I had another reason for playing hooky. I am currently struggling with my role as a city/county government correspondent. It is no secret I hate politics, but I got into this to fight vices like welfare statism, micromanagement, excessive taxation, and other soul-destroying policies. I had never, ever thought this would degrade to being a job filthier than working in a strip club, writing smut novels, or any other profane, and I mean profane, activities.
I shall start with a few words about my mother. It will all tie together in the end. Trust me. Mum went silently. She was loved by many, but her wishes, whether from her martyr complex or another misunderstanding, were that there be no ceremony. Family members I contacted were chomping at the bit to pay their last respects. She was always a favorite of the kids at school and the other parents in the neighborhood. But only the closest of the family even knew, and toasted a cherry-chocolate at her graveside.
Stories of what went on in her last days were horrific. In daily emails, she’d been bright, quick-witted, and on top of current events until the fateful day when she fell and hit her head on a file cabinet about a year ago. She went from ingenious to infantile just like that. In what followed, there were days of despair and despondency, but also miracules too weird to believe. I always thought there would be time to figure something out and make things better, but her departure preceded the end of my procrastination.
My father and sister took good care of her. She had gone to the hospital, in Michigan, pretty much unable to move. The nurses dutifully came in with three meals a day, which they put on a tray out of her reach, and then collected untouched when my mother had not eaten. There was also a telephone out of the reach of anybody bedridden. My father got wise to that part of the problem, and so made an effort every day to be with her for mealtime. The hospital lost her denture and then billed my father for replacing it. They were going to fix her cataracts while she was there, but the nurses didn’t know what to do with the pre-op. When it came time to discharge her, somebody was evidently looking at the x-rays and discovered an intestinal rupture they said would have been quickly fatal had it not been caught.
The nursing homes were worse. When I visited last summer, the place was a madhouse, blaring music and smelling like human waste. The bathroom was stopped-up. My dad said the hired help would slam my mom’s head into the headboard frequently when they moved her up in her bed. The ostomy bag was often found by family to be overflowing. The normal procedure is to medicate, and my mother turned into a paranoiac demon, subject to panic attacks.
Everybody has complaints about hospital trips. Despite all the yuppie rhetoric about giving 110 percent, I managed to be a valedictorian at a highly-rated high school with only a 98 percent average. We don’t expect perfection, but my sister has always been rather swift about medical topics, and she saw symptoms she thought the hospital should be treating and wasn’t. She finally found “that Indian doctor,” who treated her with enough respect to engage constructive dialogue. It was probably the same doctor who instructed my father not to give her any pills she refused.
At home, waited on hand-and-foot by my father and my sister, the days passed. My father was able to walk my mother back from about seventeen pills a day to two to four, and she seemed to get better for it. For reasons mental and physical, my mother could not eat properly, and she had to go back to the hospital yet again due to an infection. In a discussion, possibly with “that Indian doctor,” my father was told hospice is, “a place where they help people die – FAST.”
The parents came from a different generation. Nothing was bought with money they didn’t have, not even cars. The mortgage was paid off, and because they kept meticulous records, they were able to show the bank that they did not, in fact, owe more when it was paid off. For their responsibility, the parents were among those to lose somewhere between 1/3 and 2/3 of their life’s savings when bank mergers resulted in excessive withdrawals from their retirement accounts.
The parents had grown up during the Depression. Coming out of it, Mum moonlighted as a prominent Detroit model. She handled the GM, Ford, and Edison accounts as executive secretary at a big company and liked to drive around in convertible cars. She was also smart and so named her price when her boss begged her to quit modeling. It was just as well, Mum said anybody she knew who had made it big in the industry had had to compromise their principles. Her disdain for the Hollywood lifestyle has always been an integral part of my life.
And so, gathered around the immediate family for just a couple days; were I a really dedicated Miss Reporter, I would have watched the seven-hour commissioner meeting in front of the sweet little niece and nephew. They could ask mommy and daddy questions as our wonderful leaders struggled with the question about whether somebody with XY chromosomes is male or female, or whether or not unmentionable body organs and functions were real or imaginary. We could embark on philosophical treatises about why, if perception is reality, everybody else did not share one’s delusions. My sister suggested I write an article on the video clips at Prager U instead, as it would be more helpful for our leaders than writing the garbage they spew.
But even as I tried to stay out of it, the television and newspapers were already telling Detroit and the rest of the world about how all these super-sexy pop stars, like Bruce Springsteen, were going to boycott North Carolina because we dared to say women’s rooms were for women and men’s rooms were for men. North Carolinians, we are told, are so insensitive, we would force a man identifying as a woman to put his lipstick on in front of other men.
To this, I say: Really, people?! Really?!
We have death and destruction, bad decisions and suffering all around us. In former days, people would buck up and try to pitch in. Today, we think of ourselves and whine because people aren’t playing sensitivity games with us. Nuff said.