Two octogenarians plan their demise
| “Marv, I don’t want to live without you.” Betty wrapped her arms around his as they sat in their small living room, on the lumpy couch covered with a faded and threadbare quilt. She laid her head on his shoulder, now much thinner than it had been just a year ago.
“There isn’t much we can do about that Dear. The Doctor says I have just four to six weeks to live. I have a living will and you have a will in case anything happens to you after I’m gone.” He patted her hand as it squeezed his arm.
“That doesn’t help the situation. The kids are all grown with grandkids of their own. They have moved out of state and except for the phone calls and the twice a year visits from each of them, we’re alone. They don’t need us. I’ll just be an added burden. They’ll fight over who has to have me come and live with them.” She ran her fingers through her short grey hair.
“That’s not true. I know you love them and look forward to their calls, emails and the pictures they send of the Great’s,” He sighed a long sigh. “We’ll have to tell them you know. It’s not right they find out after I’m gone.” He leaned over and picked up the stack of mail Betty had brought in before she served lunch.
“What do we have here?” He held up an advertisement for a Senior Living community. “Maybe we should move there. You’d make friends and maybe even get married again.” He teased, his smile not quite reaching his eyes.
“Marv that’s not funny, especially now. I’m too old to be running after some old geezer.” She smoothed the blanket covering his legs.
“No, you’re not.” He picked up another flyer and glanced at it almost tossing it in the plastic trash bucket next to the coffee table. “Wait! Betty were you serious about not wanting to live without me?” He continued to read the flyer.
There was a long pause. He turned his head when she didn’t answer right away. “Having second thoughts?” His voice dropped to a soft caress.
“No, its not that. I just thought of the kids for a moment. How they’d react. A killer cocktail and we’d both be together forever. They will be so mad. The insurance doesn’t cover suicide. They’d only get what we had in the savings and here in the house. I feel bad for them already.”
“True, except I added the suicide clause in the plan years ago when I thought I might have cancer. That isn’t the route I was thinking.” He handed her the flyer. “I wasn’t thinking assisted suicide. Read the flyer.
After an initial gasp, her liver spotted hand clutched at her thin blouse just where her heart would be and she cried, “Oh my, OH my, OH MY Marv! Are you really thinking about this? I sure would be dead by the time its over.” She handed the paper back to him and fanned her face with a cotton hanky.
The planning began. They sold or gave away anything they didn’t want. There was no need to burden the children with their stuff. Betty cleaned the house as if the President were going to visit. She didn’t want her children or family thinking she wasn’t a good housekeeper.
Marv cleaned out the garage and set stuff by the curb. He smiled as he watched from his chair in front of the window as the pile diminished. He waved to the people as their cars and wagons pulled away from the curb.
The day came. That morning, they ate the last of the cereal and divided the milk between their bowls. After breakfast, Betty washed the bowls and cups and set them neatly in the almost empty cupboard. “The kids can throw these away when they get here.”
In the bedroom, Marv put on his new jeans, T-shirt, socks and underwear. “They may not be as clean afterward, but they started out that way.” He wiggled his busy brows at his wife.
She grinned back holding her own out for inspection. Her soft slacks and printed blouse would look nice at the morgue or wherever they ended up.
“My heart is racing,” she informed Marv as they drove the two hours to the location on the flyer.
“Mine too. I hope I don’t have an attack before we get there.” He hadn’t driven this far for a couple years since the treatments started. He wanted to do it this one last time. They took turns driving to keep him from becoming too tired.
They enjoyed the drive through the mountain pass. They commented on the colors and the animals they could see sprinting through the trees. Then the road turned and ended at a parking lot. Not a big one, there were just four cars parked next to one another.
“Maybe we should have called ahead and warned them to have hearse handy.” Marv quipped.
Betty giggled at first, then it turned into an uncontrolled laugh. She finally quieted and wiped the tears from her eyes, “Maybe we should have.”
“Too late now. Let’s go.” He took her hand and they walked to the building.
They walked hand in hand to the rustic building. Three men grouped together watched their approach. They all faced each other in silence.
One of the men stepped forward and cleared his throat. “Are you sure you want to do this?” he frowned at them.
“Its on our bucket list,” Marv answered and silently asked God for forgiveness for the lie.
They looked at Betty who nodded in agreement. “Okay then, here are the waivers you have to sign.” After the two octogenarians signed the papers, they followed the men to where the men strapped into their gear then strapped them to each other.
On the deck, Betty wrapped her arm around Marv. Her heart raced and beat hard against her thin chest. Terror coursed through her. Her nerves screamed at her eyes to close and for her feet to run.
“Are you having second thoughts? We haven’t lost a single person since we started this over twelve years ago.” The young man with a full beard tried to lighten the tension.
“How about a double?” Marv asked to the man next to the opening in the railing. He got a smile as a response, but no comment.
Betty forced her feet to move with Marv’s to the edge of the deck. The stream below looked like a ribbon of white foam. She wrapped her arms around her husband of over sixty-five years and kissed him hard.
They followed the instructions and the deck fell away. They were falling. Betty’s eyes squeezed shut. Her heart felt as if it were going to burst, but didn’t. A scream escaped her mouth pressed against Marv. They bounced a few times then hung there.
“Are you alive?” Betty whispered.
“Yes.” Marv whispered back.
It was over. The winch hauled the two up. The men maneuvered them to the deck and Marv stood with their assistance, Betty’s legs wouldn’t hold her up she sat on the wood decking. They removed straps and were escorted to the small gift shop where the two could buy a memento of the day. They declined and went to their car.
“What now?” Betty looked at her husband.
“I don’t know, I thought the jump would have killed us”.