Duck and cover. Say the rosary and of course don’t forget to make a good Act of Contrition. That was the standard A bomb drill at St Mary’s Elementary School. As a mere lad of 7 or 8 like everything else, you did what you were told without any form of discussion. Today everything we do is fraught with hypothetical consequences and the possibility of being scarred for life. How could I ever have made it this far?
For the people of Guam the drills are for real. They have buried deep in their island paradise, the largest collection of munitions found in the free world. If the radiation doesn’t get you then the secondary explosions will. So your cogitation is not whether you will survive but what does the next life look like? Or at least how am I going to enjoy my last quarter of an hour on the planet. Probably I would find the best single malt I could, unzip a fresh pack of Marlboro Reds and have one last chat with my wife.
In fifteen minutes you can’t really accomplish a lot. What about fifteen hours or days or months? Now that is a little different proposition. You are in a little more control of your environment but what to do? I have often found the concept of a last meal for a person about to be executed a bit of a mystery. Probably more to assuage the guilt feelings of the warden and jailers. You know at least we were pleasant to him or her at the end even though we were pulling the switch.
I would have some decent food in my last months but more importantly who would I reach out to? Would I keep my group selective or would I try to touch every base in my social spectrum? The internet has made that a hell of a lot easier but I would also want to put something in writing. As in real writing on paper. So someone in the future could sit down in a quiet moment and see my script. I have a letter from my mom and my brother and it is wonderful just to read them every so often as if they were still here. I can still see their great smiles in that handwriting.
I would try to have one on ones with my kids and grandkids. Nothing maudlin but maybe some little cliche or bon mot that would stick with them as time goes by. Maybe a whiff of my cigar or a memory of a funny moment shared. Of course I would tell my fantastic wife thank you so many times and probably tell her much more than I do now how much I love her.
With my work in hospice I have often thought how I would I handle it if someone told me I had the big C. I would want to have a long talk with the docs and approach it from a business like point of view. I would want to know the odds but more importantly what would be my quality of life? I have had a marvelous run and it would be somewhat selfish to try to wring out more than I deserve.
I would probably still like to read and write and try to make a difference. I met yesterday with the director of education for the Florida Oceanographic Society. This PHD was more than approachable as I just wanted to know more about the ecosystem I was living in. We talked for an hour and a half. If I had only “x” number hours to go, what a marvelous way to have spent some of them. He was magical in his explanations and of course I debated about getting involved in one more thing. No matter how long you have, it is good to be engaged.
I am somewhat disgusted at the palp and intensity of our news today. People breathlessly want to analyze the Trumpster’s every word. Calling him out, egging him on or shouting hosanna to the highest. Do I really want to spend my last days listening to Wolf, Rachel or Sean? Is listening to panels of so called experts blathering and interrupting each other going to improve my so called quality of life. Do I need a breakdown of every play on the field of sport or will I just sit back and watch the game? Relying on what I saw as opposed to someone telling me what I should have.
You can probably see where this is going. In our frenetic world we rarely stop and just think. A brief respite to bring things back in alignment. The doc I mentioned above told a tale of equilibrium in the world of nature. Things happen for a reason and there is a beauty to that rhythm and predictability. It has served this place we call home for billions of years. Yet in our arrogance we claim to make it and our lives significantly better by our tinkering. Are we really accomplishing that or do we spend a good portion of our time correcting our mistakes? Are we taking a masterpiece and tagging it with graffiti of all sorts? Good question.
I guess I am trying to think about my life and all the little pieces. If I had a short time to go how many would I jettison and how many would I treasure? Most of all I am asking the question, if this is how I would like it to be, If so what am I waiting for? Maybe not the Marlboro Reds but having a good talk rather than a hit and run or savoring a peaty Scotch rather than swilling it down. Throwing out the stupid distractions and static while listening to the sweet symphony of life. Loving people and my God like I meant it. That to me would be a wonderful way to go.
Ted The Great
About 10% of the people who die, do so suddenly. In the world today there about 360,000 births and 150,000 deaths each day. So about 15,000 never see it coming.
Through medical science we have extended the life expectancy to around 77 years for the United Staes. The average healthy life expectancy here is 71. Thought the world the life expectancy for Japan is 83 and Swaziland is 49.
We are a death denying society. There is a theory that we would be happier if we accepted death as a fact of life. Instead of doing all we can to avoid death and taking precautions for this and that, we might be more relaxed and ergo enjoy life more if we didn’t sweat it. Interesting.
We avoid terms like death or dying and instead call it “passing.” We ascribe to so and so that they have gone to a “better place.” I can’t wait because mine ain’t so bad here. We also use the following for death: “taking a dirt nap,” “wearing a pine overcoat(coffin)”,,”pushing up daisies”, “food for worms” and my favorite from the military: “Tango Uniform” which simply means Tits Up!