Wednesday, October 5, 2011

H Day 5: Death

Steve jobs is dead. He was 56. He was one of the few people about which you could say he changed the world.

Still with all that power, influence, and money even he couldn't escape the one conclusion we all must face some day: Death.

I am 56. My wife just turned 56 a few weeks ago. 56 seems young to me now.  30 years ago it sounded terribly old, ancient. But then 30 years ago I never would have imagined that I would write an ebook or have a blog, that's the stuff of science fiction, the stuff of Tom Swift.

Bill Maher said recently: "I remember seeing Alan King in Atlantic City in the '80s (when I was a young comedian) and he said, "I'm 56, and people say I'm middle aged -- who do you know who lives to be 112?"
I'm 55. It was funnier then."

There are a lot of us "boomers" now in our 50s and older. And we're active, we're aware of what is going on, and we aren't going to sit still and let things happen we don't like. That should be really scary to those a lot younger, or more wealthy, or more Republican.

HuffingtopnPost has started a new branch of their website, "Huff/Post50". While I'm interested I am a bit depressed. I didn't know there were things more fearful than Death itself.

 Wendy Dennis in her article "Dying Large" gives me new worries to ponder.
"I must have crossed some kind of age threshold, because when I go to funerals lately, I start thinking about my own. It's not the dying part that scares me. It's the numbers I'll draw for the service. I'm in the sanctuary and the place is packed and some relative is at the podium going on about how wonderful the dead person was and how much they gave to the UJA, and I start taking a head count and doing the math and the minute the funeral is over, I call up my daughter and tell her that when my time comes, she has to hire extras...."
I wonder if they'd have to pay scale?

Wendy goes on to talk about the extremes some Boomers go to, even in their planning to meet Death.
"At one funeral, a casket was wrapped in brown paper and string and stamped "Return to Sender," and at the visitation of a Texas entrepreneur, steaks sizzled on the barbecue, while a margarita machine dispensed drinks at the burial plot. Some companies bury ashes with cement to create undersea "memorial reefs", while others arrange for people to rocket their ashes into outer space, like Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, LSD guru Timothy Leary and gonzo Rolling Stone reporter Hunter S. Thompson. One man planned to have a Viking funeral where his ashes would be placed in a wooden boat, which would then be set on fire and floated on a river."

Laurie has a list of songs she's collecting for her funeral. I guess I should ask where she keeps it someday, not that I'll ever need it, but just so she knows I know, you know.

I always wanted one of those New Orleans style funerals, slow and mournful, the trombone as sad and thoughtful as the people following my casket, but after it's done and I'm down the scene changes. It's about life, those still living, why be sad, he had a good life, he was loved, now we're all here together, let's have a party, he'd want that.

I fully realize that it might be difficult to plan such an event in Madison, WI, especially if it happens during those colder snowy icy months. [brrrrrr!] And I also realize I'll never really know if it happens or not. So just be quiet and let me pretend it's going to be exactly that way. I think I'll put aside a little money for my funeral so my kids can hire some extras, some good ones who can dance and swing.

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