This mortal coil

SOMEBODY used the expression ‘shuffling off this mortal coil’ recently, then, shortly after, it cropped up in a book I was reading.

We all know pretty much what it means and I have heard it a million times before, but I wondered where such an odd expression came from.

Had I paid better attention at school I would have known, because as with so many sayings and idioms that we use today, it was predictable that this was yet another pearl of wisdom that dripped off the pen of old Will Shakespeare, and is part of the ‘To be or not to be’ monologue from Hamlet.

I have always been fascinated by the question: what happens after we peg it and is there something else beyond this life?

And unlike yet another Status Quo farewell tour, does the end really mean the end?

The desire for answers on this subject is not surprisingly commensurate with advancing years, and is partly due to the desire for knowledge and partly, I suspect, out of sheer panic because the robed figure carrying a scythe is lurking close by.

The only certainty during our worldly stopover is that at some point we all go the same way, and yet for most it’s the one thing in life that we find hardest to accept.

It is sometimes difficult to differentiate between what we want to believe because it gives us comfort, and what is a firmly held belief, instilled through faith or pure gut feeling.

And as Woody Allen once said: “It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

There cannot be many people who, during their lifetime, have not experienced unexplained goings on, indicating that something other- worldly is afoot.

Things like deja vu, prophetic dreams and near death experiences. My late Mum always kept an array of small pot plants on her window sills, including a Christmas cactus.

I’m not sure how old this thing was, but I remember it sitting in its designated spot seemingly forever. It always looked healthy enough, but to my Mother’s perpetual disappointment, it never flowered; not throughout the designated season or at any other time during the year.

Then after her passing, and on the morning of her funeral, we came downstairs to find it a mass of crimson flowers, even though this was in June.

The message could not have been clearer and it was the only time during that whole stressful period that my old Dad lost it, with a mixture of tears of joy and sadness.

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