Saturday, April 14, 2012

Thoughts On The Final Journey



Lately I've been thinking a lot about my Final Journey. If you haven't figured out what I mean by Final Journey, it means that when I die.








We're all going to die. We just don't know when. Unless you murdered someobody and are on Death Row or have a terminal disease, none of us knows when we're going to die. The only other exception is dying by suicide. Then you know exactly when you're going to die.







When I was a young man of seventeen years old, I almost died. I did not know how close I was to death (a hospital error) until a few years after I survived a botched operation and our doctor apologized to my Mother because he didn't take seriously my complaints about the extreme pain I was going through. He dismissed my complaints by saying "He's just imagining things." His arrogance almost caused my death. For the record his name was Dr. Samuel Spector and his office was in Coatesville, Pennsylvania.







After surviving that incompetent and arrogant doctor I've had good health in the past fifty-three years. I'm starting to go downhill now. Nothing serious, just aches and pains. My lower limbs (legs) swell with water now and I have to wear special socks to keep the circulation going.







I make regular visits to my dermatologist to remove precancerous (keratosis) skin lesions.







I have arthritis in my right hand.







My lower back aches all the time, sometimes when I'm at work it is almost unbearable. On a pain scale of one to ten it sometimes reaches a seven or and eight.







I have a high PSA score and could possible have prostate cancer but I have decided not to give the doctors and the hospitals another chance to botch an operation so I'm hoping to outlive prostate cancer, if I have prostate cancer. I know, it's a gamble but isn't life a gamble?







I could die tomorrow on Route 1 by having one of those crazy Pennsylvania drivers plow into my red 2012 Subaru Forester. More likely, one of the drug addled kids who live down here in Sussex County is probably more likely to run a red light and total my car and me. I stay off of Route 1 as much as possible.







Then again I could live to be 93 years old and in relatively good health like the father of my friend Bill P. who I was talking to on the phone yesterday. He says his father still lives alone and drives. That's my goal.







I think life and death has come to the fore in my mind again because of another friend of mine family situation. His parents have been living on their own. His mother is 92 and his father is 94. Last week his mother's health started to fail and she was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. My friend is now involved in making new living arrangements for his elderly parents. His mother will go to a "rehab" facility (they used to call them "nursing homes" until nursing homes got bad names). His father will probably continue to live alone as long as he can, at which time he will probably to to a VA facility (he's a World War II combat veteran).







I think of all the friends I used to have who are now gone. Ron and Sal, my best friends in the Army are gone. Ron died in 2005 and Sal died one month before we moved to Delaware in 2006. Several of my classmates have died since our 50th reunion. At the reunion they were in fine health. They are no longer here now. Gone like that. The loss that has affected me the most is the death of my Mother in 2010. I feel like a chunk of my life was taken away from me. I can't quite explain it but a lot of my reason for living died when she died. Things I used to care about, I just don't care anymore. I can't get worked up over things that I used to be passionate about. For instance, recently several people who I thought were friends proved to be otherwise. Normally I would be upset about that . Now? I just don't care. They don't matter. To be honest with you, I don't even care if I make new friends. I just do not care.







Bill (my spouse) is 83 now. He's in good health. I kid him that he may outlive me. He probably will. I worry about that because I take care of the household. He retired at 55 and his lump sum payment is long gone. He receives a modest Social Security payment but nothing on the scale to maintain our present state of living here in this wonderful neighborhood in southern Delaware. Our "lifestyle" (rich gays you know) is expensive. I just got the propane gas bill yesterday. Almost $1200. What used to be $1.99 a gallon is now $3.69 a gallon. That's just the propane gas bill. Then there is the electric bill, water bill, Comcast (which always goes up), Verizon, DirecTV, homeowner's association, insurance (homeowners, medical, car). Everything is going up except my fixed pensions and Social Security and when I die that goes with me.



I worry about Bill. He tells me "not to worry" if I die, he will take care of things.









So that's my situation now folks. Something I've been thinking about lately, especially since my Mother's death and my friend's parent's situation.










I'm not afraid of dying. I am afraid of a painful and long drawn out humiliating death. I would prefer to die in my sleep. But we don't have that choice do we?




