YEAH ! YOU ! —- YOU’RE GONNA DIE !!
Yes, it is a cliché’ but it is true none-the-less: “Nothing is certain but death and taxes”. ( In spite of what you may have heard; it is NOT President Obama’s fault!). Imagine this scenario: Go to any Sears, Roebuck & Co. parking lot and stop a person at random. Ask if they know they are going to die. Those who do not run away will most likely answer with a variation of: “Of course I know that! Are you some kind of idiot?”. Even the unthinking know they are going to die. Everybody knows they are going to die. For most, this assertion is a low emotional level kind of thing – routine. However, for those of you who have lived out over 80% of your life span, YOU KNOW YOU ARE GOING TO DIE!! I know I do. However, I do not spend much of my rumination time thinking about the actual end-of-life-event. I spend my time thinking of, and planing for, things I can do now to ease the work load thrust upon my Family by my death. I would like those who mourn my death weep because of the loss of a 100% sterling up-right citizen, steadfast friend, got your back kind of guy that I fantasize that I might be. I do not want my mourners weeping because of a massive, tangled, Estate mess. My Mother’s sister died of Alzheimer’s Disease and I served as her Conservator of the person and executor of her Estate. Her affairs were simple enough and could have been easy to reconcile. They were not because I knew nothing of her affairs and she could not tell me anything. She did not even know who I was by time we figured out what was happening to her. I have firsthand knowledge of a “tangled Estate Mess” as a result. I would not wish that on my worst enemy, let alone my Family.
Ten years ago I had my Prostate Gland removed as the result of a positive biopsy. Five years ago I was given a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. Two years ago I had a Heart Attack due to a 100% blocked artery. My Father died of strokes that left him in a non-reversible coma. My Mother died of after-effects of a series of infections at age 96. I believe I know something about the events that play-out before death occurs. I have good reason to plan now for my death. I am experienced, so I am able to manage a matter-of-fact attitude about my death and talk about it freely in casual conversations. I do this with purpose aforethought. In our society, speaking of death makes most people uncomfortable and they benignly resist the subject being discussed at all. It seems the subject of death is almost “taboo”. The exception is when a friend is facing the imminent death of a family member and expresses a willingness to listen to an exposition of my similar experiences. They become rapt listeners. My purpose is not to subject my listener to an “in-your-face” discourse on my past difficulties, but rather to create opportunities for others to “open-up” and learn to talk about an uncomfortable subject. It sometimes works, sometimes not. I will keep trying. Oh! I forgot to tell you I am in good health and enjoying life too much to give it up any time soon.
I plan to continue Blogging on the subject of planning for the various events and required actions that precede your own death. (I hate the word “Blogging”! It is about as romantic as a fart on your first date.) As a start, I remind you your death leaves a useless body (mostly – some parts can be put to good use) which MUST be disposed of. There are important legal requirements to be met, the choice of disposal methods must be made and carried out, the viewing of the body, if any, must be carried out before the disposal occurs, who should be notified and who should do it – a lot of things have to happen at a family event not known for producing clear thinking. Family members get emotional and sometimes act-out. Old wounds are wrest open, sometimes at the least-good time. So, what is my point? It is simply this: We are all going to die. It is obvious the way to avoid most difficulties is to routinely discuss, as a family, the entire scope of the matters surrounding the death of a family member long before the actual event. Do it frequently because there is plenty to talk about.
I often use my family’s experiences upon the deaths of our Mother and Father as cases in point. I often say my parents gave their family one of the greatest gifts one can imagine – the gift of a deep insight into their wishes and their requirements about the events attendant to their deaths. When each died in turn, Dad first, we had few matters of detail to fret over – we were free to express our individual emotions; we knew what they wanted. There were minor disagreements which we easily put behind us. At those times, we could readily imagine our parents joining in our discussion as they had done often before. When my Father died, my Mom was like a rock in supporting my dad’s wishes. Another great gift from Mom – her example! Thanks Mom and Dad.
Life is good! Live it!