May. 5th, 2015

On death

May. 5th, 2015 10:18 pm
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“Daddy, when is Cherry coming home?” asked Madeline as she was brushing her teeth yesterday evening.

“Sweetie…Cherry isn’t coming home,” I told my oldest daughter.  Her four year old mind processed this for a moment before she finally said, “that’s right.  I forgot.”

A couple of hours prior to that exchange, True and I were at the local veterinary clinic, the place from which Cherry, a Chihuahua nearly thirteen years old, would not be returning.  I had gotten the message during my lunch break at work; Cherry, whose health had been deteriorating, had suffered a prolapsed rectum.  I left work early since there was no point in leaving the dog to face several hours of suffering due to my usual work schedule.

Years ago I researched the price of an abortion, mostly out of curiosity and the fear of condom breakage.  Yesterday I learned that it costs the same amount of money to have an abortion as it does to euthanize a small dog.  In both cases, I can see death as nothing less than a merciful release.

I am pro-euthanasia.  I have decided that should I become useless to this world, a vegetable merely taking up space on a hospital bed and possibly screaming inside, I want it all to end.  I want to live, not merely be alive, a pile of organs just going through the motions, most likely prodded along by excessive technology.  I don’t want my children seeing me rotting alive and devoid of lucidity; I don’t want their final memory of me to be my final memory of my father.

That was 25 years ago today.

I was nine years old when my father died, meaning that he has been dead for the majority of my life – a tipping point which occurred somewhere between my 18th and 19th birthdays.  Madeline said to me tonight that Grandma lives in New York, but that one of the neighbours was Grandpa.

“No,” I corrected her, “your grandfather died before you were born.  The neighbour isn’t Grandpa.”

“Oh,” she said, “I don’t have a Grandpa?”

“No, Madeline, you don’t.”

“But I still have a Grandma?”

“Yes, Sweetie, you still have a grandmother – and she loves you very much.”

The memories are fuzzy, as are the family photos, albeit slightly less so.  I grew up in the age prior to digital photography, so either out of my head or out of the photo album, the past has an imperfect soft-focus aura about it and always seems to need a bit of colour correction.  I don’t remember much about my father, though the photos reveal that my younger brother inherited his face while I inherited my mother’s face (which looks way better on my daughter Amélie than it ever did on me).  It seems that my youngest brother was the lucky one, getting the perfect genetic blend of both of our parents.

Over the quarter century, the pain of Saturday, May 5th, 1990 has faded into something resembling insignificance.  I note the date and I note the time which has passed and I note how insignificant this day is to most people not celebrating Cinco de Mayo.   My daughters are too young really understand what is going on – be it a grandfather they never knew or a dog their father bitched about on more than one occasion.  Someday they will though…someday we all do.

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Seth Warren

May 2017

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