Appalled, but not by this.

I should leave this stuff to Roy, but I recently started reading Rod Dreher’s blog again. God knows why, because he often drives me nuts, but evidently I need a certain amount of that stuff in my daily run, and Lileks isn’t doing it anymore. Today, he takes on a wrenching New York magazine piece by Michael Wolff on the long, slow decline of his mother.

It was brutal, and I couldn’t get all the way through it. The headline was brilliant: “I love you, Mom.” Sub: “I also wish you were dead.” Sub-sub: “And I expect you do, too.” If you’ve already been through this, you know the way these things go — the pain, the suffering, the indignity and, worst of all, the towering, senseless expense — $17,000 per month in nursing care for Wolff’s mother, who hasn’t been able to walk, talk or take care of herself for a year and a half. He goes on about this and that at some length before announcing he’s planning a different exit strategy for himself, and he’s pretty blunt about it:

Not long after visiting my insurance man those few weeks ago, I sent an “eyes wide open” e-mail to my children, all in their twenties, saying this was a decision, to buy long-term-care insurance or not, they should be in on: When push came to shove, my care would be their logistical and financial problem; they needed to think about what they wanted me to do and, too, what I wanted them to do. But none of them responded—I suppose it was that kind of e-mail.

Anyway, after due consideration, I decided on my own that I plainly would never want what LTC insurance buys, and, too, that this would be a bad deal. My bet is that, even in America, even as screwed up as our health care is, we baby-boomers watching our parents’ long and agonizing deaths won’t do this to ourselves. We will surely, we must surely, find a better, cheaper, quicker, kinder way out.

Meanwhile, since, like my mother, I can’t count on someone putting a pillow over my head, I’ll be trying to work out the timing and details of a do-it-yourself exit strategy. As should we all.

Dreher reads this, and sniffs: “Appalling.” He goes on to lay out his own situation, with his father:

He is 77, and in poor health, though not suffering from dementia. He’s got a bad heart, and all kinds of aches and pains, the result of a rough-and-tumble country-boy life (e.g., he used to rodeo as a young man). He is in near-constant pain in his hip, and has to use a cane to get around. I don’t know when he has last felt good. You can’t believe the medicines the poor man has to take every day, just to maintain. He’s getting too feeble to do much more than sit in his chair.

And all I could think was: Do you have any idea how easy you have it? A father with “all kinds of aches and pains” who is still lucid and ambulatory? As these things go, that’s a blessing from heaven. When my parents died, I decided the measure of a good end of life was the brevity of the interval between creaky-but-taking-care-of-yourself, that is, perpendicular to the floor, and bedridden-and-entirely-dependent-on-others, i.e., parallel to it. For my mother, this interval was five years, for my father, about two weeks. If you can have a conversation with your parent? If you aren’t smelling their pee, or if they’re still in their own house? That is wealth beyond rubies, and when the crisis comes, if you have a lucid, kind and pragmatic medical team to advise you? You are even richer. Alan’s mom spent a few months in assisted living before pitching forward onto her noggin and raising a subdural hematoma that eventually proved fatal. This still required an ambulance ride to Toledo on Christmas Day so that another medical team could state the obvious and send her home to hospice, where she died a few days later.

My point vis-a-vis Dreher being: If you could read that essay and still find the writer’s honestly stated vow to not inflict that on his own children “appalling,” well, I need to stop reading this sort of bullshit, because life is too short.

And I don’t need to remind you who we have to thank for setting common sense back a few more decades, do I? (She-Who!!!) Wolff, again:

I do not know how death panels ever got such a bad name. Perhaps they should have been called deliverance panels. What I would not do for a fair-minded body to whom I might plead for my mother’s end.

The alternative is nuts: to look forward to paying trillions and to bankrupting the nation as well as our souls as we endure the suffering of our parents and our inability to help them get where they’re going. The single greatest pressure on health care is the disproportionate resources devoted to the elderly, to not just the old, but to the old old, and yet no one says what all old children of old parents know: This is not just wrongheaded but steals the life from everyone involved.

And that is not appalling at all. It’s just the truth.

