More and more as my family military research has taken me forward in time to World War Two, Korea, and Vietnam (that I know of I do not have any relatives involved in these current, seemingly endless, wars in the Middle East), I have come upon the term “Private”. Even though I have learned a few ways to edge around this restriction, I have decided that I am not going to write about anyone’s life that is so described. I will, though give tribute to those who paid the final price for defending this nation.
I would like to thank the Swedish novelist Henning Mankell, in the final novel of his Kurt Wallender series, The Troubled Man, for closing his series in two short succinct paragraphs. In this work, the detective is bedeviled not only by old Cold War naval politics and espionage, but also by his own memory blanking out. Kurt does manage to crack the case, but the author closes the book with a poignant statement, which I will not quote here, so that you the reader can also discover the impact of his words.
I am glad to have read this novel; it made me glad I have attended to the legal documents which should protect my own decision. In my 62 years I have seen two relatives sink into the whirlpool of dementia, and saw one linger for decades with traumatic brain injury. I have decided their final agonies are indeed “Private”.
I have, though, gained resolve from my experiences visiting these relatives and written up a Living Will, and Power of Attorney, to ensure that if I am ever in that situation, that I will not have to face futile attempts to stave off my ‘final chapter’, because like it or not, the gray guy with the scythe always wins. Perhaps each of our own “final chapters” is best left unwritten. But since I have kept my own private journal for nearly forty years, I think I will try to (if given the time) write my own unfolding denouement when that time approaches.
Stay tuned! thom dunn marti