Arlington Today Magazine’s publisher Judy Rupay lost her brother to cancer last month. Richard S. Czerwinski was father, brother, uncle and friend to countless others in his life’s journey that ended sooner than any would have wanted.
While his passing occasioned a period of grieving for all his family, he left behind a remarkable end-of-life message well worth sharing even with those who never knew of him.
In the months following his terminal diagnosis, with characteristic qualities that defined him, he faced it all serving, as he always did, as a mentor to others.
That particular aspect of his life in his very successful business career has resulted in an outpouring of gratitude throughout his last months from those he led to their own achievements – both in business and in their life’s experiences.
But he didn’t stop being an example to others just because he knew he was dying. A remarkable discussion he had with the CEO of the T. Boone Pickens Center of Faith Presbyterian Hospice that he entered in January, reveals a man unafraid to share his experiences as he prepared for the inevitable result of the disease that was taking his life.
You will discover on their website (provided at the end of this column) that Rick encouraged others to openly discuss the end-of-life process. He begins by saying he decided to figure out how to “go through the dying process.”
Deciding to bring some creativity to the time he had remaining and realizing that “nobody tells you how to die,” he wanted his experience to have meaning, purpose, and legacy.
“It’s a neglected part of life, the dying chapter, and people don’t want to talk about it, but there is a way to die well.
“It’s a beautiful and sacred time, and it should be treated that way. It should be embraced, and by doing so, it makes it easier on everyone. I understand that it’s a transfer from life to death. It’s not this hard end and this frightful thing. It’s a continuum. My legacy, my purpose in life, will live on in my kids and my friends as long as they’re there. So, I will be there with them, living on.”
Through his journey, Rick became an advocate for the Center and set a goal of raising a $250,000 endowment that will be matched by an anonymous donor. His generosity, another evidence of his character, has resulted in the Center having named a section of its beautiful grounds as the Richard S. Czerwinski Amphitheater.
If we could sum up Rick’s optimistic and vital insight from a life well lived, it could be found in a message to his daughter he presented to her engraved on a wooden plaque:
Remember that true happiness comes from inside you, not external factors, or events. And “face, solve, and adjust” is a key strategy in life to effectively deal with life’s ups and downs and unexpected twists and turns.
To say that he will be missed and that he leaves a giant space in other lives seems inadequate. Instead, his loved ones are doing what they have done so often under his guidance and leadership, and they not only cherish his memory but keep it alive as the legacy he so well deserves.
You can discover his 13-minute interview and get an up close and personal connection with Rick, with his insights significantly expanded, by going to: faithpreshospice.org and entering “Czerwinski” in the search box at the top of the page.