I’m not really in as bad a mood as I might seem to be. My advance medical directives are pretty clear. They say, “…and I understand these actions may result in my death.” Ego te absolvo.

While we’re there, another good read from NYMag, not so grim: An account of George Romney’s run for president in 1968 and, along the way, the beginning of the end of moderate Republicanism. My fellow Michiganders probably know all this well, but I was a mere girl then, and I didn’t know all the details, many of which are both sad and funny, as this story about the start of Romney’s campaign, in fall 1967, with a tour of ghettos in 17 cities, where the candidate talked about civil rights. That was, shall we say, a message that fell on deaf ears:

In Watts one day, Romney and Lenore were sitting in the back of a sedan, being chauffeured to the airport by a local driver, with Romney’s bodyguard riding shotgun. According to a story that circulated all through the campaign, Romney leaned forward: “Say, what is that word they keep saying to me? I don’t understand, it begins with an M…” The driver and the bodyguard racked their brains as Romney tried to pronounce it, working his western consonants around an inner-city accent. Then the driver straightened up and said, “Governor, I think what they’re saying is”—and here he let his voice get kind of ghetto—“mo’fucka.” And then, because Romney was legendarily a Mormon and these vulgarities may have been somewhat beyond him, the driver clarified: “Motherfucker, sir.” And Romney sank back into his seat, like a part of the car that had been mechanically retracted.


A great Bridge yesterday if you’re interested in the ins and outs of municipal finance, addressing the burning issue — yes! I went there! — of fire service. In some ways, firefighters are like dentists, victims of their own success at upgrading building codes and preaching prevention. Fewer fires are being fought — half as many in 2010 as there were in 1977 — but you still need a force down in the firehouse. The question is what kind, and how do you train and work them? You can hit the main Bridge link in this paragraph, or the individual stories in the RSS feed over there on the right rail.

Eye candy: Classic children’s literature as minimalist posters.

Finally, how the Hawaiian authorities gave the birther-curious Arizona secretary of state a taste of his own medicine. Hilarious. (And hey, it appears to have worked.)

Happy Wednesday to you.

Posted at 12:49 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

57 responses to “Appalled, but not by this.”

  1. Brandon said on May 23, 2012 at 2:13 am

    If I find some viewpoints on this from Hawaii websites, I’ll share them immediately. In our town, we have this guy and his truck:

    Update (here’s a link)

    and the headline:
    Arizona Birthers Arrive in Hawaii, Immediately Go To Work Helping Obama Get Reelected

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  2. Linda said on May 23, 2012 at 6:38 am

    Yep, Dreher is an uncomprehending naif, and that’s putting it mildly. I’ve been thinking of “that space” too–when your parent’s life is still worth living to them, and doesn’t actively break your heart. Dad had dementia, but lived at home because he had mom to look after him, but going back and forth to the hospital with his failing heart wore him out physically and mentally. About a couple weeks before he took a header and got the subdural hematoma, he said that he had experienced all he wanted to, and would be fine if he died any time.

    Mom lived the last 2 years of her life with my sister, but patching together the care to make that possible was a miracle of circumstance. My sis is retired, I live nearby, and sis knows a lot of home health aides who helped us patch together 24 hour supervision and care. Most families aren’t that lucky. Mom could have conversations and lucidly follow Detroit Tiger games, but her 18 daily meds and other daily care were beyond her, and she was barely ambulatory with a lot of help. Dialysis was the dealbreaker for Mom. When that came into the picture, she just wanted to skip it, go home and die. So she did, after 2 months.

    Dreher also wrote some warm romantic stuff about the death of his sister, and how the kindness of the people in her small town shone through. Of course, he was not there to experience it firsthand–he was somewhere else, and came back later. I can tell you that nursing a person through the last weeks is grueling, and often made worse by people who you hardly ever saw hanging around doing nothing useful. Nothing romantic there.

