ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷 (pjammer) wrote,
ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷

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Money & Mortality - Living La Vida VISA

ack in college several years ago, I had a roommate whose uncle was diagnosed with terminal cancer - one with a very predictable timetable of when the patient is expected to succumb. Somber news to most people - but to this day, I’ve never witnessed anyone embrace his mortality with as much cheer and optimism as my roommate’s uncle.

As a widower, his inheritance issues dealt mostly with distributing his assets to his family and a few favorite charities, and his son assumed responsibility for his medical bills. Standard procedures, and all.

Here’s where it gets interesting: he refused to squeeze out a few extra days of life surrounded by IV tubes and bedpans – and convinced his doctor to let him take his medication with him and spend all but the last month of his illness outside the hospital.

With six months to live and now no assets other than a long record of good credit history, he then proceeded to accept every single high-limit credit-card offer that came in his mailbox. In two weeks, he had over 150 thousand dollars of credit on tap.

Zero income. An appetite for adventure. Six months to live, and a $150,000+ loan he will never have to pay back.

Let the good times roll.

With cash advances from the first credit card, he leased a Dodge Viper and drove around the country – from New Orleans to San Francisco, Seattle to San Diego, all the while buying/mailing outlandish gifts for nieces and nephews, staying in top-flight hotels, and indulging himself in five-star restaurants, all the while making the minimum monthly payments to keep the cards active for more abuse.

This is living, and for the week when he was in town to visit my roommate, I had the pleasure of his company. Imagine it: a 60-year-old man decked out in an Armani sports coat, old-fashioned racing cap and driving gloves, roaring up in a blood-red Dodge Viper sporting a devil-may-care grin on his face. That’s an introduction that few can top, and still brings a smile to my face when I recall it.

How ironic that a man with six months to live could be so full of passion and life, and how tragic that so many with young, healthy bodies could be consumed with sorrow and self-pity.

Most of us have been conditioned to view mortality with a solemn air – and my experience has been no exception. In retrospect, that was why I considered it such a privilege to break bread with a sardonic rogue who refused to allow his imminent mortality ruin his joy in the time he has left.

Four months after his visit, the Viper-driving, free-spending cheerful maniac who pulled up to our apartment passed away – with six dollars in his checking account, gargantuous credit card bills … and zero seizeable assets.

You could almost imagine it carved on his tombstone: HA! Eat my shorts, Visa!

And to this day, if you listen closely as you walk by his memorial – you can still hear laughter from the Gods of Mischief echo, like rolling thunder.

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