Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Little Christmas Thinking

On Tuesday I went to my mom's Christmas/Holiday party at the Old Folks Home.

Generally one knows going into this that it's not going to be a laugh riot, but mom's usually pretty fun. And she knows every single carol, especially the classical ones, and she's usually up front and center singing, while everyone else kind of mumbles the words.

So I went to go hang with mom. I dunno, the lady just isn't there really. Granted, I got there at 5PM and mom's usually much more with it during the day. And the holiday party is hectic, all the nurses running around, everyone who works there is dressed up, singing, trying their damndest...

Mom was sitting at a table with Margaret Panscher, who I've never met. Margaret was very confused that I was Margaret too.

The guys from the restaurant come up to serve a meal. They have no idea what they're doing and it's not their fault. Everyone on the floor has a different way to eat, no solids, all solids, cut, whole, soup, not, meat, took forever. And let's be honest...the food is not good.

Anyway, mom couldn't keep it together, I tried to talk to her but hell, Santa's there and all the people and nurses coming up to say hi. Mom's not eating anymore, so you can't force her.

And we're all sitting around, doing our best to sing Christmas songs and find the joy, and while I'm trying to force mom to eat something, the guy behind us has a huge coughing fit. In the middle of "Comfort and Joy," being lacklusterly played on the piano, this poor guy is coughing up a lung, his daughter (?) and nurse are wiping his chin full of spitup, he's moaning and racking coughing, mom's pushing food around on her plate and Margaret Panscher's face lights up at the music and she sings without really being sure of the words.

It was the most depressing thing I've done in a long time.

Life is so sweet. I love it. Even when it's hard, I love it. I love studying the human condition. I love movies and traveling and my husband and work and my dog and winter and summer and reading and writing and touring and smelling and hearing and walking and running and swimming and flailing and failing and succeeding and crying and laughing and weeping and ....

And then, the big shit of it is, life ends with difficulty.

Why oh why can we not live this joyous life and then just fucking die? Why do we have to get old and scared and frail and sad?

Yes yes, I know, it doesn't have to be this way, but it is, for everyone. The pains and aches and the loss of independence. It doesn't matter who you are, this is how it ends. We go through this big long struggle and instead of peace, we get war of the body and mind.

All these people have struggled so hard, only to end up coughing so hard their ribs break at some shitty little Christmas party in an Old Folks Home.

Sorry, sorry to be so depressing but it racked me hard.

If you can avoid it, don't go to an Old Folks Home Christmas party. If you can't avoid it, meditate for like 80 hours before you go. Because it'll shake you...hard.


Erica said...

Brutal. This rips my heart out.

And thank you for the warning. Next week we are going to my mom's Christmas party at her residency. And visiting my memaw in the nursing home, so my brother can see her for probably the last time since he'll be gone for so long.

It's already making me emotional. So much sincerity, so much unawareness you know?

Life is rough. Let's enjoy it while we have our health and brains.

Love you.

Crescent said...

Yeah this post got to me. It's so true and such an awful truth at that.

I'm so sorry you had to have that day and that your mom, Margaret and the coughing man had to have that day.

I sometimes wake up in the night with the exact same thought. "Life is going to get harder, not easier. Not just for me but for the people I really really love." It sucks balls.

The only cure I find for these thoughts is just to try and not think them very often. It's not a great plan but if I don't then I fear I will turn into someone that is not me and that terrifies me more than being sick.

I also think that the sheer, stripped down fact is that not only is life difficult it can also just be balls to the wall unfair.

Then I look at Erica's post and instantly see her face and flash to a hundered memory treasures. Then I think of our first "date" and smile my face off. Then I just try to comprehend how good this Diet Coke tastes on my sore throat. Then I imagine the other Margaret lighting up to a moment she recognized as joyful. For that minute she remembered what it felt like. Maybe that's what we get to sooth the aches of time. A million memories of joy.

Hendo said...

Oh, man Hicks. Had to poke me where it hurts, huh? My dad is now under a year before he's going to have to go in the home due to his dementia. As it is now, I have to "babysit" him when my step-mom goes to group support meetings, because he can't be left alone anymore. And the big chunk of his downhill trajectory has been in just the last year. This time last year, he was still working, still driving, still lecturing, still being one of the top biochemists in the world. Now? He's not allowed to drive, spends his day in an out-patient group home, can't have a checking account, can't have a credit card, doesn't remember basic stuff... when he comes to stay at my house when I'm watching him, we have the same conversations, because he can't remember being in my home before. All the books and posters, the same ones everytime... it's like a sick "Groundhog Day."

But the next step is harder, and that's when he's finally institutionalized. And your post just broke my heart a little for reminding me of just how bad that's going to suck for ALL of us.

I love my dad, I do. But when I think about what's coming, I kind of wish he'd just died in his sleep. And that thought scares the FUCK out of me.

Hixx said...

Thank you my friends for your words. We all must be getting older me thinks, this is what we think of now.

But Crescent, you're right. Even if I had a stroke TODAY my aging would not be like my mothers. We've had very different lives, mine is definitely a a happier existence than hers.

So there's knowing that one day, at least we'll be full of all the great things.

Hendo - one thing that ALWAYS makes me feel better is a movie called Fierce Grace with Ram Daas. He shall teach us how to do this. I highly recommend it before you have to watch your dad do this.

What will happen to all of us? Will you guys promise to still read my blog?

Mental P Mama said...

I don't know where to begin. But I can tell you that you will be glad you were there for When she is gone, you will take comfort knowing you made the effort. I can promise you this.

smussyolay said...

My dad tore his retina in his eye really badly and had it repaired, but I don't know if he's really going to see out of it again ... he should be seeing something out of it by now.

And I thought the other day ... I've been pre-grieving my father's death for so long, I didn't figure on this part. The fact that my parents would grow frail. I didn't count on that part. It's a strange thing and I just don't know that my sister even comprehends it or thinks about it. Or if she does, I don't know how she thinks about it ... I'm pretty sure it's not in the same way I do.

She lives five minutes away from them, and I will come back home at some point if I have to, but it will be so much different for me than for her -- first in that she she sees them all the time, and second in that she already lives there. She won't be giving up a life in a city she loves. She just already lives there.

I think I've been so worried about my parents *dying* that I forgot about the part where they get old.