    BTW, notice this bit in the article: “I left for school when I was 16 and never looked back. For me, life was elsewhere. I lived and worked up and down the East Coast and in Dallas, and traveled widely. I loved going back home to visit, but the idea of living there was neither appealing nor realistic.
    And I had been bullied my first two years of high school there. Small towns are not always comforting to those who don’t easily fit in. When I stood on the deck of the ferry across the Mississippi River, on my way to my new life, I was relieved. The river was wide. The far shore beckoned. I was free.”

    So, small town life is not so romantic or kind at all, unless you have the good fortune of coming back successful and far removed? Nothing makes life so romantic as not having to experience it firsthand.

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  3. David C. said on May 23, 2012 at 6:51 am

    When my grandfather was 92, after miserable months in a nursing home and in his last week of life, stopped eating and drinking water. Completely natural, right? One uncle wanted to have a feeding tube inserted because he didn’t want Grandpa to “starve to death”. Luckily, my dad, and his sibs told him he was nuts and he backed down. Well for me, if I can’t sit up in bed and take soup or whatever, if I can’t recognize my nearest and dearest, please let me starve to death.

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  4. Michael said on May 23, 2012 at 7:33 am

    My father was a Detroit firefighter. Twice during the 1967 riot his rig was fired upon by rooftop snipers forcing the crew to take shelter underneath. When it was all over he and several others vowed they would never go on such duty again unarmed. Someone went down to Toledo and purchased several handguns, the type we used to call Saturday night specials. I was vaguely aware of the fact that the gun was in the house. It was under my parents’ mattress. The bullets were in a dresser drawer.

    My father was a pretty healthy guy. But in his sixties he had to give up his car keys because of macular degeneration. In his late seventies he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and began to receive radiation treatment. The side effects to the radiation created a painful skin condition for which there was no relief.

    We went to some effort to plan an 80th birthday party. Out of state children and grandchildren made plans to come home. Two days before the party I got a predawn call from my older brother who was in from Seattle and staying with my parents. My father had killed himself. Not quite the intended purpose of the Saturday night special.

    My initial reaction was intense anger. “Leave it to Dad to spoil a good party” I said more than once. But upon reflection I realized that what he did was a courageous act of love. He saw his remaining years as becoming increasingly dependent on others. He hated being dependent. The 80th birthday party turned into a bittersweet memorial, just as he intended.

    When I contemplate teen suicide I’m usually think about the wasted potential. When someone says “the world will be better off without me” I want to say, “honey, the world has no idea that you even exist. But stick around and be your best and they might”.

    But I’m with Nancy when it comes to dealing with chronic or degenerative conditions brought on by aging. I pray for the wisdom of knowing just when it’s time to get off of the stage. There are no guns in my house. But we all have lot’s of things that can be creatively repurposed.

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  5. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 23, 2012 at 8:01 am

    It’s that demarcation between stopping needless medical interventions, providing palliative care which eases pain but “may result in my (speeded-up) death” in the face of an older generation’s anxieties about “becoming dependent on drugs” when you’re 89 and already gravely ill in five different ways, all of which we need to generally see as positives . . . and the easy slide into “then shoot myself before I become a burden” that leaves me leaning more towards Dreher than Wolff. Rod has a tendency to valorize himself and misuse comparisons out of a certain lack of self-awareness, but I want to keep a sharp distinction between putting a pillow over mom’s face and using every medical relationship, every counselor and clergy resource I have available to convince an ailing elder that palliative care, which may well “shorten” life as measured by the death certificate, is no sign of weakness. That’s the “end-of-life panel” we all need to be able to talk to and measure our wishes against, and yes, I do talk about this from the pulpit.

    But when those conversations go too quickly to assisted suicide, I’m backing away. It’s too, too often I see elderly folk, who no doubt have driven family away in some cases, but who have lived for years (decades) alone, with their own sort of personal networks, but who have a medical crisis and then grandchildren or nephews fly in from Phoenix, and want nothing more than a quick resolution whatever the circumstance, and those who know the ailing elder best (nephew having last talked to Lutetia back in ’97) are shut out of the situation.

    It’s also how I learned that civil unions and/or gay marriage is such an important civil rights issue, for what it’s worth.

