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Terminally ill man throws himself a wake at NOLA jazz fest
April 30, 2014 11:14 AM   Subscribe

Given word that he has a few months left to live, a man with lung cancer decides to throw a wake at the New Orleans jazz fest. Everyone at the party wore nametags with brief descriptions of their backgrounds. The honoree of the night, Louis Misko, wore one that was, like the man himself, abrupt and unflinching: "The Louis," said the message written in red marker. "Soon to be deceased." Gaunt, but smiling, Misko circulated through the crowd, relishing conversation with his guests at Pascal's Manale restaurant, most of whom he expected never to see again. He was holding his own memorial, in advance of his death from lung cancer.
posted by mitschlag (26 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sad and awesome.
posted by KaizenSoze at 11:28 AM on April 30


I first read it as 'throws himself awake' and thought 'that's one way to deal with narcolepsy.'

To be fair, we're all wearing name tags saying "Soon to be deceased."

This is why we should be nicer to each other.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:29 AM on April 30 [17 favorites]


I've been watching my family do this dance around my grandfather's dying, which is presumably soon but cannot be discussed, especially not around the Children who are in their thirties, and so found it especially interesting that this man is confronting his own mortality like this--and then not going to see his father, who is a hundred, because heaven forbid we shorten the time of someone frail who's already had a hundred years on this earth for a proper goodbye? I mean, I don't really fault them exactly, it's just a strange set of standards we have sometimes for who's ready to go and who isn't.
posted by Sequence at 11:37 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


If I'm fortunate enough to know in advance that I have only a short time to live, I hope I am able to throw myself a party like that.
posted by gauche at 11:44 AM on April 30 [4 favorites]


Me too, gauche. What an awesome idea, and what a great way to help face your own dying.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:46 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


My father-in-law passed away three weeks ago. He did a similar thing. He knew he had limited time, so a few months ago he took a car trip down the length of the Mississippi River (on which he spent his entire life working) to the state he grew up in, visiting family and friends he knew he would never see again. When he returned, he threw another party at one of his favorite establishments for people closer to home. He was a good man who took care of his family to the best of his ability, and he wanted to go out with fond memories of people he cared about.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:47 AM on April 30 [14 favorites]


Upon the pronunciation of his forthcoming demise, Louis did not fall into depression. He gathered seven score and ten to dance and dine joyously. For he knew life was fleeting, and in friends, food and song was the only way to spend the rest of his time.

-The Book of Louis 12:10

From the forthcoming Awesome Bible.
posted by The Power Nap at 11:50 AM on April 30 [3 favorites]


Screw going out with dignity, I want to go out drunk on tequila, a tummy full of Crawfish Étouffée and a Duke Ellington tune in my ears.

I may not approve of this guy's politics, but he's my kind of people.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:00 PM on April 30 [7 favorites]


Science fiction writer Jay Lake did something similar last year.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:12 PM on April 30


awesome
posted by iceone23 at 12:13 PM on April 30


The deceased will deliver the eulogy. Mourners will have one hour for rebuttal.
posted by jonmc at 12:18 PM on April 30 [28 favorites]


I have my husband's solemn promise to get me MDMA for my last days. Nothing would make me happier than being high on ecstasy as I leave this world. If others want to join that party, they are more than welcome.

NB: I currently neither drink nor do I use drugs, but I have in the past and have been personally familiarized with the effects of MDMA.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:30 PM on April 30 [3 favorites]


My favorite uncle Paul spent his last few months on a tour of his favorite casinos and racetracks. This is maybe less adorable than a jazz party, but hey, Paul liked blackjack and the ponies.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:37 PM on April 30 [4 favorites]


I've always hoped my friends would have a raucous Irish wake when I passed, but I never considered the possibility of being around for it. This is awesome (and sad, as Kaizensoze said).

I'm flying down to New Orleans for Jazz Fest tomorrow, celebrating a friend's 40th birthday this weekend. I will definitely toast to Louis Misko while I'm there.
posted by Roommate at 12:55 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


"Make sure they play my theme song
I guess daisies will have to do
Just get me to New Orleans
And paint shadows on the pews
Turn the spit on that pig
Kick the drum and let me down
Put my clarinet beneath your bed
Till I get back in town."

-- Tom Waits, "Tango Till They're Sore"
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:59 PM on April 30 [5 favorites]


So awesome. I mean, sad, but clearly he feels like he had something in life worth celebrating, and that's pretty great. How good, if difficult, it must be to have the opportunity to say goodbye the way you want. Or at all.

