Death

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


I used to fear death. I wanted to share a short story about the many unique experiences I had on my grandfather's farm when I was only six years old. The many things my grandfather taught me about
life and ultimately about death.

Submitted: May 05, 2015

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Submitted: May 05, 2015

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Death

by Michael Dale Sipes, Jr.

 

I used to be scared to death of death. I would often sit and ponder my own existence and think of how many years I might have to live. Would I die a peaceful death or a violent death such as a car crash? I guess my fear of death and the extreme anxiety that accompanies it has caused me to research everything possible about death and the dying process. I have personally witnessed one-person die, my grandfather, who was a mentor, best friend and someone who I looked up to with admiration. He was the reason I took up smoking at the age of 11, so I could be like him. Luckily, for me, I stopped the nasty habit a couple of years later. I began to drink coffee at the age of 10 because Pop, that is what I called him, drank coffee every morning and so have I for the past 27 years. As a child, I remember holding his hand as we walked into the woods to go squirrel hunting. He would carry the .22 rifle in his right hand and hold my hand with his left. He always told me to never walk in front of him, to always stay behind the rifle. What I remember most are his hands. They were tough, worn from years of hard manual labor and yet soft and compassionate as he held my hand guiding me to the hunt. I was only six years old and it never entered my mind that this tough, Army Veteran could ever die. He seemed invincible to me since he could do just about anything, he knew everything and wowed me with the facts and realities of farm life that a city boy would never get to experience or understand.

He asked me, where do eggs come from, I replied the store, of course. He smiled and took me to the chicken cope. A chicken was clucking and carrying on and he turned her around in her nest and said hold out your hand. I saw an egg emerging from the chickens rear-end and it fell into my hand. My eyes were as big as saucers; an egg came from a chickens butt. All I could think of was wow as I was amazed at learning where eggs really come from. That is not all he taught me though, for on a farm there is life and there is death. For dinner, we were going to have fried chicken, sounded great to me. Where is the chicken though as I looked in the freezer, then the refrigerator? My grandfather said, go out, and catch one of those chickens. I ran around for what seemed like forever, catching a chicken is not easy. After he let me learn the hard way not to catch a chicken, he fashioned a rod with a hook on the end out of a metal coat hanger. He then swooped up a chicken by its legs in under 2 minutes, which I had tried to do for the past hour. He then took the chicken over to a log that had been cut and sat upright. Grabbing an ax, he chopped its head off, then the wing tips and feet. The chicken was flying around with no head. It was ghastly, to say the least, but he said that’s where chicken comes from and he plucked it and we had the best fried chicken I think I have ever had.

Of course, my grandfather was not just about life and death on the farm, he had a sense of humor too, and he thought it was good for me to learn not only by example but also by mistake. He had warned me about the fence surrounding the cows but I did not pay much attention. One day as we cut brush, my grandfather needed to pee, well on the farm you just do your business where ever you might be, so wanting to be like Pop I had to pee too. He said now pee on that fence there and I did just that. The electricity traveled up to the top of my head and from that day on I did not have to be told to mind the fence again. I spent most of the summer with him and loved every minute of it. I learned so much and had so many unique experiences from that summer alone that I will never forget. For example, when we went hunting or brush clearing he always took toilet paper with him. I thought oh that is a good idea, but I doubt I will have to go number two; we are only going to be out for a few hours. Well, little did I know that strenuous walking and work cause your bowels to move and function well, so after a few hours we both had to go. He squat down and did his business and I wanted to do the exact same thing in the exact same spot, but I was so inexperienced that I ended up falling backward into both of our mess. He laughed and laughed but I was horrified and had to walk back to his little trailer to take a quick bath.

As the years went by and I grew into a young man and my grandfather turned into a very sick, old looking man for someone who was only in their late 50’s. He had emphysema and asbestosis and could hardly breathe. He was on oxygen by now and nebulizer treatments several times daily and spent every day all day looking out his window. It was 2000 now and the new millennia brought with it the reality that my great-grandfather who was now 90, and his son, my grandfather who was only 60 were both dying. It was a very hard time in my life and losing two of the most beloved people in my life at the same time took a very heavy toll on me. Knowing that their deaths were certain, I decided to move from Zuni, Virginia to West Virginia and live so that I could be with them both for what little time they had left. My great-grandfather died first and I attended his funeral. After they placed the coffin into the ground, everyone but my Uncle James and I had left. I had to wait and watch the dirt be filled in over his grave before I could leave. That was my way of getting closure. It was about a month and a half later that my grandfather died, and I really think it was because he gave up on life due to the death of his Father, who he loved so much. My Mother brought my grandfather home from the Veteran’s Hospital and I picked him up from the seat of the car, carried him inside his little trailer, and laid him in bed. We got his favorite dog and we all sat with him, talking to him about all the good times we had together until he drew his last breath. I will never forget that moment and it was at that time that I no longer feared death. Pop had done it, and so could I. I will never forget all the wonderful memories that my grandfather bestowed upon me and I truly believe that he passed into another dimension.

I now firmly believe in God and that a supreme being or force created everything. That we are just dust, stardust to be exact, born from a miraculous collection of atoms that once burned deep in the heart of a dying star. In death our spirit, soul or whatever you may call it, our consciousness is not lost but moves on to another sphere of consciousness in another dimension. While alive we are in this spiritual Earthbound plane, in death comes the release of our spirit into another sphere of existence and consciousness. Our physical bodies return to dust and once again someday will be at the heart of a hot shining star, there is no death, no ending for body or soul. Finally, I am at peace with death and am afraid no more; death is not the end but merely a path to a new journey in a new place.

 

 

 

 


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