Monday, August 15, 2011

Reaper Gonna Get You

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Isn't that a cheerful title? Well, we all have to face it, unless we're divine. The Grim Reaper's gonna arrive at our doorsteps someday and -- off we go.

This would be more depressing if there was only one Heaven and Hell, but considering the number of deities and pantheons and praise and worship teams out there, I'll bet there are thousands of Heavens. That's why I promote the bored gods. I haven't traveled much in the apparent world, but I plan to voyage far and wide once I'm finished with this challenging mantle of mortality.

Twenty-two years ago, when my daughter The Heir was born, my mother-in-law and her mother invited themselves up for a week to "take care of me." I was 30 at the time and was up on my feet in two days, but the two Mom Moms lingered a week to cosset The Heir.

When things got dull, the two Mom Moms went to work. They cleaned my entire house. Then they washed all 38 windows. At that time we still had the old 1920s-era storm windows with hooks that had to be taken down by hand. They did it. And they were so efficient that my next door neighbor tried to hire them.

This was 1989. Mom Mom Senior was 76. Mom Mom Junior was 56. They worked like fiends from dawn till dusk.

Ten years later, when I invited them up for Thanksgiving, Mom Mom Senior went missing. She was 86. Know where we found her? My basement. She had cleaned it from top to bottom. She had scrubbed the floor. Never had been done before, never has been done since.

Mom Mom Senior owns a beautiful waterfront property on the Severn River just minutes from Annapolis. As you might imagine from the above, she poured her vast energy into the place, and it's gorgeous. She and her husband bought the land in the early 1950s for $3,000. If her heirs ask anything less than a million for it, I will be shocked.

Even though she never learned to swim, Mom Mom Senior had a 100-foot pier out into the estuary, from which she hung crab traps and went fishing and boating. Her favorite thing in the world was a soft crab sandwich.

Every time all of us younger folk watched her bustle relentlessly, we would joke that the Earth had finally produced its first immortal human.

Not so.

On Tuesday, Mom Mom Senior's closest family members will decide whether, at 98, she will be placed in a nursing home or brought to her daughter's apartment for hospice care. Having seen my own parents in similar straits at much younger ages, I would bet that this former dynamo of a woman will go to Catholic Heaven in a few months. Mr. J and I, Heir and Spare went to see her yesterday in her current room in a rehab unit (she wants no parts of the rehabbing or the pureed food that has no salt or sugar). We all emerged sobbing.

Can you imagine owning a waterfront property minutes from Annapolis and not having a hearing aid? We literally had to shout right into her ear for her to hear us at all.

I have held my tongue about Mom Mom Senior's elder care because she isn't my blood relative. But it sickens me to see that her son and daughters have gone on the cheap, not getting an equity loan or reverse mortgage or anything, to provide top-level care for her. Then again, I've heard enough of the family lore to know that there's not much love lost between children and parent in this situation. So Anne, after having given advice that was unheeded, said no more.

The moral of this sermon is not really the "live life to the fullest" platitude that you might expect. I would say, "Live life the way you want to." Eat cake, drink hard liquor, smoke a spliff, I dunno, whatever makes you happy in the moment. The most frugal and hardest-working among us will meet the Reaper some day. Tra la la! Praise the gods and pass the brownies!


Sarita Rucker said...

So this is what you meant on Facebook. I'm so sorry to hear it. We recently had to place my grandma in a dementia care facility (it was a nice one!) and that was hard, although I didn't know her that well and she was almost a stranger. I can't imagine what it's like to have someone you've known forever not receive the care you know they need.

Lori F - MN said...

It's a shame the kids don't respect their mother more. I understand if money was tight, but there are other options.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

How terribly sad on so many levels.

Anonymous said...

Family is such a twisted and complicated entity. This story makes me so sad and angry. When I hear of stories like these I often look to the children and wish the same fate upon them. Not the most mature response I know, but I just hope that Karma bites them in their substantial asses in this lifetime so at least I get to watch it unfold.

Evil, perhaps. But their behavior is just as evil.

I'm sorry for your Mom Mom and I'm sorry that you have no control over this situation.