I am watching, as is most of the country, the events unfolding at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. I believe it represents older Americans greatest fear and simultaneously our secret wish. We all fear becoming a burden to our families, and of course we also fear having a long lingering illness. Basically leaving us with few options, a sudden medical event; heart attack, massive cerebral hemorrhage, or an accident involving a very large truck and our politically correct Prius.
You know how we all think we know celebrities personally and we will cling to the tiniest connection to a famous person. My only brush with Joan Rivers is the fact that our children graduated in the same class at the University of Pennsylvania. I am quite sure I was sitting somewhere in her vicinity. I have seen her live performances many times and I have a close friend, who has a brother who worked for her, making me, in Kevin Bacon terms a dear friend.
I believe that if, in Joan Rivers case this turns out to be a fatal incident. It would be, except for the horrific pressure placed on her daughter Melissa, a perfect end. How many of us would at eighty-one, like to spend our last day and our last years doing what we love best. Whether you are a beloved comedian or a first grade teacher, how wonderful is it to be at the top of your game until the very last-minute. I read that she’d performed on Wednesday night, was great and had shows booked well into the future. She had the stamina to fly back and forth across the country almost every week, that alone is a miracle. She remained relevant in the swiftly moving culture, a feat for people twenty years her junior. She is one of the few people in the public eye able to laugh at herself, a talent not shared by too many people and one that is sorely needed in this age of the “selfie”.
I always thought Bing Crosby had the perfect end, dying of a massive coronary on the eighteenth hole at a golf course in Spain, having just shot an 85 on the round. I have to believe if Joan had to choose an end, this one would be okay. None of us really believes we will die, but I know as I age I pray for an uncomplicated, fast exit, saving myself and my family from a long drawn out vigil. I can only hope I will be able to do the things I love until the very last-minute and then somehow de-materialize leaving no sadness in my wake. I realize that is an unrealistic expectation and rather naïve on my part but it doesn’t stop me from hoping.
Let us pray for a full recovery for Joan and remember all the joy she gave to the world. And if she does not pull through, I hope they have a special edition of The Fashion Police, with her gang criticizing the clothing of the many, many mourners at her funeral. Joan would love that.