Disclaimer: Jason, I have not been told that my time is short. The following are just some things that I have been thinking about lately. I plan to be around for a while longer, but I would like to get a head start on some of the practicalities of dying.
When I was young, I could not envision my own death. Death was something that was not going to happen to me. Even though I experienced the death of all my immediate family members, my dying seemed impossible until the last few months. Then a few things occurred that brought the reality of my mortality.
Even though Mr. Fixit and I have discussed aging and death, it is generally in a light-hearted way. “It’s time for you to learn how to use the kitchen appliances in case I die first.” He has said that he hopes he’s dies first because he doesn’t know how to pay bills using electronic banking. Once he told me that he never wanted to go into a nursing home. I told him I would rather go into a nursing home than to be a burden on the children. He changed his mind when he thought about it.
Not long ago, the subject came up in a conversation with my older son and his wife. We told them our preferences if we should ever need care. I was a bit surprised, though, when I realized that they had probably discussed the subject.
I just cannot justify disrupting their lives and the lives of the grandchildren by being dependent on them for my basic needs. I think perhaps I wouldn’t feel that way if I had daughters. It would be too much to ask of a daughter-in-law and too humiliating to have my sons assisting with, say, hygiene. I’m sure the grandchildren would come to resent the upheaval that comes with having old folks living with them. My boys and their families are extremely busy people who have their own lives to live.
Dying has been on mind more than a bit lately. Of course, there is a little fear of the unknown, but that doesn’t prey on my mind as much maybe as it should. I hope that I can go easy with little pain. I guess we all hope for that. Also I hope I don’t live so long that people would see my death as a relief. I try to think of it as a release from the more unpleasant parts of living. That gets me through the day.
It’s the aftermath of it that worries me. For instance, I really don’t want anyone going through my personal belongings after I’m dead. It really makes me cringe to think about anyone, including Mr. Fixit, going through my underwear drawer and my closet.
I also know that when the time comes there will be a basket full of to-be-ironed clothes, and I’m sure the refrigerator may harbor a few of those little plastic storage containers with unidentifiable green, fuzzy stuff in them. The kitchen floor will look as if it hasn’t been mopped in a month of Sundays, and the bathroom will be in great need of a good cleaning. I wonder if there is a service like those people who clean up crime scenes who would get rid of my things and give the house a good cleaning. I wouldn’t mind having strangers cleaning out my drawers and closet and giving the house a cleaning before anyone sees it.
I guess the real answer is to throw away any holey underwear I may have now and to keep my house cleaner.
I will never have pets after the ones I have now are gone. No one would take care them or love them like I do. Who else would cook chicken just for them?
What about all the pictures of my family? I scanned and put them on CD’s a few years ago, but I just can’t bring myself to destroy the pictures themselves. I know, however, that my children have no interest in them. They never had a relationship with my family, so to them, those pictures have no emotional ties. So will those pictures end in the landfill when I’m gone? I have considered burning them now. I also scanned Mr. Fixit’s family pictures so they will have those.
I have some old reports cards that I kept simply because they have my dad’s signature on them. Isn’t that silly? Those reports cards would have absolutely no value to anyone but me.
I think I have decided to try to sell my books and my crafty stuff. No one in the family has any interest in those things either.
As a matter of fact, there is very little in the house that the children would want. If I start getting rid of things now that I really don’t need, it will save them a lot of work, and it will save me the embarrassment of knowing that a loved one will see my not so new underwear.