Death

The other week at our Wednesday Bible study, we were
talking about sensing our mortality and I mentioned the
little verses I learned as a child:

“Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
And if I die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take”

A number of the others thought this was a bad thing to
teach a child. I wondered why it hadn’t bothered me.

I realized that from earliest childhood I was aware of death
in my world and felt no fear. One if my earliest memories is Aunt Kate dying. I remember hearing the words “death rattle” and then I was sent from the house. After Aunt Kate was gone, I inherited her room and her bed.

At age four I came down with double pneumonia and then appendicitis. I remember the doctor coming in and examining me, calling the hospital, and wrapping me up in the dark red blanket and rushing me off to the hospital. My appendix burst while they were probing for it. I think the probe struck it and it burst. I remember the girl in the next bed in the ward, blonde and curly-haired, who had what fear feared I would have, peritonitis, dying in the night. I awoke to a fuss next to me and curtains drawn and then I went back to sleep. In the morning the next bed was empty and had bright white fresh bedding.

I remember as a young child being taken to a party at my grandparents friends Skin and Mame for their fiftieth wedding anniversary. I usually got to the newspaper first and so three years later I learned that Skin had killed Mame, who was quite ill, with a ball peen hammer and then had a heart attack. He was charged with murder but never recovered to be tried.

As a child I liked to roam around a bit and one place was the office of the coal yard down the street. My friend in the office was Mrs Hubley. She welcomed me and answered my questions and chatted with me. One day I opened the morning paper to learn that she had committed suicide.

Finally there was Eddie Gibbs. His wife as a workmate of my mother. My mother and her boyfriend sometimes double-dated with Eddie and his wife. Then Eddie was charged, tried, and convicted of deliberately killing his girlfriend. He was sentenced to death and was electrocuted. I followed this from ages seven to ten.

So I guess death was all around.

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