One thing I do know, as I near The End, I see what is really important in my life and what isn't important. What is important is spending more time with people I care about and who care about me. What isn't important and what I can will no longer waste my time with are people who care nothing for me. I've wasted so much of my life trying to be what others think I should be so they would like me. If I have learned nothing else in my life I have learned this one thing, you have to be yourself. If someone doesn't like you then it's on them. Move on, don't waste your time with them. They don't matter. What matters are those who care for you. Give them your attention and let them know how much they mean to you. That is what is truly important in this life.


27 comments:

  1. Anonymous5:08 PM

    Hi Ron,

    First of all I really like the picture you have posted of Rehoboth in the early evening light.
    I relate to your recent post a lot. I've been thinking about my Mom too, as she loved Spring when the flowers & trees begin to bloom. It's such a lovely time of year. Also, I have been catching up on your posts because I've been helping take care of my Aunt in her final 2 weeks of life. She wanted to die at home & in the final week was in a coma. I didn't want her daughter, my cousin, to be alone during this time. This has me thinking about the end of life too, but today I decided to stop that & think about all the things I want to do before that time comes. Like you said we could have it all planned out & a trip to Walmart could change it all in a split second. We better enjoy our life & our freedom every minute we have.
    Take care & continue to have a great Spring!

    Fran

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    1. Fran,

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments. We think alike, you and I. I think of all I want to do and do it. Today we had a lovely ride to B.J.'s in Millsboro on this lovely spring day. Every day is a gift. I think back to when I was young and how I wasted so much time wishing for the weekend to come of until I was 21 years old. Now every day counts and I appreciate all that life has to offer. I am very fortunate. Thank you again for your heartfelt wishes. There are always appreciated.

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  2. Wow, this is powerfully and beautifully expressed. These are things that we all think about in the dark realms of our secret selves, but which we try to forget or brush aside in the glaring light of day.

    I'm admittedly now in my 50's. I've gone through the deaths of both my parents, many relatives, and several close friends. And the recent death of someone I loved very much long ago.

    As we advance in age, we tend to view lives with a much different perspective than we did in our youth. Our priorities are different and our entire existence takes on a new and special meaning.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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    1. Jon,

      You express yourself very well. I wrote that post because I felt I had to get some "things" out. You are right that as we advance in age we view life from a different perspective. I'm finding it is true as Noel Coward said "Youth if wasted on the young."

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  3. Just cuz your warrantee is up doesn't mean you will fall apart fast. Oh and by the way, you missed one way to know when you are going to go (grin). As for Bill - if you could marry him then he would get benefits if you die first. Ever consider moving to an "equality state" before? I still think you should both go together. Max ;-)

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    1. Max,

      Bill inherits "the empire" (as I often tell him) when I die. He says it won't matter because he'll be right behind me. I'm hoping that day is long away. We treasure each day. It is ironic that now that I am older, weaker in body and without the beauty of youth, I appreciate life so much more.

      Ron

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  4. You sound very centered and rational with a wonderful outlook on something that scares a lot of people. But you're still a whipper-snapper! As the Vulcans say: Peace, and long life!

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    1. Walt,

      You are a wise man. Thank you for your comment. Always appreciated.

      Ron

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  5. I hope your wisdom about Death paradoxically gives your Life as much life as it can hold.

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    1. Dr. Spo,

      Each day is a gift. And I plan to live a LONG TIME!

      Ron

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  6. Ron,

    Even the person on Death Row doesn't know. With today's appeal system he or she might outlive their judge, july and victim's survivors.

    Lar

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    1. Lar,

      You're absolutely right! Ironic isn't it? Not that you're right but that people on Death Row don't even know when they're dying. I guess in a way we're all on Death Row. We just don't know the exact date of our demise.

      Ron

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  7. All perfectly valid thoughts, Ron. If now is not the time to have them, then when is?

    It's good to have someone like you providing a regular nudge to remind me how fortunate I am in having my own health 'problems' as being so relatively trivial. But as I approach what is likely to be a similar stage of physical deterioration as you are experiencing, I fervently hope that my own perception of life - and what is REALLY important about it - becomes as acute as yours now is.

    Best wishes once again, my friend.

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    1. Ray,

      I am going downhill fast. I've been lucky in that for the first 65 years of my life I've had good health. The old bod is wearing out now, just like an old car starting to fall apart. I can do a repair here and a repair there but inevitably the old jalopy will stop. I just hope it is quick and painless.

