Thursday, March 10, 2005

And what about the smell?

Now and again something fascinating turns up in the local newspaper hidden carefully under an innocuous headline, tucked in the middle pages. Yesterday I came across a story titled:

Centenarian found dead at home

I wouldn't have even read the story, except I was waiting for the water to boil and I'd already read the rest of that page. I'm glad I did, although it left me with more questions than answers.

I intended to copy the story from the Yomiuri online, as they do not archive anything, but at some point on the way upstairs managed to forget. It is online in other places but not quite the same, so I am now, for your benefit, typing out the story. It is a very short one. I am probably breaking copyright laws here, but I'm doing it for you. (If the Yomiuri archived their stories I would point you there, but they don't. It's their fault.)

A man who was last year designated as the oldest man in Hyogo Prefecture at the age of 107 has been found dead at his home in Itami, his body already mummified. He was thought to have died five to 10 years earlier, police said Tuesday.

According to municipal officials, Kyujiro Knaoka was named the oldest man in the city in 1999. After that, the mayor visited the man's home every year in September, but his family refused to allow the mayor to meet with him, saying he was bedridden.

The Itami police plan to question the man's family, suspecting they failed to report the man's death.

Kanaoka was living with a son, 75, and two daughters, 79 and 72.

Investigators said the body, lying face down on a futon and wearing a light cotton kimono, was found Monday afternoon.

The son was quoted as telling the police that he did not think his father was dead, but that he would have had a full life if a funeral was held in March in the Year of the Rooster.
Some more details emerge from the other two reports of this story I found online, but not many:

From the New Zealand Herald:
Kanaoka's three elderly children, all in their 70s or older, told police they thought their father was still alive but that one of them recently had consulted a relative about the possibility that he might be dead.
And from the Mail & Guardian Online:
An official with the Itami city hall said the city is considering asking Kaneoka's family to return gifts it has received since 1999 as a token of the man's longevity.

"Every year, we gave the family 30 000 yen [about R1 670] and a cashmere blanket worth 20 000 yen. Although we requested a meeting with him directly, the family always turned it down, saying he was too weak and bed-ridden," the official said.
I'm trying to imagine dinner time at the Kanaoka house.

"He's not hungry. Again. Maybe we should get doctor in...?"

"Nah. Everybody knows old people don't eat very much."

That wasn't very good, was it? My imagination is failing me. I mean, the man was face down on the futon! For five to ten years!

"He's looking at me funny."

"Turn him over."

"Yes, dear. Whoops! His foot came off! Perhaps we'd better call a doctor."

"Nah. Just glue it back on again. He'll be all right."

That wasn't very good either, was it. Sorry. I'll let you embellish this one yourself.


E.P. said...

ROTFL, BadAunt (I only revert to that appellation bec. of your naughty appended scenarios)! Seriously, this is tragi-comedy; euthanasia, Japanese-style? And here I thought, the Japanese were so famous for deep reverence for the old...

Norma said...

Maybe this beats pulling the feeding tube in the hospice. A very strange story, and you tell it wonderfully well. Why you're teaching English and I'm not. I intend to send some readers this way.

Paula said...

Oh, that is HILARIOUS!!!

Tony said...

Great job! You had me laughing and I actually read it twice then read it again to my wife. I had read the original news story a couple of days ago but your take on it was much more interesting. Thanks for the smiles and keep up the good work.