My aunt, upon being diagnosed with incurable brain cancer, embarked on one of those bucket list around the world trips before she passed away. We still have some of the things she picked up on her travels. Obviously, we'd rather have her, and my family is all kinds of messed up in other ways, but even as a little kid, I found that an admirable way to face death.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 1:04 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


This guy is awesome.

but I got to say, about the report, I just hate the trend when reporting on lung cancer, how invariably the reporter is compelled to mention (assuming it's true) that the patient "never smoked a day in his life" or something similar. I see that all the time. It's got that nasty undertone of 'well, we can feel sympathy for *this* one' or something like that.

I ran a race last weekend that was supporting lung cancer research and every single stat I heard included the percentage of non-smokers who got lung cancer. I get where it's coming from in terms of awareness/funding support, because of the whole 'you brought it upon yourself' perception that many ppl have, when a smoker gets lung cancer... so it's a PR thing in that case, although it still jars.
posted by gaspode at 1:05 PM on April 30 [5 favorites]


but I got to say, about the report, I just hate the trend when reporting on lung cancer, how invariably the reporter is compelled to mention (assuming it's true) that the patient "never smoked a day in his life" or something similar. I see that all the time. It's got that nasty undertone of 'well, we can feel sympathy for *this* one' or something like that.

I wonder if it actually serves to cut some inevitable speculation off at the pass; not because smokers are immoral, but because people can be gossipy jerks, even when well intentioned. If someone dies of lung cancer, someone will inevitably talk about whether or not someone was a smoker, as if it was important to the mourning process, because "oh what a shame that was the cause [with a critical undertone]." On one hand, we shouldn't care what people think. But on the other, if it's someone I cared about who passed, I probably would not appreciate hearing idle speculation about whether or not they had any vices, and would have an instinct to protect them if a few simple words would do the trick.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:32 PM on April 30


I hear that. I guess I'm maybe being uncharitable then for wondering if this would have even been reported upon if he smoked a pack or more a day for 40 years is all.
posted by gaspode at 1:37 PM on April 30


The man faces an awful disease, and while I understand the point about smoking, it's telling how nobody would feel it appropriate to mention, that "he lived in an area of highly polluted air". Southern California, Los Angeles and also the Central Valley have made news yet again recently for being the very worst in the U.S. when it comes to air pollution - ozone and small particulates (which have been linked to lung cancer and also to heart, CVD and various pulmonary diseases and other morbidities). Who knows why he got lung cancer. I wouldn't ask if he smoked. But if you feel you must mention it, there are other outrages that loom out there - at least with smoking, you can control it to a degree, but what choice do you have when your air is being polluted (oh, and thanks Obama for fighting to keep the air dirty).

The guy has the right attitude. I salute him.
posted by VikingSword at 1:51 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


I hear that. I guess I'm maybe being uncharitable then for wondering if this would have even been reported upon if he smoked a pack or more a day for 40 years is all.

I don't think it's uncharitable at all, and I suspect that the reason for the wording is probably couched in the very concerns that you express, that some people can be judgmental jerks when it comes to people dying.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:23 PM on April 30


(you guys do realize I stile that joke from a 30+ year old episode of M*A*S*H, right? I've just been waiting years to use it)
posted by jonmc at 5:04 PM on April 30 [6 favorites]


(oh, and thanks Obama for fighting to keep the air dirty).

Thanks for tossing your political rant into a story that has nothing to do with politics.

posted by sundrop at 6:58 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


I first thought it sounded really asshole of him to not see his dad before he dies. And then I remembered the last time that my dying dad and my grandma, who had WHOPPING amounts of dementia even then, saw each other. There was a lot of hysterical crying going on on both sides, and neither of them were up to handling it At All, especially with diminished brain capacity on both sides. I can say definitively that it was the worst trip I was ever on in my life and all of us were going through utter hell. My mom and I were the "sanest" ones in the bunch and were hanging by a thread of sanity.

I don't know how much sanity Louis's father has at this point, but...well, maybe there's good reasons not to do it after all.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:26 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


Yeah -- I can't help but wonder whether, if it was AIDS he was dying of, whether they'd have had a caption that read 'Never fucked a single man or injected any drugs.'
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:29 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]


'Never fucked a single man or injected any drugs.'


Huh? Married men can contract HIV too.

edit: duh. sorry
posted by ian1977 at 1:44 PM on May 1


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