Thoughts On Death And Dying
Time most certainly is running out. For all of us.
That message couldn’t have come home more true to me than any other over the past week or so with the passing of my last grandparent.
I’m going to be 49 in a few months and it’s amazing to think that nearly a half century has passed with me in it. For those of you younger reading this, trust me, it will go by fast for you, too.
We just don’t realize when we’re younger how fast time is whizzing past us. It’s like having a big pot of money and not understanding that at some point, it’s going to run out if we don’t put more in it. The only thing is, we can’t add more life to our frail bodies.
My grandma was a Christian. I am, too, so I firmly believe that now she is in Heaven with our Lord. There is comfort in that thought.
Funerals have a funny way of making everyone who attends one start thinking about their coming end.
Below I’ve added Neil Diamond’s song, Done Too Soon, from Taproot Manuscript. He lists off dozens of names of people who lived life to it’s fullest only to realize at the end, that it’d come to an end way before they were ready. Done too soon…. Think about that.
Bucket Lists and Such
I’ve never gotten into the idea of creating a bucket list. My Uncle Jon, who died about three months ago now, apparently had rented the movie the Saturday before they found him deceased on a Monday.
It appears he got to that film a little too late to make it happen in real life for him, so maybe he decided he’d live vicariously through the film as he knew he was passing from us.
We’ll never know.
What To Learn From Grandma’s Passing?
My grandma had been fading down the path the Alzheimers for several years now. My dad and aunts moved her out of her house and into an aunt’s house a couple years back. They sold grandma’s house and she’d faded enough to where it never occurred to her. She went into a nursing home shortly there after.
Maybe that’s a good way to go, part of God’s kindness. Grandma’s BP the night before she died had dropped to 90/40. She weighed about 85 lbs. And if I’d been there even a week before, I’m told she wouldn’t even have known who I was.
I had a line I wanted to use in my eulogy–don’t ever let a dentist pull all of your teeth. Apparently they’d prematurely allowed a dentist to pull some of my grandpa’s teeth and put him in dentures. Grandma said that had been a huge mistake.
At breakfast Wednesday a.m. while I was testing some of the things I was going to say on my toughest life-long critic, my mom, she said a dentist once told her that “when you start having teeth pulled, that’s when you start dying.”
I don’t know how true that is, but it makes one think.
Growing up, I have made flossing every morning a habit. I hate leaving the bed room without having flossed and it’s made a difference. But jeez.
I wasn’t sure I could keep it together to talk during grandma’s eulogy, but I found comfort in looking at her body there the night before and telling myself the body they had there really didn’t look like the person who had made me homemade play dough once upon a time. It wasn’t the person who had given me such a love for music. I told one of my aunts today that it felt like I was talking about my grandma at someone else’s funeral.
Maybe that was God’s way of being as kind to me as he had to grandma in her fading slowly away from us. When I finished, two of my cousins came up to me and genuinely said that I’d represented well what they wished they could have said about her, too. You don’t know how much that meant to me. One of them got extra years with our grandma because he’s never really left Northern Indiana. The other had traveled the globe like a gypsy, her father/my uncle in the Army. I’d not seen her since we were in the third grade before they went to Germany, but I heard about her from time-to-time in talking to grandma regularly through the years. To have both of them say I’d said what needed to be said and to genuinely have meant it was satisfying.
It’s been a rough week. Life didn’t stop just because grandma’s heart did. Clients have needed things throughout the whole family gathering. My range of emotions have been clouded because of the demands of work. I need to shut down and be still for awhile but can’t seem to find such peace. I know the need for to do so is there. But so is the responsibility to keep going.
My dad said when my brothers and I were young he saw a strength in each of us that made him proud; that he knew we were Claxton boys. You see, we all ran like the wind. Like our dad.
One of the extra joys of this week was getting to hear him and others talk about the younger days.
In talks with Dad, he apparently still holds the Indiana state record for the mile among eighth graders. He set it more than 50 years ago.
Now I did not have my dad’s speed at that age/any age, but I had a love for running when I was younger. With that came a determination to not give up when things got tough.
That fire is still there even though this aged body could barely run to the car if I needed to at this point.
I’m praying that tomorrow is going to be a better day. I have lots of work to get done and maybe after a good night’s sleep my brain will be ready to keep going.
Some day I’m going to find the rest that both my grandmas and grandpas have found. I hope my daughters and their kids will be able to find a similar peace.