Sunday, January 5, 2014

Repent! The End is Near!

Prophets of doom rarely made a good living in the old days. Prophets of happiness and so forth could count on buying that new goat, wagon, or slave from profits from grateful customers. But prophets of doom, never. They lived in caves and wore sackcloth and needed a bath.

I remember reading all the way through Hemingway's "For Whom the Bell Tolls" before I figured out what the title meant. (1)

As many of you know, I keep a variety of doctors employed and off the streets. Because of various regulations involving the illegal resale of certain attractive medications, I need to see them every month or so, as the prescriptions are kept on a tight leash. Since I am an outlyer in various ways, it can be problematic to find a suitable doctor and therefore, once found, I stay with them for a while. So I drove to LA to see one of these doctors whom I had been seeing for a decade and they channeled me to one of his assistants whom I knew and liked because, I assumed, my doctor was not available. Well, yes, but not the way I thought.

She opened the conversation with "So let me tell you why you are seeing me today instead of Dr. Friedman. Dr. Friedman died last week suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack. His funeral was a few days ago."

Excuse me? Bob Friedman was in perfect health when I saw him about 30 days ago. He looked about 65 years old (he was a few years older it turns out but so what), and was in great shape. Yes, he could have lost a few pounds and I doubt if he spent too much time doing aerobic exercise, but he had years and years to live, as far as anyone could tell.

But when the penalty flag goes down, death appears like a thief in the night and there is no appeal.

And he left some very confused people, including his many employees who would like to continue their practice and keep working together and probably will, but its all a little confused because, sensibly, Bob did not expect to be leaving anytime soon, so nothing had been arranged.

Therefore do not expect to be warned, or rather, take this as your warning. The bell could go off at any time, make good use of the day and see that your paperwork is in order.

This may be the only notice that you will receive.


1. It comes from something John Donne wrote a few centuries ago. He wrote, 
"No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee."
The custom in Europe (or parts of Europe) was to ring a single bell very slowly to announce the death or funeral of someone in that parish. People would know to come to the church to find out who it was tolling for, if they did not already know.

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