Thursday, November 25, 2010


Because I hadn't called in a while, my mother, at 94, had decided I was dead and that those who look after her had been keeping it from her. She told me this when I called today. She did not seem especially surprised that I was alive. Nor did it seem to have crossed her mind to call me and check things out for herself by calling me -- call me or the place where I lived before I died. Sometimes the effort involved in small matters overwhelms the will to accomplish them ... I've got sympathy for that.

Anyway, the resurrected son spoke to his increasingly deaf and increasingly forgetful mother. Words that once might have tripped off her high-IQ tongue now seemed lost in some foggy abyss. Sentences refused to complete themselves. The effort was too much. The why-bother took command and the command sequences were lost.

As much as it did not surprise her that I was alive, so too it did not surprise me that I might be dead. Mark Twain's "the report of my death was an exaggeration" crossed my mind, but seemed less a matter of wit than of simple exposition. When I think of the people I have known who, like me, are aging and whom I have not have contact with ... well, death is certainly a possibility. It's about on a par with resurrection, I imagine.

Anyway, it's kind of fun to think that I was dead and now am alive, though I was not yet dead in the first place. It reminds me of the old ditty my mother taught me when I was little:

Oh, McGinty is dead and McCarty don't know it!
McCarty is dead and McGinty don't know it!
They're both together upon the bed
And neither one knows if the other is dead.
In The Dhammapada, Gautama Buddha is said to have said, "All fear dying. All fear death." I am willing to credit his wisdom for the moment, but the truth is I don't really know. For those who are younger and who still harbor the notion that they will live forever, I guess Gautama has a point. But for those who are older -- who have lost touch or simply examine their own lives -- I'm not sure if fear is the only emotion at play and it becomes harder to answer a simple question like, "What's wrong with death anyhow?"

Well, I suppose I should shut up. Someone will think I am waxing morbid when in fact I am curious and slightly amused. Not everyone has a chance to get resurrected, right?

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