Dad’s D-16

a twenty-minute continuation of day 13

I wait ten minutes on hold for my call to be transferred.  Finally, the music ends and a voice says, “May I help you?”

“Who is this?”

“I am Mr. Adams.  I am a facilitator.  What seems to be the problem?”

“As I explained to the other man, your newspaper printed my obituary, and when I asked for it to be retracted, the other man  said he wouldn’t.”

“Did he say why?”

“He said that wasn’t his department, and he suggested that perhaps I actually was dead.”

“Have you considered that possibility?”

“No. I have not.  I couldn’t be more alive. And if I were dead, I certainly wouldn’t be on the phone with you.”

“Where would you be?”

“What do you mean?”

“What do you think death would be like?”

“I don’t know.  When I was a child I thought heaven was all white clouds and harps, but that just seems more like choir practice now.”

“Any other alternatives?”

“I know some people think heaven is a vast garden where you lay around all day in great clothes and eat and drink as much as you want.  To me that just sounds like the sixties without the music and drugs.”

“Hindus,” Mr. Adams said, “believe that death leads to reincarnation.”

“The idea of being reborn over and over sounds wearying,” I said.

“Buddhists believe that heaven occurs when we attain an enlightened mental state.”

“I’ve heard that too, but how much fun does that sound–hanging around all day for eternity just having thoughts.  But that’s all beside the point: the point is that none of those are what I’m experiencing right now. Right now I’m just on the phone with you trying to get your newspaper to print a retraction.  What do you say:  do I get a retraction or not?”

“Not.”

“Excuse me?”
“What if heaven isn’t the only possibility upon your death?”

“Do you mean I might be in a hell where there are telephones and damned people spend all their time making phone calls?”

“No.  I was thinking more of purgatory.  I was thinking that you may now have the opportunity to do what you didn’t do in life.

“You mean I am going to have to do other-worldly volunteer work for thousands of years?”

“Something like that.  Are you interested?”

I didn’t respond right away.  Instead, I looked out the window of my apartment and noticed for the first time that there was no activity  in the street–no cars, no pedestrians, no birds flying by.

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