Oh, for goodness sake, here comes this retard talking about death in January! We’ve just danced, sang and wined into a new year and this Dufus has to remind everyone we’ll check into the wooden Waldorf one day. Idiot! I shall not die but live to testify of the goodness of the Lord!
Well, I can’t help myself, can I? It must be the harmattan. Besides, what type of friend will I be if I don’t remind you that you will expire one day? I hope that day is a thousand years away, when you are full of years, wizened and lost all appetite to curse me.
So, I came across a BBC story about the end of life that I found thought-provoking and wanted to share with you. Because contrary to what you might have believed, not only frogs croak. You and me will be shuffled off this mortal coil one day. Yup, it’ll happen, mates. Poof, and we are worm food. Pushing up daisies from under. Therefore as you prepare to take on 2020, as your biggest fan, it is my self-imposed responsibility to awaken you to the other important things in life other than your career or making money.
So, let’s talk about the final moments of people. Their last wish and actions.
The picture below is of Norbert Schemm, 87, of Appleton, Wisconsin, a day before he succumbed to stage four colon cancer. He had a beer with his family and they took a picture of it. That was the last thing he wanted to do. Have a beer with his family before he goes.
This next picture is of Theresa Meehan, 84. She was put in hospice and eventually died of kidney and heart failure. She wanted to have Baileys liquor with her family as she came to the end of her life.
Up next is Leon Riggs, 86, enjoying a final cigar and beer days before he passed on.
What is it with these beautiful people and alcohol? A toast to life? A rebellion in the face of death? Me, if i’ve still got the teeth, I’d like me some succulent Isi-Ewu. Or Nkwobi and Ugba. Life’s little luxuries.
The stories were all the more touching because I have a homeboy who has ALS – Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Motor Neurone Disease (MND). That is the disease Stephen Hawking had. ALS is terminal. No cure. People who have it typically die between two to four years after diagnosis. You don’t have to do anything wrong to have it. 5-10% of cases are thought to be hereditary. 90-95% are thought to be genetic.
This thing knocked the wind out of our sail and we are all gutted. But we are fighting this thing. We believe in miracles. Faith is not delusional. There’s been some correlation between people who have strong belief and faith and overcoming dire illnesses and diseases. Our mind is apparently so much powerful than we give it credit for. So, we are coming at this ALS thing hard like Mike Tyson. Powerful jabs to the ribs, quick change of foot and 3,000-pound upper cut. Lights out. We win.
But all these set me thinking on what I’d like to do in my final moments. If I had the improbable privilege of knowing my final 24 hours, what will I do?
You know, I really don’t know. Maybe pour out life’s wisdom on my children and grandchildren? Maybe reminisce about my happiest moments and regrets? Cry? Smile like an idiot all day? I really don’t know. One thing I do know is that I’d love my end of life to be painless. Like my old man’s.
He was 71. He was feeling out of sorts and had gone to the hospital with my mum. They walked to the hospital. It was close to the house. When they got to the hospital, the old man realized he’d forgotten his hospital card at home. My mum went to get it. When she returned a few minutes later, my old man was wandering the Elysian Fields. He’d died sitting on the bench. People around didn’t know he was dead.
It was a Monday morning. In January. I was at the office when the doctor called. I never knew him. He asked if I could come to the hospital. I asked him what about. Then my mother came on the line crying and hysterical. She mentioned something about my dad.
Oh, God no! No, no,no! Not my father, please! No, God! Not my dad! Not my dad!
To this day when I drive by the hospital, I still look at it with an evil eye. My old man croaked in your hospital and you lot are guilty! Even you chair, table and generator! Especially you, bench! Couldn’t you notify someone he was slipping away? You are all complicit!
I’ve always wondered what he thought about in those final seconds. If he knew this was it. That it was really happening. If he thought about me, my siblings, my mum. If he saw a glorious vista, or saw himself leaving his mortal body. Wondered if regrets flitted across his disembodied mind.
Many of my old man’s friends told me they pray to die the way my father died. Painless. Without illness. Without cost. A beautiful death they called it.
A beautiful death. What tragic oxymoron.
If we had the privilege of going into the future to see our end of life, that experience will no doubt impact on the decisions and actions we take in the present. We’d probably look at careers differently, look at relationships differently and look at religion and matters of faith differently.
The BBC story reminded me of another interesting piece I read about what people in their 90s regret most. You can read that here.
It seems that when we get close to being worm food, we become wiser and wistful. We suddenly realise that what we thought were the most important things in life are no longer the most important things. We start thinking about death and life after death.
And oh, did I tell you there’s life after death? Judgement? Where all your life will be played back in ultra high definition HD? There might even be popcorn. Make sure the host of heaven clap for you after the review so my homeboy Pete can usher you through the Pearly Gates. Belief in Jesus is unfashionable these days. But then so are a lot of things that can save you.
Eternity. Where will you be sitting, smoking or non-smoking?
God bless and Happy New Year, folks!