So I am a coward about death, stark shivering and nakedly fearful, I don’t want to be snuffed out, granted I am not the most beautiful or smartest human being but I am all I have, and consciousness is of value, with even the down side being better than oblivion, at least so far, but I suspect that nature has a plan and that if death does not seize you by surprise, it is preceded by such pain and despair that even the most stalwart survivor says, I have had enough. Not that my father did, he never actually acknowledged mortality, not even when he was 99 and in the middle of system shutdown, as they say, just drifted off unable to accommodate life in failing flesh. I mean my father was a smart man, he knew everyone dies, but I am not sure that he believed the rule applied to him, after all he ate wisely, exercised vigorously, retained his intellect, practiced law and drove a car until he was 97, for heavens sake. I went for a drive with him, and I cannot say that the ride was entirely uneventful or that I didn’t grip the handle of my door white knuckled, but in his defense he did not crash into anything large nor did he run over dogs.
My father refused until the end to change his lifestyle. Back when he was only 90, my mother who is four years younger broke her hip and slipped afterward into dementia. I flew down to Florida to be with them, but was still working and had to run back and forth every week. My father hired a family of fat lady caretakers who came in to clean my mother and see to her needs but their Miami apartment felt small and my father was squeezed by the humanity bustling around, the doctors’ appointments and physical therapy and handicapped buses, he still had to go grocery shopping and cook meals and do laundry and it became too much for him, my mother had disappeared and been replaced by a flaccid old woman in diapers who slept all day in a recliner. Well, he has choices, I painstakingly argue with him, but he decides to send her to me in Vermont so he can have the apartment to himself, maybe he will go fishing again and play golf and gin rummy, and he will come once a month to visit, hello Dearie he will say uncomfortable and she will look at him with venom.