Never in the 20+ years that I was married to The Jersey Girl did she waken before me. Ever.
Well, once.
On August 9, 1985 between 6 and 6:15 I emerged from the shower to a crying spouse. There she sat in bed, legs crossed like Chief Wahoo. It took her several stumbling minutes to tell me that my father had died.
That just like that this vibrant, passionate, turbulent man was gone.
Like that.
The man I watched smoke three packs each day of my 35 years, the man who found cosmic joy in the simple consumption of banana and strawberry jelly sandwiches (Challah, and Smuckers jelly ONLY)…all 350 pounds of him…was dead..
This gentle giant that would love me to death, frustrate me to tears, yet with one look or word convince me that no matter what I had done, no matter what I was going through, it would be ok….
He was gone.
Which was just the way he wanted to go… He used to always say that when his time came, he hoped that some day he would just “Wake up dead.”
He was pretty philosophical about his ultimate demise, even in his middle age.
As sales manager for a national company, he traveled the continental states often. From time to time we’d talk about the probability of his “cashing in” while he was out of town. His request was pretty simple:
“Just bury me wherever I die.”
Over the years I’d often tell my Dad that I just didn’t know what I would do if he ever died. Each time he would respond with the same assuring prophesy:
“You’ll bury me— just like I buried my father.”
I think of these things now, nearly a quarter century later as my mother’s days linger. She is not well, but she is. The quality of her life is questionable, pain or no pain.
Clearly nothing in my mother’s life has ever come easy—not even her final years.
I have all the questions, but few of the answers. My brother and his wife stand aside me, and together we watch to see if Mom’s today can ever be better than her yesterday. It is peaceful, but sad.
So here it is: World take notice. This is me speaking. For me.
I have never been happier in my life. I’ve got a lot to do, and have no plans of going anywhere soon.
Still, just so you know….when my time comes, fact is: I just want to wake up dead.

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