Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Death is only an old door in a garden wall

Cliff and I are now in the season of our lives where we realize a natural death could surely happen at any time for either of us.  I have no serious medical issues so far, and Cliff's doing well too; but when I wake up at 3 AM, I listen for his breathing, and if he sleeps past 7:30 AM, I sneak in once again to check on him.  He does the same with me in the late night when he comes to bed.

Yesterday we were in the car going to do some shopping, talking and watching the world go past our windows.  "Cliff," I said, "I want to tell you something.  If you wake up one morning and find I'm dead, I want you to imagine you can hear me telling you, "It's OK, Cliff.  It's going to be all right.  It's all going to be OK."

He hesitated, and then said, "All right."  Then followed with this:  "It seems awful to think that one of us is probably going to find the other one dead."  

"Well, I guess we could have a deliberate car wreck, but I'm afraid one or both of us would survive in a condition that would be worse than death."

He agreed.  

I'm reading "Population 485" by Michael Perry, in which he reminisces about his volunteer service as a firefighter and EMT.  Today I read the following words, and thought how appropriate it is that we were just talking about this yesterday.  "As an EMT, you are at war with death.  Collateral damage is inevitable.  And sometimes, in the middle of the battle, you wonder why we fight at all.  On a sweet spring morning, I am struggling to push a Combitube down the throat of an elderly woman when I glance up to see her husband, silent and teary-eyed in the corner, and I wish we hadn't been called at all.  I wish he had simply put the phone down and held her hand as she died.  Instead we push back the little wooden table where their coffee cups still rest, and we tear at her clothes, poke and prod her, shock her weary heart, strap her to a plastic board and scream away, and she will die anyway.  The first time you press on the chest of an elderly person, the ribs separate from the sternum, popping like a string of soggy firecrackers.  There are times when rescue is nothing more than organized physical assault.  Sometimes I wish we would just leave people be, let them slip quietly over the vale.  Sometimes life is not ours to save."

I read this passage to Cliff, and he said.  "Okay, so if I find you laying in bed like Phil found Faye a while back, and I think you're dead, I shouldn't call anybody?"

Well, he got me there.  See, one night his brother Phil stayed up a couple of hours after his wife went to bed.  When he went upstairs, she wasn't breathing and he couldn't feel a pulse.  He called his kids and told them their mom was dead.  When the EMTs arrived, they had trouble finding a pulse.  It was weak and slow, but they did find one.  She spent a few days in the hospital, but she's fine now.  I'm still pondering on this dilemma.  How would one know?  

I can imagine a person getting to the point where the pain is unbearable and the body is almost incapacitated, telling her partner, "If a time comes when you think I'm dying, don't let people try to make me live any longer.  I'm tired."  That scenario is one I can imagine.  But hey, I'm not ready yet!

Ah, the discussions people can have once they look the Grim Reaper in the face and say to him, "Whenever you're ready."

Death Is A Door - Nancy Byrd Turner

Death is only an old door
Set in a garden wall
On gentle hinges it gives, at dusk
When the thrushes call.
Along the lintel are green leaves
Beyond the light lies still;
Very willing and weary feet
Go over that sill.
There is nothing to trouble any heart;
Nothing to hurt at all.
Death is only a quiet door.
In an old wall.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Suspense and horror

That sort of describes our feelings by the end of the Chiefs playoff game.  I’m not even sure anybody over sixty years old should have been watching it, at least those of us living in the Kansas City area who have fallen in love with our football team this year.  We were behind, we surged ahead, the game went into overtime, and thanks to the toss of a coin, we lost.  Neither Cliff nor I slept well after we went to bed that night; too much excitement, I guess.  

So you wouldn’t think we would have chosen to watch a movie that sent us on the same sort of roller-coaster the day after the game.  

Several days ago the grandson came over to visit.  Cliff and I had been watching an old episode of Gunsmoke, which led the two of us on to a discussion of Dennis Weaver and his fake limp.  He was type-cast in that show, with his hillbillly drawl and phony limp.  This conversation wasn’t something Arick would have been interested in, so he was fiddling with his cell phone with no input into our discussion.  Cliff mentioned that Weaver went on to do other things, which led to his recalling a movie he and I watched on TV during the nine months we lived at Coffey, Missouri, in 1974.  We had gotten our first color TV, and were looking for something to watch one evening when we came upon a movie that kept us on the edge of our seats all the way through, so much so that we’ve never forgotten it.  Dennis Weaver was the star.  The entire movie was about a truck trying to kill a guy.  “I’d like to see that again,” I said.  “We only saw it that one time.  It was scary!  I’d look it up, but I don’t know what the name of the movie was.”

Arick, with phone in hand, put “Dennis Weaver” and “truck” into a search and came up with the answer:  Duel.  

I looked on Netflix and Prime TV, but didn’t find it.  I didn’t try YouTube, which often has those old movies you can’t find anywhere else.  I don’t like the way YouTube keeps trying to force me to get a paid account.  Instead, I checked Amazon looking for it on DVD, and found it for under $10.  I decided it would be worth that much even if we only watched it once.  I ordered it immediately.

Yesterday evening we decided to watch it.  I told Cliff, “I’ll bet after all this time it will just be really corny and not that scary.  That’s what happens with most of the old shows and movies we watch from the 70’s.”

Oh my goodness!  It was like something Hitchcock would have done, and had our hearts pounding like crazy.  We thoroughly enjoyed it.  But there’s a bonus:  This DVD was a collector’s edition, since it was the first movie Steven Spielberg ever directed.  So it included quite a lengthy little spiel where Spielberg told how and why he ended up doing it, how he staged the scenes and why, and so forth.  That was more fascinating than the movie itself.  There was also an interview with the guy who wrote the original short story for Playboy magazine:  he tells how he came up with the story line (on the day of Kennedy’s death) which is almost as interesting as Spielberg’s explaination of how he directed the movie for ABC’s “movie of the week”.  

And that’s about the best $10 I’ve spent lately.   You will find the trailer for the movie HERE.

Have a great day.