Did you see what happened to Morley Safer? He retired last week… and yesterday, HE DIED.
So much for the golden years!
Now, I don’t know if it was psychosomatic, but about a half hour after I found out about him, both my nose and my temperature started running…a particularly unwelcome development since I had one hell of a cold/flu/plague situation last month. “Where will this go?,” I wondered. Bronchitis? Pneumonia? COPD?
Don’t laugh at COPD. Have you seen the commercials? A grandfather is reading his granddaughter the Three Little Pigs, and when the wolf starts wheezing, the kid says, “That’s just like you, Grandpa!” The old fart goes on to tell the child that he has chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, and that’s why he sometimes finds it hard to breathe. CAN YOU IMAGE SAYING THAT TO A CHILD? “Yes, dear. Things like plugs form in grandpa’s lungs which shut off the flow of air. Sometimes they break off, yes. Then they travel down to his legs, which become hot and enormous, and sometimes they travel to the heart or brain, where they explode in his blood vessels and lead to sudden death.”
Few people will ever know why, for the rest of her days, that child will have anxiety attacks every time she sees a pig.
But we’ll know, won’t we? It is because she’s afraid of sudden death… death that comes before we’ve run all the bases, and laughed at all the jokes, and finished all the books, and seen all the movies, and sipped all the drinks, and cuddled all the children, and made all the love there is to make.
I’ve heard of so many people who died as soon as they retired. Poor Morley is only the latest. There was that devastatingly handsome old guy at my first job… a real silver fox who would leave every day at three in order to go play tennis. Seven months after he retired, POOF. The ultimate severance.
Why, dammit? Well, many people I Googled say it’s because people who retire lose their sense of purpose. They’ve never quite become human BEINGS; they’re much too accustomed to living as human DOINGS. “Who are you?” “I’m a writer.” “That’s very nice, but I didn’t ask what you DO. I asked who you are.”
Who was Morley Safer after he stopped being a journalist? Maybe that’s a question he didn’t want to answer.
But having been retired now for just over a week, I don’t want to be the subject of some stupid conjecture. Whatever it is I’m sick with, I need to get over it FAST.
Like that lovely old screen star Susan Hayward, “I want to live.”