The Dearly Departed
Sunday, January 31, 2021
I just turned 74 last week. When I was a (much) younger woman in my 30's and maybe even into my 40's, I remember reading obituaries and thinking, "Well, s/he was 68. That's a good life lived." Now when I see the obits, I have an entirely different attitude.
Bob: I just saw here that Joe Blow* died yesterday.
Jane: Oh no! How old was he?
Bob: It says here he was 76 years old.
Jane: My gosh! Already?? That's so sad . . . so soon, so unexpected.
Unexpected? Shocking that someone died at 76 years old? When it is that "close to home" for me, I suddenly hit my own mortality right in the head against death's door. That prompts a lot of agonizing thoughts about how under-prepared I am to cavort down that tunnel. These this seem to come to light:
#What if I go before Bob? Will he be able to fill his pill sorter by himself? We he learn at last the art of sorting laundry so his tidy-whities don't become pinky-dinky? Will he remember to change the litter before the cat climbs into the pot with the succulents to deposit something not-so-succulent? Will he resort to eating bacon and peanut butter as dietary staples?
#What if Bob goes before me? Who could I hire to do the truly hideous tasks for me that Bob does with great attention and love . . . such as killing spiders as big as a hubcap? Unplugging the toilet when I can only peak through my hand-covered eyes at the refuse? Will I remember to go to pick up the mail before the mail lady calls the sheriff for a well-check? Will I resort to talking all day to the pets? (OK, so I already do that . . . but they are cute and seem to listen.) Who will tell me jokes? Who will laugh at my jokes?
#What if we go together? That seems rare (although we have know two couples who died within a day of each other). In this time of pandemic it happens with some regularity. This leaves my three kids to inherit things I wish they wouldn't have to see. Will they be aghast at the dust on my baseboards? Will they laugh at my underwear (some of which are older than my youngest child)? Will they marvel at the paperwork that I leave behind, carefully filed in four four-drawer file cabinets? Will they haul trunk-loads of my treasures to the thrift store?
We are a loving family. I know there will be tears. I hope there will be laughs as they remember the retro-parents . . . "Mom called these flipflops 'thongs' . . . as if!" "Oh my goodness, remember how dad always called the fridge an "icebox"? "Here's another one . . . Dad called his Nikes 'sneakers' and Mom call her Skechers 'tennis shoes' but there isn't a single tennis racket in all this stuff." "I will miss Mom's spaghetti and meatballs and Dad's advice and hands-on-help in all things home improvement."
By now I feel exhausted and somewhat as if I've had an out-of-body experience right here at my computer. I could go on for pages, but I've set the goal today of cleaning out the icebox. So, see you later alligator.
*With apologies if there is someone out there named Joe Blow.