DEPARTING MEMORIES—Positive Only Please

DEPARTING MEMORIES—Positive Only Please.

This will likely be a depressing essay for some, as well, many reading it will not agree with me—and that’s perfectly fine. This is merely the thoughts and wishes of one person—me, and I share it with you just in case you do agree. For if you do, you perhaps might wish to forward this to your family—as I have shared this essay with mine. Too, I’m smart enough to know that no matter what we say to our children, we can’t make them do anything they don’t want to do, even if it’s something we request. We can merely let them know our feelings and they will take it from there.

I’ve passed my 70th birthday, so I’m considered a resident of the “old age” bracket. Do I feel old? Hell no! Do I act old? Hell no! Am I healthy and happy? Hell yes! Is my mind still sharp as ever? HELL yes! And that’s perhaps why it’s time to tell my family how I feel. Death is by definition, depressing. And even though all of us know we’re going to kick that bucket and “Die” one day, we sure don’t like talking about it now do we? Of course not. I don’t want to leave my wife, my kids, and my special friends any more than they want me to leave them—BUT it will happen, and I just hope I leave first, because I don’t want to bear the pain of losing them—it will hurt so damn much. And that too is part of the reason for writing this essay; simply because I wish to reduce as much as possible the pain they will go through when I kick that provable bucket. (Which I’m hoping won’t be for another 30 years).

Yes, when I say “tootle-do”  it will hurt them ‘big time’ but for the right reason—their love for me, their father, spouse, friend. So I’m really glad the pain will be there full bore, because if it wasn’t, well, heck, that would mean I wasn’t the father, husband, or friend I sure tried so hard to be—and that would TRULY hurt. But on the chance that I was a really great dad, husband, friend, then I want them to know how I feel about death so, if they will listen to me, much pain can be avoided—and maybe even exchanged for happiness.

“Life” is an equation. Between birth and death there is “happiness” over time, and the delta-time is all the days we have to generate that happiness. Look closely at the equation. For good reason it shows no depression and sadness, because true “life” is all about happiness. Sure, sadness exists, but we don’t have to include it in “our” lasting equation–and that is what I’m asking–don’t add it to my life’s equation.

I recently endured the death of my mother. She was 97, and the last years were only depressing for her and for us. And it was only worse when she didn’t know us, and in reality, existed in a world of only confusion, darkness, humiliation, and little or no awareness, except perhaps depression. She was a barely living woman with not a single positive moment of existence or happiness. I cannot get inside her mind, but looking into her eyes I could see only a blank existence with no cognizance of anything except confusion and sadness. She couldn’t even say to us as she had so many times, “why can’t I die?”

Depressing? Yes! Necessary? No!

“I” simply do not wish to put those I love through this—for what reason would I possibly want that? What good would it yield for anyone I truly love, to endure that kind of pain, especially when I don’t even know who the hell they are? I’m no sadist, so what good would it do to have my wondrous wife, or my kids see me deteriorate in front of them? Just what “benefit” could there possibly be for such pain? In fact, if I did know it, it would only upset me because there I am hurting them with every visit. How selfish could I be to expect them to endure such pain when it can be exchanged for smiles and tears of happiness? How, you ask? Easy! Instead of a visit, think about all the crazy and dumb things I did with them; remembering all the ways we laughed our assess off together; remembering all the great trips and fun times; all the adventures on the boats, campers, and traveling. Remembering all the music videos we made and split a gut watching. So, rather than take a depressing drive to a depressing person dying in his depressing bed, and enduring a depressing visit with someone who can’t smile and laugh and ‘remember’ the wondrous times, pop that music video in the DVD player and watch it. Or take the visit time to remember those great times on the boat together, or all the funny Xmas times and nutty gifts, the cruises we took together. Or just remembering the times we talked about life and love and shared our souls. And you could always read my novels and poetry knowing those words came from my soul.

Things and people end, but not wondrous memories. To my wondrous family and my special friends, look, instead of being depressed about my impending death and seeing me in a way I DO NOT WANT you to witness, be happy about all the greatness shared in our lives together. When I can no longer remember those times, when I can no longer smile and laugh at your jokes or your making fun of me, and when you look into my eyes and see a blank slate, or if all I am is depressed and unhappy without a smile to be found on my face, PLEASE, for ME, stay the hell away. I do NOT want you to remember me that way. And, I’d feel horrible about it if I did know you’re putting yourself through it when I specifically asked you NOT TO—so there—do what you’re told, OKAY?

