As a person who has read hundreds of business books, especially those about successful entrepreneurs, I have a good ability to review and rate business books. I’ve read biographies on Henry Ford, Richard Branson, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and even Martha Stewart, but I’ve never read a book like Eugene O’Kelly’s Chasing Daylight.
Eugene O’Kelly was an amazing, successful and down to earth man. He had two daughters, a wife who was his only true partner in his life, and had worked his way up to become CEO of the multibillion-dollar company KPMG. Most Americans would agree that he had it all; a great family, a well-respected and well-paid job, and lots of friends. However, after only two years as CEO, he began to notice that his health was deteriorating. One side of his face was slightly droopy and showed signs of being paralyzed. Also, the headaches that he thought were stress-related were starting to worry him.
O’Kelly took time out of her busy schedule and long days to visit her doctors and get head and brain scans. The results were terrifying; he had three golf ball-sized tumors in three different parts of his brain that had been there for so long that the tissue was dead, rendering it inoperable. The doctors told him that his prognosis was very bad and that he only had to wait three more months to live. Chemotherapy and radiation were options that could potentially give him a few more months to live, but would also greatly diminish his quality of life.
O’Kelly realized within hours of her diagnosis that she would make the most of the time she had left. He immediately stepped down as CEO at KPMG, but agreed to stay on for a few weeks to ensure a smooth transition. While most people would sit around and get very depressed and angry, O’Kelly wanted to stay active and die as well as possible. This included calling everyone in his life who had been closest to him, starting with those he was close to, but not incredibly close like his family. These people included coworkers, college roommates, and family friends. He knew that talks and meetings with these people could be potentially uncomfortable, as it is very difficult to say a last goodbye, but he went ahead. What he found was that these encounters were very enjoyable and brought a happiness in his life that he never expected. He created hundreds of what he called “perfect moments” when everything just couldn’t seem to get any better.
As time went by, Eugene filled his day with more friendly gatherings and time with his two daughters and his wife, Corinne. His vision began to blur and fade and his motor skills were deteriorating. He felt the need to relax and find inner peace, and he found it one day while she was in a park. The sound of a water fountain and the peaceful thought of water flowing from one place to another allowed him to enter a peaceful zone. He was so easygoing that his daughter bought him a fountain for her house so she could relax whenever she wanted. The book also mentions that Eugene would rent a boat and take his family on day trips just to relax and be near the water.
The way Eugene handled his next death was truly amazing. It’s scary to think about the date of his death, but Eugene managed to overcome the fear and depression and make the most of each day. He traveled with his daughters, took time to meditate and relax with his wife, and told his family how much he loved them and how his brother was an amazing father. Furthermore, he had the admirable idea of writing a book to document his transition from the physical world to the spiritual world. This book was meant to show that knowing the date of his own death can be a blessing and allow him to realize how good life can be. He was not only able to speculate on his own life and death, but the book gave him one last project to work on with his wife, Corinne.
Corinne was portrayed as a gorgeous woman numerous times in this book. It is evident that Eugene thought a lot about her and they were really in love with her. When Eugene was writing the book and knew that he couldn’t continue writing until the last day of his life, he enlisted Corinne to help him finish writing. She contributed several sections to close the book, documenting what we can learn from the life of Eugene O’Kelly and his final days. His wife gives us advice on how to live our lives, how to face each moment as it comes and live in the present. Eugene and Corinne discovered that he had a much better life when he stopped worrying about the future and what will happen in six months or a year.
The end of the book is encouraging but at the same time disturbing. As Corinne writes about the last three or four days of her husband’s life, you begin to realize how special he was as a man. O’Kelly became extremely weak and inactive and was bedridden in the last days of his life. He fought as long as possible, but finally knew that he would die in a day or two. Family surrounded him, including his daughter, wife and sister-in-law when he said goodbye and died. Corinne comments that although everyone was very sad, it was a moment of joy to know that he was in a better place and that his strong faith in God would take him to Heaven.
This book is very emotional and will open your eyes to the meaning of life and death. After reading, I felt that everyone has the ability to be more productive and live a better life. An easy step to take is to call the people you love and tell them. One of the joys of being human is that we can communicate our emotions and put a smile on our faces. It doesn’t take long to make a phone call to someone you care about or even write a short email telling someone you care about. If you take the time to make a call or send an email, you’ll probably find yourself more optimistic and you might even find yourself smiling more often. This book is one that everyone should read. Eugene O’Kelly was a spectacular person and we should all strive to live the rest of our lives like the last three months of his. This book has a definite rating of 5 out of 5.