The year before I was to turn 49 was filled with dread. It wasn’t something that I was thinking about consciously. It was instead a subliminal, noticeable relief of the passing of each month.
My mother had died suddenly shortly after she turned 49. The event was traumatic, not only because I lost someone I loved dearly but also because her birthday in February was preceded by the usual New Year’s resolution to lose weight.
On that last birthday I refused to eat her cake because I was dieting. This small gesture gave me unbelievable guilt for years and precipitated a future lack of New Year’s resolutions. But many do, and magazine covers are full of advice on “ways to a better you,” or a “year of positive change,” as well as a great deal of advice on dieting and healthy eating.
The headline I like the best is advice from Deepak Chopra. “You can actually reverse the biological markers of aging by 10, 15 or even 20 years.
“Your chronological age does not need to correspond to your biological age.”
A quote from writer Wendy Dennis in “Just a Closer walk with Thee.” She says, “My mother had a position on death. She was against it, but given that she didn’t have much choice in the matter she focused on more practical concerns.”
Dennis says in the article that lately she has become preoccupied with funerals, specifically her own, worried that “when my final curtain’s fallen” she won’t have a good attendance and her daughter “will have to hire extras.”
I understand Dennis’s concern about death. In the past few years I may have attended a hundred funerals, some of them for friends not much older than I am. It’s no wonder that while suffering in bed with the current flu bug last month I felt so sick that a vision of the long bony finger of the Grim Reaper touching me crossed my mind.
I also wondered that if that were the case, would anyone stop their routine to attend my funeral? Would a volunteer to say the eulogy find anything to praise me for? Would I get one of those sappy eulogies that describe what a sweet person I am? (I’m not, ask anyone who knows me well, I’m way too outspoken and critical for that designation.)
There really should be rules about what to say in eulogies. They should be at the very least truthful. I have delivered several, including my father’s. I spoke about what a tough dad he had been but what valuable lessons of honesty, integrity and strong work ethics his toughness had instilled in us as children.
Roman Catholic funerals are sombre things, but that’s befitting the situation I suppose. Eulogies are delivered before or after the ceremonial mass. I would like mine recited before and right afterwards. I want my favourite cheerful Italian music played, after all a funeral should also be a celebration of a person’s life and their likes.
Discussing one’s funeral may seem a bit disturbing but really I plan, as Dennis’s mother said, to “focus on practical concerns” that includes taking Deepak’s advice on reversing aging. He says, “The mind and the body are inseparably one. It’s not that the mind heals the body, but the mind stops interfering in the body’s self-healing process.”
This is done by reducing stress and letting healing happen by allowing hormones like serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin to get released when we are happy.”
So move over stress, blissful hormones are about to take over.
Happy New Year Everyone.