Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Herkiquat and the Twilight Cruise

I've worked with words for so long that I don't often come across one I don't know.

"Huh--herkiquat," I might say. "I've never seen the word 'herkiquat' before. I wonder what it means?"

And if I can't figure out herkiquat's meaning from its context, I look it up and am delighted that I have learned a new word.

Then, without fail, herkiquat will be EVERYWHERE I LOOK for the next week. It will appear in the book I'm reading, it will be in the hymn lyrics in church, I will hear a Ted Talk that delves into the aspects of herkiquat I had known instinctively but had never heard spelled out.

I had never really had aging parents in crisis before the last few weeks. My mother died suddenly, my father is still hale and hearty at 86. This was the life stage equivalent of herkiquat--it's been out there all the time, but I never had come into contact with it. But as we deal with my mother-in-law's steep decline, suddenly I seem to have friends and family all around me who are dealing with those same issues in their own lives. My sister. My best friend from high school. Friends at church.

In my working group of six, three of us are at this very minute wondering every time the phone rings if this will be The Call. A mother, a father, and a mother-in-law are at different stations as they near the end of the line but all are on the train. This morning we stood around commiserating.

"The thing that bothers me most isn't that she might be terminal, it's that she's in pain but the painkillers are dangerous for her, and this is so degrading and so opposite of how she's lived her life," I told my co-workers. "When I get to that stage, I want someone to put me on a cruise, then at a certain point in the ocean, the porthole flies open and whoosh!" I made a flying-out-the-window motion. By now I was really getting into this idea. "We could call it the Twilight Cruise!"

At that point, for some reason my co-workers suddenly realized they had a LOT OF WORK TO DO and went back to their desks, but that's okay. My generation is going to be encountering herkiquat a lot during the next few years, and we might as well laugh.

*Herkiquat is not really a word. I made it up, but now you're going to be seeing it everywhere.  I will define it as the uncertainty that accompanies transition in life stages, which can provoke laughter or tears, or both at the same time. You read it here first.


  1. I DO appreciate your writing!

  2. Where do I sign up for this cruise?!! I'm not a fan of open water, but i'm liking this idea.