Just before Tim Carpenter came back home to Orange County in October for a Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) event in Santa Ana, he confided in an email that his doctors might not clear him to travel.
Despite a fierce battle with terminal lung cancer, the PDA's national director (and non-smoker!) made it to lawyer and former OC Democratic Party chairman Frank Barbaro's home from Carpenter's own in western Massachusetts.
Now he's thinking about a PDA without him.
First, as of right now, the nonprofit committed to moving the Democratic Party farther to the left--think vehemently anti-war and pro-union, social justice and single-payer healthcare--"has never been stronger," Carpenter tells me. "In fact, since May when I got the news [about the cancer], we have had the most success on many fronts during this time."
He adds, "I'm still working 80-90 hours a week." For anyone who knows Carpenter and how committed he is and has been to no nukes, social justice and poverty relief, 80-90 hours a week means he's cut back a little.
The Oct. 21 event at Barbaro's home was by all accounts a big success, as those swinging by to hang with Carpenter included progressive icon Tom Hayden, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), actor David Clennon and actress Mimi Kennedy, who has chaired the PDA board since the lobby was founded in 2004.
Co-founding the group that sprang out of Dennis Kucinich's presidential campaign sent Carpenter back east after the Cal State Fullerton grad's long career as an Orange County-based social and political activist and popular high school and community college history teacher.
The status report to the Weekly on how he is doing health-wise came after a Dec. 4 In These Times story, which reporter Cole Stangler concluded by asking: "Given that you are waging an uphill battle against cancer, have you been preparing for what's going to happen with PDA?"
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"You're definitely putting the elephant in the room in talking about the fact that I've got a terminal illness. It's a question we're wrestling with. The short answer is we honestly don't know. We're not a card-carrying organization; we're a community of people. We're going to meet in February as a community and we'll talk about it. The work's going to continue and I hope to be as productive, or even more productive, as we move on to the 2014 election season."
That tug Carpenter's feeling from the west is coming from a whole bunch of Orange Countians pulling for him.