Best Way to Die

Food for Thought @ Alice's Tea Cup, Chapter 2

My doctor friend was in town to watch the US Open, so we had lunch with his two daughters at Alice’s Tea Cup. We were in our 20’s when we first met. At the time, I didn’t think much of the fact that he is a doctor, but, now, he is one of the leading experts of stroke at Harvard. It’s a bit strange to have a friend who is so distinguished. Now that I’m older, I can understand why Jewish parents want their sons to be doctors. If I can make friends who specialize in cancer and heart attack, I’d be well covered.

While the girls were preoccupied with the tower of scones, cookies, and finger sandwiches, we talked about the best way to die. I’ve always thought stroke was the best way because you can die while tripping. Just to be sure, I asked my expert friend, and he confirmed that it’s a pretty good way to go as long as you don’t survive. But he said he prefers a massive heart attack. He mentioned someone he knows who died from a heart attack while he was skiing. Certainly, it’s tragic for his friends and relatives, but as far as the best way to die is concerned, my friend thought it’s a great way.

I also mentioned that we should stop seeing doctors after a certain age because if we keep seeing them, they will eliminate all these good ways to go. To my surprise, he agreed. In fact, that is the advice he gives to his friends privately. I told him about the documentary I recently saw on Japan’s aging population. Since there are so many old people, Japan is having trouble keeping track of them. Apparently, three people die alone every hour. In one scene, a social worker visits an old man, probably in his 90s, to check on his health. She tells him to stop smoking and drinking. WHY? For what? My doctor friend said that is precisely the problem. If we go see doctors, they have no choice but to sustain our lives as long as possible. It’s not their job to ask why.

Our lengthy conversation about dying didn’t seem to bother the girls at all. Since his wife is also a doctor, they are probably used to this type of dinner conversation.