Recently I was having dinner with some beloved longtime neighbors and they told me that their family had a get together to discuss the parents Last Will & Testament, DNC (do not resuscitate) and all that jazz.
I know Death is a topic we American’s like to avoid like the plague (sorry) but I sort of feel the more we talk about it, the less frightening it is. Thankfully, some of us may go in our sleep, drop dead doing something we love or just go quietly and painlessly. But for those of us who might have to linger on in a home, or our own home, in a vegetative state or with limited mobility, etc. the thought crossed my mind that a Last Will & Testament just isn’t enough info for the not-quite-dead yet.
If I had the tenacity to do so, I would make a documentary of my friends and family and their wishes on how they would like to be treated if they do not make a quick exit. But I’m a bit lazy so I will just write about it.
For instance, it occurred to me that if some loving family member, nurse, or friend came to my bedside to rub my feet and hands with lotion, how would they know (if I am unable to tell them) that I do not like the smell of strawberry lotion? I don’t hate strawberries; I just don’t like fruity lotions. I’d prefer you rub a nice olive oil on me before you start pouring that pink stuff. Actually if I had my choice, I would like the scent of Lavender to waft my way. And don’t hold it against me (pun?) but even Patchouli would be preferable.
Once I got past the lotion notion, I began to think about music, books and television. Do my family members know my taste in music, literature or TV? Do they know I am partial to Schubert’s Trout Quintet but not a huge fan of Vivaldi? Do they know that The Clash’s Sandinista is my favorite Clash album? I prefer Miles to Coltrane, adore Chet Baker, love Reggae, and hate (with a passion) most Top 40. Lady Gaga, Britney or Madonna would probably send me into cardiac arrest. I suppose they could just grab my iPod or take a look at my iTunes library for a clue but what if only a radio is available? I certainly can’t listen to whatever pop station is tuned in. Are they aware that for some reason I like to listen to Jim Rome from time to time? ESPN radio? I have no idea what they are talking about but I like it. I do not care for listening to basketball though.
As for books, if anyone has the time to read by my bedside, I would appreciate it. But not all books sound good read aloud. Dickens’s and Shakespeare basically cover everything and are wonderful to hear read aloud, and I probably won’t make it through everything they’ve ever written. One anthology would most likely see me through the last stages.
Television might be more complicated but if the History Channel is available that is fine with me. I would even accept the Soap Channel, but no primetime please. If it is football season, please be advised that I enjoy Inside The NFL but to watch a whole game might make me twitchy.
Anyway, it’s something to think about. Unless of course you wish to torture your loved ones on their way out. If I’ve been a naughty patient and bitten my caregiver they just might want to run to the store for some strawberry-pineapple massage oil, a Danielle Steele paperback and an ABBA CD.
- Skin Deep: Aromatherapy: Competing for Your Nose (nytimes.com)