Like many people of a “certain age,” Handsome Hubby scans the daily newspaper obituary notices. He signs, moans, and groans when he learns of the passing of yet another classmate or long-ago colleague. I used to roll my eyes. “How long has it been since you spoke to them or even thought of him/her?” I would say unsympathetically. But the other day, he shared the obituary of a man I had never met. It brought me to tears. The obituary detailed an epic passing — one that Handsome Hubby and I now aspire to!
“Seeing the fully-grown Bengal tiger recently escaped from the circus menacing two children on their way home from their violin lessons, he stopped his vehicle, carefully turned on the blinkers, and subdued the beast, then secured it. He then sat down on a step and collapsed. First on the scene was Animal Control who briefly revived him upon which he earnestly asked the beast not be euthanized, then mumbled a few words in Hebrew, and collapsed again, never to be revived.”
Don’t you agree that such a passing is truly epic? Heroic and yet, peaceful at the same time?
So moved by this obituary, we shared it with friends and family across the country. Simultaneously we searched for news accounts to fill in the details. What circus? Where? When? This should have been big news. We could find no answers. Maybe HH’s former colleague had died elsewhere. We broadened our Internet search parameters but only found escaped Bengal tiger stories from a decade ago. We emailed friends of the man who might have attended his funeral to get more information. While we waited for answers, we pondered our mortality.
It took about two weeks to find someone who knew the man and the details of his passing. It was not quite as glorious as rescuing children from a Bengal tiger, but it was bittersweet in its own way. The man, a lawyer by trade, suffered from a long-term, debilitating illness and was receiving hospice care.
At the end, we were told, he decided to go out on his own terms, and to do so, not gently in the night, but with a roar. He had a jolly time with lots of liquor. In the process, he reconciled with estranged loved ones, and he also wrote this beguiling obituary of a last epic adventure.
I admit I initially felt let down there was no “real” Bengal tiger, but not Handsome Hubby. He admired that the man had the courage and good humor to stare down the Grim Reaper and pen his own memorable send-off.
So, to all those we’ve known and lost touch with, hello and best wishes. Handsome Hubby and I are thinking of you now and forever.
As for death, I guess one way or another we all will face our own Bengal tiger.