It started with blood in the toilet, miscellaneous aches and pains and an inability to take a full breath.
That prompted a visit to the doctor and a series of tests and a few meetings with other doctors to offer input on treatment and a conversation about a road with only one end.
It took a while for it to sink in but eventually it did and so came the inward focus on mortality and the question about whether to share the information with anyone.
He had no interest in tears being shed for him nor in shedding any for himself as he saw no practical purpose in either.
Tears had no magic power to heal or slow time and given the docs had said he was closer to the end than the beginning he had no time to waste.
There were things to be done while he was still able and capable of doing so without assistance and that was of paramount importance to him.
Conversations About Dying
Three different Wilner men had conversations at length with me about their thoughts on dying not in the abstract but with the knowledge that things were not going to turn.
None of these conversations were planned but all happened because we knew the end was probably closer than the start.
They were with my dad, my uncle and grandfather and I have wondered more than once what conversations my grandfather had with his boys because of similarities between all three.
Everyone of them said they hoped it wouldn’t hurt but all shrugged their shoulders at me when I asked if they were afraid.
“No one comes back to complain or to ask to do it again so maybe it is painless or maybe it ends and that is it so it doesn’t matter.”
Each shared other thoughts and some ideas but all told me not to waste energy on mourning them.
“I’ll be gone, don’t worry about me. Take care of the family.”
Sometimes I think about it and nod my head because what advice could be better. Sometimes it makes me angry because it can be so arbitrary and unfair but you can only play the hand you are dealt.
Dad and I talked more and in greater detail than I had with my uncle and grandfather so I have a better understanding of what his thoughts were.
But I don’t think they were very different from his father or little brother, nor do I see them as particular different from mine.
Our lives are like comets shooting across an evening sky. Some tails are brighter and longer but all fade regardless.
I don’t remember being born, don’t expect to remember dying.