A grandfather who went slowly into dementia: at first, he had trouble recognizing his grandson when he would visit. Later, he didn't recognize him at all. He'd try to hide it by quickly entering into casual conversation, "What kinda car are you driving now?" He'd go on about cars, the weather, and such until, finally, his curiosity got the better of him and he'd ask, "So who are you, sonny?"
"I'm your grandson. I'm Scotty, Bill's kid."
"Oh. Hmmm. So what kinda car are you driving now."
And back around the loop he would go until, he'd ask for the identification of his visitor, followed by another car inquiry.
An aunt went into dementia angrily. When she first began to lose her memory and current status consciousness, she thought people were playing tricks on her. She'd accuse whoever was closest of moving her things, of turning on or off lights behind her, and, later, of putting drugs in her food so that she'd pass out and lose track of days and weeks. Eventually, she settled into a sullen, constant scowl and barely snarled at old friends and family who would visit. In the end, she was a catatonic who looked out at the world with an expression that was pure hate.
The three of us decided we don't want to go like that. To lighten up the conversation, we each picked a final exit strategy. The guy with the forgetful grandfather wants to die in his sleep. The guy with the cranky aunt decided he'd rather die awake, but in bed with someone half his age. I've had a favorite Colorado mountain hairpin turn, edged by a several thousand foot drop, picked out for my final missed corner since sometime in the mid-1990s.
Sinking into our individual foul moods, we jabbered on for a while about how disappointing it is to be getting old and creaky. Someone made a crack about aging drivers and their vanishing skills and how that solves a lot of "how do I want to die" questions. One of us mentioned the notion that a lot of wrinkling Baby Boomers seem to be finding ways to end up on a slab after trying out some X-games style sport or machinery.
I sort of bailed out of the conversation at that point and started meditating on my own experience with aging characters in my MSF classes. I remembered seeing some recent weird statistics that indicated that twenty-five and under males have almost exactly the same disdain for safety equipment as do the sixty-and-over geezer crowd. Both groups "rarely wear" helmets or upper or lower body armored riding gear and have some strong opinions about those who do.
It suddenly struck me that I've been bashing a fine old American company for doing a public service. They cater to a specialized crowd of aging folks who have an image to project and self-image to preserve, right up the final moment of life. Like my friends, they don't want to die drooling on themselves in a wheelchair. They want to go out in a bang! With their marketing and their products, Harley Davidson has been trying to serve the most precious interests of their special market and I've been knocking them for their effort.
I officially apologize for the misunderstanding.