Who 1/22/21

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

A friend of mine (yes, I have a friend!) asked me if I was feeling sick today. It was an odd question, not because I’m questioning her concern for me, but because I’ve given no indication that I’m unwell. Then she got to the heart of the issue; “If you get ill,” she asked, “who will take care of you?”

She knows my situation. She knows that I live alone with Star, my cat (yes, I guess I’m a “cat guy”), and in an area where I have not built up many friends. I’ve barely met my neighbors (I’ve written on that before), and the one friend here I feel I could turn to I speak with infrequently so if he doesn’t hear from me, he probably wouldn’t question it.

For people in my situation, there’s not much that can be done. If we get sick, we have to take care of ourselves. We either recover, or we don’t. Some of my readers may recall my butt story. Although the story was written ironically, it highlights the hazards of being alone. Based on actual events, the story is about a minor incident of a splinter in a location that, well, that can’t be reached alone. A splinter isn’t truly significantly dangerous in today’s society but left in it could have festered.

Many women like to complain about men who cannot take care of themselves when they’re ill, or worse, will not take care of their spouse when the opposite is true. I don’t doubt these stories; I’ve known a man or two in my day and rumor has it that I may be a man as well. But if the stories are true, then I am the exception. But to be fair, I’ve never really had the option to be selfish and let someone take care of me. Even when I was married and dying of a serious heart attack that eventually resulted in an old-fashioned triple bypass because the damage to my heart was too far gone for angioplasty, all my wife did was accuse me of being lazy and faking the symptoms. So, yes, I keep cans of soup and emergency supplies in the house, most of which are microwavable so they’re easy to prepare.

My friend tells me that she is heartbroken by this. I don’t understand why. If I don’t heal, I die. It’s no great loss. I’m not leaving a loving wife or children; the world simply loses another lonely man with an impact being nothing more than leaving an adjunct chemistry position open for a new graduate. And don’t worry about the cat. I’ve been told cats will eat their humans’ corpses eventually if nobody finds them. She’ll be just fine.

I guess I should put together a will, though. I’m sure the pandemic is the reason she is suddenly concerned; she must have seen or heard something that spooked her and made her think of me in my situation. It’s sweet of her to worry, but as I’ve written in previous posts, I’m rather practical about my attitude towards death. Hence the comment about my cat. I’m hoping the reader chuckled on this, but I also hope she does. I don’t want her to die just because I’m suddenly dead, and frankly, I’d like my body to go to something practical.

I’ve never understood the concept of preserving corpses. Why remove ourselves from the carbon and life cycles? We’re meant to be recyclable; the worms we can eat while alive get to eat us when we’re gone. Life goes on. I’ve heard of a tribe that puts corpses atop a mountain for the carrions to consume. I love that idea, but since it would be shocking in our society, perhaps for me the best alternative is to be cremated, and have my ashes fertilize a new tree.

I love trees. I’ve always felt a connection to them. Maybe it’s because our personalities are so similar. And I’ve never wanted a mournful funeral with people dressed in black and weeping at my open casket showing what Star left intact of my face. No, I rather like the concept of what I’ve heard they do in Louisiana, where funerals are a celebration of the life lived as opposed to a mourning of what has been lost. I’d rather have people dress comfortably, get a band to play upbeat jazz, and have the eulogy delivered by a comedian. Heck, roast me before the funeral home roasts me. To me, that would be the sendoff that fits me the best. It’s okay; if there’s a heaven, well…no, I’m sure I wouldn’t make it there. Still, at least I won’t have to shovel any more snow.


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