The last issue of the newspaper
reported the death of an elderly French artist, Alain Veran, a 70 year old
man who was found in his room, having died several days earlier. While he
had friends in Chiang Mai, he had no family and I know the Consulate was
having difficulty contacting his daughter back in France. I am sure that Mr.
Veran lived a full and wonderful life and I know he had friends here in
Chiang Mai who cared. As my father pointed out, we all die alone. It would
seem his time had come.
What is rather frightening, at least for me, and for more than a few other
expats living here, is not the dying part but the not being found part. I
confided this to a friend and she said to me, “Don’t’ worry. If I didn’t see
you on Facebook for a few days and I knew you were not traveling, I would be
worried and call you.” All well and good, and it’s good to have a network of
friends that expect to hear from you. But the fact is that I don’t actually
know where a few of my friends live. If something were to happen, I wouldn’t
even know where to go.
Lanna Care Net issues “In Case of Emergency” cards for people, and it’s a
great idea to have something like that tucked into your wallet but it is
also a good idea to create a network, maybe print out a page (or share a
google doc for the more internet savvy) with friend’s phone numbers,
addresses and emergency contacts for your group of friends. Be sure and
include those with partners as well as the singletons. You never know when
the partner might go traveling and your friend needs emergency help.
It all sounds quite morbid but really, it is just very practical. I recall
talking to a Thai friend of mine about this, about the need to be prepared,
have a will, get life insurance. He said, “Why, do you think I am going to
die?” Of course, not but everyone does at some point or another. Life, no
matter where you are whether that is Chiang Mai, back in your home country
or Timbuktoo, is full of surprises. It is possible to be a little prepared
and one of those preparations is to make sure people know how to find you
and your loved ones just in case.