Death, or something like it
Today’s passing of Dick Clark sparked an interesting conversation on my Facebook page. Basically, I feel the passing of an 82-year-old stroke victim is not a tragic or sad event. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is something we should celebrate; but why be morose?
Here we have man who was arguably one of the ten most influential people in the history of television reduced to a bumbling, stumbling shell of his former self. It would be one thing if this occurred behind closed doors, but it didn’t. The deterioration of Mr. Clark happened right before our eyes and was played out year after year on New Year’s Eve. Now THAT was a tragedy.
Moving on from Mr. Clark, I am very concerned about how our society deals with death in general. Why are we so obsessed with the anniversary of our loved one’s passing? Why don’t we instead focus on the good times we had and remember them when we remember them?
I’m not trying to be callous, and I have experienced the death of loved ones first hand. In fact I was one of my grandmother’s caretakers during her final months. Wilma Hutchins died in 2005: I don’t know the exact date, because I don’t remember those things. My grandmother was a remarkable woman. Robbed of most of her eyesight at too young an age, she continued to play golf, read, and paint until her body no longer allowed her to.
During her last year, my father and I took turns taking care of her. I remember coming over one day and seeing my grandmother sitting in her favorite recliner as she always did, but something seemed off. It didn’t take long for me to realize that she was sitting in a pile of her own feces. She didn’t know it was coming, and by the time her body started doing what it does it was too late for her to reach the bathroom. Why she didn’t get up after the fact I do not know. Perhaps she was ashamed? Too weak? Not lucid? For whatever reason she just sat there until my father or I showed up. I don’t know how long she was sitting like that, but it was at least 12 hours.
As you might expect I was horrified by what I saw and proceeded to help my grandmother out of her filthy clothes and into the shower, where I bathed her. Here she was a once vibrant, beautiful woman reduced to literally sitting in shit and having her 22-year-old grandson clean it off of her. I’m sorry, but that is no way to live. Fortunately for her and for us she passed away soon after.
Did I cry at her funeral? Absolutely! Do I miss her terribly? Of course. Do I wish for one second that she was still here “living” like that? Hell no.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are tragic deaths: people who die in a horrific fashion, people who are still in good health, or those who die far too young. But there was nothing tragic about Dick Clark or my grandmother dying. In fact, their deaths were a blessing; for them and for us.