Terry Pratchett (1948 – 2015) Rest in Peace

I just checked my shelves to see how extensively Terry Pratchett was represented. I found six hard covered books and sixteen paperbacks. Two of my favorites are missing. They are The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents (which might have been my very first Terry Pratchett book) and The Wee Free Men; loaned out, no doubt, to family and friends who also love Pratchett’s zany humor.

One Pratchett character who made his way into our ongoing family chit chat was CMOT Dibbler. Yes, Cut-me-own-throat Dibbler, seller of highly suspicious meat patties. When one of us gets something “odd” in a restaurant, CMOT is mentioned.

Considering our employment at a local college, references to the irresistibly whacky Unseen University are inevitable.

It’s sad that Pratchett died at the relatively young age of 66, but beyond sad that he died of Alzheimer’s disease. Its hard to say if it was better or worse that he suffered from a form of the disease that was diagnosed while he was still entirely able to understand his grim prognosis. Pratchett looked death in the eye for years, and did so with amazing composure and strength.

Pratchett moved the discussion of death with dignity and assisted suicide into new and difficult territory. Most “aid in dying” laws, like the law in the state of Oregon, are designed in support of people with relatively short expected survival horizons, like six months. I don’t think any physician will make predictions about Alzheimer’s, as patients may live many years with the disease. And if an assisted suicide decision must be made by a person “of sound mind”, at what stage does a sufferer of Alzheimer’s cease to qualify?

I ponder these questions with particular care, because my mother died of Alzheimer’s in 1983, the same year Pratchett wrote his first Discworld novel. My mother would have loved Pratchett’s books! The Wee Free Men would have delighted her! She actively encouraged us to play “make believe”. I think maybe she believed in fairies. She might have liked the term Pratchett coined to describe his Alzheimer’s diagnosis – he called it an “embuggerance”. Pure Pratchett – if there isn’t a word for something, make one up!

So rest in peace, Sir Terry Pratchett! Thanks for all the laughter.

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