"El Loco Rises"
created by
Michael McCaffery

Avoiding The Void

or

More Demented Thoughts

by

El Loco
 

April 20, 2022

 


It seemed appropriate to start this particular piece of writing (a
euphemism for random, disjointed, yet important thoughts) with this
whimsical title - as is my practice in an attempt to gain attention -
when I think I have something useful or maybe only provocative to say.

 

I do not pretend that what I create will have any wide reach or
impact, but it does help me think a bit less erratically, and by reading
what I write after it has been written by me, I see things that are not
clear to me in the initial writing. I thank the Reader for allowing me
that. Of course, it would be particularly useful when published and
viewed by disinterested or uninterested readers, hence the importance
of clarity. It is as if I seek an impartial disinterested audience of one
to help me see if what I have written has any use or meaning or even
purpose. As always, any input is welcome, whether or not I heed it or
put it into practice. (This paragraph is a good example of my mind on a
good day, and on a bad day it would be unintelligible.)


The easiest things to write about - all important of course - are the
day to day rambling and disjointed insights I have about what is
currently happening as I slip further into dementia, otherwise known as
my senior years. I am finding that I am more and more able to step
aside from my trains of thoughts (they are plentiful, each on a
different track, originating from multiple sources, and heading to
multiple varied destinations with the usual smoke and whistles and
noise), and that this outside view of my inner space of thoughts and
ideas seems to be more able to be expressed in this first person
singular form.


Further, I have discussed with Liz a number of times my wish to end
my life on my own terms while I can conjure up cogent thoughts and
ideas from inside my more agile and flexible brain, and put them into
words and thoughts that might be interesting and perhaps even useful
to others. I am not particularly amenable to pain and suffering of any
kind, by anyone, at any time, and especially by me.


My wife Liz and I are having more and more useful, interesting, and
honest conversations about our individual and combined lives, how we
should proceed, what meaning the past has (less and less as time
progresses), and what should be our course from now on.


As an example, and not to put too much importance on this, we
discussed this morning the possibility of my taking a trip to my old
haunts (places where I have lived in my earlier life before Liz came
along and changed me for the better). This would include the two
primary places where I have lived (at least those within the United
States, excluding Italy and England when I was a Vietnam era naval
officer, and thankfully excluding California, a state in which I likely will
never set foot again). Those places are Louisville, Kentucky and
Mobile, Alabama. I ruled out Alabama since I have little interest in
going there again, although it could be “interesting,” and there are no
people in either place - dead or living - that interest me any more, even
though I spent most of my life there before escaping as a young man,
or more likely, an old child.


I do have a curiosity about how the physical look of the various
places I have lived, worked, studied, and played in Louisville would
appear to me at this point in my life. I suspect I would revisit old
memories (good, bad, and indifferent), make peace with my past, review
the good and bad times, and as a result come to some sort of overall
view and closure of my past seventy eight years - so far.


I can see some value in that, although I have no lingering regrets of
issues that seem to need to be addressed that would come to closure
by such a trip, but I do have this curiosity as to how those places would
look and what feeling and emotions might be brought forth by visiting
the old haunts (and that word “haunts” is chosen precisely because it is
very descriptive).


We discussed it, she was not in favor of it, the money to do it might
be an issue, and so “better to let sleeping dogs lie” as the old saying
goes, which I rarely do, since I like to look to my past for insights into
my present, purely as an academic and often emotional exercise.
We dismissed the idea after due consideration, and began to talk
about the future, as we are both 78, have some relatively small assets
and possessions that we need to consider appropriately disposing of in
the future, which then led to some “interesting” conversations about
that very subject.


I have no heirs, no children, and while Liz has been very productive
in that arena, having substantial progeny and various sub-categories
thereof, and as a result of the conversation about downsizing and
disposition of assets, I found that most decisions or at least requests
had already been made, at least tentatively, with some minor
semi-conscious input from me, and there was little remaining to decide,
at least by me.


This was a somewhat surprising realization, as various items and
assets had in principle already been divided among her heirs, in theory,
and I would not need to worry about that, since it had already been
decided upon. So while this was a bit of a surprise, it was likely a good
idea to establish these things now, rather than later, and I can see the
value in that.


To make it clear to the casual reader of this, who will not be
cognizant of the recent details of our lives, I developed dementia in
the form of Alzheimer’s Disease almost three years ago, and it is
progressing along it’s preordained course with me as an observer, along
for the ride, and not always an accepting one.

It seems that most of my major possessions have already been
“spoken for” (not that it would make a difference, since my vote would
automatically be canceled upon my death, if not before, as it turns
out), but this is not my decision, anyway. This of course includes her
children, and great grandchildren, if any. There is a significant number
of additional progeny waiting in the wings (she has four children, three
of them Santa Fe artists, and one in Denver who has been successful in
a commercial enterprise). Procreation is a major concern, highly
valued, and a quite common activity of the culture in New Mexico, and
is practiced freely, readily, and avidly, so as to provide the many
benefits and advantages that come with that process.


