Redefining Moments: End-of-life stories for better living

Categories: Opinion.

“Hanukkah” is in part derived from a Hebrew verb which means, “to dedicate”. As I reflect on what this holiday means to me, I think about my father, Gordon Zacks, a man who dedicated his life to his family and to helping others, even when facing the end of his life.

Unexpected news.

In December of 2013, my father received news from the doctor that he had mere weeks to live. The prostate cancer that had been managed for several years had misbehaved and migrated to his liver.

An activist’s view on end-of-life.
The news was a lot to process for dad and our family. My father had done so much as both a business and civic leader and as an activist on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people. It was difficult to accept the news that he was facing a very human situation. But rather than being paralyzed by grief and sadness, my father taught me that it is always possible to redefine moments.

My father, or “Gordy” as many called him affectionately, processed the news and viewed end of life as an opportunity to celebrate life and continue living. He had always lived purposefully and lovingly, and this mindset was an extension of his lifelong philosophy.

A writer’s final gift.
To take advantage of the time my father had left, we hosted celebrations of life events at our home to share gratitude, love, lessons and laughter. Dad also viewed this time as an opportunity to write a second book in 30 days. He wanted to start a new conversation about leading a purposeful life; Redefining Moments End of Life Stories for Better Living is the treasured result.

Lessons learned.

It is essential to say thank you to people who have really made a difference in your life. To express love, and leave nothing left unsaid. We can redefine little moments as well as big ones. Opportunities like these come often; it is always a good time to tell those closest to you “I love you”.  The holidays offer an added opportunity to express our gratitude.

Moments of Life Made Possible by Hospice.
Hospice always held a special, tender place in hearts and minds of my family. Both my beloved mother and grandmother had passed in Hospice by the Sea, a very warm, loving and caring hospice in Boca Raton, Florida.

Dad always knew he wanted home hospice.  Home Reach Hospice in Columbus, Ohio, provided everything he had hoped for and more. Again, we found the exceptionally caring and dedicated staff, coordinators, schedulers and nurses that make all the difference.  Dad learned that the decision to go into hospice does not have to be a final one. Some people go in and out of hospice. Dad found this fact comforting and when the time came to work with hospice, it was a beautiful and compassionate experience.

Hospice provided a calm, peaceful, tranquil environment. Dad was comfortable and able to experience joy and love. Dad was at peace with a life fully and well lived. He was able to experience holding a rough, hardbound first draft copy of “Redefining Moments” before he passed. Dad’s dream of starting a new conversation about better living was just beginning.


To learn more about Gordon Zack’s final book, visit –

Read more hospice stories in the blog section of Moments of Life: Made Possible by Hospice.

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