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  6. alex said on May 23, 2012 at 8:18 am

    Jttmo, I’m not sure what your aversion to assisted suicide is. There was a very touching documentary a while back—I’ve watched it a couple of times—about a man suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease who went to Europe with his wife to commit assisted suicide because the laws wouldn’t allow it here. If I were in his shoes I would want that option available. To me that seems more humane than the starvation and/or suffocation that would come from pulling tubes. Why is that considered acceptable while leaving on your own terms is not?

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  7. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 23, 2012 at 8:43 am

    I know I’ll get a “slippery slope, fifteen yards” penalty called on me, but one decision (advance directives & palliative care better understood as gift and not weakness) is on a level playing field, and the other starts to weight options towards decision making where power differentials start to pull things down fast (external players who want a particular resolution getting to push). I know plenty of folks who married students of theirs, and I wish them well, and don’t go out of my way to heap condemnation on them, but I think it’s not a right or just idea, and the fact that it works well in *this* case overlooks the ninety-seven times it doesn’t. And assisted suicide looks, from where I’m standing, as if it steps over that line, because I know how so many ailing elders might get “worked” from the sidelines. They already do, in some creepy enough ways.

    There was a church some years back where an elderly couple, not even technically ill with anything other than age, committed suicide together, “when we felt the time was right” their note explained, and so their assets could go to the church and not get spent on the “waste of medical care at the end of our life.” Personally, I wouldn’t have touched that money through a blind trust. Taking that money would *scare* me. If that makes me a Dreher-ish sniffer, so be it. Alex, I wouldn’t sniff at the decision of the wife of that man with ALS, although I’d be hard pressed to tell her I “supported” that choice. I’d support her, and him . . . but my concern would be for the next case and the one after that when spouses were suggesting it and kept coming back to the idea. And I’ve made that journey with ALS & Parkinson’s sufferers — both good cases of where convincing the one with the illness that accepting care which eases their discomfort and pain is acceptable is the needed pastoral intervention. You don’t have to “pull tubes” and suffocate to not go out in agony.

    The hard cases are the feeding tube removals. So often they get installed “around” the wishes of the unconscious patient and the family, or at least they used to until fairly recently. A family can be totally committed to DNR and “no medical interventions,” but come back from a night at home and find a feeding tube in . . . and then there’s just a different feeling about ordering a removal even of care you specifically asked not to have. It’s tough, and I don’t think that’s “assisted suicide” at all, but I’ve ended up hearing from (absent) family members upset that I affirmed a spousal decision to remove unwanted tubes. It’s tough all around . . . and I guess my point is that I don’t see any way for a legal option to punch out as making it any less tough, and possibly, tougher overall.

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  8. Mark P said on May 23, 2012 at 9:11 am

    I’ve seen it three times, shorter or longer, twice with my wife’s parents and once for my father. Now my mother is facing that long, slow decine. I have concluded that shorter is better than longer. And if nature can’t quite bring it off, then, well, I’ve done it for dogs more times than I care to remember. A loving, gentle, painless end. Do we really love our dogs more than we love our parents?

    In my 20s (a long time ago) I had a friend in medical school who shared a love of motorcycle riding. He had seen the results of massive spinal injuries and we agreed that if either of us bought that big ticket, the other would help us cash it in.

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  9. alex said on May 23, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Jeff, I can certainly appreciate the ethical can of worms that you’ve opened but it seems to me that there would be a system of checks and balances to prevent parties who stand to benefit from a death from exerting any undue influence. I’m sure the laws in the nations that allow assisted suicide contemplate this very thing.

    On the other hand, if I could be so doped up that I wouldn’t feel suffocation or starvation, then palliative care seems like a perfectly good option. But external players, as you call them, are likely to be the ones to decide when the tubes get pulled just the same as they’d be the ones to decide when I’d get my dose of digitalis.

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  10. Deborah said on May 23, 2012 at 9:35 am

    I love, love, love the minimalist posters, welcome to my world. The George Romney piece is a must read. Excellent post and comments as usual.

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  11. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 23, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Advance directives — they’re not a silver bullet, but they can do much. Can’t do a thing if you don’t have one!

