Going out in Style

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Sat, 2008-08-09 00:43

No, I don't mean the kind of going out that I avoid, the kind that raises one's chances of meeting people; I mean one's very last going out — into the endless oblivion that is death.

Libertarianz stalwart and old friend Anna Woolf is dying of brain cancer. Her tumour was held in check briefly by chemotherapy and is now being blasted by radiation, but only in the hope of giving her a few extra weeks. When it was diagnosed, and the prognosis of "terminal" pronounced, she had not long been declared clear of cancer in other parts of her body, which she had battled with dogged determination and unfailing humour. On hearing the cruel, grim new news, I texted her saying, "Fuck that!" She responded immediately with a smiley face.

Not even humour can save her this time, but the quietly defiant enjoyment she is extracting from her last days is inspirational. She took me and Peter Cresswell to lunch at an upmarket restaurant on Auckland's North Shore when I was up there for Eye to Eye. Her treat, she insisted — she had cashed in her life insurance and was intent on making good use of it (I hasten to add that even though this was Auckland the restaurant didn't absorb all of it). She was getting ready to move into her new house — mission now accomplished — and aside from that was arranging her affairs so that no one would have to do anything after she was gone. She spoke gleefully of the things she wouldn't miss, and wistfully of the things she would, if she were able to. There was not a hint of anything maudlin or self-pitying, just an overwhelming sense of, "Bugger!"

Death is such an infernal impertinence.

You can read Anna's thoughts in her own words at http://ilt-awoolfie.blogspot.com/. You'll be struck, I'm sure, by her realism, and the fact that she has the courage of it — no temptation to succumb to mystical hocus-pocus or "positive thinking" shysters, but a stauncher-than-ever atheism and gritty determination to make the most of what remains. She speaks of the "weirdness" of saying goodbye to out-of-town visitors, knowing it's for the last time but acting as if everything were normal. I guess I was an instance of that, so let me say ... Anna, we knew that was our last face-to-face goodbye, but there'll be more words yet. There might even be some more irreverent text messages, directed at that infernal impertinence. For now, let me salute you on a life well lived and a death so bravely faced.

( categories: )

Not so much a matter of me

Mark Hubbard's picture

Not so much a matter of me not keeping up this time, just selective reading.

I always enter SOLO at the Recent Posts page - that's my bookmark. While I like music, I don't listen to a lot of it so I'm usually coming here to look at what is being debated, thus my eyes tend to slide over the threads that start with 'KASS Music Gem of the Day ...'

I know. Philistine! Sometimes, normally weekends when I'm not having to scratch at my timesheets all the time, I will go over the music threads all at once, spending half an hour or so listening to the music.

Now I'm genuinely curious

Lindsay Perigo's picture

It's been up here for days. I've only just unstickied it. How do you manage to miss these things? Even if you're going straight to "tracker" it should stare you in the face. Eye

I've just listened to the

Mark Hubbard's picture

I've just listened to the piece of music you 'selected' for Anna on the last post to her blog that Peter Cresswell has now put up: it's glorious.



Lindsay Perigo's picture

Going out in Style was written in August, 2008. It refers to the "few extra weeks" her treatment would afford her. It's now December, 2009.

That's the hell of a battle she put up.

Edit—and I've just realised, the last face-to-face goodbye I wrote about turned out to be no such thing.

"Put up one hell of a

Peter Cresswell's picture

"Put up one hell of a fight."

She sure did.

Death sure is a bastard.

Anna faced her imminent death

Madeleine's picture

Anna faced her imminent death with courage and bravery and managed to find a way to enjoy life despite the limitations the pain and the disease placed on her.

Well said Linz.

RIP Anna

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Passed away this afternoon. Put up one hell of a fight.


gregster's picture

Is that California? Don't worry Mindy you're feverishly safe.

It's unorthodox,

Ptgymatic's picture

But there are some credible cases of cancerous (even brain) tumors being reversed by high fevers. In one case, it was in a very advanced stage. I researched this when my Mom was dying of CA. If it were me, I'd try it.

= Mindy

I came across her blog two

John M Newnham's picture

I came across her blog two weeks ago. Grace in life, and courage in the face of death. Cheers Anna.

Courage & Realism.

Olivia's picture

Anna's bravery in the face of such a terrible prognosis has blown me away. Courage now has a new benchmark for me.


Robert's picture

Here's to Anna! Here's to giving the two finger salute to death, arsehole that he is.

Lindsay, I was just

Bosch Fawstin's picture


I was just thinking earlier about how incredibly important it is to be able to seriously distinguish between the important and the unimportant in life, in all matters big and small, and how Anna's desire to tell others, "just shut up (or something stronger) and enjoy your life", says it just right. Here's to Anna.



Lanza Morio's picture

Linz, Anna sounds like a wonderful girl. I raise a full glass to your friend.

I've read about Anna

Mark Hubbard's picture

I've read about Anna through Peter's blog.

There are no words I can put together to meet the header post, other than to say all the best Anna. And with Linz, salute. Plus one thing I will do is put time aside to read your blog.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.