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THE LOWDOWN: Yam souse time


Richard Hoad

THE LOWDOWN: Yam souse time

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If Looka Lew couldn’t abide Dr Sebi’s diet, he wouldn’t have enjoyed How To Live Forever, a book left back from my grandfather’s collection. Grandpa was a “physical culturalist”, today’s natural health fanatic.  

How To Live Forever made only two simple demands: (1) You eliminated everything else from your diet until you were living solely on nuts; (2) You could enjoy amorous pursuits but you must never ever “arrive”, if you get my drift. Never.

This book spent a long time in our bathroom at Vaucluse, probably to discourage us seven boys who daily trooped thither with the precise intention of arriving, usually while contemplating some scantily-clad girl’s picture.

Were there iPads with salacious sites in those days, many of us wouldn’t have made it out of adolescence. Some of us wouldn’t have made it out of the bathroom.

One assumes the author of How To Live Forever is still around. Grandpa didn’t make the grade although he reached a ripe old age. His nine children bear testimomy that he fell down on the no-arriving aspect. Maybe on the nuts as well.

Roy Morris mentioned recently he has no wish to live to a ripe old age if it means depending on others for basic functions. Nor does he fear death.

I would go further. Many old people live out their days happily in the bosoms of loving families. But after hearing of those helpless and lonely in homes, often the only one with a sane brain in the place, sometimes tied to beds for their own safety, worrying if their money will expire before they do, living in pain . . . many of us fear not dying more than death itself.  

It wasn’t always so. In the old days we weren’t artificially kept alive by medication. And old people always had the assurance: “If my family don’t want me, I goin’ in the yam souse and rest muhself”. One got the impression the “yam souse” never turned away anyone. It’s a different story nowadays.

Anyway, Roy has me thinking about “end of life issues”. First off, doctors and lawyers are waiting to relieve you of your savings. Beware!

Next thing, the will. This is a tricky one. You don’t want to leave your wife and children at the mercy of the courts. But when to make it? Shouldn’t you wait in case a little Guyanese chossel shows up who can miraculously roll back the years in the realm of nuts and arriving?

Also there is the Godfrey Factor. Around 1820, young white planter at Mount Wilton, Reynold Elcock, just 32 years old, stipulated in his will that after his death each of his slaves should receive an annual subvention. On learning about this, a fellow named Godfrey cut Rey’s throat.

Godfrey was executed but the others eventually used their money to buy land at Rock Hall, thereafter nicknamed “Cut-Throat Village”. If you make a will but hang around too long, might not your family be tempted to do a Godfrey on you?

Other decisions come to mind. The wife and I have been dairying since 1975, never a day off, never a holiday. We’ve proved you can make a comfortable living off goat’s milk. Time to shut shop?

And treasured possessions. The table I ate at as a child. The bed in which I was conceived, born and still sleep. The children will probably junk them in a sale.

The send-off. I refuse to put my family through the torment of a funeral. I love the hymns but today’s organists either change the tunes or play wild improvising which could be Lead Us Heavenly Father. It could also be My car brek down, cheez on, and Paula gone an’ lef’ me.

Finally, property. Too often leaving property tears families asunder and the lawyers get the lion’s share. Wouldn’t it be better to sell everything and divvy up the cash?

Dying like it’s harder than I thought. But news just in suggests I won’t have time to worry. Sister Anne in Canada tells me Brother Tony has written a long letter to Daddy (who died in 1986) thanking him for being a great father. “The family has decided you should take it.”

They say the best way is to be shot when caught in action by a young jealous husband. Dead after “arrival”, preferably. Working on it . . .

• Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.

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