I’ve been thinking about dying again. Not that I’ve any intimations of impending mortality or anything, particularly. I’m as hale as I ever have been. My body is a good, strong vehicle, and I take reasonably diligent care of it, even if I am prone to taking it out for a venturi-clearing race around the nearest dirt track once in a while. Blowing the carbon out of the valves, all of that. Still, strong as it is, a wayward bus would squash it flat, and we rarely see the buses until it’s too late.
We’re all going to die, this I know. The far-flung remnants of my tiny, tattered tribe of blood-kin can attest to that. Shit happens to the best of us, and in the end, some random syllable of DNA gone squirrely, some unhinged bomber or drunk driver, some chicken-barracks virus or opportunistic infection emboldened by years of exposure to low-level antibiotics, some bus with our name on it, something‘s going to do us in.
This woolgathering I’ve been doing was hammered home by yet another piece of bad news from the folks this morning. Following on having their fishing lodge business being foreclosed on by the banks, on being made homeless but for the kind assistance of their many friends, and having to reinvent themselves and their means of livelihood in the 7th decade of their lives, the next hammerblow has fallen. Can’t get a break, my family.
I’ll let this bit from my mom’s email speak for itself:

On the 22nd I got a call to phone home. [Stepdad] had been in an industrial accident and had been taken to the [the hometown] hospital by ambulance. They wanted me here ASAP. I called the hospital and they told me he was being rushed by ambulance to [the nearest city] with head trauma.
In to town by 10 a.m., picked up the truck and the dog and was told he had been hit in the head with a 4 ton come-along chain and was in pretty bad shape. Go home and call [the hospital]. [They’d] done a Cat Scan and called in the Lear Medivac and flew him to Neurosurgery in [next biggest city, about 500 km away]. The doctor in [the nearer city] said go NOW! (so you know what I was thinking )
Got folks to look after the horses and dog, packed and headed for [the bigger city] (9 hour drive)the next morning.
He was a mess! He took the hit near his temple and was thrown back through scaffolding and over a wall. I almost didn’t recognize him; they couldn’t touch him because of the pain , blood all over his head and coming out of his ears, head swollen up like a pumpkin, oxygen up his nose, I.V., catheter. He was on morphine and nerve blockers to try and stop the pain. His brain was swelling and they were afraid his neck was damaged.
He knew me but was in and out all that day and the next.
So I got a room and settled in. He’s had two more CatScans, two blood clots on his brain and a bone chip floating around in there, cracked cervical vertebrae and still on the big M and nerve blockers but they let me bring him home last Friday.

So, shit. Happens. And it never rains but it pours, like they say.
I hope he’s going to be OK. He’s a tough old bastard, and he’s pulled through things like this before. There’s nothing I can do but hope, I suppose, here on the other side of the world.
When my own personal train comes barrelling down the track, I don’t expect I’ll have much warning about it, any more than my friend Rick did a couple of years ago, any more than my bro Barry did when he almost died a while before that, any more than my stepdad did last week. So I’m going to put some dead man switches in place, I think, here and elsewhere on the web. And I’m going to write about what I’d hope might be done for me, to me, and about me, after that inevitable hammerblow falls.
Just not today.

I’m still young, but I know my days are numbered
1234567 and so on
But a time will come when these numbers have all ended
And all I’ve ever seen will be forgotten
Won’t you come
To my funeral when my days are done
Life’s not long
And so I hope when I am finally dead and gone
That you’ll gather round when I am lowered into the ground
When my coffin is sealed and I’m safely 6 feet under
Perhaps my friends will see fit then to judge me
Oh when they pause to consider all my blunders
I hope they won’t be too quick to begrudge me

[Update: Broken vertebrae, blod clots and a bonechip in his brain, but he’s soldiering on. In agony, but he’s got the Serious Drugs prescribed. Doctor told him point blank a couple of days ago “I never expected to see you alive again.” The good news, such as it is, is that we’re talking about Canada here, and so his medical care is costing he and my mom literally nothing, and because the accident happened at work and was not a result of anything but bad luck, he is receiving workman’s compensation. Things could be worse, I suppose. Thanks for your thoughts, folks.]


Join the conversation! 7 Comments

  1. Damn. I hope he comes through OK, and I hope the shit heads in a different direction for a while.

  2. Shit. Good luck to stepdad. We’re thinking of him–and you. (monju)

  3. Chris, I am so sorry, it does seem like your family is due some good luck, right about now.
    I hope your stepdad pulls through, everything intact.
    In my thoughts, as always.

  4. Dear EB, please forgive me. I know this is somewhat of a solemnly natured post, but after reading it through a number of times, all I can think of, is the term – *Postemptybottleian Switches*. Seems like and excellent research topic, perhaps worthy of a phd dissertation. If we squink our brains, ever-so-slightly, we can see it now — “Postemptybottleian Switch Processing: A Path Toward Sustainable Anisotropy Technology”. On a more serious note, please know that none of us really believe that *all* formations are impermanent. For example, your weblog will never perish from our hearts. And, If you should ever waver or dither or falter or flicker or quiver or teeter or totter — by even the smallest squiggle — please know that there are legions of little, jejunely filled bottlettes, waiting in the cauldrons to be summoned by you, and bear your switches. For isn’t it written, and sung, in lyrics of hymns and psalms; “And he saith to them all, If any blogging man will come after EB, let him deny himself, and take up his Switch daily, and follow The Null Vessel [Emptybottle]. For whosoever will save his own blogging publication, shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his weblog for sake of Botella De Emptyness, the same shall save it.
    Again, please forgive the tainted attempt of levity during your tenebrosity. Hopefully things work out for you and your family.

  5. Sorry to hear about your stepdad’s accident. We miss you in the MonkeyHouse, old friend.

  6. Shit. Sorry to hear about this, but he sounds like a strong one and I hope not only that he pulls through, but that he stays strong.
    I, too, have been thinking about dying lately – mostly since I watched a friend die in front of my eyes in November last year. It can happen so fast and, as you say, you never hear the bus coming, no matter what form your particular bus takes. I really don’t think that worrying about it too much is a good idea, but it is hard not to in the wee small hours when my family lies asleep around me and my mind turns to the dark side.

  7. Damn. Being so far away has to be hard. My mother went last year through some bad crap, and this is what partly prompted my return to the ole country. But we don’t all have this liberty, and I know that gut-wrenching feeling of feeling so helpless [not that I would commandeer the doctor’s seat anyway…].
    Hope the old man heals.

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