It has been hot and muggy here and Renzo really seemed at death's door: terribly gaunt, no appetite. But then he suddenly bounced back and spend the night wandering around in the garden (down two flights of steep stairs) and came back purring with his fur smelling of new grass, and with a mighty appetite. It is very hard to know... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_years He is approximately 96 in human terms. Other tables I saw were ridiculous, comparing a one-year-old cat to a seven-year-old human, when cats one or even younger have reached puberty (that is they can have or beget kittens, but like human ados they aren't fully sexually mature, and immature female cats have a lot of problems bringing up their kittens).
I just received word that a Very Important Person from my past has died unexpectedly, from complications following surgery this weekend.
He was the husband of the advisor of my Girl Scout troop when I was in high school, and the 40 girls in our troop called him Pa Hen, because we called his wife Ma Hen (because she clucked over us like a mother hen). He was also the father of my first serious boyfriend, whose sister has been a good - though seldom seen - friend all my life. "Pa" was a sort of second father to me during a few of my most difficult years.
While I am in shock and very sad for the family, I am also wondering if his sudden death might not be a better way to go than the prolonged downward spiral and indignities suffered by those who live "too long". My Dad certainly wanted to die before he finally managed to pull it off....
I am also wondering if his sudden death might not be a better way to go than the prolonged downward spiral and indignities suffered by those who live "too long". My Dad certainly wanted to die before he finally managed to pull it off....
Your post here says it all, Kimby. Every adult has seen someone they care for go down the spiral and no-one wants it for themselves
"The Old Man's Friend" was the name given to severe respiratory diseases, like pneumonia, in the pre-antibiotic days. Once antibiotics became common, the elderly patient would be admitted to hospital, intensely cared for, itself an uncomfortable process and sent home with a container of the latest pills...only to have it happen all over again in a few weeks. Once there was a sweet old chap admitted as above. His family doctor and he had been friends for years but the doctor was away on leave. He returned, and was doing his rounds just as his patient was ready to leave for home.
"What happened to you?" he asked the patient.
"I got the bronchitis again and then I knew I had a touch of the pneumonia. Phoned your surgery and they sent a young locum, all gung-ho, who had me admitted here. By the time they had done their tests and such I was exhausted and just wanted to go home and sleep forever."
" Do you mean sleep forever as in die in your sleep, old friend?" the doctor asked.
"Sure do, I've had a good life but now it is getting too much and I am ready to go" came the reply.
"Well, you don't need these any more then," said the doctor pocketing the containers of antibiotics. "Call me if you ever want to chat."
Travel! Set out and head for pastures new[br] Life tastes the richer when you’ve road worn feet.[br]Ibn Battuta[br]
I was thinking about the slightly cruel way that the French can talk about dying people not in their immediate circle of affection.
"PPH" is now out of date but was very common 30 or 40 years ago. "He/She is PPH." PPH stands for "passera pas l'hiver" -- "won't last through the winter."
Another expression still in common use if "ça sent le sapin" -- "it smells like pine." This is in reference to the odour of a new coffin even if they are no longer made out of pine. Actually, I think my mother's was, but that was because she was being cremated and I got the very cheapest coffin for that reason.
When we move on to death having finally happened, there are some other expressions.
Strangely enough, some people (mostly old) still use the expression "casser sa pipe" -- "broke his pipe." I looked it up and this goes back to the Napoleonic wars when there was no anesthesia available but plenty of amputations to be performed. Patients were supposed to bite down on a clay pipe to keep from screaming. If they died, the pipe fell on the floor and broke.
And of course there is the ever popular "manger des pissenlits par la racine" -- "eating dandelions by the root." This of course corresponds to the English expression "pushing up daisies."
It is interesting to note that all of these expressions are reserved for the elderly or at least those in advanced middle age. Nobody would ever imagine saying such a thing about a child. This is probably one of the last solid taboos left in a civilisation where so many taboos have crumbled.
We use the same in.Belgium but not the acronyms. I am surprised you didn't mention the origins of pompes funebres... In old times they were croque morts. Called like that because to check if somebody was dead, they would bite the foot of the dead (toe(. That was a job, as was tradition then, that would go from father to son. Then a croque mort had no son but only daughter.. One day she was called to check a guy who had been amputated of bith legs. So she bited (irregular, whatvis the coreect form, bit ?) What she could find. Since then the name changed from croque mort to pompes funebres...
Patrick, there's no record of that phrase being used before the 70's in print or elsewhere and it's not known how it came to be. There is conjecture that 'pop' is derived from 'pawn' but that doesn't help too much either. Another thing that's shocking as well is that mushy peas being known as mushy peas is from the 1970's as well.
I'm also surprised about pop your clogs being from the 70s, having the same kind of mental image as Patrick. When I hear "pop your clogs" I always envision a cartoon, with someone falling back out of his shoes, of course with Xs on his eyes. To me the oddest thing about the phrase is that really, who wears clogs? They were quite popular for women in the 70s, but now I think mostly worn by chefs. Maybe in the 70s only women popped their clogs and men bought the farm or went west or pushed up daisies.
Never knew that about kick the bucket, but it stands to reason.
Clogs were, traditionally, worn in industrial towns in the north of England (whether because they were cheaper and longer-lasting than leather boots and shoes, or because they would also offer more protection against accidents, I don't know). Hence, among other things, clog-dancing, and the saying "clogs to clogs in three generations", for the kind of family business, started by a bright but poor grandfather, built up and expanded by father and frittered away by a grandson who's grown up to take it for granted and educated away from his origins.
So the image that "pop your clogs" evokes is of someone so poor or improvident that when they die the family had to pawn their clogs. It could well have been some late joke about all those misery stories that became TV series in the 70s. Or a common saying, but unrecorded.
Mushy peas sound like a product that was invented so that the toothless dying could swallow it without chewing. In the United States, there was (is?) a product called creamed corn which was pretty much the same in terms of appealing to some people and horrifying others.
Creamed corn is still available. I use it when I make my great-grandmother’s recipe for corn soufflé during the holidays. The recipe calls for both regular and creamed corn, plus oleo. (As the radical member of her descendants, I choose to use butter.)