One of Kelowna’s most prominent residents, Albert Baldeo, died of heart failure Monday night after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease.
Baldeo was a well known public figure through his work as a reverend at the United Church and for involvement in the community even after he retired from that post. His forthright and thoughtful words won him many fans and his musings were an appreciated staple in the Capital News.
In his regular column last week, he shared what it was like to face his own mortality. So we’re sharing it with you again.
Albert Baldeo, April 22, 2011:
On Sunday, March 27, I was feeling very uncomfortable and was having difficulty breathing.
I did not want to stop breathing so I went to the emergency for a check-up.
It was a quiet Sunday afternoon, so I did not have to wait very long. I received prompt attention.
The doctor told me I had to be admitted. I was not ready for this, but the doctor knows best.
After several tests the doctors discovered I have a very weak heart and it could stop beating at any time. This was the reason for my shortness of breath.
I had the privilege of being treated by two of the most outstanding cardiologists in B.C.
One of those cardiologists informed me that there was a new medication that could help me.
Unfortunately, it did not help. After my eighth day in hospital, the cardiologist informed me that he could not do anything more for me at this time so I was discharged.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the staff at 2 East at KGH for their Kindness, Goodness and Hospitality…that spells KGH.
The cardiologist was very candid in his comments to me: “Mr. Baldeo, you are a very sick man…and you are dying.” Then he said, we all have to die.
I replied, “Yes doctor, we are all terminally ill and some have longer terms than others.”
There was once a man who thought “terminally ill” meant going to the airport to die.
On my second day the doctor asked me a very pointed question.
He said, “Mr. Baldeo, if you become ill at midnight and we have to treat you, would you like to be resuscitated or should we just keep you comfortable and let you go?”
Without hesitation I replied, “Please let me go.”
So these three letters were written on my file: DNR.
I am forced to reflect on my own mortality. I officiated at over 1,712 funerals in my 50 years of ministry work, but it seldom crossed my mind that some day I would be the one in the casket.
It happens to everyone else, but not to me. Death was not a reality for me.
I have been overwhelmed with the number of phone calls and prayers on my behalf.
It is comforting and healing. Thank you very much!
My doctor has cautioned me to keep my visiting to a minimum.
I am not able to accept visitors at this time so please forgive me.
I would love to see you but in due time, when I am feeling some better and feel a little stronger.
My three daughters and grandchildren have visited and they sense Grandpa is not feeling well. One of them wrote me a beautiful poem.
My sister called me from Trinidad and said, “Let not your heart be troubled.” This is a simple but penetrating truth.
I am not accepting this death sentence at this time. I trust that our mighty God will take me through the valley of the shadow of death.
However, I am fully aware that my day to be ushered into eternity will come.
But do not weep me for I have gone for my coronation where I will meet with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
My new destination is heaven, where there is no sickness, there is no Parkinson’s Disease, there are no hospitals…and there is no HST.
I am ready to go to my new location. Are you?
I have a room reservation. Jesus said, “I have gone to prepare a place for you.”
I will see my Mom and Dad and all my dear friends. I can hardly wait for the great reunion.
This is only a temporary parting. I look forward to you coming to join me some day. I will have a ball in heaven.
Death is not the end, it is just a bend in the road of life.
Rev. Albert Baldeo is a retired United Church minister.