Growing Older: Reader Essay by Dianne Halfen

From Minnesota Alumni Magazine Winter 2017

W2017_GrowingOlderDianeHalfen_Inline300 Since kindergarten, my son has had three close friends. Their moms are my close friends. The boys are now college seniors, and my son and one of those friends are roommates at the U of M.

At the Arboretum with my “mom” friends, we broached this question: How would we prefer to die? In a sound body with a lost mind? Or sharp as a tack with a deteriorating body? A brief debate ensued. Not knowing what was happening sounded best—but do we really know that we don’t know what is happening? Deep stuff! My parents both had cancer. They both withered away, minds intact. Mom told me, “Life is hard!”

At 66, I’ve outlived her by 35 days; my dad by 17 years; my paternal grandmother by 26 years; and my stepson by 33 years. I’m a three-time cancer survivor. I’ve known desperation but am amazed at the stories of survivors and hope. I’ve found friendship and joy in little things every day. Two years ago I retired. I’m a mentor and a volunteer in my community, trading a large corporate salary for no salary. Life is indeed hard and there is too much suffering. But through faith and grace I can say that I will die—just not today!

- Dianne Halfen, Forest Lake

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