The thread reaches a climax:
About 20 years ago, my father suffered a massive heart attack. He had no prior symptoms other than a bleeding nose about three or so years earlier that had to be cauterized. He did have high blood pressure and was overweight, and like any stereotypical Irish-American cop, he drank.
What makes his death “good” (he’d died far too early at the age of 69), was that he and my mom were having sex when he passed.
Supposedly, and purely on the basis of what our mom related to my brothers and our wives, he was on top of her and she thought he had completed his part of the act and fell asleep. Well, he did fall asleep, but forever.
While my mom had no nightmares from that experience, I’m sure she remembered that night until she passed years later. If one were to lose one’s spouse while in throes of passion and it caused no harm, I’d consider it to be a good death. I always thought that this was the right way to go –quickly, no drawn-out health problems, no hospital expenses, with a loved one nearby, and one last good fuck.
Amen. Another story:
It was sometime in October. The Navy chaplain pulled me aside and said I had to go home immediately because my grandmother was dying from her five-year battle with lung cancer. When I arrived at the hospital, she looked like a shell of a person. The doctors told us this was it and we needed to say our last goodbyes.
My grandmother had other plans, however.
She made me promise I would be home for Christmas. I told her I would, thinking that she wouldn’t make it through the weekend. Sure enough, when Christmas rolled around, my grandmother was still alive, receiving hospice care in her home. The entire family gathered in her living room on Christmas Eve to exchange gifts like we did every year. She sat there, propped up in her bed smiling as she watched over us. She even threw her typical fit when the scratch off lottery tickets we gave her were all losers.
At one point I stopped what I was doing and just watched her. She sat there with the purest smile you can imagine looking over the entire room, taking in every second of her entire family together with her. Then she just closed her eyes. At about 5:30 in the morning my mom woke me up, saying it was time for me to say my goodbyes. After we all said goodbye and kissed her, my grandmother told my mom that she could see her two kids who had died and that she wanted to be with them. My mom told her it was okay for her to go to them. My grandmother said okay, took a breath, and passed.
That was 22 years ago. I still think about it often. I would not even begin to pretend I could capture in words the absolute beauty and power of that moment. I’ve cried many tears over my grandmother’s death, but none that day. Sadness just didn’t seem like the right emotion for what I witnessed. Surrounded by those you love absolutely convinced you are going to see those you so dearly miss is surely a good death.
I’ve been stalling on my renewal because I’m broke, but reading this reminds me of the beauty and the special-ness of the Dish. It’s us, the readers, a community, and the sharing of those stories that bring tears to my eyes.