September 21, 2018

I love life, but I believe in dying.  Most of my relatives have died of heart attacks, and most of them died before they even knew they were dying.  And so, I also strongly suspected my heart would be my joy, and cause my death.

Without any warning, I had a heart attack on August 6th.  Unlike most of my relatives, I survived.  However, I had decided long ago to follow my nature girl ways to accept what my heart told me.  Then, living in a retirement community for 19 years has shown me a wide range of ways to treat death among people who have already lived the majority of their lives.

When I have thought of the meaning of life, I have usually been comforted by believing that I am connected to mother nature.  And that means I must die.

I can consider death the enemy and fight it with every ounce of strength and modern medicine I can.  Or, I can recognize that I am a mortal with parts that will wear out naturally.

I considered my heart attack as the beginning of a slippery slope that I have seen followed by many in Laguna Woods Village who manage to reach extreme ages.  Perhaps 109 is the oldest in our Village who still faithfully exercises 6 days a week.  But there is a 108 year old who still comes regularly.  And a 107 year old, then many in their early 100’s.  90’s are barely considered old.  Longevity has become a goal that, with the help of modern medicine and robotic parts, many people are reaching.  And I do believe there may even come a time to choose immortality.

I have friends who overcome one event that might kill them, and then another, and another until their quality of life has been destroyed.  Some I know stay alive because their spouses won’t let them die.

I made the decision to take the non-medical route.  That’s a hard decision for many of my friends to accept.  I have found myself having to defend that decision over and over.  But, as my body weakens, my resolve to accept my natural fate doesn’t.

And so I have signed a POLST pink paper that clearly states I do not wish to be resuscitated, or given any form of nutrition if I have a stroke, and no artificial means be taken to prolong my life.  The Palliative Care people at the hospital have been extremely helpful and supportive.  I’m wearing a Medic Alert bracelet that my father once wore.  Only mine says scratched on the back, Do Not Resuscitate.  And I attended a local Death Cafe at a local senior center where I was able to exchange thoughts with other people who have death, and how to deal with it, on their minds.

My son died of AIDS in 2003.  That was the time when the medication given for AIDS made their lives even more miserable than just the AIDS.  The first time he died, a friend was with him.  Even though the friend knew it was not my almost 35 year old son’s wish to be resuscitated, he called the paramedics.  My son was not grateful.  And six weeks after that, when he died again, he had printed out a large sign that was next to his body that said Do Not Resuscitate.  When there was no hope, and his life was agony, there was no purpose for staying alive.

Some deaths are indeed tragic, but mine won’t be.  I look upon my 75 years as wonderful, fulfilling, adventurous, and well lived.  I am extremely grateful for the health I had, some of which was earned by years of dedication to exercising in many forms.  And I have had a very large portion of good luck in  my life.

My ashes, accompanied by a small amount of my son’s ashes, will be spread in the sea after I die.  The idea of continuing my world wide travels through the connecting seas appeals to me.

My writing continues through the books I’ve written, and many other ways I have wanted to express my thoughts and ideas.  Many are here in this website that has been updated and modernized recently.  If there is a wish for a legacy, or for contact with others, it is through my writing that it will survive.

I have arranged for the web designer who worked with me to re-do this website to monitor until 2024.  So, do keep reading and sending your comments to share.

And just maybe I’ll be able to add more blogs after this one.


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