June 08, 2006

Mortality

You get to a point in life where death makes its presence known, more frequently.

Odd really. I've dwelt in the shadow of death for a long time. My father's death in 1979, when I was 18, has colored my entire adult life. I had my mid life crisis at 27 or thereabouts; exactly 1/2 way to my father's lifespan. And in earlier times I glared at death with a false bravado and machismo: "You want some of this? come get it......" I'd have to do the math; but I am his age or a little older now. I am happy to say I feel a lot healthier and more invested in life to welcome death at this age. I am sure, however, that were I to have followed a different path I might be closer to death.

Despite the early initiation into the land of bereavement, death has not been nearby in my life for many years - other than distant grandparents and family pets. More machismo, I feel a perverse sense of responsibility and bravado when it comes time to put a pet down; staying in the room as Kyla, then Nipsy, then Mauzie were put to sleep, cradling and comforting them, sobbing uncontrollably, walking away full of feeling. Emotional yoga; practicing for other larger deaths, tasting mortality.

But, there is change in the air. Celebrities and musicians that I consider to be peers or of my generation are dying. (Thinking a bit of Neil Young's Heart of Gold movie, of Warren Zevon) My uncles and aunts are older and starting to have chronic health issues. Beloved older figures (like Canon Jones) are dying, not unexpectedly, its just time. Too soon, death will be a more familiar spectre in my life.

Just witnessing my own process, I guess. We're celebrating my mom's 70th birthday this year - and suddenly my mom seems less "advanced middle aged" and more "active senior citizen". My mom's family is having a reunion in late July; normally it conflicts with my annual retreat to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, but this year it's a week off. So despite having WNBA games on Friday night and Sunday, Zippy and I are gonna fly down (Huzzah for Southwest) on Saturday morning, drive from Baltimore to Lancaster PA, go to the reunion, stay overnight, and fly back on Sunday morning. An expensive and harried 30 hour vacation, but something tells me it might be the last time I see some of my relatives.

Hey death. I know you are out there.....just letting you know....

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