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  12. brian stouder said on May 23, 2012 at 9:48 am

    First, I agree with Deborah! Very interesting post, all around, beginning with the clever use of the word “appalled” in the headline for today’s entry (which dovetails with yesterday’s gun discussion – which I wanted to chime in on, but failed) and, in a larger way, with our approaching Memorial Day weekend.

    Our family will, at some point on the near-horizon, have to deal with these issues (mom is 81 and still independent, or, as Nancy aptly puts it, “perpendicular to the floor”…).

    Jtmmo makes some excellent points about the pitfalls awaiting anyone wishing to address these questions too easily, within the public sphere. No part of these sorts of discussions ever qualifies as “easy”, except possibly the blanket-condemnation card* (if such an arbitrary position can, in any way, be considered ‘part of the discussion’). Jtmmo’s thoughtful comments were, as always, illuminating

    *and indeed, She Who’s (et al) smarmy “Death Panel” meme is nothing if not a willful parallel to covering one’s ears while shouting “LA LA LA LA LA LA!!”

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  13. Dorothy said on May 23, 2012 at 10:25 am

    I read every word of that New York Magazine piece, wanting to cover my eyes sometimes, afraid of what was coming next. It also made me dread what lies ahead for our family because of Mike’s Aunt Dolores.

    He just spent Sunday and Monday in Pittsburgh looking at homes for the placement Dolores – you regulars remember the story from last month about her sad situation. At one place the gentleman who took Mike around the facility told him “I hope your aunt knows how lucky she is to have you doing this for her. We know lots of situations where the elderly have no one to advocate for them, and it takes court orders and strangers deciding their fate.”

    We have no inkling if she feels “lucky” to have Mike’s assistance. She says thank you for what we’re doing, but then she’s also finding fault with every single detail of each home’s accommodations. “What do I need with a kitchenette?! I can’t cook – if I have to have one I want it sprayed for roaches!” “I want hardwood floors, not carpeting! How am I going to move a wheel chair around on carpeting?!” “A pool?! I don’t want to pay for a pool if I’m not using it!” (It’s in place for therapy – not every resident will use it but she’s dead set against it.) These are not luxury facilities we are looking at – we’re trying to keep costs within her monthly income, which is not shabby. I can’t say that we are doing this from love because I don’t love her in the least. Mike tolerates her, and feels a sense of obligation because she’s his only family left. But I worry about the toll it’s taking on him and his health. Already we’re sniping at each other over little crap that we never used to before, and I’m positive it’s because of this added tension. All I can hope for is that we learn to let go of the stress as much as we can and continue to support each other and make sound decisions.

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  14. Icarus said on May 23, 2012 at 10:52 am

    “We will surely, we must surely, find a better, cheaper, quicker, kinder way out.”

    What is it called when you come across something by accident and then later that afternoon or the next day, you come by it again?

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  15. Julie Robinson said on May 23, 2012 at 11:02 am

    The toll on families is huge, as exhaustion and other health problems, like back injuries, mount. We’ve been through this four times and are now facing it with Mom. Like Aunt Dolores, she puts up huge resistance to any place we look at–from not allowing pets, to the color of the carpet, you name it. She hasn’t been able to properly care for her home for 15 years, has no friends or family left in town, and readily admits she’s no longer a safe driver. But: stubborn. Oh boy, we’re in for fun times!

    I will also praise advance directives, which allowed a couple of family members with advanced Alzheimer’s to slip away without a feeding tube. They were both miserable, and death was a blessing for them, and for our family.

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  16. Connie said on May 23, 2012 at 11:07 am

    My Mom was 57 when she decided enough was enough when it came to chemo. She had been doing it on and off for quite a while, her throat was badly burned by radiation therapy and she just didn’t feel that the few months she would gain were worth the misery. She died a few months later in a hospice at home setting.

    And my 90 year old mother in law is just totally perky and together, still living in the house they bought in 1962. We are thankful for that and for now living just an hour’s drive away.

