coming from when I tell you that I was in a mega Wal-Mart in Show Low,
Arizona. It was on a Saturday, the first day of the month. I tried to
get out of going inside by saying that I couldn’t leave the new tire
unsecured in the back of the truck. It wasn’t a good enough excuse so I
locked the tire in the front seat and reluctantly went in.
The place was packed back to belly with an
unpleasant welter of people and sound. Nearly everyone who gets paid
gets paid on the first of the month. They were all in Wal-Mart. The
thought occurred to me: “I wonder if this would be the worst place to
die.” Later, back at our kids’ place, I wondered about it to my
son-in-law, Sean. He said, "Not if you’re in the lingerie section.”
By the time I was a teenager I had my death all
scripted. I would be 105 years old, hunting deer, see the biggest buck
of my life and die of a heart attack. At that young and irrepressible
age I could think of nothing more exciting than pursuing a big buck,
and no better way to die than while doing it. I still think that dying
out in the hills while doing something I love might be the best way to
I’m not likely to die while hunting deer, though.
The last time I went hunting deer I saw some nice bucks across a
narrow, deep canyon. I was confident that I could have taken one of
them but I didn’t shoot. Having become an old guy, I knew that there
was no way I could hike across the canyon, butcher the animal, and
bring it back. Why, I might have had a heart attack.
Some say that dying in a church or temple would be
the best way to meet your maker. It would give the appearance that you
were a fine, upstanding person. My uncle, George Elkins, died at age 89
while on a church assignment to do his home teaching. There is more
than mere appearance to that. Not many men are still faithfully home
teaching at that age.
On the other hand, I’ve heard loud, locker-room
banter about hoping to live to the age of 90 and then being shot by a
jealous husband. It’s superficially funny, but having someone hate me
badly enough to shoot me would be awful. Besides, what if he shot me in
Wal-Mart and it wasn’t even the lingerie section?
People think of drowning as a terrible way to die,
but I once had a profound dream of drowning in the Colorado river
upstream from Moab. It wasn’t that bad once I made the mental shift to
acceptance and even anticipation of death. Of course, nobody drowns in
a dream. I awoke gasping for air and was a bit gloomy for the next
three days. It was as if I had been promised something desirable and
then had it yanked away.
I don’t want to die stupid. I mean, it would be bad
enough to die but it would be worse if people said, “Well, that was
stupid,” not that dead people care about what others think or say about
them. Dying stupid could result from boating without a life jacket,
bicycling without a helmet, driving without a seatbelt, mishandling a
firearm, or any of a long list of things.
Come to think of it, males are more likely to die
stupid. Like many, I get a kick out of the funny videos submitted to
TV. I have noticed, though, that it is mostly males who do the stupid,
dangerous stunts. I guess it’s a testosterone thing. You seldom see
females trying to jump a bicycle off a garage or involved in other such
There are many painful, lingering ways of dying. I
don’t even want to consider them. For my purposes, I’ll just say that
dying in a crowded Wal-Mart would be the worst. Most people wouldn’t
care. They would only be irritated because my cadaver was blocking the
aisle. I can hear it on the store speakers now: “Clean-up in the
lingerie section, please.”