Death · 22 September 2000

I cringe when people try to do everything for their aging parents. Especially when they are still active. It is like their roles are the opposite of when the kids were children. “No Mom, you can’t do that.” “Let me help you.” “You’re too old to be working so hard.” But I can’t tell them not to do it. I guess it is a natural reaction. We all want to take care of our parents because they took such good care of us. We are just trying to return the favor. But I can tell my kids that I don’t want them to do that to me. And the reason why is because it has been my observation that people only die of natural causes for one of three reasons — their bodies give out, their hearts break, or they don’t feel that they are needed anymore.

I’ll be glad to go when my body gives out or wears out. If I’ve been active, that means that I’ve put too many miles on the old frame and the warranty has expired. But that’s okay because I will have lived life fully. If I haven’t been active, I guess that I will have chosen to die. Just like the car that refuses to start after it’s been sitting for years or has been poorly maintained, I will have lost my body through disuse and misuse. But whether through disuse, misuse, or just plain use, the body will eventually give out. I hope that I go by wearing out my body.

Old people who go through some heartbreaking loss like losing a spouse of 50 years seem to go quickly if the deceased was one of their main reasons for living. I could see myself going that way if I do not have loving kids and grandkids. But those relationships will keep me going even after my future wife dies because the bonds of love and devotion will still remain between myself and my children. But that isn’t always the case. And sometimes even when it is, the loss is so great that they feel that they can’t go on anymore. They die of broken hearts. They die of broken hearts.

But more tragic still is the death of those who just don’t feel needed anymore. They have been there for others, especially their kids, but now nobody wants them to do anything for themselves. The stubborn ones who live long are those who won’t give in and even say, “I can do it myself! I’m not dead yet!” But some less stern just give in and let their kids do everything for them even if they can do it for themselves. My kids won’t do that to me or I’ll just leave. But I guess that others don’t have that choice. I just wish that they would stand up and say that they are still useful and have more to contribute. Even if it is just an oral history of the family or tall tales of big fish and swift running waters. These are stories that I wish my Grandpa was still around to tell and that I hope my Grandma lives a long time to continue to tell. And when I finally get married, have kids, get older and have grandkids, I hope that they will want to hear my stories of our family, big fish, and swift river waters.

© 2000 Michael T. Miyoshi

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From Musings of a Mediocre Man published September 2000.


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