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  17. maryinIN said on May 23, 2012 at 11:13 am

    The story of my mom’s passing would be too long here, and I don’t feel like going through it all right now, but 2 points:

    Jeffmmo is right about feeding tubes — they are the huge albatross here. Never, never put one in a dementia patient — It can go on for years (we did not opt for that, in fact told the doctors emphatically NO, they were surprised and almost grateful that we made the decision {which our mother would have approved of because we had discussed it with her when she had some presence of mind left})

    Dorothy, If I may offer this from my experience but knowing that individuals vary and I don’t even know you — later you and your husband may forever be glad you were able to do this for her, even though it is very hard now. One thing that my sisters and I did when we entered this phase for my mom was consciously and verbally agree that we would never fight or be cross with each other about her care, and while we sometimes had to remind ourselves and each other about this promise, the process of doing this helped us navigate it fairly peacefully. My thoughts are with you!

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  18. Prospero said on May 23, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Two of my brothers are RC enough they’d never cooperate with suicide. Luckily, my other brother understands that I’m going to want drugs at some point, and not a morphine pump either, but a few thousand mikes of acid and some heroin, followed by the cheapest cremation possible and a two week Lake Powell houseboat party on my dime to spread my cremains. We all agree on not allowing “heroic” methods of prolonging life at a certain angle of repose, but, for my own situation, I’ll be the boss of that.

    On suicide when the time seems right, I’m with Hamlet:

    O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
    Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
    Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d
    His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!
    How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
    Seem to me all the uses of this world!
    Fie on’t! ah fie! ’tis an unweeded garden,
    That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
    Possess it merely. That it should come to this!

    My sole decision.

    Both my mom and dad died at home, and we had home hospice providers in, an inestimable aid. I was alone in the house with my dad for a couple of days, the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, but something I wouldn’t trade for anything but to have him back. This in no way changes my mind about my own demise. For some yahoo (excuse my language) twat like $Palin to twist insurance coverage for voluntary end of life counseling into death panels is nauseatingly mendacious, even for a pathologically dishonest asshole raised by coyotes, but it’s also hateful and sinful in its cynicism. I believe Michael Wolff is right on the money when he calls modern technologically based longevity “indentured servitude”. I think social Darwinists like Palin’s offense at the idea of letting an insurance and health care industry cash cow die a good death instead of surviving a torturous, prolonged twilight neither life nor death while scads of money changes hands, stems from sadness at profit centers lost rather than any innate humanity.

    I appreciate Jeff’s arguments, but when I hear “feeding tubes” my mind goes instantly to Terry Schiavo, with pea soup where her brain was supposed to be, ignominiously sustained by a delusional family (if she was feeling anything, couldn’t they see there was nothing but pain?) and grotesquely ghoulish political opportunists like know-nothing Sanitarium, and the video diagnostician Dr. Frist, who certainly knew better. My mom and dad died much better deaths on their own terms. As difficult as it all was, I am grateful for the experience, and wouldn’t trade any of it in, unless it was to alleviate any pain either of them suffered.

    I was in Michigan when Romney’s presidential campaign was 86ed by his discussion of his own brainwashing in Vietnam. Honesty killed the political star. My recollection of George Romney’s humane and down-to-earth nature leads me to believe that he’d find Mittwit’s vulture capitalism and inhumane politics appalling. The brainwashing comments occasioned high hilarity in ’68, but I can assure you nobody under the age of about 25 really could have cared less. It was Clean for Gene or Bobby, and as McCarthy’s patrician bloodlessness and soullessness became increasingly apparent, it was just Bobby. Da yute of the USA was optimistic, until the aftermath of the California primary, when everything went to shit. Nobody called RFK mofo in Watts. It took 40 years to get some of that optimism back, and it’s met with Aamerican racists coalescing with long knives out around horseshit like the President is not one of us, Muslim anti-colonial Kenyan dog eater commoniss nazi. What an exceptional country, eh?

    Icarus: Serendipitous? Spooky?

    Dorothy, Please consider that perhaps Dolores is just flummoxed about how to express thanks for generosity. Finding picky fault is not an uncommon reaction to unexpected good will. In the end, y’all will know palpably the grace and peace of mind of having done a good thing.

