Categories | Community Contributions | Family
We’ve all had experiences in life that feel like an sucker punch to our world. In a matter of minutes, things are not as they were. We received this heartfelt letter from André, who wanted other GTD’ers to know how he dealt with a difficult family situation using the GTD principles and practices.
The last three weeks were the most bizarre in my life so far. Thanks to GTD I didn’t get lost. I want to share my story with you and all interested GTD’ers:
On Saturday 26 September 2009 my dad passed away because of a sudden brain hemorrhage. He was on a trip in Israel with members of his church. It was his dream for 35 years to see The Promised Land himself.
Wednesday 16 September 2009, 16:07h. It was my second workday after a four-week-holiday. I had my Areas of Focus clear and my Project list straight to get back on track again. Ready to dive into the details.
Then the phone rang. It was my dad’s pastor calling from Eilat, Israel. My dad had an accident on the beach of the Red Sea. His body functions had stopped. After a succesful reanimation he came back to life. Immediately he was transported by ambulance to the Intensive Care of the nearest hospital. Dad was in coma and has not come out of it again.
On that moment I reacted without thinking. I had to tell the news to the family. I called my only brother. We had to tell the news to mom in person, so I dropped everything and went on the road.
As my habit I began to collect every thought out of my head into my system. I had to make a lot of calls and gather a lot of information. It went out in a good mindmap, which helped to point every nose in the same direction. A moment before my head was clear and ready for work and life. In the blink of an eye everything had changed. My Areas of Focus just pointed to one thing: Dad.
The next day I found myself packing my suitcase, calling family members, dad’s pastor in Eilat, the Travel Agencies, the Insurance Company, and last but not least: my boss. I went to Israel. In a few hours my aunt and I headed to Amsterdam Airport, waved our partners goodbye, and we took the plane to Tell Aviv. The only thing I knew about Israel was that the temperature in Eilat (Negev desert) was very hot. For the rest I didn’t had the time to do research on Israels culture and habits. Within 24 hours we stood next to dad’s bed in a town 4000 km (2500 miles) from home.
During my first GTD-review in Israel, a lot (actually all) of my projects went straight to “Sometimes/Maybe”. New projects appeared: Ask the doctors about dad’s condition daily, inform the home front daily about it, find a hotel, find supermarkets and places to eat, find a bank!, where is the Tourist Information?, give dad his favorite music while he’s still in coma (had to arrange a Discman), how to travel between hotel and hospital?, etc.
I had in mind to look after dad as much as possible. Heavy emotional times. But the rational business- and bureaucratic side showed up. A warranty had to be arranged for the hospital costs. The Dutch Embassy in Israel, and the Dutch Government of Foreign Business had to be involved. Happily there is a very good Consulate in Eilat. Communicating a lot with him, I could delegate the whole business to him. So I could hold my mind on dad, and keep track of all the delegated actions from beside his bed. The financial administration of the hospital watched my back, so it was very important for me to stay on top of this.
Dad could not be transported to The Netherlands. He wouldn’t survive it. And nobody could say how long this situation would continue. After a week we decided that my brother and another aunt would replace us in Israel. Our travel and tickets home had to be arranged. We said goodbye to dad, knowing that it could be the last time in life. Just before our plane hit the runway on Amsterdam Airport, my brother did let us know that dad had passed away to Heaven’s Promised Land. It was no surprise. It was just definite now.
A lot of projects could checked off, and new projects appeared: Dad’s transport home, his funeral: find a funeral caretaker, make funeral cards, make a complete address list, send the cards, arrange the divine service, etc. I could delegate a lot of stuff to family members.
His funeral happened on Tuesday 6 Oktober 2009. And we prepare ourselves for new projects again: Handle off dad’s stuff and keep an eye on mom. Happily a lot of this has no due date, so we can take some time off. Intense action must be followed by intense relaxation.
Thank you André for sharing your story. We know how personal this is to you and we are honored that you found the strength to pass it along to others who might find it helpful.
The GTD Times Team