In which past events inform future decisions … maybe

When John Kennedy was killed, I was in class at Roosevelt University in Chicago, and a few minutes later in the student lounge I found out what had happened in Texas. I was driving my route as a collector for the post office when Malcolm X was murdered. Martin Luther King was killed during our busy time of the month in my department at Harris Trust and Savings Bank, and we were working that evening when somebody told us. I was at my apartment the morning my father died, and probably on my way to the nursing home when my mother breathed her last. I was at home in our bedroom with Janice at the end.

Now I want to know where I’ll be when I die. I never thought I’d die in Chicago. It took me nearly 40 years to get out, and I never once considered not leaving. I remember wanting not to die in Minnesota, although many people have done so successfully. I didn’t rule Minnesota out based on anything Minnesota had done. It was good to me, and I liked it there, but I never felt like a Minnesotan, probably because I wasn’t.

I could die in Chico; I feel good enough here to die, comfortable enough to let it all go. I could go somewhere else to die, though, at least in theory, as long as it’s warm. I think I could stand the tropics. One complication is that my chosen disposal method has changed. For many years, I wanted my body to be cremated and the ashes scattered somewhere sensible. Now I’d much rather have a green burial, preferably in an unmarked grave; I’d just as soon be food for other Earthlings and save burning all that methane. What happens after I’m gone is up to somebody else, though, and I’m gonna stop thinking about it right now.

I’ve got to think about my wills, though. I’ve got little or nothing to leave my heirs, and still there are ways to make things easier when I’m gone than they might be if I don’t do anything.

The will that really looms for me is an ethical will, which has so far been too hard to do. The examples I’ve read are attempts to pass on the writer’s values. My problem is that I’m still not convinced that my values ought to be adopted. I’ve changed my mind about so much that I’m reluctant to make any blanket statements or recommendations, although as a young man I missed no such opportunity.

The older I get the less I know, and I don’t think it’s just galloping senility, although I suppose I’d be the last to find out.