Looking Back with Gratitude

Over the past few days I have not been able to write pieces for Life By Example. I am in Capetown, South Africa, to be with my dad. This is where my focus should be for now.

He was told a few weeks ago that he has pancreatic cancer. “It is terminal” doctors told us. When I heard the news, I disconnected from my life as a doctor in Canada and flew half-way around the globe to be there for my generous father. Many years ago, as I was nearing the end of the Victoria marathon, he was there to support me with a banana and water; now it is my time to be there for him.

 These words are written while I am in his hospital room. It’s a room with a view. Outside we can see the back of Table Mountain, recently voted as one of the seven wonders of the world. The mountain is covered by clouds. I see that as God’s way of saying “I have you covered at this difficult time”

 Like King David wrote…..”I will lift up my eyes up to the mountain. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth”.

I can truly admit that I am at peace, grateful for God’s help when I need it so much.

It occurred to me that our existence is really in many ways like a jig saw puzzle. Piece by piece we assemble this puzzle, called life. Until one day the final piece fits and it is done. Life on earth is over. We transition to a cancer-free and pain- free zone. How we do that depends on all the many choices we make along the way. We all prepare for this inevitable moment. Some do it well and others will enter this moment not fully ready.

My dad is fully ready at this time. He has made complete peace with God and told me he is looking forward to seeing his own parents again.

 The transition is about to take place. I can count the pain of seeing him battle cancer, hoping for victory till the very end……or I can look back with gratitude accept this is the final piece and remind myself of these words I read today— words I wish I wrote, but words that ring so true about what we must count in life.

These words are also my wish to you, for whatever lies ahead, you will assemble the pieces of your own puzzle one piece at a time.


 Count your garden by the flowers. Never by the leaves that fall.

 Count your joy by Golden Hours. Never when life’s worries call.

 Count your nights by stars— not shadows. Count your days by smiles—not tears.

 And on every birthday morning, Count your age by friends—not years.

Enhanced by Zemanta
2011-11-29T19:38:04+00:00 November 29th, 2011|Inspirational|


  1. John Shaw Nov 29 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    Peter I know you are proud of your father, but I also know that he is so very proud of you. Very well written and my heart goes out to you at this time. Having been there myself a few short years ago my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    John Shaw

    • Drpeternieman Dec 08 at 12:30 pm - Reply

      John, thanks for your comments. I know from talking to you that your dad also meant a lot to you. Lets honor these men by being the best we can be as we run our own races

  2. Jenniferlowen Dec 01 at 3:56 am - Reply

    Condolences to you during this time and blessings to you and your family.

  3. David Hopkins Dec 01 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    Very sorry to read of your Dad’s passing in your Facebook post today. My sincere condolences to you and your family. I’m glad that you were able to be with him in these past several days.

    • Drpeternieman Dec 08 at 12:29 pm - Reply

      Davis I appreciate your kindness. Thanks. Peter

  4. Huban Nath Dec 02 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    May he rest in peace! God Bless you and your beautiful family. As the years go by, it seems like we all wait and wonder for the final piece of the Jig Saw Puzzle.

    • Drpeternieman Dec 08 at 12:28 pm - Reply

      You are so right……meanwhile lets make sure the pieces are as colorful as possible!

  5. […] Looking Back with Gratitude […]

  6. Zuzana_Gardian Dec 09 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    Dear Dr. Nieman, I am so sorry for your loss.

    Your stories are very inspiring, thank you for all of them. I wish your father a happy wonderful journey in Heaven.

    Zuzana G.

Leave A Comment