Dave Freeman, co-author of “100 Things to Do Before You Die,” has died. What makes the story shocking is that he was only 47 year old. But at least he had gotten most of the stuff on his list taken care of first. It seems that he died after falling at home and hitting his head. He should have gone out while doing something wild and crazy from 100 Things to Do Before You Die.
I take a lot of portraits of old people, the definition of ‘Old’ changing over the years, but often being a pretty steady anyone 15 or more years older than me. But lately I have been working with really old people, well past their sell by dates and ready to set sail on an iceberg and have done with it. If these old folks had a list of 100 Things to Do Before You Die, I’m sure they finished it off, or gave up on it, long ago. These crippled and bent old folks are in their 70s, 80s, 90s, and beyond. I’m sure some of them have made a TV appearance with Willard Scott and a jar of Smuckers Jelly. These are not, by and large, pretty people.
But life goes on, and while your alive, you want to remain alive-odd as it seems to the beautiful young looking at the horrid old. Like most American Males of my age, I am a major league wimp when it comes to any kind discomfort whatsoever. If the water pump goes out in my car in 105 degree weather and I know running the A/C will cause major damage to the car’s engine-I will still run the A/C. Spending three thousand dollars to repair the car is preferable to sweating in the heat of an un-air conditioned car.
So when I see these old people, whose bodies have started to decompose while still in use, I wonder how they can stand it. The idea of living in pain all the time frightens me. My plan at the moment is to rent a room on the highest floor of a Las Vegas hotel on my 65th birthday and jump out the window at the stoke of midnight.
Well, maybe not.
I’m 45 years old, about halfway down the stretch according to the life expectancy calculators and still not sure what I want to be when I grow up. If I start to fall down one of two things will happen-1) I’ll recover my balance and be fine, or 2) I’ll fall down and get back up a bit embarrassed. The very idea of there being a 3) I’ll hit my head and die-doesn’t enter my line of reasoning. But maybe it should. Everyday I get a little closer to being like the old folks I see, who would shatter like a Ming Vase if they hit the floor, only a good deal messier.
It strikes me once in a while that I am now three years older than Elvis Presley was when he had a heart attack and died on his toilet. When you gotta go, you gotta go. But until such time, we all like to pretend that death happens, just not to us.
As for 100 Things to Do, there are now entire shelves filled with numbers to do. So maybe Dave Freeman died a bit too soon, but he did leave us with a whole new section of books to look at and sit aside with a little-Maybe One Day.