My power of attorney is done. My will is done. Am I ready to die? I’m not planning on it, but you never know. I could go to a doctor for some reason, and he or she could kill me—accidentally of course. Or I could get hit by a truck delivering health food. Or I could perform standup comedy and die on stage. Who knows?
Death fascinates me. I love walking through cemeteries, reading the residents’ tombstones, and reflecting on their lives. What were their concerns? What made them happy? What made them sad? Did they know that a tombstone would grow after they were planted? Did they know that one day, long after they were gone, someone would be reflecting on their lives?
I want to be planted so a tombstone will grow. I like the idea of someone reflecting on my life long after I am gone.
When I was in my teens, I played with a Ouija board. The Ouija board said that I would die during the first week of August in 2018. If the Ouija board is right, then I have just over a year left. Am I worried? Not yet, but ask me again on July 31, 2018.
“If you use our real names in your blog, then I’ll . . . ”
The speaker was Adam. That’s not his real name. Adam is married to Eve. That’s not her real name. I have known Adam and Eve since they were kicked out of The Garden.
Adam and Eve have often invited me to their place for dinner. I have avoided going because I get into my hermit mode and do not socialize. So it’s nothing against Adam and Eve when I turn down their dinner invitations.
This past Wednesday I had a business appointment with Adam. Adam offered to drive me back to the library after our appointment, but needed to stop briefly by his house on the way.
“Would you like to come in and say hello to Eve?” asked Adam when we stopped at his house.
“Sure,” I said.
I had no plans to stay, but once inside Adam and Eve and I started talking. What a wonderful conversation! It lasted through dinner and afterward. We talked about life, death, God and religion. What else would you talk about around Adam and Eve? I would have missed this delightful evening if Adam did not have to stop at his home.
Adam and Eve are kind and generous. All who know them are blessed. Even God regrets kicking them out of The Garden. I am grateful for their friendship.
Last week I thought about Mother’s Day. I thought about Ma dying 15 years ago, and how I was finally over her death. And then I wrote yesterday’s blog and I cried and I cried and I cried.
Bereavement Leave at the places I worked was 3 days. Three days to get over a death of someone close to you. Here it is 15 years, and I’m still not over my mother’s death.
Yesterday, I felt the way I did when she died. I felt like screaming, “Stop the world! Stop the world! My mother died! Stop the world!”
A friend once told me, “We never really get over the deaths of those close to us. We just learn to live with the pain.”
I have mentioned before how Aunt Marie always smiled no matter what.
I never saw Aunt Marie angry. I never heard Aunt Marie complain. She always smiled and was always pleasant. The recurring words, at her funeral today, were about her glowing smile and pleasant disposition despite her serious illnesses.
Some people reporting about their near-death experiences say how they rose out of their bodies, and unconditional love and eternal peace surrounded them. They wanted to stay out of their bodies, but a voice said, “Go back. It’s not your time yet.” How disappointed they were when back in their bodies. They said that their bodies were like prisons. They longed for freedom, and no longer feared death.
Aunt Marie suffered all those years with various illnesses, operations and finally cancer. Not once did she complain. She always smiled and was pleasant. This is what she was like with her failing body. Can you imagine the glowing smile on Aunt Marie’s face now that she is free of her failing body, and surrounded by unconditional love and eternal peace?
From my perspective, I will miss Aunt Marie. But from her perspective, she has never felt better.
Years ago, I read a Buddhist Saying in a book. I don’t remember the name of the book. I googled the saying and found different versions of it from various sources. I’m not sure of the source, but the version I read said,
“When we are born, we cry and the world rejoices. When we die, the world cries and we rejoice.”
It’s been ten years since Kurt Vonnegut left his body. On Wednesday April 11, 2007, Kurt shuffled off his coil mortal—or something like that.
“That’s right. Ten years ago I learned that there was an afterlife. I was 84 years old, but never too old to learn.”
Kurt Vonnegut! What are you doing here?
“I heard you were writing about me so I thought I’d stop by.”
Really? I’m honored!
“Don’t get too excited. You could be hallucinating because you’re insane.”
You look real for a hallucination.
“I do my best no matter what I do.”
You’re doing a great job at appearing real.
I’m at a loss for words.
“You want me to write your blog?”
Uh-er-uh-No-uh-It’s just that I am at a loss for words over being in your presence.
“Have you noticed that you are never at a loss for words when you tell someone that you’re at a loss for words?”
“Isn’t there anything you want to ask me?”
Yes, lots. But I wouldn’t know where to begin.
“May I ask you a question?”
“How do you plan to end this blog?”
My good friend Dominic Zoffranieri died February 27, 2016. Wow! It’s been a whole year. I was hoping to hear from him after he died. Dominic loved telling jokes. I was hoping he would appear to me and tell me a joke. Nothing so far. I have had dreams about him, but they were only dreams.
Does Dominic not appearing to me make me doubt whether we go on after we die? No, I still believe in an afterlife, and the afterlife consists mainly of shopping at Walmart. Perhaps Dominic is still busy buying stuff to stop to tell me a joke. There are lots of great bargains at that Walmart in the sky.
“Dominic, buddy, I miss you. It’s been a year since you moved away. I still think about you and the times we had. I don’t remember us having any bad times. They were all good. Feel free to stop by anytime so we can catch up. I’d love to hear you tell me a joke or two. Cheers!”
Officialdom will tell you, “Carrie Minnie Johnston died on November 10, 2002 and not November 9th.” That’s because her death certificate says November 10th.
We mortals cannot assume death. Only divine doctors, who know everything, can pronounce someone dead.
Ma collapsed and died at about 10:00 p.m. on Saturday November 9th. The ambulance attendants knew she was dead. We knew she was dead, but only a doctor can pronounce death.
