A Father Facing Mortality | Robert Bailey on Building a Legacy
Do you ponder your own death? Is it something you worry about? Wonder when it will happen? Did your perspective on death change when you became a father? Death is inevitable, and it can be uncomfortable, even stressful to talk about, especially when children are in the picture. For Robert Bailey, this is a familiar conversation. Robert has stage 4 cancer which started in his bladder and has taken over his body in just over two years’ time, leaving him no option but to prepare for the inevitable much sooner than anyone should. Robert joins us to share about his fatherhood joys, his impossibly hard journey, and how he is using his remaining time to build a legacy for his two-year-old son to remember him by.
Episode 33, the final episode of Modern Dadhood to release in 2020, opens with a disclaimer from Adam and Marc: Frequent listeners will know that Modern Dadhood is generally quite light-hearted, and though we don't avoid heavy or sensitive topics, today's theme is uncomfortable. We are examining mortality, particularly as it relates to fatherhood.
Before getting into the discussion, Adam shares a short recording of a recent meet up with past guest (and brand new dad) Chad Richardson. Chad and his wife Katie recently gave birth to their son, and despite the current state of the world, their hospital experience was positive, and their newborn son is healthy and thriving.
Marc poses the question "When was the first time you remember fully understanding what death was?" This prompt leads to a discussion on first experiences with relatives passing away, and transitions to the ways that we ponder and consider our own death, and whether that changed upon becoming a father.
The guys share some context about guest Robert Bailey, who began experiencing symptoms of bladder cancer over two years ago. By the time it was diagnosed, the cancer had spread, and after multiple treatments by different providers, Robert was told that his tumor was inoperable. They welcome Robert into the conversation, and Robert shares his heartbreaking and maddening story of failed diagnoses, constant pain, and coming to terms with the fact that his two-year-old son Parker will have limited (if any) memory of him. Robert has dedicated the remainder of his life to creating a legacy (by way of writing letters, cards, music, and even a book) that will show parker who his dad was, and how much he loved his son. Topics covered in the conversation include:
• The emotional swings of receiving hopeful and dreadful news from providers
• Appreciating what you have and not letting small things bother you
• How easily everything can be taken away from you
• What it means to create a "legacy"
• "Living" versus "just living"
• Emotional vulnerability and men
Adam rounds out the episode on an entertaining note, sharing a "So Thats A Thing Now" regarding his younger daughter and a dirty prank.