Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fischer
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Time to face our mortality

Wick's World


I enter my office and flick on the radio. An old song from the past is playing. I’m thinking to myself about how ironic the moment has become. This is writing day for me and all morning I’ve been contemplating the subject I am going to address this week: mortality. The song playing on the radio isn’t exactly about facing one’s mortality but about change. Sam Cook sings, “It’s been a long time coming, but a change is gonna’ come.”

For a human being, mortality is the greatest change one will ever see in their lifetime. We are all going to die. I like Woody Allen’s attitude. Not the one where he that thought it was okay to marry his adopted daughter. The one I like is his attitude on death.

Woody says, “I don’t mind dying. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

Well, good luck with that, Woody. So the Grim Reaper never came to your door and made you pay for your weird marriage situation. But he’ll be there someday asking you to pay the price for giving you a life. That price is death. Another comedian of your generation is facing his mortality after a jury convicted him: Bill Cosby.

One dictionary describes mortality as “susceptible to death.” I prefer Joe Cocker’s version: “Ain’t no time to wonder why. Whoopee! We’re all gonna die.”

For my wife and I, April began its mortality run while attending a funeral of one of the sweetest, smartest, most creative people my wife and I had the fortune to know. She died of a rare, incurable illness, leaving behind a husband, six school age children and grieving friends that literally numbered in the thousands.

Her mother said it best in her eulogy to her daughter.

“She may have been only 44 when she died but she lived those years to 88.”

While our friend was raising her four children, she took on her brother’s two children after he died in his sleep at age 40. She always tackled life with a passion, finding the time to become an award-winning graphic design artist. She also created and published an award-winning curriculum for struggling students. When the Lords of Death approached her door, she knew as a mortal human being, you have but one choice. Open the door and walk from this world knowing you have left it a better place.

Before April closed out, two more friends of ours had to come to terms with their mortality. On Saturday, we got a phone call from my son about his friend whom we are close to. This is a friend who has essentially been orphaned for the past 30 years. His parents died when both they and their children were quite young. We have been surrogate mom and dad to this young man for a long time.

“Of course we’ll help,” we said. “What happened?”

The orphan we semi-adopted is only 41 years old. He has an aortic tear in his heart. This is serious stuff. It happened while he was driving north to pick up his kids for the weekend. Even if he avoids precarious surgery, he will be facing life with an irreparably damaged heart.

After the phone call, we immediately went to the hospital where, of course, he was very happy to see us. The next day was different. He had time to let the wheels in his head start spinning and they landed not on “Jackpot” but on “Mortality.” The rest of his life is not over yet, but it certainly will be limited and very different.

We got back from the hospital to receive a message from a friend. She had recently beat cancer along with stabilizing the accompanying tumor. She was in great spirits this year until yesterday, when she was diagnosed with ALS.

Using my words, her doctor said something like this, “You are once again facing your mortality. It’s time to put your life in order. “

He sentenced her to four months to four years. She, too, was another friend dying way before their time. We humans have now have pushed our life expectancy to 80 and beyond. But the time to face our mortality was yesterday, today or tomorrow. One of the days will stipulate:

“You got to walk that lone

some valley,

You got to walk it by yourself.

No, nobody else can walk it

for you,

You got to walk it by yourself.”


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