Andy Rooney, the scintillating, bluntly honest 60 Minutes commentator with the moderately cranky manner, has died “of complications following a minor surgery.” He led a rich and storied and distinguished life, and 92 years is a long run by anyone’s standard. Most people depart a few years earlier on average so Rooney was doing something right, or he had good genes or whatever.
But it’s interesting, I think, that he died only 33 days after his final 60 Minutes commentary was broadcast.
For some people (like myself) work is the engine and the sustenance of life, and when that stops the body senses this absence — no more wood being thrown onto the fire — and it starts looking around for an excuse, any excuse, to shut down. Stanley Kubrick dying only a short while after finishing Eyes Wide Shut was another example of this syndrome. This is one of the reasons why the word “retirement” was banished from my vocabulary years ago.
My favorite Rooney commentary (which he was slammed for) was about the 1994 suicide of Kurt Cobain. “A lot of people would like to have the years left that he threw away,” Rooney said. “What’s all this nonsense about how terrible life is?” he asked, adding rhetorically to a young woman who had wept at the suicide, “I’d love to relieve the pain you’re going through by switching my age for yours.”