Saturday, August 23, 2014

in lieu of flowers . . . koi

In Lieu Of Flowers . . . Koi

8/ 19/ 14

I have a sophisticated folder of last will and wishes The folder itself is of the vanilla Manila variety,in need of TLC, is all, its original purposes in thick permanent ink -- scratched through ineffectually in school-grading red.  Honestly, I have no real idea what my folder looks  like these days; I'm just guessing that it's one of the two kinds I’m most familiar with -- pristine for finally replacing the standard, type, as the one above. Whether for shame or dilapidation, I'm sure there have been improvements to the articles concerning my demise -- at least in their spruce condition, if not in their perfect legality.

In the early of hours of preoperative procedure (Biopsy 1 ca.2007), the decaffeinated, unPop-Tarted, hours, we are called-back to an available admissions desk shortly to be joined by an understandably foot-dragging lady blowing and sipping on a piping (standard issue Styrofoam) coffee cup, her jonesing right hand jiggling the red stir straw to many feasible points of departure. The coffee was probably the dregs of yesterday's. I did not begrudge her (much) her morning beverage; although, I did envy her option.

In this fog, came the now all-too familiar rigmarole. But at the time, I was not prepared for the barrage of questions, much less delivered with a nonchalant rapidity which I found incommensurate with the matter at hand. Had I had anything to eat or drink (here I expected a McMuffin to appear from her sleeve) after midnight? Did I smoke (and here expected, could she bum one)?

In no particular order or foreseeable limit:  Allergies? History of seizure? Accept blood? Any ports, stents, catheters, prior surgery detritus, history of hurt feelings? Sexual activity? Religious preference in case God forbid . . . ? etc. etc, increasingly including words like stool and cancer, etc., etc.

Still nonchalant, she asked if I had an advance directive or a living will. She asked through the diminishing steam from her buckling cup peering over glasses a la Huck's Aunt Polly; she asked, it seemed to me, in a tone of presumptive disappointment. But it was true, we had neither such stuff on hand. She recommended remedying that fact. She stacked my admission papers -- stapling  some, clipping others -- affixed that mundane talisman to my wrist in case, God forbid, there be confusion between me (right parietal resection) and some McMurphy (frontal lobotomy) getting jumpy in the next bed.

She excused us back to the waiting area.  I stood feeling oddly ashamed for not having a living will or advance directive. They say of casinos that you should only go with what you're prepared  to lose. I walked into the brightening waiting area on my way to play blackjack with death -- lamentably unprepared to die.

I lived to procrastinate another day.


It wasn't long before my papers and folder were in order. Proper forms have been kept current -- signed and dated by someone not in my immediate family. This is a taller order than you might think. You find out who your real / inebriate friends are come moving day; you find out who your extraordinary/ morbid friends are come signing and dating day.

After the GBM diagnosis, we've been at clinics and hospitals often enough but for forgetfulness or extenuating circumstances , it took us until recently to deliver the material to an appropriate receptor of such -- preferably one situated at a computer but I suspect any smiling person in scrubs in the proximity of your department would get the job done.


What's value of mourning? The cost of grief? The price tag on that arrangement of lily and iris, it's beautiful, right? Whoa! not that beautiful, am I right? Anything cheaper . . . say that little crimson and white football . . . right beside you . . . looks like a piƱata? Pricier? No way! Back to Target for us, Virgil. They had that one card, remember, with the sad-eyed basset hound and on the inside that said "I be so sad too." What do you mean chintzy? We'll put a gift card in it.  I don't know . . . Outback. No more than a dead man needs flowers. He was your father, you tell me.


Ah, to be on file! Letting it be known: Keep an eye on the vitals screen and a hand on the plug. Divvy my organs and distribute them expeditiously.  Don't bury me, burn me to ashes, feel free to distribute those at your leisure with or without sentiment; conversely, carry me quick to ol' Virginny  and scatter my body there from the banks of King James River, out into the Chesapeake . . .  whatever suits you as long as you gyp the worms.


What is the cost of bereavement after taxes? The value of tears as soon as they leave the the lot? Who keeps the change, heaven or earth, when the tab is tallied and set on your table?


In lieu of flowers . . . cash. Antemortem, if you please, posthumously if you must. Some suggest a donation to your favorite charity in the amount of what you were willing to spend on daisies and a spray of lesser known flora. If that's the case, may I further suggest that you had your eye on the crimson and white football all the while and you were only waiting for Virgil to turn his back, and that your favorite charity is me? Against your not being comfortable with an arrangement so crass . . . we are registered at the UAB Hospital’s gift shop, Bed, Bath, and Beyond ("Beyond" department) and Target. Outback is fine; Ruth's Chris is better.


The Penny

Imagine my shock when I discovered
The cost of koi, one lone, piebald koi
Was in the hundreds.
Did you see the look on my face
In that moment, that one, blurred moment
When I thought, In such a world I can ill-afford
To fall in the pond retrieving my wish-wasted penny.

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