Thursday, November 5, 2015


A lot of my writing is about older people. Now I am becoming one of them. Throughout my life at various times, I have worried about dying.  When I was a child, fear of death kept me awake at nights. 

We all want to live a long life, but after my mom and step-dad died in the same year, I had thought more about quality-of-life versus length of life.  Both of them died in their sleep, which is the best way to go, but they had both reached a point where they were no longer enjoying being alive.

After seeing my wife’s mother struggle and finally succumb to lung cancer, it’s obvious I’d prefer to die in my sleep rather than suffer through a painful illness.

We always feel sad when someone dies young, robbed of a full life.  But it’s equally sad to see someone in a vegetative state in a nursing home who is still alive but without any mental capabilities left.

My wife and I used to joke about getting hit by a bolt of lightning together when we were eighty.  Now eighty doesn’t seem that far away anymore.

People my age think about the financial aspects of how long we will live.  Do we have enough money if we live to eighty, ninety or one hundred?  What if special care is required?

This is the crap-shoot of the aging process.  We don’t know how long we’ll last, what condition we’ll be in and what quality-of-life we can maintain.

So death remains the inevitable outcome with the uncertainty of how and when.

The old adage of living each day as if it were the last still applies.  “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.”  Life is a precious gift and I need to stop, “smell the roses” and appreciate what I’ve got.  With death as “the great equalizer,” life still remains our own special opportunity to live, love, give and be present.


Jennifer Schuster said...

Well said, Mike. What do you think about California's new assisted dying law? I'm in total agreement with it.

Mike Befeler, author of geezer-lit and paranormal mysteries said...

Jennifer, the assisted death laws in several states present an alternative for people with terminal diseases. I saw an interesting short film called Dying Wish about a doctor with pancreatic cancer who called his family together, stayed on pain medication but took no food or water.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Mike, thanks for addressing such a difficult topic for us elders to think about. My mom is 96 and still mentally sharp as a tack, but all her physical ailments and failing eyesight have her confined to a chair or motorized wheelchair when she's up, and watching TV or reading is pretty hard. Her quality of life is not great, and she admits it, but so far, she'd still rather be alive and keep up her social contacts as much as possible. Being in a wonderful assisted living facility with wonderful people sure does help.

Mike Befeler, author of geezer-lit and paranormal mysteries said...

I've had the pleasure of making friends with a now 96-year-old man, the subject of my non-fiction book, For Liberty: A World War II Soldier's Inspiring Life Story of Courage, Sacrifice, Survival and Resilience. Ed was in the infantry in Europe in WWII, captured by the Germans and liberated by the Russians. After returning to the US and in a hospital, doctors informed him he would be lucky to live to late 40s or early 50s. He proved them wrong. He's mobile, reads history constantly, has a great sense of humor and has a better memory than I do. All of this in spite of numerous war wounds and two purple hearts.