I’ve decided I’m not going back there until I sort this out for myself, either. At 70, I’m not as sharp as I once was. Things move a little too fast for me these days, but just a little, mind you – I can still keep up. I’ve simply learned to take the time to process things with a bit more care. Besides, I’m a living example of better living through cutting-edge technology. My parents would have liked to believe the same holds true for them… and for the past fifty years, I’d respectfully disagree. After today, however, I’m not so sure.
You see, my parents were among the first wave of keepers – hell, back then they weren’t even called “keepers” yet – the term came around over the years as the practice became more common. They were in their nineties and I was a young twenty-something when they decided to “press the pause button” as Dad had put it. “Don’t you worry about a thing, Johnny-Boy. Just leave the driving to me, and we’ll get where we wanna go.” It was his catch-all phrase for everything, and it always used to give me great comfort. He was in control and all was well with the world. When you’re a little kid and your 80 year-old father can beat you in a footrace around the resident compound, you tend to look up to the man… especially when a you knew in your heart that the few times you managed to beat him were only because he let you.
Thanks to the miracles and advances of reproductive technology, Mom had me when she was in her seventies. She and Dad were both in excellent health at the time – both strong, vibrant, beautiful people – and they provided me a relatively normal childhood. Normal, of course, with the exception of how I constantly had to tell my friends that those old folks, spry and exceedingly well-preserved though they were, weren’t my grandparents.
The wellness technology of the day had kept them energetic enough to keep up with a toddler while they were in their seventies. It kept them strong enough to deal with the roller-coaster of life with a teenager while they were in their eighties. But once they hit ninety, however, science and their bodies started failing each other in a perfect, unfortunate counterpoint. So Mom and Dad once again turned to sci-tech when they looked into KeepSystems, which was brand-new at the time.
They had more than enough money to afford the procedure, which was little more than indefinite internment in a hyperstasis chamber. As far as they were concerned, they would still be very much alive. The unfortunate reality of all those tubes and wires going in and out of what seemed like every pore of their bodies wasn’t well represented in the pastoral images populating the company’s relentless marketing campaigns, which also never explicitly guaranteed a “wake-up,” but certainly hinted the hell out of it.
They knew they couldn’t stay young forever, but they were determined to beat death. They wanted to be immortal. Having me at such an advanced age was the first salvo in their battle against mortality – my parents were raising a child when other seniors their age were doing little more than waiting for someone to bring them their afternoon pudding. But Dad and Mom came to believe that keeping themselves alive would be the bomb drop to win them the war. The war against death.
Also, let’s face it – they were vain. They had kept the clock at bay so long that they believed themselves ‘forever young’. And what a couple they were, playful beautiful silver haired people who wanted to stay that way, whatever the cost. Why else would they have lined up to be among the first to pilot these experimental techniques? I remember the day they were getting ready… the last day I saw them awake and conscious and vibrant and filled with life. Both of them excitedly getting dressed in their slickest night-out-on-the-town finery – Dad wearing his sharpest nyolester suit, Mom poured into her slinkiest club gown. They were giddy as high schoolers on prom night. At first I didn’t share their excitement… but it was infectious. By the time I gave them each their “kiss goodnight,” a part of me couldn’t help but be happy for them. They were doing exactly what they wanted to do. Live forever and I had resolved to leave the driving to them.
These days, the suit and dress have long-since been replaced with standard issue cyber-green jumpers. The lively spark in their eyes has flickered out, doused by a steady saline drip to avoid dry socket. But their brain functions, if the lively monitoring devices aren’t mere props for theatric presentation, are still strong. Stronger than ever, as a matter of fact.