This article has been inspired by the culmination of three events:
Kenny Rogers passing.
My Mother’s death.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick remarks.
Kenny Rogers, country music hall of fame awardee, singer, songwriter, actor, died on March 20, 2020 just as the USA was locking down to a period of social distancing due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In the words of my daughter (and from one of his hit songs), “He really knew when to fold ’em.” I agree with her, he really did. For many people now is the time to be fighting for your life. But for others life is already over.
Others like my mother who recently passed. She was 83 and suffering from dementia. Her dementia was a gift to us as she was quite a cruel mother. That is, until she forgot all her invented slights and grudges. She no longer pitted us against each other. She was too frail to hurt us with her fists and her legs required a wheelchair. Having a mother with dementia was wonderful. She was delighted every time I came around the corner. She couldn’t remember much, so instead she spoke of invented memories that were comforting to us all. She assumed we were happy and so we were.
Having her love me was a dream come true and I soaked up every minute of the last three years. However, as I already mentioned, in the end – as with all of us – she died. We were lucky to have had her live as long as she did. Even her end was a blessing. We all gathered as often as possible around her deathbed. She clapped with glee like a little girl when folks came to visit. She sang, she smiled, she enjoyed her circle of love even as she suffered. She was feisty and lasted much longer than made sense, surviving many many days without food or drink. We were fortunate to be able to say goodbye to this brand new mom. She was fortunate to be able to say goodby to the children she now loved. Her story ended just before traveling and sick room visiting was to become unsafe due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Today, due to the contagious nature of the outbreak, seniors die alone. Families mourn without gathering and loneliness prevails over the deathbed experience.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick recently stated that he believes most seniors would agree with him and prioritize opening up the country to business as usual despite the risk of their own demise. He shared that if in order to keep America running for the younger generation he would have to die he is okay with it. Next week I turn 63 and so I believe I am qualified to respond. I am not okay with it.
Don’t get me wrong, I have said similar things. But similar is not the same as agreement.
If you were to eavesdrop on my conversations you may hear something akin to, “I am okay with dying. Ever since I turned sixty I got comfortable with it. In fact, I think every year is gravy from here on it. I did all the have to’s already. Now it is just want to’s and that can end anytime.”
I mean this, by the way. I am okay with dying, theoretically. However, I am not in a rush. I am actually more valuable now than ever for the future generations. They are why I want to stay. I have published five books, written, directed and starred in one award winning movie, as well as ten episodes of a docu-series meant to help families with autism and other disorders as well as two CD projects and tons of podcasts. I work internationally to heal brain dysfunctions and share my knowledge from the stage. I raised eight children, most of them adopted and multiply challenged. I do a lot. Yes, it is okay if I die from COVID-19 but it is better for you if I don’t.
Because the purpose behind everything I create is “Healing Humans.”
I teach you how to embrace your strengths and live the life you love, every moment of the day. I teach how to be a great leader by leading you to self love and joyous action. I DO NOT teach you how to get rich, unless getting rich is what makes you happy in the moments that you are working towards it. I don’t directly teach that because I am not money motivated. I am service motivated. I do not do any of these projects in order to enrich myself with cash. Yes I pay my bills, but I keep it simple. I am too busy creating to be busy selling and that is on purpose. I do what I like, and I don’t like marketing. Still, people buy because I come from the heart and do excellent work. It is a quality versus quantity kind of thing.
I have a lot of answers to share. Because I have lived a long, very interesting life. No one has lived my life but me. So only I can gift you with the knowledge I so uniquely hold. This is true of everyone.
My future project list is long. And in fact, to get it all done I calculate that I will have to live to be 132 years old. Of course, some things will remain unfinished. That is always true. Everyone dies with a list of things to do beside the bed. So obviously I am also okay with not crossing out every item on the list. In fact, I am okay with not getting a single other thing done. But you shouldn’t be. Because you or someone you know will directly benefit from my continued existence.
And all this can be said of every elderly person alive today. Even the ones with dementia. I miss my mom. I miss Kenny Rogers. I miss my social freedom to hug and kiss. But more than all that I miss an imagined time when young people gathered to learn from old people. We have value and we want to pass it on.
When I was young I was gathering experience. I was not really ready to teach others the how of life. Though to be honest it has always been in my nature to try. I (along with many other baby boomers) am ready now.
Dying during social isolation means dying alone and unheard. Social isolation means I have a greater chance of living. Yes, it is okay if I die. But the next generation won’t be better for it, it will be less.
Please stay inside and wash your hands.