Monday, July 6, 2009

On coming to the end

I've been watching Dead Like Me and I have to wonder about the show's creator, Bryan Fuller. His other shows (Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies) feature the same kind of narrative and altered reality style, but Dead and Daisies both feature main characters who have been resurrected from death. What does it say when your creative impetus revolves around the undead? Perhaps Fuller is only obsessed and not downright creepy. Either way, I am once again caused to consider my mortality.

The spate of recent celebrity deaths has underscored my meditation. Farrah was 62 when she lost her battle with cancer, just two years younger than my dad when he died just a few years ago. That's just over a decade older than I am right now. Michael Jackson was only months older than me. I don't have any delusions that I'll be next because of this -- that the Heavenly Hosts have come for the gifted and they count me among them -- but it does make me wonder how my life's clock is winding down. And what I have to show for it.

I don't think that I'm afraid of dying. I'm not worried about what shape the afterlife might take, or even if there's one at all. I don't live in terror of judgment before the throne of the Almighty because I've lived a mostly good life, been kind to people and pets, and paid my mortgage on time (mostly). I think if there's anything that i fret over, it's that I'll have no legacy to leave behind. And that no one will remember me when I'm gone.

On my way to dinner at my favorite Keys Cafe on Lexington and Larpenteur, I drive by the Roselawn Cemetery. There are a lot of people in there under monuments staid or grand, subtle or spectacular. The more recent arrivals have suffered the same ignominy as my mother's parents though. They rest in eternal light under an eponymous plate pressed flat on the ground. You know the kind, the marker that makes it easy for the groundskeepers on mowing day. I wouldn't stand a prayer of ever finding my grandparents if I wanted to pay my respects. Their memory will die with my daughter's generation. And there isn't even a splashy grave marker for perpetuity.

Is this was our immortality has become? A homogenized slab the size of a shoebox that won't catch the blades of the industrial strength lawnmower? How incredibly sad that there are no stone angels singing them into heaven for what will surely count for mortal mankind as eternity. How unfortunate.

But I'm not afraid of that. It's not like I'll care, being gone to my own great reward and all. I won't mind if I have an upright stone or a post mortem name tag on a fairway. But I do fear being forgotten, that my daughter's child's generation will be the last to remember unremarkable me, gone to dust with no Lord of the Rings or Chess or Guernica to immortalize my memory.

This missive isn't intended to be self-serving and depressing. I apologize if it's come across that way. I only mean to say that there seem to be fewer days ahead than behind and the ponderousness of that conclusion is occupying some prime real estate in my mind. If I don't wish to be lost to the ages, perhaps I should get off my ever-widening ass and create a legacy.

If not that, I'll have to convince my daughter that I want stone angels dancing on my pinhead when at last I've shuffled off of this mortal coil. Big, honking angels. Then it won't matter who I was.

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