Sunday, February 05, 2006

On death and dying

One of my old cohorts from high school wrote this in his blog recently:

Health care costs have been rising way faster than inflation. Some of the rise in Medicare costs are because there are more and more old people. The solution to that is obvious - kill anyone over 70.

While he was being facetious (at least "sorta" he claims), I will admit I've come to this solution at times myself whenever I muse about social security, padding my savings for retirement and most often, when I think about my aging parents and in-laws. While is it incredibly easy for me to imagine taking care of my mother and Travis's mother in old age, I don't know if I could make myself watch over either of our dads. I suppose Travis's dad, Bill, will end up just like Travis's grandfather (who is only referred to as "Dr. Fricke")--stubborn, insane, deaf as a doorknob and completely unwilling to take help. And, he'll probably end up living with 97 cats (that's a story for later). He's already heading down that path, anyway.

My own father, Mike, will most likly degenerate into a needy, self depricating geezer. While Bill is simply in denial of old age and dying, my dad is terrified of it. He's also a workaholic measuring his worth by how much money he makes. My dad also is afraid that he'll lead an impoverished life in old age and has investments out the wazoo to make sure this doesn't happen. He reminds me constantly that we won't be able to support him in old age. Of course Travis and I are "poor" by his standards and I guess I can see his vantage point given that his last bonus amounted to my yearly salary (for the record, we do just fine and have no debt...). Anyhow, his path of insanity has all to do with money. Hence, when he is old and unable to work and unable to earn, I do think he may end up getting very depressed. Monetary greed already owns him now.

If we all had a pre-set date on when we would die everything would work out better. People would deal, calculating retirement would be easier and people would appreciate what they have more while they had it. So, killing off everyone over the age of 70 doesn't sound like a bad idea. If you ended up dying earlier, tough luck. That's life.

I look forward to getting older. Already, things that used to bother me a lot when I was in my early 20's don't bother me anymore. I've got a thicker skin. I can walk away from things easier. I'm better able to decide what is important and what isn't. Every now and then, I come across postings from various discussion boards where adolescent are whining about their next exam, complaining about their current fling, whining about their parents. Life is really so incredibly simple at that age. There's a great line in the book Magnificent Ambersons that says "30 can't tell 20 what 30 is until 20 becomes 30." That's so true, so while I can talk my head off and try to convince these peeps that everything they're talking about has very little relevance to real life, they're not going to listen.

In terms of dying. Death itself doesn't bother me, but the pain and complications that leads up to it might. I have a vivid memory of my grandfather defecating on himself after he suffered a stroke. I still remember the look of humiliation on his face. I don't think I'd be able to deal with that. With pain, I distinctly remember two times where I was in so much pain I wanted to die. One was an especially bad case of pnemonia back in 99 and the other was when I had an infected jaw due that all started with an undiagnosed tooth fracture. I can't even produce proper vibrato anymore since the infection spread to my soft pallate and caused me to need to have a root canal and oral surgery. I can't imagine going though that at the age of 70 or 80. I know it would be much worse.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this. I think it stemmed from my observations on how little people appreciate things. I have an aquaintance who took over my admin duties for the NIN fan club and she's experiencing all sorts of frustration due to this behavior. Instead of simply appreciating that someone new is on board who cares about the club, people complain about her way of doing things simply because they're new. Or, if they do like her, instead of simply giving words of encouragement, they'd rather display their affection by bashing me. Its just negative energy all around. I worry about her at times. Why surround one's self with such negativity? Say we did have exactly 70 years to live, would it be worth using up some of those precious days to deal with these types of people? This applies to a lot of things in life. Why stay in a bad relationship? Why stay in a bad job?

I need a fucking martini right about now. *yawns*

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Blogger sarah said...

i would be filled with dread (and not all that appreciative, knowing me) if i knew when i was going to die. my mom tells the story of a great uncle of mine who knew he was going to die, so he got a hair cut, put on his best suit, said goodbye to his family, laid down in bed and died. eeeek!

i read an article in the atlantic monthly about how our resources (natural, fiscal, health, etc.) will soon be really taxed because scientists say that with improvements in medicine & technology life spans are expected to increase by 30-40 years, or longer, on average. i hope they're wrong.

i don't want to know when i'm going to die, but i don't want to live that long either. i'm ok with the average life span being 80 or so years long. if people lived uber long, i wonder if that would make them less appreciative. it sounds exhausting.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006  
Blogger cchang said...

That story about your uncle is creepy! did he know? Was it an illness or did he accidentally poison himself, so he knew he'd die soon. Gah!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006  
Blogger stitchwitch said...

I think it is much easier to think 70 would be a good time to die when you are in your 20s as opposed to when you are in your 50s. 70 doesn't seem nearly as old to me now as it did 30 years ago! Since I'm probably going to work until I'm 70, I hope to have a few years in retirement. Of course, one of my grandmothers lived to be 102, and the other one to 97, and both my parents are now in their mid 80s and still functioning well and living in their own house.

Age is pretty arbitrary. Why not decide to kill everyone who can't support themselves, or who don't have a big house, or who have diabetes, or ...



Thursday, February 09, 2006  
Blogger cchang said...

Hey you're onto something! Kill off those who aren't useful to society. :)
I think the whole age 70 thing stemmed from my friend Chuk's blog posting.

Thursday, February 09, 2006  

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