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Three score and ten or more

Friday, June 02, 2006

I have been thinking about death

I have been thinking about death this evening.
Here I am, feeling a little maudlin, a little resentful, a lot sentimental, and really mixed up emotionally. It is not that I am planning on dying in the morning. All things considered, I am doing all right for an old coot who is creeping further and further past the three score and ten that the scriptures allot us.

On the other hand, I keep reading the obituaries and finding friends there. The worst thing about the obituaries though, is that, almost without exception, the friends that I find there are friends that I haven’t seen in months, even years. The older I get, even if I travel quite a lot and try to stay active in a variety of things, the narrower my world seems to get. I have been attending meetings of the local community theatre, acting a little, and talking about directing a play, but I am having trouble committing to that, because, as I spend more time there, the narrower my field of “vision” seems to get.

In the weeks before we left for Panama City Beach, one of my mother’s sisters passed away. She was in her nineties and was a sweet lady. I did not interrupt my schedule to fly out for the funeral. I hadn’t seen her in about ten years (do you see a pattern developing here?). The last time I saw her was at a family gathering when we were sitting together talking about inconsequential things when suddenly she gripped my right hand in both of her hands and said, as she squoze tears through suddenly closed eyes, “Your children are not supposed to die before you do”. I had known, but not thought for a long time about the fact that her two daughters, (One of whom was particularly close to me, almost more like a sister than a cousin) and some of her grandchildren had already passed away. There was a long pause, then suddenly Aunt Ruth’s attention returned to whatever unimportant thing we had been blithering about. When My sister called to inform me that this dear soul seemed to be on her deathbed, this scene from so many years ago flashed before my eyes, and I had a hard time really feeling sad. I think she was probably eager to follow, locate, and embrace her husband, children and grandchildren. When the call came that she had passed, and that the funeral was imminent I thought of this again, and, in fact, for some reason have dwelt on it a good deal.

Almost simultaneous with the news about my aunt came a call from Janet’s family. Her Uncle Clif had just been diagnosed with cancer. He has been ill for a long time, and wheelchair bound for about a decade and a half. He spent much of World War II in and around the Philippines, and not long after he returned home he began to have problems walking. He was diagnosed variously as having caught Tularemia overseas, as having Multiple Schlerosis, Muscular dystrophy and a variety of other things. Through all this, he worked ferociously hard, married a lady who had two sons and then had children “of his own” (The boys were of his own, as well, but in a different way). Janet had spent much of a couple of years, just a little while ago, badgering him into verbalizing many of his experiences, then she, using his tapes, wrote his biography, included in it pictures and documents of his youth, and she feels very close to him. Having another illness attack him was distressing, especially when she heard from relatives that he was denying it, and refusing some treatment. Last night, when we got home from Panama City Beach there was a message on the answering machine that he had fallen into a coma, then, this morning she was informed that he too had died.

Combine that with the word given us at the Time Share Condominium. The manager took us aside and said, “We have lost quite a few owners this year”, then clarified the reason for saying so by pointing out that if we willed this timeshare condo to one of our children, the will would have to be probated in Florida as well as Georgia, and it would probably cost over a thousand dollars, so they were recommending to “those of us who were a little ‘senior’ that if we wished to leave the time share to a child, it would be a good idea to make the child a co-owner now, while we were living so that we could avoid a Florida probate.

Anyway, I have been thinking a lot about death. I guess when you reach coothood it is a logical thing. It is obvious that death can come at any age, and I confess that for most of my years I didn’t think about it at all or I might not have done some of the really dumb things I have done, and survived. I probably am going to keep on telling stories about some of those dumb things, as well as contemplating in writing some of the things that come to mind, especially about the way your world can narrow as you age. But that’s enough for tonight.


At 1:26 PM, Blogger Norma said...

Keep telling your stories. Death will come in its own time. No use letting him look over your shoulder when you've got writing to do.


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