In the past week a couple of things have happened that have brought me face to face with my own mortality; also with the fact that turning seventy can be painful, statistically speaking. It takes a bit of getting used to emotionally also, and I experienced a slump for half a day on my seventieth birthday earlier this year.
First off was a letter I received in the mail a few days ago offering me military funeral honors, a compassion helpline, a presidential memorial certificate, headstone, and most importantly, a ten percent veterans’ saving on all costs.
Wow! And I’m only seventy, in good health, with no plans for dying for a long time yet! I don’t even have a doctor! And I don’t understand: yes, my husband was a vet, from WWII, but I am a naturalized American, married to him for only the final thirty-four years of his long life, so why are they offering me a full military service, that I deserve? Because I stayed married for so long and didn’t demonstrate cowardice in the face of the inevitable adversity that any marriage presents?
And today I received another such offer, from a different organization, and this one offers me all the burial benefits I’ve rightfully earned as someone who protected our freedom. This particular setup knows how to reel people in though, because they offer not only an Educational Seminar where they explain all the benefits I am entitled to as a veteran, but a meal at a Country Cookin’ Kitchen. Wow! Food and burial benefits! What are they planning on putting in the food?
So evidently, when I turned seventy a few months ago, wheels were set in motion, not a moment was to be lost. God forbid I die and make arrangements outside the military fold. They certainly don’t waste time scooping me up into yet another aspect of the money-making apparatus of this country, which rules our lives from cradle to grave.
Death with dignity? Shall I remember this on my deathbed, God willing a long way off from today? Shall I be grateful for the 10% discount as I slip over to the other side? Turning seventy is quite enough to handle without having my future funeral arrangements thrust in my face in such an insensitive, materialistic way.
Besides, my plans are already made and specified in my will: cremation, and my ashes to be scattered in the Mediterranean Sea, umbilicus mundi, center of my universe for twenty-six years. Failing that, ashes to be thrown on a fruitful compost heap to feed a worthy garden.
Then there’s the other thing that happened just yesterday that gave me pause: an unexpected viewing of my thighs. Now, I see my body in the mirror on a regular basis, and I am in good shape, I exercise daily, and am in excellent health, on zero medications. I have terrific muscle tone too, but the other day, looking down on my body from my head and not horizontally in a mirror, in a particular light, I saw the ghastly corded drapes of flesh festooning my thighs. I was instantly reminded of ponderous velvet curtains draped in heavy folds. Very heavy folds. Not a pretty sight, and not reassurance enough for me to flex my muscles beneath those outspoken manifestations of senescence.
So I have to say, between the two notifications of my choices of burial rights and a viewing of my sagging thighs, I did not have a particularly joyful week, though I could see the humor in it all. I just wish I were a cartoon artist, because in my mind’s eye, I can see in graphic detail the picture of my horrified expression as I view my naked thighs, while all around me are scattered the generous burial offers falling from my indignant hands.