One of the guys in Tech-Support who I work with (I’ll call him Ron) has been out all week dealing with his mother who has gone into the hospital with a serious illness. He has been sending out unsolicited daily updates on her (and his) status to our whole group of about 20 people. As part of this he has revealed that his parents have been married for 62-years (putting them in their 80’s one would guess) and that his father has Alzheimer’s.
The first thing that strikes me here is how strange it is that anyone should widely publish such personal details, be it Facebook postings, email or any other mechanism. I suppose that I do something like that in this blog, but even if the odd person here-or-there should actually read these words, I am truly writing for myself and no other audience. I do not yearn for others to see this and I actually take steps to insure that no one can respond to my statements here because I don’t want anyone’s feedback. The other thing that is clear from Ron’s communiqués is how upset he is by all of this. I suppose that fishing for sympathy and support is his main motivation for the dispatches, but actively wanting other people to flutter and hover and make soothing but meaningless cooing noises is completely alien to me. Even if he is close to his mother (another odd notion to my personal experience) and even if she is dying (if she is in her 80’s, what do you expect) I just don’t get this notion of “Sharing” intimate feelings and emotions with people you barely know. Talking to the wind, which what I feel that I am doing here, is one thing, but dumping your emotions on actual real people in the hopes of eliciting a response is something else entirely.
The other thing that I am reminded of in this situation is how very lucky my wife and I were in that all 4 of our parents died relatively quickly and with relatively little “fuss and bother” (though my wife might disagree with that last part). My recollection was that her father was fine on their 70th wedding anniversary in May of 2010, but then he fell apart quickly under harsh cancer treatments that started shortly afterward. He was dead in September of that year after only about 4-months of seriously debilitating health problems. The case of my wife’s mother is a little harder to judge because she whined and complained about everything all of the time anyway – for the entire 30-years that I knew her. I do remember that she first started to seem somehow different to me though in July of 2013 – rather “confused” and peculiarly lethargic through all of her normal complaining. She too was dead in September of that year about 2-months later. My own mother had complaints about headaches for 6-months in 1986, but she was only diagnosed and started to receive any treatments about 3-weeks before she died of a brain tumor. And my father was the winner of this Ultimate Race in that he only felt a little under-the-weather on a Sunday, but was dead by that Thursday in 2002 of congestive heart-failure.
Although few would actually want a parent to die, I still think that the absolute worst-case is to linger. There are many though (and it feels like Ron is among them) who believe in “Life At Any Cost”. I still don’t understand how that attitude can be justified on any grounds though; financial, emotional or humanitarian. Death is unavoidable and at some point we all must experience it and subjecting a loved-one to the pointless tortures of a mercenary Medical Industry for the sake of personal emotional salve and the denial of one’s own mortality is simply wrong. It is especially confusing to me for those who profess to be Christian. If their loved-one is about to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and be released from the pain and toil and distress of this world for an eternity of paradise in the presence of God, why on earth would anyone who cares about them want to impede this natural, inevitable – and supposedly glorious – process? I mean; stop being so damn selfish.
Yes, yes, I know – we’ll see if I change my mind about all of this when it is my turn. Would it give you a thrill if I were to keep you posted with the blow-by-blow when the time comes? It seems rather like slowing down to look at an accident on the side of the road hoping to see blood and body-parts. Does that make you “normal” or ghoulish – or maybe both? You human beings are so weird.