dead relatives just hanging

my dentist, of all people, proposed a theory today while finishing up another highway construction project in my mouth. (what could i say?)

we had been talking about how old demented dying fathers invariably reported dead relatives paying them a routine visit, or mistook us for other (often dead) relations. we just assume their malfunctioning neurons aren’t firing or connecting properly anymore, and they’re delusional. but my dentist (who was my father’s partner for years, and knew him well) suggested that perhaps the brain and body are preparing the person for death.

suppose said person, while he was still lucid, had written notes to himself, alerting himself to this phenomenon, for just such an occasion, and his children confronted him with these notes to try to disabuse him of his delusions. instead of helping snap him back to reality, my dentist proposed that it might disrupt the brain’s natural transitional process toward death. it’s not a scientific theory, just a guess, but it could make sense. maybe the dying person’s brain is better left alone to see the process through.

on the other hand, this is the same dentist who maintains that his kids are his insurance policy, to take care of him when he gets to that stage. to which i countered, that’s a stage i hope i personally never live to inflict upon my son. i couldn’t put him or anyone through this. maybe i’ll just hang out with all the crazy dead people. just remind me i said that when it comes my turn.

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