I’m reading a totally thought-provoking mystery by Henning Mankell, called “the Troubled Man”. In it, Wallender spends a lot of time thinking about mortality and getting older. What with that and my own sudden need for a walker to get around dependably, I’ve been revisiting the whole end of life thing. I already have wills written for end of life decisions – my sister has the right to pull the plug on me (a bit dangerous, since from all accounts, she owes me for the years of big sister torment I wreaked on her), and I did have my ex as my financial executor (changing that…).
I’ve thought of having DNR tattooed on my chest, in case anyone gets a crazy idea to resuscitate me. I used to work in a rehab hospital where I looked after the failed ressussees – brain-damaged, etc. Not my bag. Still can’t get the face of one poor man out of my head, 30 years later. He was so confused – he just looked eternally startled. I’ve planned to donate my body to science since NO ONE apparently wants any part of it for transplants, thanks to my MS – egad. Talk about feeling unwanted. Even my corneas are suspect. On the good side, this means I won’t end up on some medical student’s dissection table, melting gently while they comment about how short I am and how it makes it so easy to see the whole body at once. They might take my brain for MS research. Which of course leads me to think about all those 60’s horror science movies, where the brain is still ALIVE. In those upside down bell jars. Ooh.
I had a fiendish plan to offer post-death torture to my kids. (What? Doesn’t everyone?) I was going to get an African Grey Parrot and teach it to say things like: “Are you wearing clean underwear?”, “Have you flossed your teeth?” “Don’t do that!”, and “You could do better!” (my personal favourite, as I’ve heard that about every boy I’ve ever dated.) Since parrots live for about 80 years, it would certainly outlive me, and maybe even my kids. I would leave it to my least favoured child, with their inheritance tied to the health of the bird. Bird dies, money goes to parrot rescue. Bird lives, they get the cash.
Strangely, the kids were oddly attracted to this idea and thought I should name the parrot Fatwa. Of course, then it was only a theory. And I did worry about the life of the bird. Seemed mean to treat a sentient being that way. Besides, all that training seemed like too much work. Dora, my sweet parrotlet, bullies me, and she’s only 4 inches long. Can’t imagine what a big parrot would do to me. I’d probably spend my last years curled in a closet, throwing crackers out through a slit in the door, begging for mercy. The parrot would end up only saying “Help!”, imitating sobbing, and then laughing like a maniac.
So, I’ve reconsidered. After all, I like my children, most of the time. Now my fiendish plan is to leave a separate fund in my will for dispersal of my ashes. This would give each kid enough money to take my ashes to places all over the world I’d have loved to have seen and they really should. Like, say, Burma. Or Antarctica. Or Australia. Or Iceland. They could split my ashes into three piles and then each go to a place to drop them. It would be like a final gift – a trip for each of them to take.
Of course, they could just ignore my wishes, flush my ashes, and spend the money in wild partying. Maybe the parrot is a better idea after all.
HAVE you flossed your teeth today?