Article copyThe following is a true story. The names were changed to protect the dissidents.
To be honest, I never really liked my Uncle Fungus. He was a rather authoritarian man, much the "do as I say, not as I do" kind of type. Mom always told us how insufferable he was, when they were both kids, and even if he never really tried to let loose his inclination for command and control over the dissident frogman's sibship - he knew our Dad wouldn't have tolerated it - meeting him was always a slightly uncomfortable experience, at least when we were young.
Unfortunately, Cousin Zeke, one of Uncle Fungus' nephews, wasn't so lucky and after several demonstrations of authoritarianism ended up cordially hating the guts of Uncle Fungus.
Cousin Zeke being my favorite cousin at the time (You know, the one you'd wanted to have for brother), I guess it didn't help me to conceive that much of affection for the aforementioned Great Dictator Fungus.
A retired mechanic, Uncle Fungus was married with Auntie Katiusha, a Russian born immigrant who, oddly enough, fled this Marxist Ideal Society somewhere around World War II under obscure and egregious conditions she is still reluctant to relate. She would only go as far as telling you, with a tremor in her voice:
"I really can't understand how people, especially young ones, can still be Communists nowadays. After all the evil they have done."
The voice usually breaks on "After all the evil they've done".
I bet Auntie Katiusha, who incidentally happens to be the dissident frogman's godmother, knows what she's talking about. Like so many others, she had a first hand experience of the way Communism, this ultimate embodiment of the toxicity of the State and coercion of an elite over the masses, deals with society and the individuals that compose it.
One may wonder why, then, she would end up marrying such an overbearing guy as Uncle Fungus and I would answer that it is indeed puzzling but considering Auntie Katiusha's past experience with totalitarianism, Uncle Fungus would have been probably nothing but piece of cake to deal with.
And all in all, piece of cake he was. Auntie Katiusha is a tough woman by force of her own history and, Oh-the-irony, our Great Familial Dictator eventually found - and married - somebody able to stand up to him.
I'd say it's safe to assume that Cousin Zeke literally worships Auntie Katiusha.
Which is the
Uncle Fungus was suffering from smoker's cancer (a fate I'm trying to avoid, having already lost my two grand fathers, devoured by the Beast) but wasn't exactly at a terminal phase.
Which is an elegant way to say that he could still hope for at least one year of chemotherapy before the medical corps eventually acknowledge its defeat and pass the subject to the undertaker, I give you that.
Unfortunately for Uncle Fungus, an indisposition while having what became a ritual visit at the hospital to receive his treatment, had him sent to intensive care and directly to a room in that very hospital, his physician considering that he should stay in observation for some time.
He was therefore hospitalized, in the middle of the now famous heat wave, away from his reasonably cool home in the countryside nearby Small Town, France.
Uncle Fungus left the hospital on Thursday, August 14.
In a box or, as some would say "in peace".
While gathering in front of the cemetery after the inhumation the following week, Cousin Zeke and I had a short discussion, confronting his views and mine on the topic at hand, The Death and the Why, and falling almost automatically back to the Mother of All Conversation Pieces, The Weather, that in the case in point revealed itself more pertinent than it usually is.
Cousin Zeke's opinion on his Personal Great Dictator's apparent premature passing away was rigorously along the self-exculpating line that's starting to appear, here and there in the Country With The Best Health Care System In The World As Opposed To The Loathsome Selfish American Capitalist Hell (from now on, I'll refer to it as 'France'. More convenient and equally significant.) in front of the ghastly and unequalled tragedy, at least for a so-called "advanced country".
The heat is not to blame. And neither is the government.Indeed.
Sure, it was hot, but these people were either old or ill, and sometimes both. What do you know? These people would have died no matter what, be it in a few weeks or a few months. None can tell ya know.
Since I also read the same kind of arguments on a few forums and among the comments on a famous French media website, I guess Cousin Zeke is not the only village idiot of this assisted neurasthenic society.
My first repartee to Zeke, was to clarify a somewhat important point that he apparently missed: eventually, we will all die no matter what, even though I certainly agree with him that there's no way to tell if it's going to take weeks, months or years.
None can tell ya know.
