This has nothing to do with cartoon characters named Homer; not directly, anyway.
Homer the First was a poet-entertainer who lived about 3,000 years ago. The only works we have that are attached to his name are about the city of Troy, and then the adventures of a gentleman named Odysseus.
The reason he’s headlining today’s story is because he gives us intimate details about the behavior of people. Today’s microscope is on how we deal with valuables worn by those who are dying.
I’ve heard that some people attending a funeral will steal things from the corpse. In Homer’s stories, the same thing happens during battle. One warrior kills another, and the next thing you know there’s a feeding frenzy around the dead body. Everyone gets a piece of the victim, literally: helmet, shield, spear, lance, buckler, and so on. The more famous the victim, the better the spoils, and the greater the enthusiasm.
Ancient history, never happens today. Right?
Up until recently, I thought so as well. However, Dad was in Hospice for what seemed his final days. We all worked hard to make his stay as comfortable as possible, including almost everyone on the staff. Certainly the vast majority of those working in this industry are on the short list for angels.
However, we made a tactical error. We left him alone one evening. The next day, his expensive hearing aides were missing.
Did they fall out? They never fell out before. If they did fall out, why did both fall out?
Did they get tossed into the dirty laundry? A nurse checked ALL the soiled linens (yuck!), finding nothing.
Did he toss them somewhere in the room? It’s a small room and we looked everywhere many times. Nothing.
Here’s where it gets fun. I talked with a policeman friend, with no relationship to Hospice, and he says portable computers and hearing aides are frequently stolen for quick street cash. A $2,000 hearing aid would sell for $50. Each.
Then I happened to be talking to a nice nurses assistant one morning, and she confided that hearing aides and dentures were the two most frequently “lost” items.
Yes, there is a market for stolen dentures.
Stripping a dead or dying body of its valuables isn’t new.
What’s “new” is the fact that we are still doing this. Our society hasn’t changed as much as we like to think.
As students of behavior, we can use this knowledge to our advantage. It means we can learn from old stories, ancient cities, and buried civilizations.
As someone caring for his Dad in Hospice, I’ve learned something else.
Stay with your loved one 24/7, and share this information so that someone else can learn from our mistake.
May everyone rest in peace.