Gotta make some plans! Years ago in every boomer’s past, that meant big plans for life. But in this funny piece by Mary Kay Jordan Fleming— who in her day job is a professor of developmental psychology at Cincinnati’s Mount St. Joseph University— it’s about plans for immortality… and plans for if it doesn’t pan out.
At 35, everyone wants to live forever. But that plan changes around 60 or 70 when everything starts to wrinkle, sag, collapse, break, and hurt. That’s when a new strategy emerges.
My husband and I reached this point and hired an attorney in the hottest new specialty— “elder law”— prompting our children to launch an endless game of I’m the New Favorite, You’re Out of the Will. In preparation for our meetings, I studied living wills, power of attorney, and palliative care, and was eager to express my legally-binding wishes for a simple and painless way to get out the door.
For starters, I’d like to arrive in the Emergency Room escorted by some top-of-the-line EMTs. Maybe Drs. McSteamy and McDreamy from the early episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. If I’m not dead yet, give me something to live for.
If I’m in pain, don’t park my writhing carcass on a gurney in some hallway like I’m auditioning for the cast of a haunted house. Let’s have some of that comfort care I read so much about.
In addition to pain control, I’d like to be treated for constipation if necessary. This is apparently a treatment “option”… as if anyone in their right mind would select against it… and sign me up now. I think any doctor who doesn’t automatically treat a bowel blockage should be stripped, clad in a paper-thin gown, strapped to a wheelchair, and rolled briskly out the Emergency Room doors.
There are an alarming number of other contingencies not included in a living will, so I’ve taken the liberty of drawing up my own codicil to include the following requests:
- Don’t assign me a snoring roommate. If I wanted to listen to that, I would have suffered at home.
- Knock before entering my room. During a friend’s hospitalization, a priest barged into her room while she was using the bedside commode. Both of them required Last Rites after that scare.
- If I need resuscitation, in addition to the crash cart, bring a double pepperoni pizza, chocolate-covered strawberries, and tiramisu. Trust me, if I know I’m dying, one of my last thoughts will be I should have gone ahead and eaten that.
- When the time comes, check at least twice to make sure I’m dead. Shout “Free donuts in the conference room” or “Your old boyfriend is here to see you” into my good ear.
- As soon as I’m pronounced dead, send a trusted friend to my house to burn my journals and rip the size tags out of all my pants. No one needs to see any of that.
- Cover me at all times, even in the morgue. My mother did not raise a floozy. Now that I’m dead, I’ll be seeing her momentarily and I don’t want to get hollered at.