(Or, “I’ll Take Proud Moments In Daughterhood For $5000, Alex.”)
So it’s really no secret that this process has not been an easy one for any of us. Not me, not Mama, and most certainly not Daddy.
And I’m not telling any of this story on the blog here to elicit sympathy (I love you all, and your words and prayers mean everything to me, but really, if we’re discussing preferences, I want booze right now…)-my goal is to be honest. To tell other people what we’re going through. Because I find myself so utterly unprepared for this process. And my Papa Jack was a funeral director. The end of life was a more tangible concept for me than for so many. If one of you reads this and should you find yourselves in this situation at some point, if my experience can help you? ACES. All of this will be worth something.
In our fast, shiny, happy world, old age and the ancillary issues are so…removed. Grandma gets a bit dotty, we check her into an assisted living place and go see her on the holidays! Or, the day before the holidays so we don’t have to take time on the actual day. Or, we have the other extreme, and we go see her every single day, twice a day, and we have no life outside of taking care of her. And then the end of life has become so “medicalized”…what will eventually happen to us all has become a strangely foreign concept.
So when it comes close, we find ourselves unsure, strange. We spend SO MUCH TIME teaching our young how to live. AS WE SHOULD. But then we spend absolutely zero time preparing us how to leave this mortal coil. To be around people who are. And I get that-nobody wants to be the one to teach a “How to Die” class. But maybe there’s some kind of way we can do this better.
And I am NOT trying to discuss the advisability of placing your loved ones in assisted living. I’m not here to second-guess. The decision is not an easy one, and everybody has their own “right decision”. No guilt or second-guessing from me. I’m just observing on a larger-scale, here. It used to be that Grandma moved in with one of her kids. There are serious disadvantages and hardships imposed by that decision, too. But one of the benefits to having things happen that way was that we spent time around the elderly. We saw life in all stages. And there is very much life in all stages.
It is sooooo NOT “God’s waiting room.”
Anyway, this morning I was in town anyway, and I got a call from Mama asking if I could go try and convince Daddy to do something.
At this point, I should tell you that since 1997, my family Does. Not. Yell. It’s not what we do. And we always end with, “I love you.” AND WE MEAN IT. We learned so very quickly that horrible day that there are so much better ways of expressing what we are really feeling, we just don’t yell.
So I went in to Daddy’s room, and found a very obstinate Daddy, who needed help to do an activity of daily living, and who needed to do said activity of daily living (nonnegotiable), who was absolutely refusing to do it. (It’s unimportant the actual, specific activity. For story’s sake, let’s say it was “reading a book”.)
I tried sweetness.
I tried humor. (Well, what passes for humor these days.)
And then, I yelled.
Me: DADDY YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Me: DADDY IN THIS FAMILY WE LOOK AT EACH OTHER WHEN WE TALK TO EACH OTHER. I WANT YOU TO LOOK AT ME RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Daddy: [looks at me] I already read this book.
Me: I PROMISE YOU DADDY, YOU HAVE NOT. I CAN TELL. YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!!
Daddy: [not looking at me again, but it wasn’t worth the battle] I did read it this afternoon.
Me: [A lot more yelling, all in the same vein as above.]
Me: [Still yelling.]
ME: OKAY, I’M TELLING MOM. SHE’S GOING TO COME OUT HERE AND SHE IS NOT GOING TO BE HAPPY ABOUT THAT. IF SHE HAS TO COME OUT HERE NOW, THEN WE WON’T BE ABLE TO BRING CODY TO SEE YOU LATER!!!!!!!!!!!
Me: [Goes out and brings in staff reinforcements.] DADDY MISS [staff member who is definitely underpaid] SAYS YOU HAVEN’T READ THIS BOOK. YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Daddy: [Finally relents.]
So, to sum….I yelled. At my Daddy. A LOT. And then I threatened to tell on him. And then I tried to bribe him. And finally ganged up on him. I am clearly the poster child for that whole “honoring thy mother and father” bit.
And here’s where I have to confess that the yelling? It certainly helped ME feel better…
People, I got nothin’…