The coroner arrived at Ma’s home in the wee hours of Sunday November 10th. He took a quick look at Ma lying on the floor, and decided that a “heart attack” was her cause of death.
No autopsy? It wasn’t necessary. Besides, an autopsy might show that the medical profession had screwed up somehow causing her death. She was on collection of prescribed pills. (Twenty-plus bottles of pills?) Could the combined medication have caused her death? Could what was causing the severe pain in her back have killed her?
We would never know the answers. The coroner repeated how an autopsy was not necessary. He pronounced her dead on Sunday November 10, 2002, and listed the cause of death as Myocardial Infarction which is a fancy name for heart attack.
It was official. Ma was dead. We mortals thought that she was lying there having a shnanny shnoo so she wouldn’t be tired when she went to Yick. But now we knew, thanks to a divine doctor, that Ma was dead.
Ma was a big kid. She had her own childlike language and behavior which she never outgrew. A shnanny shnoo was her term for a nap. Yick was Ma’s name for Yorkdale Shopping Mall. Yick was Ma’s favorite place to shop. Her second favorite place to shop was Plooz which was the Dufferin Plaza. Ma would often say, “After my shnanny shnoo, I went to Yick, and then I went to Plooz.” Dad was Ma’s reluctant chauffeur.
Shnanny shnoo was for naps only. Ma’s expression for going to bed to sleep was “going up on high.” I would call and ask, “Where’s Dad?” Ma would reply, “He’s gone up in high.”
Ma would never call people stupid. She would say, “They’re clueless. They need to go to the closet and get a clue.” Clueless also applied to anything Ma thought was silly or stupid. Often her review of a movie would simply be, “It was clueless.”
Ma’s would never say, “I told you so” when you found out something that she had said was right. Instead she would say, “See what I mean to sez?”
Ma’s childlike behavior was inconvenient at times. During the winter, she loved to kick the chunks of frozen slush from a car’s wheel wells. It always took longer to walk with Ma down the street because she would stop at every parked car and kick the chunks of frozen slush.
“Ma, you died on November 9th and were pronounced dead on November 10th, but you’re still very much alive. You’re alive when I have a shnanny shnoo, or go up on high. You’re alive when I go to Yick or Plooz. And you’re alive when I kick chunks of frozen slush from the wheel wells of cars. Thanks Ma.”
Let’s call her Brenda. Brenda is not her real name, but she is real. Brenda already knew that she, and her husband, were having a boy. Let’s call the boy Logan.
Brenda’s due date was Thursday September 22, but Brenda thought that Logan would come early because his brother came two weeks early five years ago. Logan’s brother gave Brenda a hard labor.
At a family gathering on Saturday September 17, I put my hands on Brenda’s belly and said, “Logan, wait until Thursday September 22 before you come out. And when you come, be easy on your mommy. Also, don’t come too early in the morning.”
Brenda said, “Oh no, I think that he is still going to come earlier than Thursday.”
My sister shouted at Brenda’s belly, “Logan, come out on Monday September 19, my birthday!”
Logan listened to me! He went from Spirit to flesh on Thursday September 22. I told him to go easy on his mother, and his birth was quick. I told him to come out at a decent hour, and he was born at 11:33 a.m. He weighed 7.95 lbs.
How refreshing Logan’s birth is! These past weeks I have reflected on my father’s death, and attended several funerals. Logan’s birth is a wonderful reminder of how life goes on.
Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
– Dylan Thomas (1914 – 1953)
I disagree with Dylan Thomas. Why not go gentle into that good night? Why rage, rage against the dying of the light? Death is inevitable. Why resist it?
I accept that when Death comes, my in-box will be full. My in-box is never empty. There are always things that need to be done. So when Death comes I may need groceries or need to do laundry. Perhaps my library books will be due. But the Universe knows what is important. Whatever I think is important and needs to be done does not matter. When Death comes my time is up on this planet. Death will help me to move to a better place where there is no such thing as rap music.
I don’t entirely disagree with Dylan Thomas. It’s not just old age that should burn and rave at the close of day. Instead of waiting until my death day, I am burning and raving now. I will not allow my soul to be smothered out. The smothering of souls happens to many children as they become adults and join the rest of the flock. I will continue to rave and play and hoot and holler and scream and stir things up! But when Death comes, I will stop this behavior and embrace Death the way one embraces an old friend . . .
“Come in, Death, come in. Sit down. Thanks for coming. How nice to see you! How was your trip? That’s good. Can I get you something? Would you like a beer, coffee or banana? Nothing? Yes, I know we have to leave soon. Okay. Just give me a moment to stop breathing and halt my heart. Thanks.”
Eleven years ago today, Monday August 29, 2005, Roy Wilfred “Chic” Johnston checked out, bit the dust, bought the farm, crossed over, passed away, departed, flatlined, kicked the bucket, left the building, went the way of all flesh, etc. In other words, he died. (Why are there so many euphemisms for death?)
So, what is Ol’ Roy doing today? Celebrating his death day the way we celebrate birthdays?
He did not go gentle into that good night. His last months consisted of violence, drooling, diapers, and more violence. Why couldn’t he have died like Mom? Her death, several years before Dad’s, was sudden and shocked us. But Dad? No shock. My brother, sisters and I breathed relief when he died.
It sounds terrible that we wanted Dad to die. We felt that death was better than seeing Dad tied to a bed to prevent him from assaulting people. Death was better that seeing Dad drooling and screaming. Death was better than having to help hold Dad down so the nurses could change his diaper.
How fitting that Dad died the same day as Hurricane Katrina which, like him, did not go gentle into that good night.