Oh, Death


Samain and the Moon of Thanksgiving

Monday gratefuls: The Ancient Ones riff on Thanksgiving and thanksgiving. The animal that gave its life for our carne asada. The potatoes and the carrots. Root vegetables. Garlic, too. Walt Whitman. When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed. Aaron Copeland. Charles Ives. Samuel Barber. Bob Dylan. Folk music. Oh, Death. The Wayfaring Stranger. When I Go Down to The River to Pray. Amazing Grace. This ancientrail we all walk. Its only destination. Life. A mystery. A wonder. A miracle. Here. Right here on the peak of Shadow Mountain. Our home.


Not trivial, that incident I mentioned. For me. I do not triangulate often, but when I do, I do it to myself. Wore me out. Adulting, Kate and I call it. We’ve had to do a lot. Took yesterday off. Listened to music on the interweb. Lots of old timey songs like ones mentioned in the gratefuls. Even found a few by my old teachers, Bill and Gloria Gaither. Took me into a death space, considering mortality, the evanescence of even 73 years.

Buddy Mark Odegard said how healthy he feels, his tests come back normal. Nothing on the horizon. And, he is older than me by three years. Kate’s age. I said to him my people are not as healthy as that. Genetics plays its role whether we like it or not. My statement made me reflect on my relative health with my buddies, all roughly my age except for Bill, who’s 9 years older.

Well. Bill’s chief complaint right now is flat feet (and now he knows that he’s negative for Covid. He’s positive). His parents lived well into their 90’s. Tom has an issue or two, but his mom is still living at 102. Paul’s had a hip replaced recently, but otherwise seems healthy.

Then there is me. Prostate cancer. COPD. Kidney disease. And, as I mentioned yesterday morning, now sequelae from my radiation: incontinence and blood in my poop. Sorry for the unpleasant nature of those last two. But. If we have these conditions and do not talk about them, then those who have them feel alone. I got meds for the incontinence, which annoys me. A lot. They’re helping. I have a sigmoidoscopy to schedule today. That will make sure that this bleeding is either internal hemorroids or the result of radiation making my colon wall friable.

When Anova Cancer Care radiated my cancer recurrence, Dr. Gilroy told me they try to kiss the bladder and the colon. Right now it feels like they might have puckered up and given me a smackeroo. Cancer or incontinence? Cancer or blood in the poop? Seems like a clear choice to me.

However. All this means that I consider on occasion what this means for my total lifespan. Is it shortened? Oddly, it does not feel like it to me. I have medicine, treatments that have helped. My workout regime keeps sarcopenia at bay, somewhat. It also helps my heart and my cardiovascular system.

On the usual day I feel healthy and whole. I am not. Prostate gone. Cancer returned. Breathing somewhat impaired though much improved with prednisone inhaler. My feelings of good health are not denial, not Pollyanna. They reflect a willingness to know what ails me, and to do something.

Could be though that my lifespan has become shorter. But how would we know anyhow at our age? So I consider what it would be like if I died tomorrow. First thing. Nothing. For me it would mean nothing. Oh, Death. This vale of tears would cease to be my concern. A certain relief in that. Yes, reincarnation. Heaven. The spirit realm. Maybe. I would find out. Or, not. Second. Would my life have been worth living if I died tomorrow? Oh, yes.

Why? I have no major regrets. No big I wish I had done that differently things hanging on. Have I done things I am not proud of? Yes. Of course. Who has not. But. That is exactly the point. Who has not. None of them seem like what my old Catholic friends would call a mortal sin. Odd phrase. Kills you in the afterlife, I guess?

I have done my part to advance a just and equitable society. I have done my part to halt climate change. My work life has been in service of the other. Just like Kate’s. I have even written many novels and millions of words on this blog. I’ve had fun, I’ve had fun, I’ve had my seasons in the sun. Love has been and is a significant part of my life.

With other’s help I have raised a child and helped raise another. Joe is happy, married, useful. Jon is kind, honest, creative, a teacher of small children. Two grandkids. Many dogs. Many memories with them all. Bees and gardens. Mountains and the Midwest. Travel. Music and art. Poetry.

Weird, I guess, but I can say I am ready to die. Or, maybe, it would be ok if I died now. Though. I am not ready. I have more books to write. More grandkids to love, more dogs to love, more time with my true love, Kate, and our sons. Seoah, too. Mark and Mary. Diane. It is, I think, an important exercise, as Yamantaka suggests, to meditate on our death. It prepares us for living. Which I intend to as long and as happily as I can.

I wish the same for you.

This entry was posted in Aging, Anoka County, Art and Culture, Asia, Bees, Beyond the Boundaries, Commentary on Religion, Dogs, Family, Friends, Great Wheel, Great Work, Health, Humanities, Jefferson County, Memories, Minnesota, Mountains, Myth and Story, Original Relation, Our Land and Home, Plants, Poetry, Politics, Shadow Mountain, Third Phase, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

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