As I approach the completion of my 80th circuit of the sun I’ve finally started doing some things I’ve long deferred. I really should do a will, but since I have little money or material possessions I don’t feel the pressing need. I DID, however, just complete a Living Will.
Five years ago I ended up at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital with complete renal shut down caused by severe dehydration. I’d been evacuated off of my boat 18 miles in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida’s panhandle.
On being admitted I gave a “Do not resuscitate” order. When asked why I replied: “I’m 75 years old. I have COPD. I have three stents in my heart. My hands are becoming crippled with arthritis. But all things considered I am one of the lucky ones. Everything I dreamed about doing when I was a kid I did. I sailed across the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve been down the Mississippi River on a boat. I’ve circumnavigated the eastern half of the United States in a boat. I’ve been through the Panama Canal. I’m not looking forward to dying, but I’m ready.”
So, I have a medic alert tag hanging around my neck that says, “Do not resuscitate.” When I stop breathing or my heart stops then that’s it. Done. After all, none of us are getting off this place alive. So lets just let it go. The only concession I’ve made in the living will is to be loaded up with pain meds until I’m finally “worm food.” That’s not completely accurate. I want to be cremated and scattered on the Gulf Stream off of Fort Lauderdale. Then I can see myself being carried leisurely along the coast of the US that I cruised in boats and eventually some small molecule of what was once my body might wash up on England’s shore from whence my family came in 1630.
My mom was the first to be cremated. I’m the first of seven sons. Two died in infancy. They were buried at my dad’s family plot in Woburn, Mass. My mom’s family is interred in Westminster, Mass. She had herself cremated and part of her was left with the boys in Woburn and the rest with her family in Westminster.
My dad was also cremated. Part of him was scattered off the inlet at Venice, FL. He lived in Venice for years after leaving Cape Cod and fished off Venice Inlet for years. I passed the inlet several times in my own boat and never failed to say, “Hi dad.” Part of him was buried in Woburn and me and my brothers were each given small Zip Loc bags of ashes which we took to Westminster and scattered on our mom’s grave site.
Having created the Living Will I feel a bit more comfortable in my dotage. We never know when we’re going to shuffle off this mortal coil. Remember, almost everyone who dies today had plans to do something tomorrow.