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  19. Charlotte said on May 23, 2012 at 11:50 am

    For Nancy — Gatz Hjortsberg’s epic biography of his dear friend Richard Brautigan is reviewed in today’s NY Times:
    Took Gatz 17 years to write — and the manuscript nearly burned up in the big West Boulder fire a few years ago (he took the firefighters and their wives who saved his cabin out for a nice dinner at the Grand Hotel in Big Timber afterwards).
    My generation are the kids of that group — in fact, Gatz’s son married Jim Harrison’s daughter — and while all that carrying on might have been fun for the grownups, it wasn’t so much fun for the kids. Becky Fonda is their hero, because she’s the one who remembered to make lunch, and who got them out of harm’s way.

    As for advanced directives — I made my sweetheart sign on as my medical POA — he can do anything but shoot me. Since we’re older, and marriage isn’t in the cards for a number of reasons, I wanted someone other than my mother to have the ability to make decisions. No tubes, no extraordinary measures. I live in terror of my mother’s future. Her mother is 101, and still vertical, but bored and even crankier than she ever was. My mom has already survived one bout with a massive subdural hematoma — did wonders for her personality though, and pretty much got her off the booze. The cigarettes are my only hope. If she lives to be 101 and tormenting me, I’ll shoot myself …

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  20. nancy said on May 23, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Charlotte, thanks for that link. Interesting lunchtime reading.

    A few years back — many years back, actually — Alan and I spent a week at the X Bar A dude ranch in McLeod, down the road from Big Timber. We took a ride south one day, and passed Hjortsberg’s cabin.

    Never cared for Brautigan much, but I haven’t made a run at him for a while. Maybe I should give him another try.

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  21. Prospero said on May 23, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    MaryinIN @17:

    verbally agree that we would never fight or be cross with each other about her care, and while we sometimes had to remind ourselves and each other about this promise, the process of doing this helped us navigate it fairly peacefully

    My mom’s death produced some estrangements among my brothers that disappeared, for a while, when my dad died. Of course, there was some money and property involved, but that led to zero discord. We just sold the last piece of property, a lot on Sea Pines Plantation on Hilton Head. My parents were talked into including it in the loan for the first condo they bought down here about 40 years ago, to have access to the Sea Pines golf courses and tennis facilities. They paid less than $10grand for it, and in the current RE market, we sold it for $275thou. Pretty good investment; makes up for the ground floor Polaroid stock family legend says my dad passed on. All we have left to dispose of is a painting by Reynolds Beal, much like this companion piece (same subject):,r:41,s:0,i:163

    Brautigan, to me, was always the self-absorbed sybarite hippie manque type that drove me nuts. I read Trout Fishing and thought it was entertaining, but hipper than thou supercilious. Then I read The Sporting Club and realized that’s how it’s done. The verbal joust between Brautigan and McGuane recounted in that review? I’d have liked for it to proceed to a basement dueling range, with flintlocks.

    Entertaining interview with Mrs. Draper (aka Jessica Pare):–20120521

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  22. Hattie said on May 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    At age 72, I’ve seen it all when it comes to death (yes, that bad bad word). Holding my MIL’s hand while she breathed her last was pretty intense. She was 97. And I say that one real problem and what really has elders worried is that medical care and long term care have gotten so expensive. I was with a group of peers yesterday and not a one of them had not had some horrendous medical procedure in the past 10 years or so. One woman was incredulous that her quadruple by-pass cost $250,000, and their co-pay was huge. It should not be this way. This rich society needs medical reform,badly. Right now my brother in law is in serious trouble with cancer. Does he want to die and graciously make way for others? Nein. Luckily he has good insurance to cover the radiation and chemo.
    What we old people would really love from you youngsters is to be regarded as people,not “problems.” If we are a drag on the economy with our needs for food, clothing, shelter and medical care, we are, of course, sorry. And if we get on your nerves, consider what a drag you were as kids.
    So what is your vision of old age, anyway? Sick, demented, physically repulsive, right? And costing the earth to keep alive. How about an attitude adjustment?
    You Boomers are next, ha ha. The youth generation gets old.
    Maybe what I’m saying is, “Lighten up. We all gotta go sometime.” Even if we weren’t around taking up room and breathing the air, you would still have problems. Hey, some of us can even help you. Money, babysitting, wise advice…Don’t be too hasty with the cyanide pie.
    And for god sake, lighten up. You’re depressing me.

