The Simple Life

I think about death daily. The news sparks my wonder. There are always people dying, but what I want to discuss is not the newsworthy gang victim or the young woman at the height of beauty and happiness who dies trapped in a pile of metal on the highway. I want to talk about the less than sexy death, the death of someone frail and confused; a person whose mortality has already had time to weigh on their mind. Sometimes I wonder how I would like to die, not necessarily what would cause my death – that’s uncontrollable – but where I’ll be and what I will or will not be doing.

I’d like to talk about how to die and perhaps encourage you to think of it and perhaps make a plan. Make a plan and write it down in case you’re unable to verbally exprss your wishes when the matter becomes important. If you write it down, please remember to put it somewhere where others will find it when you are near death – your wallet, your checkbook, or maybe even in your investment statements.

You can die in a hospital.
There’s good and bad to this one.
Dying in the hospital absolves your loved ones from having to care for you if they really don’t want to. It may prolong your life a bit if life is synonymous with gleaming white walls and floors, people touching your naked body who refer to you by your room number instead of your name or even your nickname. It could mean tubes, in your nose, your mouth, or your genitals. If you’re in pain, it could mean better pain control, but it could be worse. After all you can get a morphine drip at home.

You can die at home.
There’s good and bad to this one.
Everybody’s comfortable at home. I often wonder if I were to die, say in my bed, if my spouse were to invariably have some sort of aversion to that bed. The bed – from a symbol of young passion to smelly incontinence. I’d hate to do that to my beautiful wife, but I’m used to my house; it’s where I live.

You can die on a fishing boat.
There’s good and bad to this one.
My happiness: it’s simple, a small bass boat, a big case of beer, a big dumb loyal dog who’s too stupid to ever have a care in the world – put us all out on the boat and let me waste the little time I have left. It should be quiet, not so I can delve into deep though, but so I can rest, laugh at things that may be only funny to me, and just not be bothered. Maybe I’ll want a person on the boat, my wife or my drinking buddy from college, but they must understand that they have to be quiet. I guess if they wanted to tell a dirty joke, that’d be OK. Better yet if they were brave enough to find humor in my fecal incontinence and say something like, “Damn, Jim, usually it takes more than one beer before you shit yourself.” And if I’m lucky my last words would be something like, “The dog did it.” Yeah, that’s it. That would make me happy, if by dying I could show everyone how inappropriate humor makes a select few enlightened people marvelously happy. The bad news with this method is that my brother probably wouldn’t inherit my fishing boat because he’s too lazy to clean it out. Another problem with this one is if there is no other person in the boat my dog will probably be too old by then to swim back to the shore and get to the house. And let’s not forget to mention the far worse negative, namely, leftover warm beer.

I’m sure my gone fishin’ story may not appeal to everyone, but it would be nice if not all of us died in the hospital like it’s assumed we are supposed to. It’s simple, if only once in our life when we get the courage to do something completely selfish and don’t pay attention to what others have done, let it be the last thing we do.

Jim Edwards, Class of 2005