Till death do us part..

Two weeks ago my uncle died a silent death. He was 76, survived by his son and daughter- both married with children. My aunt — his wife died at least 10 years back.

I wasn’t calling him regularly, or have I paid a visit in the last two years, or even have been occasionally thinking of his well-being. I was getting updates about him through my dad who spoke to him over phone, paid visits when he could.

Apart from Facebook liking here and there, I was not even speaking to my cousins regularly.

My uncle was alone in a big house, managing things on his own. I heard a domestic help was visiting at her convenience. That could have been a relief from regular chores.

But, after I heard the news, I paused- sat and sank into my chair. My mind drifted to the last time I met him. He was energetic- I recollected. He used to sit in an easy chair- that Kerala style one. Cloth back-resting and teak-wood arm (and leg) rest and base. I cant remember if he quit smoking when I met last, but certainly his room, when I visualize, would have had cigarette flavor in the air.

My dad told me this (type) of death is most peaceful and in his terms ‘desirable way to die”- like mother and wife already gone, children “settled’.. he went on..

Is there a good time for death? Or (and)best way to die? You know I mean the painless types?

Ralph Waldo Emerson- An American essayist and poet is quoted saying “When you were born you were crying and everyone else was smiling. Live your life so at the end, your’re the one who is smiling and everyone else is crying.”

But I guess given an option I will go the way I arrived. I want to cry that I still want be around; and the world and my loved ones smile (or at least not cry) knowing I had a painless death and by far an ‘accomplished’ life. Like when I spoke to my cousin she felt thankful to God that her dad died a painless death; in the deathbed, he still seemed smiling and relaxed.

Some years back, I was disturbed for several days after hearing the story of my colleague’s father who was on life-critical medical ventilator for over a week. The Doctor confirmed no hope of survival of the patient and that the care taker could, in writing ask for discontinuance of the life support machine.

During casual talks and when such discussions arise, it is common for someone to volunteer and offer “I have asked my children to discontinue the ventilator from the day one”. Interesting comment. I am itched to ask “At that time your opinion is not sought, honey. It is when you have to take that call for someone you love. When would you d-i-s-c-o-n-n-e-c-t?”

Recently, many advise to just quit jobs and go globe- trotting. “In your death bed” they say, “you don’t remember power-point presentations, but the memories you build during the trips..”. And who will pay your hospital bills, darling? The best part about making power-point presentation and slogging your life at work is not to feel guilty to see your loved ones run around for the last minute cash to see you just b-r-e-a-t-h.But I have to agree to their counter argument- “sometimes, no amount of cash is sufficient to fix your ailment or postpone your death. So how much will you run?” No-answer.

Fifteen days after my uncle’s death my cousin shared this beautiful video by Sheyrl Sandberg on whatsapp. There is certainly some shelter of words in her view..

I did not worry if I smiled or cried when I was born. I did not have a to-do list for my life either. I was born one fine day. And hope to have a similar exit.

Originally published at vrindavijayan.blogspot.com on August 5, 2016.

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