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25,817, or T-minus 500

Published Friday, January 05, 2024 @ 8:25 AM EST
Jan 05 2024

If Shaw and Einstein couldn't beat death, what chance have I got? Practically none.
-Mel Brooks


At the beginning of each new year I go through Outlook, trying to keep it up to date. People have moved, changed their addresses or phone numbers, or, as Monty Python so uniquely pronounced- referencing the English novelist and poet George Eliot- "run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible."

And what do I do with the entries of the dearly departed?


Well, not nothing. I add their expiration dates to my calendar. Each year I think of them on the dates of their birth and departure, and read through the last dozen or so e-mail exchanges we had. Lots of them are computer-related questions I try to answer, even knowing there's less than a fifty percent chance they're going to listen to my advice.

In the past few years, more and more of the e-mails from friends and acquaintances detailed job losses, info on mutual friends who have developed chronic illnesses or who are hospitalized, and- worst of all- links to obituary notices.

I usually don't dwell on my own mortality, but I turn 70 this year. Most of my relatives survive(d) into their 80s and even their 90s. The Social Security Administration's Life Expectancy Calculator estimates I'll hang on until July 5, 2039. That's four more presidential elections- not a pleasant thought.

My father died when he was 70. More accurately, he was 25,817 days old. As of today, I am 25,317 days old. When my father was the age I am right now, he had only 500 days remaining before joining the ol' choir invisible. If I have a lifespan identical to his, I'll be shuffling off this mortal coil on May 18, 2025. (It's a Sunday, so it shouldn't be too inconvenient.)

Dad did not take care of himself; far from it. He was a chain smoking, semi-annual binge drinker who suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other morbidities in his final years. While I have some chronic conditions myself, they're all successfully managed by medication. Quarterly blood tests and physician visits insure nothing internal is redlining.

Of course, that is meaningless. I've lost several friends to motor vehicle accidents, falls, or other misadventures. Several who maintained rigorous medication, diet, and exercise routines either failed to awaken one morning or suffered some sort of abrupt, unanticipated, and massive vascular calamity.

The spiritual author Eckhart Tolle said, "Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have." And Billy Shakespeare in Richard II observed "I wasted time, and now doth time waste me."

When I hit my sixties, I realized that my continued existence wasn't going to change the course of western civilization. The lifting of that burden made sleeping in a pleasant, guilt-free experience. So, I'm going to continue to do what I've always done: engage in interesting stuff I enjoy doing.

And avoid attire and activities which might spook the paramedics.

Categories: KGB, Mortality


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