26 December 2019

the decade is ending, let's clear out the OitC drafts folder...

10 May 2016

garebear and i are talking about a friend of his who has cancer. concluding this portion of our discussion, i note, life is hard.

YOU MUSTN'T BE SO CYNICAL! garebear exclaims.

a bizarre statement given that the idea that life is hard is far from revolutionary, particularly in the context of discussing the health of someone who is, possibly, mortally ill.

but also because this is garebear.

the man who, two weeks ago, initiated a conversation about assisted living with absolutely no preamble, saying simply: i think your mother's finally coming around to the idea that my time left on earth may be very short.

the man who, since i was twelve, initiated an annual family meeting so that he and my mother might discuss with me the specifics of their DNR and wills.

because i have known my parents' stances on feeding tubes and cremation since i was fifteen, it is hard to comprehend that such knowledge and discussions are not the norm.

i've largely assumed it was an only child thing. in discussing it with N, who is also an only child, i've been reminded that it is not. it is a my family thing.

there was probably no way i wasn't going to become who i am- obsessed with taxidermy and cemeteries and lives and constantly reminding everyone around me that we're all going to, one day die- given the house i grew up in and the parents i have.

we may not be the best at dealing with death in reality but man are we adept at planning for it in the abstract.

when i was twenty, my parents set up an elaborate trust, with different scenarios should my mother predecease my father, my father predecease my mother, or if they both died at once. it was set up to disburse payments at five year intervals, which were staggered so that they would fall when it was assumed i would marry (25), when i would want to buy a house (30), and then some other thing i can't remember which was maybe start my own business or buy another house (35).

i remember sitting with them in my father's library and discussing this plan. this was early days yet. the annual meetings didn't begin in earnest until i moved to chicago and was in my mid-twenties, so i was still rather sensitive to the prospect of planning for the eventuality of my parents' death and hearing them bicker over the feeding tube. (debo = yay; garebear = nay [though, if debo's in charge, garebear's gonna get one {same for cremation}].)

YOU MUSTN'T BE SO CYNICAL! garebear exclaims, because i have said that life is hard. and i wonder what alien must be inhabiting his body that this admission of a truth would equate to cynicism.

five minutes later, we're discussing his upcoming birthday. and he says, 69 sucks but i'm looking forward to 70 because that just means i'm closer to death.

something that sounds so terribly grim written there but which fills me with relief, because this is my father, back to his old self. this is the man i grew up with. the man who, in wanting to fix everything, in wanting to secure my future and spare me hard choices, has been stage managing the aftermath of his own death for upwards of 20 years.

and i say, see! you call me cynical and won't let me say life is hard but then you go all grim and talk about your death!

No comments: