While George did not live well by some people’s lights, it should be universally accepted that he did die well. In hospital, two days beforehand, he said he’d finished with the medical procedures he had been avidly seeking for the past few years; he said he was ‘checking out’. He was completely calm and committed to the decision. The next day, we brought in some beer, toasted his life with him, drank with him, and helped him to make several thoughtful good-bye phone calls. He reminisced a bit and gave us a few unhelpful instructions. He died without pain the next evening, from a slow gastric bleed, with his wits about him and a light heart.
Turns out, his timing was impeccable: the next day we found out that he had been racking up ominous bank and credit card debts. Clearly, those supplemental incomes were about to dry up. In earlier years, George would sometimes slip out of a town after he had accumulated local debts and after the relevant woman’s purse had been snapped shut. But of late, he was in no condition to skip town. And women just don’t see old men on scooters as the stuff of their dreams – they see them as impending burdens. Perhaps George felt cornered. Perhaps he thought that, under his present circumstances, dying was the only way out. Whatever the story, no one can deny that George made his final exit with style and grace.