Post # 353   FERN’S FINAL DAY

The few who seem to remember her, knew Fern as a reserved, diffidently cautious person.  In fact, she would be, if the facts of her life were publically known, justly entitled to the celebrated description, as the Avatar of caution, of sensible and careful, as distinguished from risky, behavior.

A registered actuary, Fern maintained a sole practice in a modest, dimly lit, but immaculate office, across the street from a Municipal Hospital Emergency facility and, only four short blocks, north of a non-sectarian cemetery. As an actuary, Fran was professionally and personally aware of the percentages and possibilities of the human advent of illness and life-threatening danger. Living alone for her, had its drawbacks, the largest of which was loneliness; but considering the range of significant priorities, it  completely eliminated the hazard of contagion from another person.

Our heroine subscribed to a regular and unchangeable daily routine. When the alarm clock would go off at 6 am, every business morning, she would tap off the alarm with her left hand (the one that wore the glove, for such daily purpose). Each morning she would deposit that morning’s used glove into the laundry basket, to be machine washed (on “hot”) and sterilized, together with her regular wash.

She would then take her regular morning shower; absolutely never a bath, believing that, since one sat in the original water which contains one’s personal washed- off dirt, baths were unsanitary. She took a second, thorough shower upon returning home from the office. On weekends, especially if she did not exit her apartment, she took only the morning shower and merely, a thorough wash cloth scrub, before retirement.

Each morning, prior to dressing, she would set up the coffee maker, using, of course, bottled, sterilized water and decaffeinated coffee. Her unchangeable dressing protocol, for some bizarre reason, commenced with placing large Band-Aids on the back each of her feet, at the Achilles’ tendon, to avoid possible abrasion. Then, she would, defensively, apply a mixture of baby oil and sun screen to her entire body; her reasoning: the harmful sun is out 365 days of the year.

She then would prepare her breakfast, faithfully consisting of, decaf coffee, 3 oz., orange juice, 2 egg whites (no salt or pepper, cooked on a non-fat pan) and eat the egg whites with 2 freshly scraped carrots and ½ of a small avocado. Based on information she had recently obtained from a television commercial, she had tried to complement the same with eating a jellyfish, which the speaker in the commercial stated, was salubrious for brain health, but had great difficulty chewing and swallowing the gelatinous item; and so, was disappointedly forced to substitute two large stems of fresh broccoli for the highly touted, but uneatable, rubbery sea creature.

Her daily outfit traditionally consisted of “sensible,” low heeled shoes, organic, white cotton stockings, sanitized, white undergarments and a neat dress of plain, unidentifiable color (bright color attracts insects, was her wise and practical rationale.)

Fern’s usual place on the City bus in commuting to her place of employment, was the seat in closest proximity to the buses’ “Emergency Exit.” If unavailable, she would simply wait for a succeeding bus; comfortable in the proud assurance that, being self-employed, there was no potential for discipline.

Fern’s small, but immaculate, office was, fortuitously, located just directly across the two-way street in front of the Emergency Department, of the local Municipal Hospital, and only, 4 short blocks north of the local Cemetery; which geographic venue was useful for giving directions to unfamiliar clients.

Her actuarial labors, were by their intrinsic nature, performed at her desk, which contained the usual complement of pens, analysis pads, books of longevity tables, plus an excellent computer, programmed with mandatorily required, statistical information, mortality tables and the latest theoretical projections and formulae on the subject of the human life span. It need be emphasized, that consistent with her persona, and in an abundance of caution, every item was regularly wiped down with sanitary, antiseptic towels, including the doorknobs (re-done, following each exit and entrance, file cabinets, telephone equipment, books, reference tables, the computer, and writing and other desk implements.

For health and safety’s sake she always took (her home made) lunch at her desk. In those rare instances, when she was unavoidably obliged to meet a client out at a restaurant for lunch, she always ordered a salad, but not before closely interrogating the waiter or manager, concerning the restaurant’s procedure for washing vegetables, most especially, lettuce.

Witnesses, who were present at her funeral, which took place last week, at the Cemetery, located four blocks from her small, but immaculate and germ free- office, and across the two-way Street from the Emergency Department of the Municipal Hospital, uniformly agreed that the fatality, unfortunately, resulting from being struck by the speeding ambulance, was unquestionably, an unfortunate accident.


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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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