Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Who gets to die first? and a PSA

My company sponsors volunteer days once a year. We get to choose where we can donate our talents, very often food banks. And that's where I am today! Another opportunity to help out the community - and this is also a good chance to let you know that the summer months are when shelters and food banks need you most. One thing I learned while writing Return to Hoffman Grove is that at Christmas, everyone is in that giving spirit, generosity personified, but in the summer, shelters and food pantries run short. So {nudge nudge} go donate food to your local food pantry. Help out at the local shelter.

That's the PSA portion of my post today.

There are birth order books that supposedly determine your personality based on where you were born into your family, but have you ever wondered about death order? What has me waxing on this cheery topic today? Well, my mother is ill and waiting for surgery.

My father has always been of the opinion that he is going to die first, so he wants to make sure my mother can take care of herself after he's gone. As they advance in years and things don't work the same way they used to, he continues to tell my sisters and me that he wants to make sure mom knows what's going on. The sad part is that due to advancing age, my mother is having more difficulty remembering everything he wants her to know. My sisters and I are stepping in to help, and assuring him that we will stand beside her should something happen to him. But now, there's a very real chance he will survive my mother, and that thought isn't one his ego is prepared to deal with. As much as my sisters and I will also step in to help him should my mother go first, that thought unnerves him.

Like my father, my personal preference is to believe I'll die before my spouse. On those frightening occasions when I consider that my husband may die before me (and the odds are in his favor), I tend to panic.

I'm still young enough that if my husband should precede me, I can make a life for myself alone. That doesn't mean I want to. Would I go looking for a replacement? To quote my latest heroine in Rising Mist, "Oh, hell no." He'd be a hard man to replace, simply by virtue of his ability to put up with ME. I kind of like the man I'm married to, enough to hold onto him for as long as the Man Upstairs permits. If I were to go first? Well, he was a very independent man before I came along, and I certainly upended his life by bringing along two cats and two children into his very organized, orderly home. Some days I think he would breathe a sigh of relief should I go ahead of him, and yet, I know he'd miss me.

But then I started to think about what I would do if I was widowed. Would I offer to move in with one of my single BFF's, the two of us turning into old cat ladies? I have to tell you this image sends me into fits of laughter. I know how difficult I can be to live with some days, and the sometimes unconventional way I structure my priorities. While my husband doesn't mind these things (they fit into his own unconventional structure), these quirks might well drive another person bonkers. And then I'd have to worry about if my friend died before me (or I died before her). No, I like my friends too much to do that to them.

I could always be a burden to my children... (Don't worry, babies, Momma's not eyeing rooms in your houses.) No, I like to think I would do things I put off now. Go to the Athletic Center and swim laps every morning. Volunteer more. Get out and visit my friends more often. Yeah, I like to think I'd do those things more often, and likely I would, if for no other reason than to get out of a too-quiet house although, you know, I don't mind being alone most of the time.

God willing, I have many years ahead of me, as does my husband. I think I'll just pretend we'll both die at the same time, in our sleep, years from now, snuggled up together, or holding hands across twin beds in the nursing home. Yeah, that sounds about right.

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