Monday, April 22, 2024

THE LOWDOWN: Please don’t talk about me when I’m gone

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Recent research has shown that we married men don’t live longer as was formerly thought. It just seems that way.
Yet there are many advantages to a lengthy marriage. For instance, you don’t need to replace your washing machine (ours quit maybe 15 years ago). You can’t get AIDS – unless it’s from your iPad screen. And you may get to eat a real “chilly-burger”.
This happened last Sunday night. We came in from milking to a most wonderful hamburger smell – my daughter must’ve been frying. Immediately my gastric juices declared “Hamburger or die!”
The wife, however, noticed a few spatters of oil on the stove and launched into a sermon on stove hygiene, with choice quotes from Titus and Habakkuk and moving on to Shad’s rack, My shack and A-bed no-go. Lord have mercy! In fear of further mayhem, I gently warmed my burger in tepid oil so that it ended up pink and frozen in the middle – genuine chilly burg.
Married life teaches you to take such things in your stride. And, as a bonus, you even get to know your expected date of departure – from this earth, that is.
“Guh-forwards” are those slippers with a single strap between your toes. They are my everyday wear on the farm. Good guh-forwards can be hard to find, so my wife buys enough to see me through this lifetime. It used to be three pairs, then two, recently one pair at a time.
But the clincher came at Christmas when they got me a wonderful book: Immortal Last Words – History’s Most Memorable Dying Remarks, Deathbed Declarations And Final Farewells. Gripping stories, most of them, with someone kicking the bucket on every page. An obvious hint that I should be preparing a few of my own.
Famous last words may come at the end of relationships, businesses, anything. A businessman once quoted me “rock-bottom” prices for some materials, bragging: “You’ll never get better anywhere”. He was under pressure to sell out to a bigger competitor.
When I phoned him back with the news that the bigger competitor was offering considerably lower prices, free delivery and more besides, he almost wept. “Oh Gawd, ah dead!” was all he could manage.
We may soon be expressing similar laments for our goat’s milk enterprise. After Government’s cheap milk forced us to sell off goats and dump gallons of milk last year, it disappeared off the supermarket shelves, leaving us to struggle to keep the market supplied.
Now that our goats have started kidding and production is increasing, Government is suddenly back with a bang. Lots on the shelves at Big B; the lady at Oistins told us last week she already had her quota of half-gallons from Greenland but would take some quarts; Carlton on stream too. We can’t survive against give-away pricing.
“Oh Gawd, ah dead!” is as appropriate a swansong as any. And to think I’m one of the few columnists supporting the present Prime Minister.
Speaking of whom, both he and his opponent must be rehearsing some choice remarks in case they perish in the forthcoming battle. The anguish of defeat hurts bad. One recalls a bewildered Errol Barrow on TV finding it hard to believe his beloved Bajans had rejected him. Whoever loses will be in good company.
Immortal Last Words makes you reflect on your own life and attempt to summarize. On the whole I did remarkably well. Got to do the job I love – working with animals. Took a young bride into a spacious plantation mansion and a few months later she was willing to move with me into a 12 x 7 foot tent after I got fired. Wonderful children and grands. The sweetest food ever.
And while I daily repent for hurting some young ladies along the way, I console myself that they must rejoice every Friday and shout: “Hallelujah! Praise God he didn’t marry me!”
Only two regrets: no more playing music in a group; and no more no more. In the latter, I am not alone. A recent Allan Edwards email summed it up for many of us: “My sex life is like a Ferrari”, he wrote, “I don’t have a Ferrari!”
Last words therefore: “A little more sax, a little more wife, this sinner would’ve had a perfect life”.
• Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.

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