“Döden, döden, döden”

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Saga and Beata, our two oldest, claim we talk too much about death.  Almost every topic around the family dinner table ends up at the same conclusion.  “I listened to the Beatles all the time when I was a boy.  John Lennon was the best — he is dead now.”  “Passion fruit is delicious.  And did you know, it can lower blood pressure.  High blood pressure can kill you!”

grim reaperBut I insist that this is not a morbid obsession. Death is part of life, something natural.  An eventual conclusion that we must learn to accept.  Talking about her now we slowly come to befriend her.

Astrid Lindgren, the Swedish author of children’s books, got to be very old.  She died in 2002 at the age of 94.  Meeting up with friends of a similar age in the last years of her life she would start the conversation by saying “döden, döden, döden,” (”death, death, death”).  Once that theme was disposed of in this succinct manner, she would turn to more interesting topics.

I remember my father visiting us when we lived in Thailand in 2002.  We went to a rice farming village outside of Bangkok.  With great curiosity he inspected a large chimney beside the village tempel.  “Do you think they use that for cremations?” he asked.  “That’s a very nice idea.  To be burned right here in the village by your family and friends.”  I was horrified.  Nine months later my father died and there was suddenly no way to avoid the horror.  Now I wish we, his family and friends, could have burned him in a village crematorium.  It is a nice idea.

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