How often do you think about death? Ironically, I used to fixate on it more when I was young, healthy, and less likely to keel over. I was fairly neurotic, and went through several periods when I convinced myself the cancer-switch had been flipped inside me, and it was now only a matter of time. I even went to the doctor once about it, and he could barely refrain from rolling his eyes.
“There is no cancer-switch per se, Jesse,” he told me.
And now that I’m entering the age when shit actually does start to fail on you, and organs begin cutting in and out, it rarely crosses my mind. I think I’m too tired to fully power a neurosis at this point. When I turned 50 my life insurance premiums shot up, presumably because I was thrown into a much more treacherous risk pool. But that only triggered a few ghoulish jokes, and very little added concern. Twenty years ago I would’ve obsessed over it, and thrashed around in bed, trying to get to sleep at night.
Thankfully, I’m still healthy – as far as I know. I’ve had no problems in that regard. And the only time I worry about death is in the context of time remaining. Know what I mean? I have a lot of stuff left to do, and I’m halfway through the third quarter, with the clock running. That bugs me. It might be a bit narcissistic, but I’d like to leave some evidence behind that proves I was actually here for a while. I haven’t done that yet. My biggest achievement to date: a series of hamburger photos that went viral.
I don’t think I fear death. I’m a little apprehensive about the weeks and months leading up to it, but death itself? It’ll either be lights out, or one heck of an adventure. Hopefully it’s the latter, but I’m thinking it’s probably the former: the Big Sleep, as they say. Wotta bummer.
In any case, I don’t dwell on it too much. But I have had conversations about different aspects of death through the years, often with a few adult beverages under my belt. And I’ll now do a rundown of my conclusions for each, and turn it over to you guys. How’s that sound? Good, let’s do it.
How I’m likely to go out
I know it doesn’t mean all that much, but we have very little cancer in our family. So, hopefully my old fears will never be realized. However… there’s a shitload of heart disease. There was plenty of hard-living to go with it, of course, but most of my dead relatives checked out because their ticker finally said fukkit.
So, unless I’m killed in a fiery crash on Interstate 81, en transit to or from my job, chances are fairly high I’ll be brought down by a heart attack. And in the newspaper it’ll be listed as “a short illness.” Yeah, it doesn’t get much shorter than a fat bastard clutching his chest, falling face-forward and exploding a coffee table. Right? As far as illnesses go, that one must be amongst the shortest.
The good news: I have no issues with cholesterol. I know it’s a medical miracle, since I enjoy so many #1 combos at Wendy’s, but my cholesterol numbers are always right in the sweet spot. My blood pressure, however, is a different story… But I take a tiny pill every morning with my coffee to keep it in check.
So, it’s not an open and shut case on how I’ll eventually go out. Heart attack or stroke, something standard, I’d say.
Toney says stroke, because I allow myself to get all whipped-up about “crap that doesn’t really matter.” Oh, I beg to differ… It matters, it’s just that the rest of society is too dumbass to notice it. Anyway, Toney is exactly the same way I am, except the stuff that bothers us doesn’t always coincide. So, it’s a kettle and pot situation, if I’ve ever heard one.
How I want to go out
I want to die under suspicious circumstances at 104. I’d like a dinner party to be locked-down, and nobody allowed to leave until everyone is questioned. Finally, after the pressure has built to an unbearable pitch, somebody who isn’t even born yet will break down and scream, “OK, I did it. It was me! I admit it. But the old bastard had it coming. I’m glad he’s dead!! All he did was sit up here in this mansion every day complaining about people who back into parking spaces, or shit at work, and playing those old Buzzcocks records, again and again…”
What I want done with my remains
I don’t want to be buried. It’s creepy, and I hate the smell of soil. Also, where would the grave be? Not Pennsylvania, that’s for sure. If I were to go the whole fancy cadaver-box route, I’d only want it to be buried in Dunbar, WV. But Toney won’t go along with it. She has no connection to the town, and has dug in her heels on the matter. There are a lot of Kays in the Dunbar soil, but I won’t be one of them.
So, I guess I’ll just have ‘em burn me up. They might have to find a specialty crematorium with a larger-than-normal furnace opening, and I assume there will be a lot of popping and hissing, and whatnot. I hope nobody gets hurt.
The ashes can be sprinkled near the location where I lost my virginity. But they’ll have to do it during off-hours, before the parking lot fills up with the breakfast crowd.
Other options for disposing of my corpse
Hunter S. Thompson had his ashes shot out of a cannon, which is pretty cool. But I wouldn’t mind taking it up a notch, and having the same thing done without cremation. Just stuff my body into one of those circus cannons, and fire my big ass into the Atlantic.
Leaving my body to science is also an option. But I’m concerned some dickhead med students might put party hats on me, and pose for selfies. And I can’t have that. They’d probably also give me a jokey, uninspired nickname (Dead Ed?), and that kind of thing… It’s far too risky.
My memorial service
I’ll leave that up to my kids. After all, it’ll be for them, not me. A few things for them to consider, though: no organ music, no expectation of dress clothes (cargo shorts and flip-flops OK), no awkward and excruciating “sorry for your loss” line, no mayonnaise on the premises (out of respect for the dead), Yuengling Lager on-tap before, during and after the ceremony, nachos bar, pie, tiki torches, coconut bras, punk and new wave music from the ‘70s and ‘80s, a screening of Animal House and/or The Hollywood Knights, and people patrolling the parking lot making sure nobody backs into their spaces.
But, you know, it’s all up to them… I haven’t given it much thought.
And now I’m going turn it over to you guys. Do you have any thoughts on any of these uplifting subjects? If so, please share them with us in the comments. Also, I’d like to know about the best funerals or memorial services you’ve ever attended. Do any jump to mind? OK, maybe “best” isn’t the proper choice of words. But you know what I mean.
I’ll see you again on Thursday. If you liked this one, please share it on Facebook or Twitter. Every little bit helps.
Have a great day, my friends!
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