Book Review – Chasing Daylight by Eugene O’Kelly
As someone who has read hundreds of business books, especially those about successful businessmen, I have a good ability to review and evaluate business books. I’ve read biographies of 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 extraordinary, down-to-earth and successful man. He had two daughters, a woman who was his only true companion in life, and worked his way up to CEO of the billion-dollar company, KPMG. Most Americans would agree that it had it all; a big family, a well-respected, high-paying job, and tons of friends. However, after serving as CEO for only two years, he began to notice his health deteriorating. One side of his face was slightly droopy and showed signs of paralysis. Also, the headaches he thought were stress-related were starting to get worrisome.
O’Kelly took the time out of her busy schedule and long days to see her doctor and have her head and brain scanned. The results were frightening; he had three golf ball-sized tumors in three different parts of his brain that had been there for so long that the tissue had died, leaving him inoperable. Doctors told him his prognosis was very poor and he should only expect to live three more months. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy were options that could possibly give him a few extra months of life, but they would also significantly decrease his quality of life.
O’Kelly realized within hours of his diagnosis that he would make the most of his remaining time. He immediately resigned as CEO at KPMG, but agreed to stay on for a few weeks to ensure a smooth transition. While most people sat around and became extremely depressed and angry, O’Kelly wanted to stay active and die in the best way 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 co-workers, college roommates, and family friends. He knew that discussions and meetings with these people could potentially be awkward because it is so difficult to say a final goodbye, but he continued nonetheless. What he found was that these encounters were very enjoyable and brought happiness to his life that he did not expect. He created hundreds of what he called “perfect moments” where everything seemed like it couldn’t get any better.
Over time, Eugene filled his day with more friendly encounters and time spent with his two daughters and his wife, Corinne. His vision began to blur and blur and his motor skills deteriorated. He felt the need to relax and find inner peace, and he found it one day 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. It was so peaceful that his daughter bought him a fountain for her house so he could relax whenever he wanted. The book also mentions that Eugene would rent a boat and take his family on a day trip just to relax and be on the water.
The way Eugene handled his impending death was truly amazing. It’s scary to think about when you died, but Eugene managed to overcome fear and depression and make the most of each day. He traveled with his daughters, he took time to meditate and relax with his wife, and he told his family how much he loved them and what an amazing father his brother was. Additionally, he had the admirable idea of writing a book to document his transition from the physical to the spiritual world. This book was meant to show that knowing your own date of death can actually be a blessing and make you realize how good life can be. Not only could he speculate about his own life and death, but the book gave him one last project to work on with his wife, Corinne.
Corinne has been portrayed as a gorgeous woman several times in this book. It is obvious that Eugene thought the world of her and that they were truly in love. When Eugene was writing the book and knew he couldn’t keep writing until the last day of his life, he recruited Corinne to help him finish writing. She contributed several sections to close the book, documenting what we can learn from Eugene O’Kelly’s life and his very last days. His wife gives us advice on how to live our lives, such as facing each moment as it comes and living in the present. Eugene and Corinne found 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 haunting. As Corinne writes about her husbands of three or four days alive, you begin to realize what a special man he was. O’Kelly became extremely weak and inactive and was bedridden in the last days of his life. He fought as long as he could, but finally knew he would die in a day or two. His family surrounded him, including his daughter, wife and sister-in-law when he said goodbye and passed away. Corinne comments that even though everyone was very sad, it was a joyful moment to know that he was in a better place and that his strong faith in God would lead him to heaven.
This book is very moving and will open your eyes to the meaning of life and death. After reading, I felt how 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 to each other and bring a smile to each other’s face. It doesn’t take long to phone someone you love or even write a short email to tell someone you care. If you take the time to make a call or send an email, you’ll probably feel more upbeat and you might even smile 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 is rated 5 out of 5.