I am writing this after having been informed of some of the
requests already made by others, and so here I sit in a sort of
quandary. Do I resist anything that is not acceptable to me (not a
very good thing, even if I considered it, which I am not), or reopen the
discussion to which I was not a part of, or simply do the right thing and
sit back and enjoy what I have as long as I can? And upon reflection, I
know it is not and should not be my choice, and I have no strong desire
to continue to make choices beyond my expiration date.


It is also somewhat possible that we had the discussion and I do not
remember it, and I always make allowances for that. At this point, I
am going with the flow, yet am investigating any viable options, which
are few. Since my early years, when I was caught flat-footed in
difficult circumstances, I have always had an alternate plan, if for no
other reason than for my peace of mind and expected continuation of
my life.


That is not my normal mode of living, and so I sit here in a quandary,
weighing the various pros and cons regarding the various paths to take.
I certainly do not fault Liz, as her primary mode - which I support and
honor - is to be aggressive in her actions, unless she decides otherwise.
Further, I have discussed with Liz a number of times my wish to end
my life on my own terms and with Liz’s concurrence. A recent law
passed in New Mexico (that I supported and heavily lobbied for and
supported) allows that action to be done legally, medically, and
ethically, with numerous conditions and proscriptions. The gist of them
is that one has to be within six months of “the end” as determined by
competent medical authority, and with no hope of positive resolution.
This is difficult to do and comes down to medical opinion, which few in
New Mexico are prepared to render.


One of the questions raised when I discuss this option with others
is: Why do this? Why not let nature take its own course? My
response is that I have been responsible for my life, and all that it
entails, since a very early age, and to stop doing that now makes no
sense to me, and is not who I am. I have no desire to linger when life -
as defined solely by me - is no longer worth living. Some have said that
this is not ethical, and that taking on this responsibility is not “the
right thing to do.”  It certainly brings up certain religious and ethical
considerations for some of my long time friends.   My response is that if I

am not to be responsible for my life, why should I not be responsible for my death? Why allow some other person or undefined entity to make that choice? Doing so would violate my core beliefs and values by which I live my life, and I am not willing to thoughtlessly change that now, barring of course any future change of mind.


Liz recently shared with me information about an organization that
operates out of Yugoslavia (I believe) that handles the “end of life’
process cleanly, correctly, and of course requires a similar medical
diagnosis as noted above. It involves flying to Switzerland, crossing
the border into Yugoslavia, checking into the special facility, then when
ready, take the appropriate “medicine” to quickly and painlessly end
life, followed by cremation and any appropriate ceremonies desired by
the remaining “guest.”


I thought that this is an excellent idea, well thought out, is done
the right way, and is relatively common there. Of course, there is the
cost, but what the hell!  Upon further consideration, I thought less
and less of the idea, since the location of the act would have no
meaning for me, it would be expensive, and a hundred other thoughts
and considerations entered and flooded my brain. Not only that, but an
intercontinental flight in tourist class in the summer is not in my top
one hundred things to do. Been there, done that, and I was much
younger and far more tolerant way back then.


And so, Liz and I are continuing the discussion, not frequently, but it
is on the table should either of us bring it up for a final vote, assuming
we could get together the necessary quorum.


Part of me says that I should go off, as animals often do, to their
favorite place and do the deed themselves, or expire naturally among
the elements, but that does not have nearly enough drama to satisfy
me as my last act upon leaving this life. My other thoughts center
around juvenile sophomoric stunts, mostly involving some form of
avoidance with the help of others, in all those many possible forms, and
with as much drama as possible, possibly as a film to make some sort of
statement. That is my fertile and imaginative mind at its best (or
perhaps worst).


The latest hairbrained idea was to go to Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, the
most conservative place in the United States, contemplate my navel,
write the Great American Novel (or final chapter thereof), and beg,
borrow, or steal, or even buy one of the many tens of thousands of
firearms that reportedly exist in that area, and go out in a blaze of
glory, with perhaps a bit of theater thrown in, after of course having arranged for the transport of my vehicle to Liz back in Santa Fe.

 

It has a sort of sophomoric appeal to it, and it keeps my mind placid and occupied while I think of other things more important, like taking out the garbage, petting the dog, being kind to my wife Liz (I do not do nearly enough of that on last report), and otherwise make myself useful and not too
bothersome. (That last sentence is the world’s record in sentence
length in online essays, I believe.)   I did give up for now on the CDA option
after doing some exhaustive research of the area and decided against
that option.


And so, that is where I stand now, melodrama and all, and
peacefully so. As the saying goes: “One day at a time.” And of
course along with my old ever present and always useful pedantic
homily:


“It’s All Good, and That Is My Choice”
 

“El Loco”
 

April 20, 2022