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February 2, 2006

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects: Chasing Daylight

By: Jack @ 9:45 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life By Eugene O'Kelly, McGraw-Hill, $19.95 hardcover, 160 pages, December 2005, ISBN 0071471723 This review needs to start with a qualifier. I am a perfect candidate to love this book. I am of "a certain age" and a good friend of mine passed away from cancer not too long ago. That said, I can't remember being this moved and touched by a book, any book. The book is the story of the passing of the CEO of KPMG. The dust jacket is the best synopsis of the book.
On May 24, 2005, Eugene O'Kelly stepped into his doctor's office with a full calendar and a lifetime of plans on his mind. Six days later he would resign as CEO of KPMG. His lifetime of plans dwindled to 100 days, leaving him just enough time to say goodbye. Chasing Daylight is O'Kelly's honest, touching, and ultimately inspirational memoir completed in the three-and-a-half months between his diagnosis with brain cancer and his death in September 2005. It's haunting, yet extraordinarily hopeful, voice reminds us to embrace the fragile, fleeting moments of our lives--the time we have with our family, our friends, and even ourselves. It is an eloquent confirmation that our lives and the people in them are temporary joys, but the time we spend enjoying them is never lost. And if we conquer our fears--even the fear of facing the end of our lives and leaving behind those we love--we can conquer anything.
Alright, I admit, when I first glanced over the summary, I was worried it would have more of a religious tone. This is not true; the book is a reflective story about a total Type A personality taking a second look at his life and slowing down. That, in an overview, is the whole story. Yet, that's like saying the Titanic was just a ship; it's the details that count. O'Kelly is totally honest about his fears. Before he passed, he sat down like the organized accountant he is and made a list of what he wanted to do before he died. The list included the people with whom he wanted to "unwind" his relationship. But what really moved me was his simple, almost profound, writing style. For example, read this brief piece from the book:
The business of dying is hard. The wrapping up. The paperwork, the legal stuff. The stuff that's boring and maddening about life when life is going well. Of course, the other stuff that's happening when dying--the physical stuff and the huge emotional stuff--can be unspeakably awful. But if paperwork is enough to break your spirit--and it is--then how can you have anything left? Day by day, observing the medical practitioners and especially the patients, I started to understand.
As he slows down his life and prepares--realize that he was never in pain because he chose not to do chemo--he continued to write. The final chapter is the story of his actual death told by his wife. All in all folks, this is what books are about. Teaching us stuff we think we know but we don't. This book is going to be my third "I guarantee you will like this book or your money back." Just email me and I'll take the book back, credit you the book and shipping. If you would like to receive the monthly Jack Covert Selects Newsletter, please visit the Newsletters area of our website. Then, sign in and check the boxes of the newsletters that interest you.