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.