Mudcat Café Message Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafeawe



User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Jack (Who is called Jack) Thought for the Day (Oct 26) (31) RE: Thought for the Day (Oct 26) 26 Oct 99


My personal experience makes me of two minds on this. On one hand, the image of a quiet fade, surrounded by loving family and friends, in the comfort of the home is appealing.

Yet when my grandfather passed away, somehow that slow, peaceful, quiet fade eluded him. He became racked with insomnia, and confusion for almost 13 months. He would wake up cold in the middle of the night, and in his confusion turn on the burners on top of the stove to warm up, then forget they were on. In his confusion he was frightened and paranoid, even beyond the reach of family members, and would become threatening. Frail, craving death, yet in mortal fear of the pain that might accompany the final blow, his last months were spent alternating between weakness and fits of despair. In the last months, as his kidneys began to fail, and suspected cancer devoured him, he became confused and uncomfortable to the point of thrashing in bed. To prevent injury we had to tie him down, which only aggravated his discomfort and agitation. Medication helped some, but his on-again off-again kidneys often let toxins build up that overwhelmed whatever palliative effect it had. He was in an out of the hospital to recieve whatever comfort measure could be found for the storms that racked his body and mind. The poet wrote, O death where is thy sting? In my grandfathers case we saw all too well where it lay, painful, merciless, and unfair.

By the end, we prayed for an end to it all, caring not whether it came at home, or in a hospital bed, as long as it was over, both for him and for us. I thanked God the day he finally breathed his last.

He was born in a Yugoslavian village, a tow headed boy with a voice like an angel that passers-by would stop to listen to as he sang at work in the fields. An apprentice carpenter he was good with his hands. In his teens he showed a talent for the horizontal bar, and was offered a tryout with the Yugoslav National Gymnastics Team, which he declined in favor of immigrating. He was the son of what has been described to me as a hard, somewhat cold man, who's one gift to his children was to bring them all, one at a time, to America, and then to leave again on his wanderings. My grandfater came to america in the depression and spent 3 years searching for work. Eventually he became a precision lathe operator, married a fellow immigrant woman, raised two daughters, scrimped, saved, and built a house with his own hands. He was a master gardener and in his spare time he sang baritone roles in slovenian translations of popular light opera with a local amateur company. He hated pretense, had a socialists heart, and was suspicious of authority, especially clerical authority. He was not religious. He had simple tastes. His favorite breakfast was coffee and scalded milk poured over a bowl of torn up pieces of italian bread. He loved boxing.

With all his heart he craved a swift peacful passing. All our efforts went to finding it for him. He deserved one.

And yet, somehow, it wasn't offered. Not by fate, not by God, and not by the medical profession, and not because of some abstract shared societal fear we his family had about facing death.

So while its pretty to think about dignified deaths at home surrounded by loved ones, such a fate is often denied due to circumstances beyond our control. And we should not replace our sympathy for those that face this truth with abstract dismissals of their plight as a simple unwillingness to face death the right way.


Post to this Thread -

Back to the Main Forum Page

By clicking on the User Name, you will requery the forum for that user. You will see everything that he or she has posted with that Mudcat name.

By clicking on the Thread Name, you will be sent to the Forum on that thread as if you selected it from the main Mudcat Forum page.

By clicking on the Subject, you will also go to the thread as if you selected it from the original Forum page, but also go directly to that particular message.

By clicking on the Date (Posted), you will dig out every message posted that day.

Try it all, you will see.