Monday, May 25, 2009

To breath or not to breath

I mentioned awhile ago that I have a strange fascination with reading obituaries. This isn't a new fixation, but in the past years it has taken on new appeal.

Certainly as I get older, the first thing I scan the notices for are those recently deceased souls that are close to my own age. Lately, I have noticed that there are a few more of those folks than I would like. But then again, when you're 30 and checking out the death notices of those newly departed at the age of 70 that seems pretty darn far away. Now that I'm riding hard on 50 it seems a little too close for comfort. This is only going to get worse.

The second morbid fascination is with the general circumstances of death. I get comfort from seeing people pass away "surrounded by friends and family". I don't particularly cotton towards the ones that say things like "entered in to rest". Why? Like a realtor's description of a property that says "cozy" when what they really mean is "big enough for a family consisting of a single garden gnome", "entered in to rest" is translated in my mind to mean "died in a nursing home, surrounded by the faint smell of urine and found three days later". Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it has more to do with total word count and how much money is left to pay for the longer obit. Who knows?

Besides the basic facts like birth and death dates, and the aforementioned general statement regarding the circumstances - the SF obits are nice brief commentaries that reflect on the meaning of the deceased person's life. Seems to me that lots of San Franciscan's enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and composting and growing victory gardens. Moreover, Sf dead folks are frequently described as "pioneers". Does everyone in San Fran who dies have to had pioneered something? If so, I'd better get started blazing my own new invention in the environmental sector. Time is obviously running out.

I sometimes think about obits in odd times. Odd, if you consider that most of those times have to do when pondering my own demise. Take last night for instance. There I was lying in bed trying to get to sleep while my nose was so stuffed up that I could not inhale a single molecule of oxygen. I'm not kidding. Not a single particle of life sustaining gas could pass through those nose holes. (yes, I am suffering from another cold...) I was waiting patiently for the 1200 mg of guaifenesin to do it's advertised job and blow that snot clot to kingdom come, when it occurred to me that should a burglar break in to the house and should he, in the process of subduing the dwellers, decide to seal our mouths shut with duct tape - well I would be a goner. Dead gone. Suffocated in my own nose goo. What does an obituary say about something like that?

Of course, the pharmaceuticals did finally kick in. In fact they kicked in so dramatically well that in the middle of the night I had to consider my own expiration once again. I woke up with what can only be described as the biggest mack daddy case of cotton mouth ever experienced in the history of mankind. I fell asleep practically drowning myself in liquid boogers, and woke up unable to get my own tongue unstuck from the roof of my mouth. Just a few more moments of sleep in that state without an IV infusion of liquids and I would have just entirely shriveled up and died by my own parched tongue blocking my throat. So, at three in the morning I was considering the choice between the obituary that said "victim of robbery gone awry" or "closet drug abuser take one too many extended-release decongestant".

I managed to make it through the night and have lived to see another day. I have also managed achieved a workable balance between too much and too little hydration overall. In fact, I was able to read today's obits without mouth-breathing or smacking my dry lips trying to scrounge some moisture out of my chalk dry mouth. Luckily, I was able to do this since I am now convinced that not only do I have to be a pioneer in something, but I need to be an artisan. Three of seven dead today were artisans of some sort. I gotta a lotta work to do.

1 comment:

KB said...

Did you ever read the Sweet Potato Queens? She has a funny chapter on obits and how you can tell the family member who wrote it because they always talk about themselves when allegedly talking about the deceased.