the kids. Years from now, they will be able to see how easily they touched each other and laughed together.
Knowing his kids’ memories of him could be fuzzy, Randy has been doing things with them that he hopes they’ll find unforgettable. For instance, he and Dylan, 6, went on a minivacation to swim with dolphins. “A kid swims with dolphins, he doesn’t easily forget it,” Randy said. “We took lots of photos.” Randy took Logan, 3, to Disney World to meet his hero, Mickey Mouse. “I’d met him, so I could make the introduction.”
Randy also made a point of talking to people who lost parents when they were very young. They told him they found it consoling to learn about how much their mothers and fathers loved them. The more they knew, the more they could still feel that love. To that end, Randy built separate lists of his memories of each child. He also has written down his advice for them, things like: “If I could only give three words of advice, they would be, ‘Tell the truth.’ If I got three more words, I’d add, ‘All the time.’ ”
The advice he’s leaving for Chloe includes this: “When men are romantically interested in you, it’s really simple. Just ignore everything they say and only pay attention to what they do.” Chloe, not yet 2 years old, may end up having no memory of her father. “But I want her to grow up knowing,” Randy said, “that I was the first man ever to fall in love with her.”
Saying goodbye to a spouse requires more than just loving words. There are details that must be addressed.
Shortly after his terminal diagnosis, Randy and his family moved from Pittsburgh to southeastern Virginia, so that after he dies, Jai and the kids will be closer to her family for support. At first, Jai didn’t even want Randy returning to Pittsburgh to give his last lecture; she thought he should be home, unpacking boxes or interacting with the kids. “Call me selfish,” Jai told him, “but I want all of you. Any time you’ll spend working on this lecture is lost time, because it’s time away from the kids and from me.”
Jai finally relented when Randy explained how much he yearned to give one last talk. “An injured lion still wants to roar,” he told her.
In the months after the talk, while chemo was still keeping his tumors from growing, Randy wouldn’t use the word “lucky” to describe his situation. Still, he said, “a part of me does feel fortunate that I didn’t get hit by the proverbial bus.” Cancer had given him the time to have vital conversations with Jai that wouldn’t be possible if his fate were a heart attack or car accident.
What did they talk about?
For starters, they both tried to remember that flight attendants offer terrific caregiving advice: “Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.”
“Jai is such a giver that she often forgets to take care of herself,” Randy said. “When we become physically or emotionally run down, we can’t help anybody else, least of all small children.” Randy has reminded Jai that, once he’s gone, she should give herself permission to make herself a priority.
Randy and Jai also talked about the fact that she will make mistakes in the years ahead, and she shouldn’t attribute them all to the fact that she’ll be raising the kids herself. “Mistakes are part of the process of parenting,” Randy told her. “If I were able to live, we’d be making those mistakes together.”
In some ways, the couple found it helpful to try to live together as if their marriage had decades to go. “We discuss, we get frustrated, we get mad, we make up,” Randy said.
At the same time, given Randy’s prognosis, Jai has been trying to let little stuff slide. Randy can be messy, with clothes everywhere. “Obviously, I ought to be neater,” Randy said. “I owe Jai many apologies. But do we really want to spend our last months together arguing that I haven’t hung up my khakis? We do not. So now Jai kicks my clothes in a corner and moves on.”
A friend suggested to Jai that she keep a daily journal. She writes in there things that get on her nerves about Randy. He can be cocky, dismissive, a know-it-all. “Randy didn’t put his plate in the dishwasher tonight,” she wrote one night. “He just left it there on the table and went to his computer.” She knew he was preoccupied, heading to the Internet to research medical treatments. Still, the dish bothered her. She wrote about it, felt better, and they didn’t need to argue over it.
There are days when Jai tells Randy things, and there’s little he can say in response. She has said to him: “I can’t imagine rolling over in bed and you’re not there.” And: “I can’t picture myself taking the kids on vacation and you not being with us.”
Randy and Jai have gone to a therapist who specializes in counseling couples in which one spouse is terminally ill. That’s been helpful. But they’ve still struggled. They’ve cried together in bed at 3 a.m., fallen back asleep, woken up at 4 a.m. and cried some more. “We’ve gotten through in part by focusing on the tasks at hand,” Randy said. “We can’t fall to pieces. We’ve got to get some sleep because one of us has to get up in the morning and give the kids breakfast. That person, for the record, is almost always Jai.”
