An Icon Gone (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

I was reading the online obituaries today, because I’m like that. I stumbled across an article on KTLA’s website that was profiling the deaths of celebrities in 2010. It was a depressing montage, mostly depressing not because I realize we’re all on the way to death’s doorstep each day, but because many of those who decided to croak were memorable from my childhood. Hell, even Edith Shain –THAT woman made famous by her V-J Day kiss- passed away, and although she’s not among my peers, she certainly heralds the tide sweeping that entire generation away. And that’s a little sad.

My grandfather is 93 and gleefully responds to my question about how he’s doing with “well, I’m still alive. I don’t know how much longer, though!” He epitomizes optimism in the face of mortality, and I wonder how he does it. I’m scared shitless of dying; I’ve got young kids and an entire life I still want to live. He doesn’t, not anymore. Most of my grandfather’s generation are slipping away, his children’s children have children and his race has run, I suppose. His body hurts and it’s my guess that he approaches the end with the same stoicism that defined him and other farmers of his era. No use pissing and moaning about the work to be done….you might as well just get on with it.

Many of those who are leaving this world were icons of the 70’s and 80’s. They were mainstays of my youth and now they’re up and moving on and I just don’t know how to feel about it. Mostly melancholy. Yeah. That works.

I’m bummed about our inevitable demise. I’m slightly depressed that Rue McClanahan (the slutty Golden Girl) and crazy-tall Manute Bol checked out. J.D. Salinger died back in January, but since he was such a stubborn recluse, I don’t know if anyone thought to notice. The guy who invented Gumby died about ten miles from where my folks live. There’s a pretty good chance ten million other people I’ve never heard of bought the farm, too, and this is how it should be, but it’s a concerning prospect, nonetheless.

And don’t start selling religious salvation at this point, because frankly, I’m in no hurry to find out what’s on the other side. I think my grandfather might well relate to that quiet genius of a quote from Shawshank Redemption: get busy living, or get busy dying. Either way, we’ve all got a choice to make; my next choice will be between leaded or de-caf.

You gotta start somewhere.