But the thing is, when you die, there are usually one or several reasons. When you're old or ill and you die during a serious heat wave, all it means is that you were too old or too ill to resist the heat without the appropriate precautions and care, and therefore also means that the heat and the lack of counter measures killed you.
Not the condition you were in.
Unless, you happen to coincidentally die of old age or illness when the weather, still coincidentally, turns to scorching hot.
I'm not saying it didn't happen but, excuse me Cousin Zeke... 10 000 coincidences in what, two weeks of time?
Let's push it a bit further: when the organisms and authorities who
The reason why this self-exculpating line is such a success, is that almost everybody in this tragic chain of events is looking for redemption:
The part of the population that favored bitch banging on the beach (or even just lawn bowling on the sand), relinquishing its responsibility towards its own kin to a State that's been telling them for decade that he was the only one able to take care of them, but in turn stood utterly idle and inefficient, taking therefore the biggest share of blame (you can't take the responsibility out of the people and then blame them for not being responsible. ChIraq's late TV address to the nation, blaming whatever lack of "solidarity" and "attentiveness" on the French society while he was peacefully enjoying the Canadian hospitality is, in that respect, a deplorable demonstration of the French oligarchy's mendacity) but also,
Maybe you warned them and, who knows, maybe you even warned them on time - hey, accidents happen - but what the heck did you do apart from waiting for an order from the Big Guys on Top, who weren't listening anyway?
While having a drink after Uncle Fungus' burial, I heard the story of a care giver staff, visiting home based pensioners that lost 50% of their patients, in two days.
Granted, it wasn't a big pool of patients (we're not talking about hundreds of dead. Not that it's less unsettling though) but I would love to know how you can have half of the people you're supposed to take care of every day, 7 days a week passing away.
How can that possibly happen in a developed country?
Anyway, I certainly can't tell about the other 9 999 but I can explain to Cousin Zeke what I know about Uncle Fungus' last days in the
You see Cousin Zeke, small Town's hospital is not one of those old buildings, inherited from the Napoleon era and scarcely "patched" over the decades with long-standing temporary prefabs as you can see in many French medium-sized towns. It's a rather modern building, constructed in the 80s, the pride of Small Town with a fancy architecture, a nice park around and a groovy interior design.
But of course, no air conditioning.
You see Cousin Zeke, France has a record rate of sedative consumption and suicide (which shall not come as a surprise for anybody able to see the deplorable state of the French society behind the official French blustering on the Greatness of France) and Small Town's hospital had its own share of defenestration, until some smart-ass civil servant monkey came up with a bright idea.
Locking all the patients' rooms' windows.
You see Cousin Zeke, in Small Town's hospital you can't slide the rooms' windows and get an aperture wider than 10 cm.
You see Cousin Zeke, in the end, Uncle Fungus would tell Auntie Katiusha: "Can't breathe. I can't breathe".
But of course, Uncle Fungus had lung cancer right?
The problem is, Cousin Zeke, that his healthy visitors couldn't breathe easily in the room as well.
You see Cousin Zeke, Mom had to brought him a fan to help out, but that didn't make a significant difference really. Just pulsing hot air around.
You see Cousin Zeke, from time to time, a nurse would come in, tap Uncle Fungus' cheeks, telling him loudly:
Wake up Mister Fungus! Don't sleep!You know Cousin Zeke, I can't help but thinking that she was making sure he wouldn't croak while there were visitors in the room. Too messy I guess.
That said I imagine we could have told Auntie Katiusha to get him out of there and let him spend whatever weeks or months he had in front of him, in the relative coolness of their house, instead of joining him everyday in one of the hospital's oven, till the fatal ending.
And believe me Cousin Zeke, we did tell her.
But if there's one responsibility that's definitely hard to take, it's certainly going against your own doctor's decision, especially when the guy tells you that "if anything serious happens at home, we may not be able to treat him in time. On the other hand, if he's here..."
Well, there's no reason not to trust the judgment of a professional from
We buried Uncle Fungus last Thursday. Auntie Katiusha lost her husband and, despite some irritating facets of his temper, we're mourning Mom's last brother.
You can sleep now Mister Fungus.