Saturday, May 27, 2017

well-planned death

Yesterday, my friend Frank in New York passed along a long and delicate New York Times article about a fellow who plotted and then executed his own demise. I did what I could to read it, since death interests me as the last refuge of aging scoundrels like me who feel their control slip-sliding away in the face of increasing medical 'care' and its adjuncts.

John Shields
Based on the lonnnng article, John Shields had all the historical markings of a man who liked helping people (haven't got what it takes to reprise it all). Why not in a well-plotted death as well?

And so he planned it and so he died. There were, of course, a couple of hiccups in the well-planned plan, but the facts co-related, give or take a little, with his plot. Death bends no knee, even to the well-intentioned. But, well, close enough.

The newspaper filled space with the growing acceptance of what never could have been rejected: The capability, even among the increasingly incapacitated, to die. See ... I have the capacity to be in control one last time ... that sort of idea.

And the newspaper kept itself au courant as the acceptance of assisted suicide -- or perhaps just suicide in general -- gains social traction. Which is not to say that in reality any traction were ever missing.

As I say, I skimmed the article. I wouldn't fault it for a nanosecond. Ritual and helpfulness are lovely traits in their time. Death is a last refuge of sorts. To deny through some TED talk a (wo)man's structure and expressiveness ... well, count me out.

But I realized as I skimmed -- and as I noticed the small matters that went awry -- that it wasn't my taste.

There are people who are nicer and kinder than I am, but I am stuck with my farm as they are stuck with theirs. I am more interested in the implications and actualities of what my internet friend Charlie expressed about death when he said, approximately, "I'd like to die with a smile on my face, but I guess I'll take what I get."

I'd like to think I might embrace what I get instead of wrestling it to the altruistic ground, but who's got time for that when the bus runs them down in the crosswalk?

And as much as I know I cannot and will not emulate John Shields, so I also know that no one should/would/or can emulate me.

I think I would like to die like a dandelion, but that's just wishful thinking.

Bon voyage.

1 comment:

  1. As my capacities diminish, i reserve the right to evade going to a nursing home. I'm on the lower end of the economic spectrum and would be stuck in one that smelled of piss and featured abuse from underpaid attendants who hated their lives and took it out on their charges. Of course they're not all like that i suppose, but this is not something i'm willing to roll the dice on.