Change comes easily for some, no so easy for others. But change will come. We can fight it, rage against it, use magic creams, dye our hair, but those changes will come. I think I take slowly to change, especially the body changes. I hate it for what it means. I hate, we in the Club Being, must be mortal. We have no choice. We must eventually either by suicide or nature give up this mortal coil. And I am angry about it. When you are young you don’t really give it a thought – its something that happens to old people, its not eminent or relevant. If they attend a funeral, it might be thought of for a hot minute while gazing into the casket – seriously, how often does any normal person see a dead body. To see one all dolled up seemed to me really weird, and therefore, displaced to the back of the brain for later consideration and discussion.
I was an only child in a family of multiples – lots of grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles and cousins. So when folks started to pass away, I mean it was in droves. I was in my late teens when the tragic 3 started. Does everyone have those 3 clustered unexpected deaths of loved ones you cared about so much that their deaths changed your normal daily routines? I think that is when I started really thinking about death and all that it meant. Then after a few months, a new normal appeared, and so death took the back pew. In my 40s the grands, aunts and uncles started their decline and left us. Over 11 or 12 years, we lost about 20 people in our family. Then my parents died, my husbands parents died, and there we were. We had elevated ourselves to the level of Family Elders – which simply meant our departure was now relevant. We should have had a big block print NEXT tattooed on our foreheads!
When I was a young mother, sitting on the front stoop with my neighbors on a hot summer evening watching the kids playing, my friend Eleanor turned to me and said. “Going to Sears tomorrow. Want to go with me. Got to get a new washer and dryer.” After a short discussion of why she had to buy the high end Kenmore washing machine , she rationalized it like this -“Well, Ed and I aren’t getting any younger, and these will be the last washers we will probably buy, so I want to get real nice ones.” That absolutely brought the whole mortality issue back with a punch to the gut. Out of the clear blue. There it was. There IT always is. Death and all that it means.
I think we, especially those of us in the free world, experience a lot of choices. We go to a fast food drive threw and it takes 10 minutes to figure out what you want – the menu is endless. We go to buy clothes – the selection is endless. Groceries – holy cow, where do I begin? You want to put your money in the bank – you get to choose several tiers of savings and checking. We are flooded with choices. So when the body says its time to go, the most natural thing to do in a world of choices is to ask for a deal. However there is no deal. Death becomes evident and relevant – always their, but tastefully hidden behind the self.
So what do you do? You live the best you can. You go about meeting your needs and the needs of others. You are kind to small children and animals. You try not to be extravagant so you have some money to leave to your loved ones. You live your life in the Shadow of the your pending death. How can you think any other way about it? You plan. You get your advanced directive filled out, make a will, put stickers on doodads, and buy a prepaid burial plan….yes, we did it all.
Have you ever seen the little video “Duck, Death and the Tulip” Its so sweet. I’ll try to include it here for you to see. I think this way about Death now, even if I still rage against it. I have to many things I still want to do and see, and try and taste. I am spoiled. There is no excuse for it. So many changes I want to see, if I am dead, I can’t see. For example, the technology available to us now, and those evolving from those current technologies will be awesome. I will miss that, and I am not happy about it.
So I rage on.