My grandpa is 83 years old. I'm sorry -- 83 years, 5 months (he's back to counting in halves). That is four years past the life expectancy of American males. I know so because he tells me every time I visit.
For grandpa death isn't a concern; it's a lifestyle. He schedules his week around dates with Dr. Mioto, whose BMW he has personally financed. It starts every morning at six, when grandpa hits the obituaries.
"See there," he points. "80 years old, heart failure. Right on schedule."
To stay out of the paper, my grandpa takes pills. By the silo. He totes them around in an alabaster box and swigs 'em down with every meal, sometimes during grace. One pill helps his blood pressure but causes trembling; another stops the trembling but causes cramping. When Neo asked whether my grandpa wanted the blue pill or the red pill, my grandpa took them both.
"Got to keep the old body ticking."
And that's the point: My grandpa has turned himself in. He has given his body to science instead of owning his part in the show. He's got pills to make his hair grow and heart beat and lungs breathe -- stuff that has taken care of itself for 83 and a half years! My fear is that the old fart will die of medication.
Last week over dinner -- spaghetti and meds -- grandpa couldn't stop praising Dr. Mioto. It went on so long that I wondered if the doctor wasn't prescribing BS. My grandpa isn't senile, but he's at that stage where life is like a box of whatmacallits. He doesn't flinch when the doctor says things like, "We can't make out your rash, so we're going to rub some more Medicare on it and see what happens."
So it goes.
I've tried to pull my grandpa from his bender, but he can't hear me. He's beaten the odds by four years and owes it all to his alabaster box. And so long as we pill-popping junkies keep thinking that way, our gods will keep driving BMWs.