It’s 4:30 in the morning, and I’ve been running some ideas for this week’s piece through my head. I just realized it was shaping up as something of a companion piece to last week’s column, in which I mentioned things I didn’t want to have to write about.

Now I’m moving through my mind ideas that I do not want to have in my obituary. Not a happy topic, to be sure, but this is not the time of night when fairy dust fills the air and you just have to walk through said mist to pick up a positive thought.

After two years-plus of dealing with my health, my cancer continues to be taking a beating. That’s the good news. The bad news is that my stomach problems have me right back where I was when the issue started more than a year ago.

The latest anti-nausea medicine I was given has been pretty effective at its given task. My general crappy feeling has diminished some, but it has been replaced by an overwhelming anxiety and difficulty sleeping that takes me back to the early days, early morning hours, of having cancer, where I was thinking about copying over “War and Peace” in pencil just to reduce the amount of excess energy roiling around inside of my head.

So, here I am in my sweatpants and sweatshirt thinking about my funeral … again. It is probably getting harder and harder to convince you that this is not a negative run of thoughts, but it’s not. It’s just how my mind works and what, frankly, makes me laugh.

First off, he said maybe getting to the point, if you write about/speak of me after I’m … you know … “gone,” please don’t refer to his “brave fight,” “courageous battle” or like that. I admit it’s very poor form, as we used to say in the snooty school I went to in Scotland, to be telling you what to do, even about my own … you know.

But, here’s the thing. I don’t want people to say things like that because, simply put, they aren’t true. There’s nothing brave or courageous in what I’m doing. I’m just picking and scratching and thanking God every day for putting Sheri in my life to fight along with me.

Back to the postmortem … Don’t put anything about being a great husband, either. Right now, I’m doing a pretty good job, I think, but I doubt that my first wife would say how great I was.

I’m an OK dad. Maybe a bit better than OK, but just a bit. I love my kids, including stepkids, Jason and Kristie. (I hate the term stepkids, by the way. It makes them sound like less than. Truth is, they just haven’t been my kids for as long, but it doesn’t change how much love I have for them.)

I’m a horrible grandfather. Horrible. You think I’m overstating it? Ask me how old they are. I have to add-ish to the number of years, as in 8-ish, 14-ish and so on. I do have a firm grasp on the date of three of their birthdays. But unlike horseshoes and hand grenades, I don’t think close enough on the number of grandkids or their birthdays is a qualifier when it comes to grandpas being great. At least on most days I remember their names. Again, “most days” doesn’t seem like enough for greatness.

Still, let me close with a more typical Arnold observation, though still obit related: I was born in Scotland, and lived there for my first 14 years. I’m very proud of being Scottish and was, even before “Braveheart” made everybody burst with pride about being, or even knowing someone, Scottish. Loved the movie, used some of the music in our wedding, but … watching that movie and believing you know something about William Wallace is like watching “Robin Hood” and saying you have an understanding of the English feudal system. Just sayin’

Jim Arnold is a former copy editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. To read more about his journey through cancer, visit his blog,

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