Monday, March 23, 2009

Red Light/Green Light

So my dad calls up yesterday to tell me that Uncle Woody just heard some news about their family friend Charlie, who lives in Western Kentucky. He couldn't just TELL me, without some fairly long and involved details going back 50 years, but the Reader's Digest condensed version is this:

Charlie stopped at a red light.

One of his buddies happened to be behind him in traffic.

When the light turned green, and Charlie didn't move, his friend got out to investigate -- see if he could help out with engine trouble -- and Charlie was slumped dead over the steering wheel. Heart attack.

My completely inappropriate response was: "That is AWESOME!"

I mean, if you could live a great life -- Charlie was 70; never sick a day; lived and worked on a hugely successful and beautiful farm (all paid for); and was by all accounts, the happiest guy you could ever meet with never a moment's plan of "retirement" -- and then you could just DROP DEAD in the space of time it takes from the light to go from red to green? How FANTASTIC would that be?!

Charlie's death was the happiest story I heard all week.  And I mean that in the kindest, most respectful, admiring way possible.

What I was reading at the time my Dad called was "Lackluster marriage enlivened by cancer scare" from the Onion's Twitter feed.

George and Maureen McKay's stagnant, passionless 36-year marriage was briefly enlivened recently by Maureen's late-May cancer scare.
"When the doctor told us Maureen had terminal stomach cancer, our priorities instantly changed," said George, 57, who had steadily grown more distant from his wife over the decades. "Suddenly, all that mattered was spending those final days together." "Last week, we found out the doctor made a misdiagnosis," George continued. "Now, thank God, everything's back to the way it was before."
As soon as Maureen's stomach problems were found to be nonfatal, the couple returned to their normal mode of interaction: icy silence punctuated by the occasional bickering over petty household matters...
Still, the couple has their memories of the whirlwind three weeks. One moment in particular sticks out in Maureen's mind. A few days after the misdiagnosis, George presented her with a thick woolen sweater to wear around the house if she felt cold. It had been years since he had bought her a present out of the blue.
"I was so touched that I cried," said Maureen, holding up the unattractive purple-and-green sweater. "Before, I would have made fun of this ugly thing and shoved it in the closet, but instead, I wore it every day. I mean, until I found out I was okay. I haven't worn it since. It's really not my style."
Settling back into their pre-cancer-scare routine, the couple has canceled the vacation they had planned, deciding it would be wiser to put the money toward a new roof on their home.
"Boy, am I glad that's all over," George said. "Now we can get back to being a normal married couple again."
Me? I want to go out like Charlie.