Conversations About Death: I

Bob King Diaries; O7.o5.2o17

Visiting with Bob, discussing the recent Grenfell Tower fire in London…

Both Bob & I have strong emotional attachments to London. I lived there for a semester in college studying Art History, in my Long, Long, Ago.

Bob had been traveling frequently to England during the last 14 years prior to a health decline that prevented him from his normal routine of flying into Heathrow Airport 2 or 3 times a year. His partner for many years was a Russian woman named Nadia, who lived in England.

Bob and my mother had been married for 16 years, but they divorced in 1974.
Neither of them ever remarried, and it wasn’t until Bob & Nadia met that he had a love in his life that I can remember.

When the fire happened in Mid-June, we were both stunned and saddened by the tragedy. Such tremendous loss in a place that held precious memories for both of us.

Me: “What a terrible way to die… burning to death.”

Bob:  ((quiet pause)) “Yes.”
“I’ve been trying to think of what a good way to die might be.”

I am all about End of Life care, and making one’s own funeral plans long in advance. I’ve been trying to get Bob to discuss his wishes in the event of his death since the 1980s. It’s always been important to me.

It has always disturbed him.

Bob’s brother and sister-in-law died within 4 weeks of one another, in 2o15.
He participated in the periphery, as I was helping my cousins with Hospice care.

There was a combined small private family gathering for both of them on the same day; Aunt Donna’s remains were interred, Uncle Frank’s ashes were scattered along Parson’s Creek outside of Marcola, Oregon.

Marcola is a tiny unincorporated community outside of Springfield, OR. Which is outside of Eugene.
Bob, Frank, and Donna grew up together, attended the same high school.

Bob declined to attend the family gathering. He never did articulate the reason for this. I presume he was experiencing too much grief with the loss of both Frank & Donna in such a short period of time.

Bob has always thought me to be a morbid little creature. He loves me dearly, but he cannot relate to my need to connect with people during the precious last hours and days of life.

When he said he has been trying to think of a “good way to die,” I was caught off guard. Sometimes it’s hard to discern when he is serious vs joking.
Joking about death does not seem to be his thing, however.

He had three falls last week. This, he will joke about.

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