Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Lost, Late, or Gone?

It must have been the week for putting horses down because along with Barbero, my dear friend Carol, had to the same with her cherished horse. These events are always painful but her sorrow was compounded by the fact that she had two horses who were together for so many years that the vet suggested the other horse would probably be so lonely and miserable she should put her down as well. Carol, not a person easily defeated by life and death situations, agreed the horse should not be alone and found a new home for the horse. One where there were other horses about the same age and physical condition.

When Carol was telling me the story I kept thinking about how similar this horse was to my mother. No, I am not going to put my mother down, but it would sure be nice for her to be living in a place where there were other people about the same age and physical condition. Of course, there are a great many assisted living situations and I think that she would be really happy once she was resettled, but my mother has never been one to try to live happily ever after.

Speaking of putting someone down, it is kind of a gruesome way to describe euthanasia. At least the word euthanasia is too long and complicated to sound terrible. It kind of intimates having a choice about life or death and at the very least it sounds humane. Expressions about death have always driven me nuts. I think I talked about it in my blob entitled “Please Don’t Go To Florida.” Despite the seriousness of the situation, when someone refers to a dead person as ‘the late’ so and so, I just want to scream “He’s not late. He’s not coming. And when I talked to Tina the other night she mentioned that when a next door neighbor referred to the loss of her mother-in-law, as “We lost Estelle...” all she wanted to know was, “How could you misplace someone that size?” One of my least favorite expressions is “she/he passed on”. Passed on what? The opportunity to buy Girl scout cookies. A sale at Target? When I hear anything about passing on I always just want them to finish the sentence.

As a culture we clearly have a problem about dying. When I was a kid and I used to say the “Now I lay me down to sleep...” prayer, the part about “if I should die before I wake” was terrifying. I absolutely didn’t want the Lord or anyone to take anything. Even though I had no idea about what a soul actually was, I didn’t want mine to be missing in the morning. My kids have the same problem about body parts. When Seth lost a baby tooth, he left it outside his room because he didn’t want the Tooth Fairy anywhere near his bed. Well, that’s not exactly the same thing but it’s close enough to make a point. And by the way, my daughter-in-law mentioned that in my blob about good things I didn’t mention the new baby on the way. That is certainly a good thing but I am incredibly superstitious and I didn’t want to give them a poo-poo-poo. A poo-poo-poo is like the evil eye. For example, my grandmother never dressed her two sets of twins alike because if they drew attention to themselves, someone might give them the evil eye or a poo-poo-poo. The Jewish word is ‘kunahura’ which is rhymes with run a hurdle—substituting the dle with a short a at the end, Anyway, birth of a grandchild is a very good thing.

Back to denial. For years, I was afraid to go to sleep at night. First of all, because each night the prayer reminded me that I might not get up. And second, because a guy came to the house and tried to sell my parents a fire alarm. In his presentation he discussed all the possibilities for a fire, the gruesome consequences and the likelihood that a devastating fire was inevitable. We would lose all our possessions and probably our lives, So every night, after I said the “Lay me down...”, I waited for spontaneous combustion. The man so frightened my little brother that he slept in my room for about three years. And wasn’t that a delight?

Then I started to think that I would feel the same way being dead as I did before I was born. I would know nothing. And it was only when I read about reincarnation that this became a problem. Had I been a Knight of the Round Table or a flea in the past. I can’t remember what I did this morning so figuring out who I was thousands of years ago is unlikely. And it didn’t comfort me.

Comfort is the key word here. Carol didn’t want her horse to live in pain. I don’t want My mother, like Carol’s remaining mare, shouldn’t have to live without pals. And no one I know wants to be miserable, sick or alone in their old age. But here’s the one thing I do know. When I go, No one will put me down, I will not have passed on anything, I am certainly not lost, and I will never be late. I absolutely will not be coming. We’re just sayin...

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