Posted tagged ‘dad’

Book of Life

May 5, 2015

Book of Life




Death does not matter, when it is here, I am not.  What matters is life and the chapters, characters and actions that make it interesting or of consequence.  My life has been full and interesting and, for the most part, I’ve enjoyed it immensely.  But I realize that I have been fortunate in where and when I was born and that, for a lot of people, life is a constant struggle filled with fear and suffering.  I guess that is what makes me a social liberal; I share John Lennon’s views.  ‘Imagine’ is my favorite song.

Patty says I’ve been dying for over 30 years and I guess she’s right.  I’ve accepted death all my life but it’s not a morbid preoccupation.  I think religious people are morbidly preoccupied with death.  I think the fear of dying and the promise of an afterlife is what spawned all the world’s religions.  As a kid I thought about dying and always assumed I wouldn’t last this long.  I imagine a lot of kids my age thought about dying, you can’t practice nuclear attack drills in elementary school where you hide under your desk or lie against the walls of the school hallways without giving it some thought. In the mid-80’s I experienced some chest pains and thought it was finally catching up to me so I put my vineyards on the market (I had two) because I didn’t want Patty and the kids to have to deal with them after I was gone.  When I finally went to the doctor I found that I just had angina, an inflammation in the lining of my heart, and it wasn’t likely to kill me.  But that was another chapter that ended and along with it a monumental change in the direction of our lives. 

So… back to the analogy of ‘The Book of Life’.  I’ve got a rough draft of the final chapter or chapters and I just need to fill in a few details.  We’ve prepared a living will and Patty and I are in agreement that we do not want to die in a hospital or a nursing home.  Patty says, “Just shoot me” but that’s not a plan at all since I don’t have a gun and I don’t want to spend my final days in prison no matter how much I love her.  Longevity is actually the prolonging of old age and death will most likely occur as the diminishing of quality of life and increasing frailty.  As I sit here at my computer writing this, Patty is at Volcano National Park in Hawaii working at eradicating six-foot thorn-bushes from the lava beds under a broiling sun.  She had to hike twelve miles with a forty-pound backpack and then sleep in a tent to get to an area that most people will never go to spend a week of back-breaking labor.  So, Patty is not succumbing to old-age even though it’s becoming harder for her to do the things she wants to do. 

In remembering the members of my family, all gone now except for a sister who is living with Alzheimer’s, that most terrible and horrible of diseases, I like to think they mostly died well.  I don’t know the details because in most cases I wasn’t there but, in my mind and my memories, they mostly died well.  My eldest sister, Edythe, died on her own terms and planned for her children before she left.  My sister Millie, who I think about more than anyone and had the greatest influence on my life, planned for her passing so as to make it easier for all of us.  I think that Patty and Millie epitomize what I think of as truly good people that are sort of Mother Theresa and Joan of Arc rolled into one and are the central characters in my book.  My sister, Dolly, died in Perth, Australia and had an interesting book that rivals my own.  The night she died we talked and she made me laugh; she was true to her character and left me with happy memories.  My sister Omie and my brother Pete were estranged from most of the family and I was unaware of their deaths until later, both suffered with depression.  My sister Ginny died with her family in much the same way that my mother died with her. Mom lived with Ginny before she died and Ginny lived with her daughter Cassandra before she died.

That brings me to my friend, Joe.  Joe’s brother-in-law, a right winger and a Christian, claimed that Joe found Jesus on his deathbed.  Having known Joe for forty-some years I find that hard to believe.  But I do know that Joe sometimes told people what they wanted to believe because he was a nice guy.  However, at his memorial service, his brother-in-law used the anecdote to proselytize and that was wrong in my book.  I don’t want that to happen to me or Patty. 

So, what’s the point of all this?  Am I just being morbid?  I don’t think so.  I think the point of this is what Chronospots is all about.  I want to leave a record of my family and my life that I wish my father and mother and siblings had left me.  I don’t want them to be forgotten when I am gone and I want anyone who cares, to know who and what I was.  It’s important to me because I wanted to know these things about those who were important to me.

Also, Patty has been gone for over a month now and I have time on my hands.

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