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March 2, 2020

March 3, 2020
Gunther. Means “shark” in Belgian.

March 2, 2020

Gunther, my famous Brussels Griffon, will be four years old soon.  As I type this he is sitting on the back of my chair, most of his weight on my neck.  He’s warm!  The vet said his normal temp is about 101 Fahrenheit.  Good for my neck, although I had a couple vertebrae fused by a young Italian surgeon whose name I can say but cannot spell.  He did a great job!  Or I was lucky!  Either way, the numbness in my arm went away and my neck doesn’t hurt much anymore.

Once in a while, when I’m feeling especially vulnerable I hold Gunther like a baby and hug him.  He doesn’t seem to especially like that, or dislike that either.  It soothes me, though. His face is humanoid, unnerving.

P. is out visiting an old friend of hers who is dying of cancer, in hospice care. I believe she is doing a good thing. If I in hospice care I’d want visitors. They could keep me company.

I used to help hospice patients.  In my experience, hospice is under-used by those facing the end of their lives.  This is probably because many people don’t like to admit the end is within six months.  I think it’s easier for the patient, harder for the patient’s family members.

I visited an old gentleman, Gordon, whose terminal condition was heart failure and he was 96 years of age. We talked, told jokes, recited poems:

There was a young man from Stamboul, / who soliloquized thus to his tool: / “You took all my wealth / And you ruined my health, / And now you won’t pee, you old fool.”

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., in Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children’s Crusade.

Gordon liked that one. He was a WW II veteran, served in France after D-Day. He also served in North Africa. We visited and talked and had thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company for two years until he died.

We had run out of things to say to each other.

A week later the Hospice volunteer coordinator phoned me, asked me to visit another nonagenarian, a retired grocer from Spokane.

He didn’t seem like a guy at the end of his life, though. He was strong, albeit depressed. I visited him for about an hour, and we got to know each other. Finally, I asked him if he wanted me to visit again.

“No,” he said. “Don’t bother. We don’t have much in common.”

Hurt my feelings. The old man died about a week later, I saw his name in the death notices in the paper.

As I write my cell phone goes “ding.”  Someone (whom I don’t know) on Fb messenger asks “How are you?”  I resolve to unfriend whoever that is immediately.  My answer is an unsociable “none of your business.”

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