Thursday, April 30, 2015

Noli Timere Messorem

"Don't fear the reaper."

Have you ever read any of the Discworld books written by Sir Terry Pratchett?  They are truly hilarious, and he created SO many memorable characters.  Of course, my favorite (other than the three witches) is Death: his feet click when he walks, he speaks in CAPITALS, and his favorite expression  when annoyed or upset is "OH BUGGER."  He also has a weakness for cats (live ones), and will feed and play with them whenever he can.  The thing he hates most is having to reap litters that have been drowned on purpose.  And did I mention that he loves good curry?  This is a Grim Reaper who seems almost human, although he is very much aware that he is NOT human.   Pratchett liked him so much that when he designed his coat-of-arms, he used the title of this post as his motto.  (I'm actually surprised that he didn't have crossed scythes on his coat-of-arms as well.)

I guess that's one of the reasons that I am so fond of pictures and jewelry that feature Death as a personage.  And I would be thrilled if he (or she, or it, or whatever) turned out to look that way when it's time for us to meet formally.  However, most people are not fond of him in any form, and would be far from delighted if he should come strolling in, even if it seems inevitable...

As I grow older, and watch my friends and loved ones grow older as well, it's almost always in the back of my mind that The End is actually coming, that it is inevitable, and that it is often much closer than it appears.  I watched my 97-year-old grandmother go from being "fine" living alone until she fell and fractured her hip (she really wasn't fine, but she was still able to function independently) to dying in a nursing center less than three months later because after she got there she just let go of living.  Yes, that is how it seems to me, because she wasn't ill or in pain, her body wasn't fighting her, she was just tired of going through the motions of living every day.  Most of her friends and family were dead or not close enough to visit so she was alone most of the time, and she was just... tired.  So she let go as soon as it was 'safe' to do so.  I have always felt that she was rather glad to see the Reaper arrive in her room, probably asked him why he kept her waiting.  And she really loved to travel, so I'll bet she was out the door ahead of him; I hope he was able to keep up...

Rest in peace, Grandma Clara and Sir Terry.  May you both have fun and wonderful adventures wherever you roam.

So, how do you feel about the Reaper?  Is there something you'd like to say to him when you meet him?


  1. I saw something similar with my grandfather. He had built a house right on the bay. He absolutely thrived living in that bay/ocean environment. Well into his 80s he still went swimming, shell fishing and maintained his beautiful gardens.

    Then, the state decided to initiate an environmental preservation project, which I generally favor. They declared eminent domain and he had to move. Although he moved to the country, he deteriorated rapidly and didn't last too much longer. The state took away his reason for living. Sadly, they never followed through on the program he was removed for; and to this day, the ocean's waves still beat restlessly at high tide upon the sea wall he once built.

    I wrote a short story last year about an elderly man who tried to cheat death. The Reaper appears and well, the being pursuing him is surprising indeed.

    1. In my opinion, "eminent domain" is a relic of our colonial days, and should have been done away with in the Constitution. It's just a fancy term for legal government theft. Grrrrrrr...

      That said, I'm SO sorry for your grandfather! That must have been heartbreaking for both of you. And I would love to read your story!

  2. For over seven years, I worked in health care, and death is a simple part of life it's always lurking around somewhere in the corridor waiting to guide the next soul to the afterlife. With death it simply a part of everyday life, but modern society has serrated itself from society, You tend to find that most people reach a certain point in life and they welcome death.

    1. I definitely agree that as a society we have tried to separate ourselves from death and anything to do with it. And it's a real shame, because it IS a part of life, and one that we will not be able to avoid, no matter how hard we try. Better to embrace the inevitability and make it more acceptable and understandable to people than to try and hide it. We make death far more frightening than it needs to be, simply BECAUSE we are taught to fear it.