For Randy, part of saying goodbye is trying to remain optimistic. After his diagnosis, Randy’s doctor gave him advice: “It’s important to behave as if you’re going to be around awhile.” Randy was already way ahead of him: “Doc, I just bought a new convertible and got a vasectomy. What more do you want from me?”
In December, Randy went on a short scuba-diving vacation with three close friends. The men were all aware of the subtext; they were banding together to give Randy a farewell weekend. Still, they successfully avoided any emotional “I love you, man” dialogue related to Randy’s cancer. Instead, they reminisced, horsed around and made fun of each other. (Actually, it was mostly the other guys making fun of Randy for the “St. Randy of Pittsburgh” reputation he had gotten since his lecture.) Nothing was off-limits. When Randy put on sunscreen, his friend Steve Seabolt said, “Afraid of skin cancer, Randy? That’s like putting good money after bad.”
Randy loved that weekend. As he later explained it: “I am maintaining my clear-eyed sense of the inevitable. I’m living like I’m dying. But at the same time, I’m very much living like I’m still living.”
Since Randy’s lecture began spreading on the Internet, he has heard from thousands of strangers, many offering advice on how they dealt with final goodbyes.
A woman who lost her husband to pancreatic cancer said his last speech was to a small audience: her, his children, parents and siblings. He thanked them for their guidance and love, and reminisced about places they had gone together. Another woman, whose husband died of a brain tumor, suggested that Randy talk to Jai about how she’ll need to reassure their kids, as they get older, that they will have a normal life. “There will be graduations, marriages, children of their own. When a parent dies at such an early age, some children think that other normal life-cycle events may not happen for them, either.”
Randy was moved by comments such as the one he received from a man with serious heart problems. The man wrote to tell Randy about Krishnamurti, a spiritual leader in India who died in 1986. Krishnamurti was once asked what was the most appropriate way to say goodbye to a man who was about to die. He answered: “Tell your friend that in his death, a part of you dies and goes with him. Wherever he goes, you also go. He will not be alone.” In his email to Randy, this man was reassuring: “I know you are not alone.”
The chemotherapy keeping Randy alive took a toll on his body. By March, he was fighting off kidney and heart failure, along with debilitating fatigue. Still, he kept a commitment to go to Washington, D.C., to speak before Congress on behalf of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
He spoke forcefully about research needed to fight pancreatic cancer, the deadliest of all the cancers, and then held up a large photo of Jai and the kids. When he pointed to Jai, he told the congressmen: “This is my widow. That’s not a grammatical construction you get to use every day…. Pancreatic cancer can be beat, but it will take more courage and funding.”
Randy has now stopped chemotherapy, and as he regains his strength, he hopes to begin liver-specific treatments. He is engaged in the process, but expects no miracles. He knows his road is short.
Meanwhile, I feel forever changed by my time with Randy; I saw his love of life from a front-row seat. He and I traded countless emails, and I’ve filed them all safely in my computer. His daily emails — smart, funny, wise — have brightened my inbox. I dread the day I will no longer hear from him.
Randy rarely got emotional in all his hours with me. He was brave, talking about death like a scientist. In fact, until we got to discussing what should be in the book’s last chapter, he never choked up.
The last chapter, we decided, would be about the last moments of his lecture — how he felt, what he said. He thought hard about that, and then described for me how his emotions swelled as he took a breath and prepared to deliver his closing lines. It was tough, he said, “because the end of the talk had to be a distillation of how I felt about the end of my life.”
In the same way, discussing the end of the book was emotional for him. I could hear his voice cracking as we spoke. Left unsaid was the fact that this part of our journey together was ending. He no longer needed to ride his bike, wearing that headset, while I sat at my computer, tapping away, his voice in my ears. Within weeks, he had no energy to exercise.
Randy is thrilled that so many people are finding his lecture beneficial, and he hopes the book also will be a meaningful legacy for him. Still, all along, he kept reminding me that he was reaching into his heart, offering his life lessons, mostly to address an audience of three. “I’m attempting to put myself in a bottle that will one day wash up on the beach for my children,” he said.
And so despite all his goodbyes, he has found solace in the idea that he’ll remain a presence. “Kids, more than anything else, need to know their parents love them,” he said. “Their parents don’t have to be alive for that to happen.”
Dr. Randy Pausch, PhD passed away last July 25, 2008. He was 47.
For the transcripts of his lecture: http://www.sendspace.com/file/lbfgr8
For his powerpoint slides: http://www.sendspace.com/file/gehvjm
Source: Randy Pausch’s Home Page
“But we don’t beat the Reaper by living longer. We beat the Reaper by living well.”