A Time to Live

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As the song goes, "To everything there is a season. A time to be born, a time to die." We cannot choose the time to be born, but Dr. Zeke Emanuel, who is only 57, says he wants to live to 75. After that he thinks he will accept only palliative care and refuse all curative care. I wonder whether there really is a right time to die. If there is, how do we know it?

When I was in my 50s, I just knew I did not want to live with a body that did not function 100 percent. Any mental, or physical degradation or chronic pain was totally unacceptable. The first sign of it was the right time.

For me, the cruel onslaught of aging began suddenly at 70 with a back pain. Not life threatening, but sadly life ruining. I can no longer play tennis, hike or dance, my passions. Also, I have difficulty recalling names, I sometimes stumble on words. Though I wanted to work forever, I had to retire from the company I co-founded.

Well, I just turned 76 and I am still here, living a totally different life than I had thought. I now take pleasure in cooking for friends and family. They all seem to savor it. I serve on the boards of two non-profits. I help take care of my two grandchildren, five and three, who talk nonstop, jump and run around. We play hide and seek. I feel young, alive and renewed.

I am happy to be still here. I enjoy watching the sunrise from my window, love stopping and looking at the flowers and birds on my way to the Y. I solve Sudoku and crosswords, read, watch TV and movies, all the things I did not have time for before.


Now I am clear I do not want to die yet. Maybe, perhaps, when I cannot live on my own. Is this deadline fuzzy, too? I have changed my tune about how long I want to live. I wonder if Zeke will as he ages.

With a Perspective, I am Kay Brown.

Kay Brown founded an international molecular biology software development company and was a professional belly dancer and champion ping pong player in her native India.