“Clear,” she said, as Jake pulled into the heavily traveled intersection, unaided by any traffic signals. The little VW Bug’s right side passenger window was situated such that his wife, Clara, blocked the view. So they came up with this verbal strategy to make up for the loss. Anyway, Jake, at 85, lost his ability to turn his neck 90 degrees, so this seemed like a workable option.
Clara wasn’t any better off. Though only a couple of years younger than Jake, she quit driving altogether. Her eyesight was good, but she became too anxious behind the wheel. The idea of driving on the freeway was out of the question, and soon to follow was contesting in any traffic whatsoever. Jake’s short-term memory was unreliable, and he joked that he’d get Clara where she needed to, but she’d have to tell him why they are there. Life became a series of doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, and a little mall-walking here and there. “Old age is not for sissies,” was their mantra.
There’s was a life of hard work, sacrifice, and, now, pain. They put their two children through college and grad school, and now had successful careers. However, their jobs meant having to live far from their parents, and visiting the grandchildren was very occasional. Grandma and grandpa felt unnecessary to their lives. In fact, unnecessary to anyone’s life.
But it was the last trip to the doctor that brought them face to face with mortality. Jake was diagnosed with lung cancer that spread to his liver. Stage four; inoperable and final. He was given six months to live. This was received by Clara as her death warrant as well. How could she possibly live without Jake?
There they were, once again, at the well-traveled intersection. “How’s it looking, honey,” asked Jake? Clara took a long look down the road. Approaching quickly was semi loaded with scrap iron. It would be on them in seconds. “Clear,” she said.
For some non-fiction thoughts on end of life, see:
and my own story from yestderday Preserving Life.