Death is A Fact of life
No one sets out to be old. We set out to live a long happy life. As we get older, the two become strangely incompatible.
With age comes knees and backs that ache; skin that crinkles; friends and family who die; more Memorial Services than are likely held in most cathedrals in any given month.
Oh, and assisted living facilities. Yes, those bastions of organized boredom. Most recently, a friend of 46 years moved into one of those. It’s actually a good move for her. She doesn’t mind living in what is essentially a one-room apartment – with bedroom, kitchen and living room in a row, punctuated by a bathroom in the middle. She likes the company of other people, which had become lacking in her home. Both her sisters had deceased; even her dog bit the dust.
I am not Jewish. But I say ‘Oy’ more often than most rabbis.
I myself review my burial instructions about once a year; the caveat being that I haven’t died already.
It is oddly not depressing for me to do that. I chose a cemetery that’s as pleasant as one could find: it’s called Westwood Memorial Park. It is the repository of more celebrities and movie stars than most Academy Award ceremonies. The final resting place, as the phrase goes, of Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin, Gene Kelly, Truman Capote, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Rodney Dangerfield, Frank Zappa, Janet Leigh…on and on.
Finally, I can afford to live in the same zip code as these luminaries. Of course, many of them have fancy sites, complete with marble walls. My own humble abode is a ground plot approximately the size of a postage stamp.
Finally! I’ll be able to fit into my own clothes – well, at least the ones I was wearing before the cremation.
It seems my innate characteristic of being aspirational lives on, even if I don’t.
I only hope the stars really do come out at night, and I get to play among them (a favorite lyric, “Fly me to the moon, and let me play among the stars.”)
And so, while it’s as close to a happy ending as I could devise, I am quite contentedly still alive; though I am all too aware of the aging that comes with being my current age of 79. When I stoop to pick something up, my groans are loud enough to remind me I ain’t the woman I once was. I find myself laughing as I get back up – sometimes holding a counter, other times, going so slowly that the only thing it could affect is how long I’ve held my breath to make sure I’ll make it.
I’m reminded of an old joke (the ones I mostly know). A patient says to a doctor, “My knees hurt when I bend. What should I do?” He answers, “Don’t bend.”
Ah, Life. It is a glorious experience. I hope mine goes on a very long time. I have people to see; places to go; doctors to visit.
Meanwhile, whatever age you are – enjoy. We only go ‘round once, it is said. I hope so. My knees can’t take it anymore.