Sunday, November 11, 2007

Death and pizza

I love those moments to dip a toe into the colorful, quirky cultures that surround us. I'm crazy about bars & diners in bowling alleys, ethnic markets, and bingo parlors. National observances are the informational subset of these side trips, deliberately highlighting what we're inclined to overlook in our environmental scans. This month's observances include International Drum Month (I hope that doesn't include air drumming), National Roasting Month, and National Peanut Butter Lovers Month (even though they're just fronts for retail promotion).

But it is utterly without mockery and kookiness that I stop to recognize National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. OK, before you click away thinking "ugh, death, depressing", hear me out. Death holds special interest for me, but not in a morbid train-wreck-voyeur kind of way, but instead, as a place where we're called to rethink life and what it means to be human, compassionate, and present. I was raised by an oncology social worker, who for years supported people who faced death, many of whom lived to tell about it. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was a household name. I daily heard stories of how instructive patients and their families were to my mother. I also heard of medical professionals' wildly varying capacities for caring for dying patients with compassion and justice. Mom's retired now and channeling her considerable energies into art, but she continues to embody the values of her profession.

There are some wonderful documentaries and resources that take on the task of demystifying this universal experience of all living things:
OK, now, on to National Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies Day (if you're not going to eat those anchovies, give them to me!)

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