Saturday, January 1, 2011

Beating the Reaper

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2011. It seems just like yesterday it was 2010. How time flies.

Another year has come and gone, and I've managed to cheat the Grim Reaper yet again. This gives me great pleasure even though, as the poet Thomas Lynch says:

Something's going to get you in the end.

The numbers are fairly convincing on this,
hovering, as they do, around a hundred

I know it will happen eventually, but in the meantime, I'll do what I can to stave off death for as long as possible. Which brings me to today's sermon: How to Keep Death at Bay.

If you read obituaries as religiously, as I do, you already know you'd be hard pressed to find a decedent who didn't pass, pass on or pass away "surrounded by his (her) loving family." In fact, this happens so often I'm convinced there must be a causal relationship between the two. Therefore, it seems pretty obvious to me that if you are an old and/or sick person, the last thing you'd want is a roomful of relatives surrounding your bed like Indians circling a wagon train or vultures circling a corpse. So you've got to take steps to avoid putting yourself in that situation.

When you're deathly ill and you figure your days might be winding down, the thing to do is avoid your relatives at all costs, and whatever you do, don't tell them about your illness. Even if it slips out accidentally, before you know it, Uncle Ted, Cousin May and Bob, the brother-in-law you could never stand will invade your bedroom and begin the death watch.

At this point, it's important to note that on occasion some people die, not surrounded by family members, but rather with their family members "by their side," although this is rare. Sadly, statistics do not tell us whether it is the left or the right side. Regardless, it is easily dealt with. If your relatives must be in the sickroom, make sure they stand together either at the head or at the foot of your bed. Not at the right side. Not at the left side. And for Dog's sake, never, ever let them begin circling.

So there you have it. My first post of 2011 has probably tacked on another ten years to your life.

No, don't thank me. It's the least I can do.

*from the title poem in Lynch's Walking Papers, W.W. Norton & Company, 2010


  1. Seems to me the thing to do is stay out of the bed entirely. Better yet, stay out of the bedroom. Don't lay down anywhere! In fact, reject the whole family and go live in a cave somewhere in an uncharted wilderness. Stop replying to email, get rid of the cell phone. Renounce your citizenship and stop reading the papers!

    I guarantee, if you take these steps you will never read your name in the obituaries.

    Problem solved :)

  2. I always knew you were smart, Jay, but this is pure genius. Don't know why I didn't think of it in the first place. Why, anyone who takes these steps will probably add twenty or even thirty years onto their life. And even if they don't, nobody will know anyhow.

    Absolutely brilliant!:D

  3. The last thing I want is everyone around me as I die. I look like shit without make-up. Send me to that cave or wherever old writers go. Preferably one stocked with Captain & cheese. Lots & lots of cheese :D

  4. That makes two of us who look terrible without make-up. Maybe if we were surrounded with cheese instead of relatives....

  5. Allow me to put both your minds at ease. The mortician will not skimp on the makeup, so you can be assured that you will look better than ever when they close your lids.

  6. You can put lipstick on an ugly rat dog, but it'll still be an ugly rat dog.

  7. Sorry, guys. But no cosmetics for me. Maybe a slight blush and some manscara, but definitely no lipstick.

  8. Addendum to "Beating the Reaper": Make sure you hide your Last Will and Testament under all the cleaning supplies. Family will never think to look there. :D

    P.S. Happy New Year, Haggis!

  9. Another thing that seems to compound the risk is Marriage.

    I've done a little genealogy of my own and noticed that a large percentage of my anscestors who died were married. There has to be a connection.

    I'm guessing that it is because someone needs to lead the pack that surrounds you. As I have gotten old I have shed the wife and taken to sleeping with a torch beside my bed.

  10. Very perceptive, Porter. When I think about it, almost all of my ancestors had offspring, which, in those days, probably meant they were married too. Yet another good reason to outlaw marriage.