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Bittersweet (Reprised from 2015)

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Bittersweet (Reprised from 2015)

Five years later: remembering my friend, Greg Werle, and a special moment


Six weeks ago, Greg got some unexpected news. This news was so exciting he could hardly contain it.  He asked for a meeting of a few close friends. The news he shared washed over his frail frame with a warm glow; he was beaming. He found out he had a brother, Danny, who lives in California.


Greg shared that they had several lengthy phone conversations.  He shared his excitement that Danny would be coming for a visit in March and that they were going to take a trip to Missouri this summer so that Greg could show his brother their ‘roots’. Greg wished desperately to share the life he knew growing up and his memories of their father, whom Danny never knew.


This past Friday morning arrived for the Werle’s, with Greg in agonizing pain. The hospital was inevitable; cancer taking its toll.  On Saturday morning, with his pain now eased, several of us went for a visit.  We were treated to a wonderful exchange of extensive lively conversation.  Greg expected to be going home Sunday and we had no reason to doubt. By that afternoon, reality returned; his condition dramatically deteriorated. I had two thoughts as I visited on Sunday morning: Greg’s time was short, and it looked unlikely he and his brother would meet.


Kathy, Greg’s dear wife of 40 years, sent me a text Sunday evening asking me to pick up Danny at the airport Monday morning. I did.  As we drove, I tried to articulate what I believed Greg’s condition would be: Greg might not know Danny was there.


As we entered the hospital room I saw what I expected.  Greg was heavily medicated and unconscious. Danny approached bedside.  Immediately, Greg’s eyes began to blink, then open.  He looked directly at his brother Danny.  Greg instantly attempted to get out of bed to hug Danny; he was too weak.  As I stood at the foot of the bed between Kathy and their daughter Deon, we wept at the beauty of the magical moment. The two brothers met for the first time on Greg’s last day, in his last hours. I now profoundly understand the full meaning of the word: Bittersweet.


David Bates


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