Electronic Design

What's All This Goodbye Stuff, Anyhow?

Okay, friends, recently I was hit by unpleasant surprises: Three of my good old friends died. One got badly injured in a car crash and never recovered. Lung cancer struck another—quite unfair because he never smoked. The third was fighting kidney cancer and thought he would lick it. But he didn't.

I really thought it was unfair that these guys never had a good chance to say goodbye. I never had a fair chance to say goodbye to them and tell them how much I loved them and appreciated all the things they did for me—and the world—and all the times they were nice, even more than necessary.

I have had a very good life. I'm not saying goodbye to you guys just yet. All you guys, my readers, have greatly enriched my life. You have made me laugh, smile, and jump up and down. I have enjoyed life a lot, and you guys have helped. I have been wonderfully affected by all my readers, and I hope I have done some good things to make your life happier too.

When I go on a trek, I prepare individual notes to several persons. Hey, I'm an amateur at this, but if I survive to go on six more treks, I'll get this right. This was all typed first in May 2002 when I was preparing to go trekking by mountain bike around the Annapurnas. How did I know I'd make it around this insane trek?

Before my first trek in 1989, a friend cautioned me that I should have my will made out and expect to have some small chance of encountering life-threatening problems. She was right. But the chances of a life-threatening problem on most of my treks have been less than driving to work, and I haven't had any accidents there.

On that 1989 trek, there were several steep slopes, east of Syabru, where, if we got sloppy or tripped, we could slide on a sand-slope and get seriously hurt and even fall into a raging river. Nobody slipped or fell.

A few days later, I had gone past all of the hard, dangerous parts of the trek. Nancy and I were ambling down over a closely cropped lawn when I tripped on a tiny nubbin and fell, scratched my knee, and made a small tear in my pants. Then I sat there on the short, green grass and laughed and laughed! On the dangerous places, I had no slips. Yet on the easiest lawn, I fell, ripped my pants, and scraped my knee! It was hilarious!

If you go hiking in difficult places and have no problems, but then you trip on a speck of dust on a sidewalk, fall, and get hurt a little, laugh along with me! (I know a guy who hiked 1000 miles in Nepal, one summer, with no accidents. When he got back to Kathmandu, he tripped over a potted palm in the lobby of his hotel and broke three ribs.)

You too can put together a general goodbye note to all your friends. Then, scribble out individual notes to your close friends. Put some of each into stamped, addressed envelopes. Now, hide these addressed letters in a suitable big envelope and store it in a safe place. So where is that? Also, how will they be found?

The only secure way that I can think is to give your best lawyer a sealed envelope to be opened only in case of your death (or some phrase that would apply if you are lost at sea and your body cannot be found). Inside, have instructions to mail the letter to your spouse, or colleague, and inside that place the "key" to find the cache of goodbye letters, ready to be mailed.

I mean, you can't really give such a letter to your secretary or friend who might be curious about why it says to open "only in case of death." Also, you can't just leave them for your spouse, because he or she might be killed in the same crash as you. There may be other trapdoors that are immune to curiosity. Tell me, and we'll give out the best ideas. Anyhow, you should set up these letters to send out your final goodbyes, rather than wish that you could write and send one when it's too late.

Comments invited!
[email protected] —or:

Mail Stop D2597A, National Semiconductor
P.O. Box 58090, Santa Clara, CA 95052-8090

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