Impending Death


Yesterday I learned that my mom’s sister E is dying.  She was moved to hospice care yesterday at the age of 71.  She smoked and drank most of her life and now suffers from a variety of ailments — COPD, back issues, bipolar plus depression.  I feel bad — she was a decent woman, but also difficult to deal with at times because she was so spiritual — “inconsistently spiritual” is what I would call her.  One memory of mine is her lecturing me about karma because I was teasing her son (my cousin) Jason about something — we liked teasing each other, we were pre-teen boys, this sort of interaction makes up the majority of a friendship at that age — but she thought teasing was mean and bad.  Karma said that what goes around comes around and if I kept teasing, something bad would happen to me to balance out certain forces in the universe.

In response I said “you can’t believe in karma, you’re a Christian, karma’s a hindu thing” and her response was something like “I can take what I like from different religions” and I said “no, you can’t, the point of religion is to pick one — Christianity explicitly forbids worshiping other gods or taking on other spiritual beliefs” and she tried to insist it was fine to do this at which point little ten year old me was just exasperated.  Even then, my brain ran on rules and logic.  I couldn’t talk philosophy with her without clashing.  And where she enjoyed the clashing, at the time, I hadn’t yet learned this trick of the mind, to take pleasure from conflict.

Another fun memory:  In my twenties I had a visit with her and my mom where she revealed that one of her cats, named “puddin” without a g, had the soul of an Egyptian prince in him.   I’ll never forget how floored I was when I realized that she was completely serious.  She was cool in some ways, she let me watch any and all Patrick Swayze movies with her — she crushed on him — even though I was only like 10 years old and probably shouldn’t have been watching stuff like Ghost and Road House.  Anyway, it’s always sad when this sort of thing happens, the end days for someone in the family.  If my mom wants to go to the funeral when she eventually passes I will go with her, I’ll make it happen — drive her 8 hours to upstate New York, see a few of my cousins, whatever.  But I won’t see E in hospice.  I don’t think my mom will either — she finds E to be “very difficult” to talk to at length and they aren’t very close.

My covid positive wife Jennie went to work yesterday and managed OK, wore a mask all day, did back-office stuff, avoided people and physical labor.

I exercised at the gym late in the day, around 8PM, because my wife fell asleep early and I found I was restless at home.

Minor incident:  Two guys talking to one another next to me.  I was on an adjustable free-bench, the kind that leans at configurable angles so you can lay on it on your back and stress various muscles in your chest, focusing on different areas, as you press upward with dumbells.  They were five feet away doing absolutely nothing physical, just talking about how appalled they are by Biden’s socialist America — their opinion seemed to be that we live in a communist state ruled by the tyranny of the liberal democrats.  In between workout sets I took my phone out, set a timer for two minutes, and played word games until the timer went off, at which point I’d do the next set.  I’m trying to make my chest bigger and when you are working on gains, you need to try to do heavy weights at low reps, 5-8, until your muscles are close to failure — you are really struggling to get that last rep — and then you need to rest for 2 to 3 minutes before the next set.

After I do 3 or 4 sets of this — I’m aiming for 6 sets — one of the guys says very loudly to the other in this kind of braggy, blowhard voice When I come to the gym I just get my reps in, I just do the work, I don’t you know…  just do nothing on the phone and sit on the equipment.  (note: there were other free benches available, I was not preventing anyone from using a bench…)

I’m so close to this dude that I feel certain he’s talking to me and I look at him but he doesn’t initially make eye contact — he’s really animated now, eyes focused on the other dude he’s with — they’re probably early fifties, maybe five or eight years older than me.

The other guy agrees.  so many people all they do is look at their phones, no one is really working out anymore, and they keep the equipment full when other people could be using it.

I’m basically right next to them and I’m looking at my phone doing octordle (a variation of wordle where you solve 8 at once) and at this point I decide to turn toward them so they can really get a good look at me and one of them finally turns.  I gave him a big fakey smile and go back to my phone and they look at each other and walk away.

The best part of this interaction is that the guy complaining “no one is really working out” was pretty big — at least 240, and not a muscular 240 — he resembled a garbage bag full of cement.   I wasn’t sure why he thought his own workout strategies were superior —  the evidence seemed to show otherwise.

I wondered why they chose to have that conversation so close to me.  Is it something about me?  Part of me felt like going up to them and explaining that it’s important to have rest time between sets — resting is part of working out.  And if you’re resting, you might as well entertain yourself.

In the end I did the wise thing and tried to put it out of my head, finish my workout, and leave.  If I see them again I’ve made up my mind to sit on some equipment close by and look at my phone.  Maybe I’ll even say hi loudly right before i turn my attention downward to my screen.  I didn’t know how to enjoy conflict back when my aunt E wanted to argue about religion, but I don’t seem to much mind it anymore, as long as the conflict isn’t with my wife.

I was going to write about my therapy session — we spent some time talking about my Dad, which seemed interesting enough to review today, but it’ll have to wait.

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February 3, 2023

Whatever they said wasn’t about you. It was about them. Shake it off. Who cares what they think? Everyone has opinions and just like A-holes, they all stink. Just remember  when people talk nastily about you or anyone else, they are revealing their true character and nothing about you.

February 6, 2023

@snarkle Yes, thanks for the comment.  I’m sure you’re right.

February 3, 2023

Puddin without a g! Hahaha! E sounds wild.

February 6, 2023

@ohmylanta E is a lunatic in some truly amazing ways.  Married 5 times, too, currently single but unofficially back with the second of the five.

February 4, 2023

Seriously you need some earbuds so you don’t hear those idiots and others like them.  You do you.

Looking forward to hearing about your therapy session.