Dead Man Writing

Steve Russell
6 min readAug 14, 2021
Photo by Samuel Ramos on Unsplash

Yesterday, I entered hospice.

There, I got it through my fingers and to the screen, and I know that this time I will finish and post it on Medium. I started three times yesterday and this morning.

One turned into a rant about the twenty year war and how it looks like we got nothing from it and we are leaving Afghanistan worse off. Excepting the crooks. When you move money in cash and in amounts that require pallets and a forklift, there is bound to be some shrinkage.

One came out with a discourse on neos: neocons, neoliberals, and Neo from The Matrix.

The one that came closest was titled “Dead Man Voting” and it was in essence an apology for remaining engaged in issues that will not affect me. In that one, I buried the lede — that being hospice — in the third graf.

“Who cares,” I excused myself, “if Steve Russell is in hospice? At any given time, thousands of people are.” It struck me then that the people who know me care and lots of people are curious about hospice. That’s more audience than I usually start with, and I’ll be lucky to have any audience after that last historical rant.

You wonder about the stoic Indian, how that stereotype has enough truth to persist in the face of crimes that make Donald Trump look like a choir boy? Occasionally — not often, thank goodness — one of us will lose it and spill out anger enough to wilt the plants. I guess it was my turn to lose it and I am sorry.

Now, back to the hospice I finally got around to mentioning on the fourth try and then with difficulty. Those of you who read my memoir know that I am not looking for sympathy but I am not accustomed to tippy-toeing around feelings, mine or yours.

Forget about sympathy. We all must walk on, and I am doing so in a manner that should save the sympathy for others without my resources. This is home hospice, so that means in my final decline I will be surrounded by my wife and kids and grandkids, my dogs, my artwork, my books…. When I compare that to the four times I’ve been hospitalized in the last year, I feel very lucky.

My distaste for being in the hospital is no reflection on the institution or the people who work there. In my column on getting mistakenly tucked into an isolation ward…



Steve Russell

Enrolled Cherokee, 9th grade dropout, retired judge, associate professor emeritus, and (so far) cancer survivor. Memoir: Lighting the Fire (Miniver Press 2020)