Live Until You Live Forever or Die Early and Get Buried Later – It’s Your Choice

This is an e-mail from my “terminal” friend Roger Mateer today.
 “I saw my doc this morning. He says my brain is still failing as is my body, yet I’m still doing better than I should be. He said I should continue hunting and having fun. He was impressed when I showed him the water buffalo I got on my hunting trip. Before we left the picture was shown to most of the staff as an example of what happens when someone believes that the word terminal means go out and live!”

“Go ahead and post this if you think it could help others dealing with the word ‘terminal’.”  

This is Ken Davis saying that in one sense we are all “terminal.”  This story will inspire anyone who is breathing. If you’re not breathing don’t read any further.

Roger is one of those people who had every right to be bitter and give up on life. He had two strokes before he was three years old. He developed life-threatening blood clots that the doctors could only remove by taking three-fourths of the frontal lobe of his brain. The fact that Roger was born with club feet and limited use of his right arm did not keep him from going to college, getting married to his wife Cindy and choosing to raise a special needs child.

Shortly after his forty-sixth birthday, Roger was diagnosed with early onset dementia and a life expectancy of four to eight years.

He decided to outlive his life expectancy just to irritate the people who gave the prognosis. It’s working. Against all odds he’s still going strong. Besides, so-called experts telling him his time is short is nothing new to Roger. After his childhood strokes, the doctors told his parents not to expect him to live past age five.

Before his diagnosis Roger had a near photographic memory. Today there are times when he can’t pull up a simple word or the name of an object. All his life he’d had limited use of his right arm. Now the left arm doesn’t work either. That all adds up to two bad arms, poor vision, limited mobility, an unreliable memory, and supposedly only a few years left to live.

What are Rogers options?

Choice Number 1:

A bitter spirit fueled by fear and hopelessness. Whereby you have someone sitting in a corner waiting for the end, dead but not yet buried.  

Choice Number 2:

Unshakable faith in God and a passion to live every day fully alive. And the result is a man who gives more and gets more out of life every day than many young “healthy” people I know.

Roger’s unquenchable spirit and sense of humor are an inspiration to everyone he meets. As the disease progressed his sensory system began to play tricks on him. When he drinks a cup of coffee in the morning it can taste like anything from a hotdog to lemon rind. Mountain Dew tastes like a margarita (I’ll take two!).  

Roger says that for him, mystery meat really is mystery meat. Many of his friends follow his writing as each day he picks a flavor of the day. One day he bit into a blueberry tart only to have his senses overwhelm him with the aroma of the blue sanitizing cakes in public restrooms. That flavor did not make the flavor-of-the-day cut. I have grown to love this man.  

I asked Roger how this last round of physical problems affected his faith. His response was honest and without hesitation. “There are times when I get down,” he confessed. “People are afraid to associate with me for fear my disease might be contagious. But my faith is stronger than it has ever been before.  

 “All of us need to trust God. People like me know it because we are forced to lean on God, but many of us don’t. God has a sense of humor.  If he didn’t, he would have given this to somebody else. I see God in everything – a ray of sun touching the leaves, the thrill of helping my neighbor catch his wayward donkey.” How many people have seen God while chasing a donkey. 

Roger laughed and his mind took a detour.  “A few nights ago I had a piece of meat stuck in my teeth. It was driving me nuts. Then I remembered that my teeth were in a cup in the bathroom.”  

Another burst of laughter and then, with laser-like focus, Roger summed up what makes him fully alive. “I am not dying with dementia,” he said, “I am living with it.”  

atv-copyI have a few ailments that have inconvenienced my life. The nerves in my feet are dying, which means I can’t run as fast as I once did. I can’t remember where I put my car keys.

I have two bags under my eyes that won’t fit in the overhead bin.  But whenever I begin to list my woes, I think of people like Roger.  

I think of the suffering that Christ went through to redeem my soul. And I choose to live… forever!   

I always enjoy your comments. [reminder]

This story was taken from my book Fully Alive. Learn more about my book by clicking here.


  1. Hey Ken & Roger,
    Thanks for making me laugh out loud hard! I think the other people in our office thought I had lost my mind and for 68 years old, that could well be the case. Thanks for your solid faith in Christ, Roger, and you have encouraged me today that my aches and pains are nothing! What a blessing you are to the world!

  2. Wow! Such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing Roger’s story. So many of us are “waiting” to be fully alive. It sounds like today’s the day to begin!

  3. Awe, such a sweet story! Thank you for sharing!
    He reminds me of my husband who’s been struggling with Parkinson’s for almost 22 years and has the same joyful attitude about life. The thing that amazes me is my husband never complains and some of his days can be pretty difficult.
    Great way to think about an illness – I’m living with it not dying of it.
    God bless you Ken as you continue serving our King!

  4. Oh how I needed to see this Ken!
    AS my DH’s cancer progresses robbing him of many things but not his sense of humour we hold fast to the image of being safe in the hands of God. Then we live each day as fully and as joyfully as possible.

  5. Wow! Good for Roger…there are so many people today who whether ill or well seem to have the oh poor me attitude. That makes me so upset. No one is promised tomorrow so live, love, laugh today. Thank you Ken and Roger for making my day. Merry Christmas!

  6. What a great attitude , great example of your faith in God. None of us are promised tomorrow, live life to the fullest and keep looking up God knows and He has blessed.Prayers!

  7. What a wonderful and inspiring story. I have so much to learn from you.

  8. An inspiring and wonderful story. What a joy to know this man. What wonderful faith. I love his sense of humour. Thank you for sharing such an uplifting story. Bless this man. God bless you all too.

  9. I loved this it is a reminder to us all that we should not feel sorry for ourselves.When we look at all our problems in life , look around there will be someone worse off than you or I. Help us dear Lord to be thankful and content in what ever state we are in . I pray that Roger will be healed, he seems to have the right attitude for it . I’m sure he has been a blessing to many people, I know he has me. I have been miraculously healed and healed over time also. Don’t give up Roger,God is still in the healing business. He is the same yesterday today and forever. God bless u all. I enjoy your program on 88.1 in the mornings before I go in to work. I tell other people the jokes and statements that u tell. Love it , it makes me lighten up and live. God Bless Sherry Lingle Hickory, N.C.

  10. we saw you at willow creak we loved it, it was so uplifting, would love to know when you will be back.

  11. You make me laugh.

    I just lost my oldest son, Andrew, 32 years old, he went to sleep October 24, 2016 his alarm went off about 5am October 25, 2016….he never woke up. The Lord called him home. I had him when I was 15 years old, he was not only my number one son, but my dear friend and he’s gone. He is the only one of my children (I have four) who knew my star trek name and what my cornbread dressing was always missing, now…I know by a little mustard seed of faith that God will bless me to get the dressing right. Because He has and is blessing me everyday and every moment of every day to keep on living.


    Thank you my dear brother for the laughter, by faith I will keep on living.

  12. Thanks for the story. I also struggle with a lot of physical issues that I have. I feel down sometimes and then I try to remember how much god truly loves me.

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