      Ron

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    2. Your comment here has affected me deeply, Ron - like a punch in the gut. But it's YOU that matters, so what can one say? My thoughts are with you - and I'm going to try really hard to send you positive vibes, for what they're worth. I'll be playing extra-special attention to your blogs from now on. Go well. my friend.

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    3. Thank you Ray. I'm ready to go. In the meantime (which I hope is a long time) I will endeavor to make every day count. I take nothing for granted at this time of my life, nothing.

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    4. I refuse to give up on the hope that we'll yet be hearing of good tidings from you, Ron, of whatever nature. Perhaps news of life dealing you a hand of aces that makes your existence having been even more worthwhile - and allowing you some belated consolation. I continue to watch.

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  8. Excellent Post I know we have talked about it before but after the implant of the experimental mechanical valve in 01/06 the doctor gave it 5 years and we are now rolling into 6.5. When the ICD was implanted in 8/08 they expected it to fire regularly. Now 3.5 years later it has only "fired" twice. So I do not fear death but I do fear the decline.

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    1. Roger,

      You have been through much more than I have. You understand what I'm talking about. Like you, I do not fear death (because I believe there is nothing when we go) but I do fear a prolonged and painful decline like my friend's mother is going through now. I think her situation is what brought these thoughts to my mind. She has no quality of life now hooked up to a feeding tube the rest of her life and partially paralyzed. I do not want to go that way.

      Ron

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  9. Optimism is not being afraid of life. The future has not happen so there is no need to worry about it. The best you can do is to have your finances in order and spend the most time you can with people you care about. I think so far you have done well for yourself. But I also understand why the death of your mother would be so hard. Cheer up Ron! Living is not for the faint of heart but it can be so rewarding too. Frankly, you would not want to know when you are going to die. Just enjoy everyday for what it is.
    When the time comes, you will reach Heaven, look back and have a good laugh.

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    1. Nadege,

      Well said. I do have my finances in order (did that last year) and I am spending time with people I care about and also those people who care about me. I no longer will waste my time seeking approval of people who don't like me or care nothing for me.
      You're right, I don't want to know when I am dying. I just hope when I do it is quick and painless and not too messy. :)

      Ron

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  10. I have to agree with you on dying quickly. I wouldn't want to suffer for months or even years. I'd rather be in good health right up to the end.
    I hope both of you can continue living together for many years to come.

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    1. Scott,

      Thank you very much for your good wishes. I hope both of you also live a long and happy life.

      Ron

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  11. Ron-
    When I started my blog I wanted to link all things "Delaware" to it, so it was inevitable that I would happen across "Retired in Delaware". I feel blessed that I did. Life happens, and I miss a lot of your postings, but I have always marveled at your ability to pen straight from the heart. There have been countless occasions when my wife and I greet each other with "check out what Ron wrote". This posting and the photos attached really hit home. Thank you.

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    1. "Liberty" (I forget your name...again)

      Thank you very much for your thoughtful comment on this posting. Sometimes I feel I just "have to get it out." Now that I have I can continue with my "regular stuff." By the way, if you've missed a lot of my postings you probably haven't missed a lot. I tend to complain too much and sometimes I slip into my political of social rants which I try to stay away from on my blog postings because I really don't want to offend anyone. When I post I have to remind myself that anyone could be reading my blog and I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Thanks again, your comments are always appreciated.

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  12. Hey, I just came across your blog and wanted to say that this is a really beautiful entry. It's interesting the way perspectives on life and death change so much over time. All we can do is try to enjoy our times with the ones we love and hope that when we go, we get it over with! One thing I want to say, though, is please don't let your past bad experiences with doctors prevent you from getting potential issues checked out. It sounds like your doctor last time was absolutely incompetent, but they're not all like that. Plus, if you come armed with some malpractice lawyers (I recommend Janet, Jenner & Suggs), doctors are generally much more willing to take complaints seriously! Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts and good luck to you :)

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    1. Rhonda,

      Thank you for your good advice which I am taking. I have scheduled an appointment to have a prostate biopsy taken January 29, 2013. It is with some apprehension but I feel I must do it now. You're right, the doctor I had when I was 17 years old, Dr. Samuel Spector, was incompetent. Also arrogant and unfeeling. But what did I know back then? I was only a timid, 17 year old kid with no world experience and an absolute respect for authority.

      Ron

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