Meg Casey
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"Most Able Disabled"

Meg Casey's handicapped issues column

Facing death

Meg Casey
August 10, 1983

Dear Meg:

How have you dealt with the thought of death when you have been told that most paregorics die while still children? With the exception of you this has been true, but even you are not expected to live out the life expectancy of a normal adult.

Dear Concerned Parent:

This question always strikes me as being so ridiculous but everybody asks it. How does anyone deal with their death announcement?.” You make it sound as if someone is standing there with the stopwatch and whistle, shooting the time as you as you race around "the great track of life." Melodrama is not my speed never mind, dealing with death, how in the hell do you handle the thought of living with that kind of self abusive attitude? The mere thought of existing under that sort of constant nagging pressure would drive me to shoot myself with the starter’s pistol!

I don't think about death unless the subject is brought up. Even then it usually isn't in relation relation to me but if it had been, my own death has never been something that I've dwelt upon. And for good reason, no one has a guarantee for longevity. Most adults find it hard to cope with the news that they only have a limited amount of time left to their lives. The main problem is that when people hear the name of some terminal condition they instantly think DEATH!!! The echo of the death knoll deafens their ears to all of the positive sounds in the statements like "You have six months to live, maybe more … I can't guarantee … " And they proceed to die for six months or more until the end and does come, possibly years later, but they have put themselves to such mental anguish on top of the physical discomfort worrying about what is going to they have also missed out on their last chances for joy and laughter, only to about what it is going to be like when it finally happens. They have also missed out on their last chances for joy and laughter, only to experience that misery.

Not me, I intended to cram every second of fun into my days in the sun. If I'm going to be hit by train I don't want to watch! if I can't be pulled out the way in time, shut up! I don't need any fortune tellers describing my final scene and ruining every decent nights sleep I've coming to me until then - “When my number is up lord, just let it be quick!

As a postscript to how I dealt with the thought of death and dying. It is important for me to do so because not everyone is as fortunate as I to be able to treat this issue by feigning ignorance of such possibilities and luxuriating in flippancy. For some the reality of those possibilities cannot be ignored, physical pain and suffering is a constant reminder.

An interesting observation could've been made by an astute reader of last week’s column. The tone of the way in which I worded that reply told as much of how I personally deal with the subject as the content of my answer did.

My flip remarks lightened the seriousness of the topic and answered the question as honestly as possible while using the technique quick, blunt answers which would have the closing effect of one of two reactions. 1) Hopefully, it took your breath away then make you burst out laughing or 2) You were shocked into silence. Either of which has the desired result of distracting everyone long enough for me to move onto "more fun things." After all, the question was asking for my own personal methods, and "them's it!"

To some that kind of attitude is a way of running and hiding so that a person doesn't have to face an unpleasant reality. To others such sarcasm used for this as sensitive and heavy subject seems offensive. Then there are those for whom the ability to block out pain and or cover up hurt is only a dream that they have nightly.

I am an incurable optimist as well as "a bald and wrinkled dwarf" who is "wizened face" reflects the inner wise-Alec resultant of the tumultuous experiences of a “prematurely turning turing 271 1/2 years old" (in dogs age).

After reading descriptions like that of what progeria reportedly has done to me, I'm supposed to take life seriously? Guess again!

I've been very fortunate in my life that I have been been able to remain gay and relatively carefree because I have never been sickly. Is not my nature to mope about nor to dwell on negatives. I feel that to do so is unhealthy in itself. I also believe that you can talk yourself into feeling sicker than you need to be as well as be a distract yourself into very high spirits.

In the end whatever methods work to make coping with existence a little easier for you is your own business. As long it isn’t infringing on anyone else’s space in time, it's fine. However, if you feel inclined just try treating your attitude well and instead of your ailments. You'll soon see the light that is the sunshine!


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© 2015 to 2017 site design by Daniel Ortoleva
photographs and other content courtesy of the Casey family unless noted
blog posts and art by Meg Casey
originally published 1982 to 1985 in the Milford Citizen newspaper
Memorable Milford regrets that a political dispute has made it necessary to complete this project without the cooperation of a claimant to the original columns
The original author disdained those only seeking to profit from tragedies.
We did not feel that a disagreement should prevent the public from learning and enjoying these incredible pieces of advice and show they are still relevant to today.