Not making a difference since 2006. Blog motto: Always be sincere whether you mean it or not.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Death Conditioning

The Black Sea left the following comment on my last post.

On a more personal level, I can attest to the power of this phenomenon. Three years ago, a colleague whom I barely knew, and considered fairly odd, died in his mid-50s of leukemia. Although his death naturally received no media hype, I was surprised at how much it saddened me. I'd only ever spoken to the guy a couple of times, but still, in his mid 50s . . . (I was in my 40s, and at this point ten years passes rather quickly, so perhaps I was really premeptively lamenting my own demise).

Yep, that's us.

Contrast that with my old man. In Huxley's Brave New World there is death conditioning where kids are socialized to not worry about death. I think that happened in the world pre WWII society. My dad's brother was killed by a trolley at seven years of age. There was a lot of that in inner city neighborhoods in those days. Of the six kids my grandmother gave birth to, I only knew three.

That was a less safety conscious world. Also, it was pre antibiotic. Calvin Coolidge's son, who would have had the best treatment available died of a simple infection. Penicillin would have cured it with ease.

One of my dad's favorite entertainments was going to wakes. I have never seen the man more at ease than when conversing with friends a few feet away from a stiff.* Not for nothing do they call the obituaries the Irish Sports Pages where I come from.

His reaction to hearing about the situation Black Sea mentions. "Hey, yah hear about Mikey. Leukemia. Only 55. Got the paper? Gotta see when the wake is." He would have a hard time not appearing exhuberant.

Himself went at 93. A respectable wake, but nothing like the old days. He had been to the wake of just about everyone he knew. Other than his best friend from childhood, there was no one left.

Moi, I almost never get the paper and I never check the obituaries, if only for fear I might be in there.

*I never saw anyone partake of alcohol. Just had to get the stereotype thing out of the way.

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