There is a knock on your door. A shadowy figure is leaning against the doorpost, waiting for you to unlock and open the door. Although you’ve never met him before, you knew he was coming – but certainly not this night, nor even this year. The tall, unsmiling figure is all business as you notice his badge announcing him as the Grim Reaper.
“Aren’t you a little early?” I squeak, trembling, peering out of a slight crack I made opening the door. “You were supposed to come after I finished building the deck on my back porch. I’m not done yet. As a matter of fact, I figure it will take at least another couple of years to finish it. Come back later. I’ll call you.”
“Yeah, Right!” replied the man in a dismissive tone. “You are Fred J. Smedley, aren’t you? And the address on the box in front of this house says 109 Fishhead Lane. That’s your address, isn’t it Mr. Smedley? These papers in my hand call for an immediate pick-up, so quit dillydallying and let’s get a move on. There is a lot of paperwork left for us to do, to say nothing of the twenty-seven other pickups remaining on my schedule for tonight.”
“But I need to say goodbye to my wife. I need to tell her where the money is, even how to write a check. There is so much she needs to know before I go, I can’t just leave her hanging, overwhelmed with so many responsibilities. She will collapse under the strain.” Smedley argues, stalling for time, hoping for a reprieve, or that a grave mistake has been made.
“Well, Smedley, you had seventy-eight years to put everything in order and you did not get around to it, so that’s on you. Sorry, pal, but we gotta go!” With that, the Grim Reaper hoists Smedley over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry, hauling him out the door to the bus waiting at the curb, with its destination sign displaying “The Other Shore.” The Grim Reaper plops Smedley down in the back of the bus, next to a little old lady he knew who lived over a few blocks from his house. She didn’t look too good. There were about twenty people already seated on the bus, all reading from a personalized handout sheet. Smedley began to read from his:
“I thought dying was something that happened to other people, And that I was a long way from laying in that building with a steeple. I knew that death would come to me also, but way down the line. I figured that I would last until I was at least eighty-nine.
Is there any way I can get a message back to my family and friends To warn them that the roads ahead all come to dead ends? For them to make every day count, putting off nothing waiting for better tomorrows, That everyday is the day to say ‘I love you’ leaving behind no regrets nor sorrows.
Oh! To do it all over again with tears dripping I plea, One last chance to live life the way it ought to be. To plow straight leaving a well ordered furrow, So that I may depart this world with the same respect given Edward R. Murrow.
Oh, Mr. Bus Driver, can you please stop at one of the next corners, My schedule says this is not the time I am to meet my mourners.” “Sorry” the Driver replied, “There is no more time left for you, Fred. The fact that after all is said and done is – you are dead!”