The list goes on. I won’t tell you all the names, not the categorizations of their being except to mention the last two greetings of each morning. Delores del Rio and Rive Gauche sit beside our comfortable chairs, the ones in which we watch television and in which we plan to die. Delores and Rive have a lot to do with that last statement; they are the means of our self-exiting. Tanks of inert gas, one for my wife and one for myself.
I won’t spell out the methodology for our exits. Suffice it to say that we have studied up and that we are strong supporters of Final Exit Network and a related group, Choice and Dignity, in our home city. When it comes time to exit, I don’t know if I will say goodbye to Thackeray, Bloomie, or any of the other beings, real, imaginary, or in-between, with whom I interact each day. Indeed, at that point I may not remember their names. No longer remembering is one of the metrics I have set out, the measures of when enough of life is enough.
To me, life is a thing of choice and of dignity. I want quality, not quantity. When I can no longer live with the joy and sense of accomplishment that has become my expectation, I will use Rive, my tank, and the accouterments which are stored nearby to end the downward trajectory. Those metrics are the method by which I will measure when the last day has come. Remembering all those names is one of the metrics.
Another might seem rather simple: bending over and picking up a small piece of debris from the floor. That’s a simple act, but when balance and coordination go, the simple becomes difficult. I don’t have to drop something on the floor to test myself. There are enough bits and pieces floating through our lives to provide the test kit without having to think about it. Just pick a bit of paper or a crumb of food that has found its way to the carpet, bend over—albeit with the sense that a can of WD-40 might be in order—and pick it up.
A third is doing my on-line banking. I have three linked accounts. Each morning, I go online and quickly add them. The grand total is my goal. Not because of the money it represents but because it requires some quick mental calculation. Can I estimate the sum or am I befogged by numbers?
For now, just one more daily test. What will I have on my bagel? Today, it was butter and some bacon on the side. There are usually four or five cheese options plus that butter and then there is lox in addition to the bacon. Quick, Ken, what are you having today? Can your mind work that flexibly?
One day, I won’t pass all the tests. Then there will come a day when I fail two. When that happens, it’s time for goodbye. I will give Thackeray a hug. I don’t know if I will remember his name. I won’t hug Bloomie. As for the rest of the crew, well, I have no idea. I only hope I can remember how to hook everything up and how to turn Rive’s valve.
No doubt, you are wondering if I will have Thackeray on my lap when I turn that valve. No. He might try to talk me out of it. I will have my stuffed moose, Potty, on my lap. I know that he won’t try to intervene. He will say, “Whatever,” and kiss my nose. Potty understands that life and death are waystations on an adventure and who are we to know where souls may be found.