Got some unexpected news from my visits to the hospital. I had three CAT scans of my entire body. The radiologist who read my scans found something quite alarming. I'm not going to go into detail about that for a while, but the message was pretty clear. My days of assuming that I'll be in good health are coming to an end.
I'm not panicking, nor am I depressed. I thought that I had another 10 to 15 years of good health ahead of me. Could be that I have considerably less.
I retired for a number of reasons. One was to have the time to contemplate my mortality and my relationship to God. Another was just to have my time to myself to do as I pleased. Then, grandkids came along and my daughter needed all the help she could find, so I volunteered for the part time job of babysitting the kids.
I have no complaints about either the quality or length of my life. My life was a preposterous adventure, full of excitement, fascinating people and romance. Who could ask for more?
The eternal questions, however, remain unanswered. Who will remember me when I am gone? What will become of my consciousness? Will I really be reunited with my loved ones, like my father and Myrna, when I move onto the next life? Is there really a next life or will my death simply be the end of the story?
I don't have any answers.
The only part of this process with which I'm pretty unhappy is the delivery of my body to the healthcare and nursing home businesses. Loss of dignity and autonomy... well, that's going to happen. We all fear and loathe that, but there appears to be nothing to be done about that short of committing suicide or hitting upon the luck to die suddenly in one's own bed. I'm not going to leave my children or grandchildren with a legacy of suicide. They don't need that.
How much disability can I tolerate? That question is also coming into sight. I guess that the answer is that I'll have to tolerate disability to the extent that I suffer it. There appears to be no way to avoid it.
My children and grandchildren will be the only ones to remember that I was here. I'll leave them a little bit of money... not enough to make a serious dent in their lives, but enough to help a bit. They aren't going to need much help, or so it appears now. What will they remember about me?
One legacy that I will leave is a family tradition of higher education. I am the first member of my extended family to graduate from a four year college, the University of Illinois. My grand-nephew will be enrolling at Illinois next fall and he will be the fourth generation of my family to do so. My entire extended family is now quite well educated and prosperous, and I'm proud of that legacy.
I'd like for my artistic work to survive, but that appears unlikely. In the time I have remaining, I'll attempt to place all of that work in a permanent site on the internet.
But, nothing is permanent, is it?