Visiting octogenarians often holds its own rewards. And like stories passed from one generation to another, I often find octogenarians equally humbling and thought-provoking. Thus, yesterday’s visit with my parents proved no exception. The following is a summary of questions these octogenarians exposed.
Huddled in the retirement center’s clubhouse, an enclave of retirees parsed stories from the local daytime temperatures, events and best salad bars within five miles. Some octogenarians had voice capabilities of 350 words per minute, with gusts up to 500.
Suddenly, one octogenarian caught a local televangelist program storming up God’s salvation and heaven. “Oh good God,” he exclaimed. “All I want to know is whether there’ll be Hamm’s Beer? If they (sic) ain’t no Hamm’s, why go?”
This seemingly funny comment set off a firestorm of comments.
“Better yet,” piped another, “What will we do in Heaven? Do we just sit and sing wonderful songs to God? If we do, that could get tedious. I mean, singing for the first thousand or so years sounds great, but that third thousand … man, that will suck. I’d probably go to God and say, “Got anything else?””
Everyone burst into laughter.
“Won’t be tough if you have some Hamm’s.”
Another pondered out loud, “Wonder if they’ll have the New York Times? I have to have the New York Times to do my morning constitutional? Hey, do you think they’ll have gold toilets?”
Everyone erupts in laughter.
“Hell, I’d settle for constitutional.”
Another bout of laughter.
“Hey,” interrupted another. “How come there’s no pictures of heaven? Think about it, if a hacker can bypass China’s state censorship, how come someone up there can’t sneak the world an old photo. If Snowden can get U.S. secrets out, how come no one has gotten photos out of heaven? Why can’t someone pass the Archangel Michael a note on the side …. Hey deliver this to my stupid neighbor on Elm Street – your dog still sucks.”
“Yeah, what’s the deal with that,” another affirmed.
“What about Lawrence Welk,” queried one? “Does he still play?”
“Absolutely not,” confirmed an octogenarian in the corner. “I heard Welk was playing and God fell asleep. So he was never asked to play again. I’ll have ah-one, ah-two, ah one, two, three, four…..zzzzzzzzz”
Laughter filled the room.
Truth be told, octogenarians have a point. What exactly is heaven like? Likewise, each person provided some interesting questions of my own:
- If a good Catholic married a good Buddhist and they lived happily ever after, when they died were they going to the same place?
- Where did all the Buddhists, Hindus and goddess worshipers go before Christ came to the world? Was the Christian heaven already in place even before Christ was born? Or Have all the pre-Christians ended up in Christian hell?
At the end of the day, maybe we just need to think like Steve Jobs, “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”
Maybe we all need a Hamm’s?