Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bits and Pieces

Tuesday I read a review of Diana Athill's new book about growing old. Old age is much on my mind and, in my random reading, it happened that I was reading another book by Diana Athill. (This book, Stet, I bought in London at some point and it discusses her experience in the publishing industry. At some point it came to rest in FFP's car and, when I happen to be in his car, I read a few pages.)

I've been thinking about death and old age a lot lately. (Yeah, I know. I think about those a lot. See labels on right.)

But, anyway, life and death reminds me of a random collage, kind of like the wall above. We deal with this, decide that, go back and forth and there is all this random stuff and then whammy...this one certain end.

My dad has been going through a period of adjustment since his car wreck. He has been getting rides places and getting errands run by folks, including me. It's obviously disconcerting for him not to have a car, but with his vision problems driving at night is impossible and he already didn't like driving to certain places because of parking issues or traffic. He has had some interesting reactions to it all. He has threatened to call a taxi a few times, but has, in fact, not done so. He has called friends to bum rides. He declared that he was going to "go a month without a car." (Tomorrow that month is up.) He has declared different amounts he estimated that it cost him to own a car, how much to insure it per day, etc. And, in a possibly unrelated train of thought, he told me the other day that he was "going to live to 112." I could see myself, 80-odd years old, trying to see after him. He revised this downward a decade a few days later, only to reassert 112 yesterday. He manuevered his own giant recycling container back up the steep yard to his garage to "see if he could do it." I don't know what's going on with him except that giving up owning a car (or at least considering it) is a big step and he's adjusting to it, thinking through possibilities.

The review for the Diana Athill book quotes her on the car subject:

“Your car begins to represent life. You hobble towards it, you ease your unwieldy body laboriously into the driver’s seat — and lo! you are back to normal. Off you whiz just like everyone else, restored to freedom.”

But we never know when death will come. A few minutes ago I heard a plane had landed in the Hudson River but it now seems that everyone may have survived. They live. But to die another day.

Because death never gives up. To quote the book review above, quoting a Julian Barnes' book:

In his recent meditation on death, “Nothing to Be Frightened Of,” Julian Barnes wrote, “Artists are unreliable; whereas death never lets you down.” He added, “You would buy shares in death, if they were available.”
Yeah, death. A sure thing. It's life that's puzzling.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I think a lot about death, too. Not only Death, but the little deaths we die as we get older. Some I won't mind, like not being able to climb the ladder to the roof (I wouldn't risk it now, though I think I could if it were an emergency). Some are medium botherations, some, like losing the ability to drive, pull away huge chunks of self-identity.

But Death, the final one, is variable, too. My friend Gary had two near-death experiences and said that there's dying and then there's dying, and personally he'd rather not die from an asthma attack, but just have his heart stop one day. It did.

I think about these things, I guess as a way of coming to terms with my own death. The world will go on its merry way without me, little concerned with my passing except as the slightest of ripples, nor long remember me. I won't remember me, either.