It isn’t going to happen tomorrow (at least I sure hope it won’t), but sure enough I am going to one day “die.” I hope it’s in my sleep when I’m still a smiling, laughing, and happy father, spouse, and friend, but it will happen. For my sake, and yours, cherish the wondrous memories of love and sharing, and avoid the stupid and needless pain of viewing my deteriorating demise. Just leave me in that special place in your hearts and minds as that nutty dad, spouse, or friend, full of life, laughter, and love—shed only tears of love, NOT of pain/depression.

It’s only death, and happy memories and love shared simply can’t die. Just don’t forget, you have all those memories, my written words, and those music videos we made to watch anytime you wish—my favorite is me as Amadeus, with the mop on my head beating on the drums while my two young children and me sang Rock Me Amadeus—oh that was a hoot. Just watch that instead of coming by–okay? Thanks. tj

 

 

 

Death, Essay, Life, love | | 4 Comments

4 Responses to DEPARTING MEMORIES—Positive Only Please

  1. BJ Gillum says:

    The grieving process begins when a person begins to leave as in the case you describe. It is a way to give life to the fading memories, good and bad, that were shared with the dying person. It may be necessary for a person to accept the pending and unavoidable departure. But to your point: you are being generous in your request. It would be easy but comply with your request but you of course must know your request will be ignored and we will visit and laugh, and cry and remember.

    BJ

  2. Sam Bledsoe says:

    These are all words well worth remembering. The older I get the more I realize how precious
    life is and the more I know that we have to celebrate every day as much as we can. The thing
    that matters most in life is the relationships we have. And you are exactly correct, we must do everything
    we can to put the quality in our lives. My mother who will be 90 in February has severe dementia and
    she always tells me that she doesn’t want to live any longer. If I were in her condition, I wouldn’t
    want to live any longer either. She was so much fun and so full of life when she was younger, it
    really hurts me to see her the way she is. Thanks, Tim, for reminding us of what really matters in life.
    SB

  3. Jim Kopotic says:

    I couldn’t agree more with the comment above from BJ Gillum. Although I understand and appreciate your position, being with someone and watching them pass is all part of the grieving process. To keep them away would in essence prevent the process from completing it’s full cycle. Maybe request your family host a “celebration of life” for you. That would bring all together to share the good times and help the grieving process. In my situation I have given a great deal of thought to this matter, even down to planning my funeral/memorial. I have included a Lenten devotional that I was asked to prepare for my church. I have included it in hopes of helping you with your natural situation. Sincerely, your friend, Jim.

    Jim Kopotic – Lenten Devotional “Letting go and the importance of love”
    Ephesians 4:31-32: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

    In August 2013, at 58, I was diagnosed with Stage IV Pancreatic cancer. I can still remember how this news made me feel and the very sad look on Bobbi’s face as she left the office and made the long walk back to the parking garage to pick up our car. The second blow came a couple weeks later after my first CT scan when the doctor gave me six months to live (Proverbs 24:10: “If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!”). I felt angry and sad while asking “why me Lord, why now at this point in my life, why not later?” knowing the whole time that this was just wishful thinking, for only God knew his plan for me (Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight”).

    Since then, Bobbi and I have had to let go of many of our dreams of growing old together, building our retirement home on Norris Lake, rocking on our porch as we drank our morning coffee, and travel to Europe and abroad. The idea of having our grandchildren come stay with us and taking them boating on the lake was always a special dream of mine!

    Though we have had to rearrange our plans for our lives, I have been blessed many times over. My relationship with my children is much deeper now than before. They text me every couple of days to check on me, bringing a smile to my face remembering days past when I couldn’t get them to answer my calls. I pray and read the Bible now more often and my relationship with God is so much better now. My family and friends call and visit often. My Central Church family continues to support me with cards and prayer.

    Yes, I am a blessed man and I thank God for looking out for me. What I initially viewed would be very hard times have turned out to also be very blessed times. I now realize that of all the gifts God has given us, Love is truly the greatest gift of all. I close with two Bible verses that capture the importance of love.

    Romans 13:8: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.”
    1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

    Sincerely, with love,
    Jim Kopotic

  4. Dana Peterka says:

    Well stated. Having lost our parents and a majority of our siblings, my wife and I “get through” holidays by focusing on remembering the little, and sometimes silly, positive things.
    We also reflect on the positive things we were able to do for our parents before they entered the nursing home phase of their lives. I encourage all to create new wonderful memories with their elderly parents while everyone is able to share the enjoyment.
    DP

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