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  23. brian stouder said on May 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    And for god sake, lighten up. You’re depressing me.

    OK – here’s a question for the house.

    We had a carry-in* today for the Memorial Day weekend, and this question arose in conversation:

    y’know that commercial with the ‘naughty librarian’? Where she says that somebody oughta’ teach you to get your books turned in on time (with a vaguely S&M undercurrent)?

    What are they selling?

    Is that a Nook commercial? Or maybe a credit card? It’s not for an energy drink, nor is it for a cell phone…(since we have a few naughty librarians around here, I thought maybe the answer is known)

    Did the platelet thing last night, and the good ol’ American Red Cross has changed their questionnaire again. I think in the course of completing it, I re-asserted that I am male – and was born male – no less than five times!

    *Pammy did up a very, very nice “trifle”(?) (not truffle, I think) for me to ‘carry in’ – a bowl full of layers of chocolate pudding and whippy-cream and brownies and chocolate chips…it went very fast!

    edit: and b’th’way, I LOVED that 1967-68 George Romney article; good stuff, indeed

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  24. Charlotte said on May 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    I read Trout Fishing and Watermelon Sugar in college — never felt the need to go back. But Gatz is a sweetheart, and this is his magnum opus, so we’re all just happy to see it published and reviewed well. And the bullet holes are still there in the Peckinpah suite at the Murray Hotel (I have one in my living room floor as well, but not made by anyone famous, just the ne’er do well son who, neighborhood legend has it, shot at his mother from the basement where he was living after being released from prison. Her footsteps were bothering him. He went back to jail.)

    Mmm trifle. I make one at Christmas with sponge cake, custard, raspberries, and marsala. Nice thing is it only gets better by sitting around, so you can make it a day early …

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  25. Hattie said on May 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    That’s more like it, sonny!

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  26. Bitter Scribe said on May 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    My dad was lucid right up to the day he died. He knew he was going and looked scared as hell on his deathbed.

    My mom had Alzheimers for years before her death–once she introduced me as her nephew. She died after slipping into semi-consciousness due to pneumonia and never knew what hit her (or so my sister says–I couldn’t be there due to my own health issue).

    Not sure which is worse.

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  27. Prospero said on May 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    You mean this one Brian?

    It’s for Pearle Vision. The magic eyeglasses that perform a makeover when you take them off.

    The only skin I’ve got in the Oldtimers game is my own. When I turn up escaped from the burdensome mortal coil, if there are no bullet holes, smell my breath. It’ll smell like almonds, cyanide pie washed down with Amaretto.

    I’m a fan of Jim Harrison’s fiction, and particularly of a somewhat twisted movie he wrote with McGuane called Cold Feet, that has Keith Carradine, Sally Kirkland, Bill Pullman and Tom Waits. PDFunny. It’s not Rancho Deluxe, but that is a classic. Anybody that thinks Jack McCoy is an insufferable stick up the ass bastard on L&O should see his performance as an Indin Crazy Mountains rustler in the modern west in Rancho Deluxe, with Jeff Bridges.

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  28. Prospero said on May 23, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Or, one can aim for 100, like Granny D Haddock:

    Granny D’s story is bittersweet, in retrospect. Her single stab at politics was an unsuccessful run for senate in Neh Hempsha against Judd Gregg, one of the last of the dying breed of decent GOPer buffalo.

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  29. brian stouder said on May 23, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Hah! The S&M librarian is selling glasses – who’d ‘a thunk it?

    And if you go out with cyanide, then I bet Nancy’s underworked firefighters will show up in full haz-mat gear to deal with your remains

    Edit – by the way, Dorothy scared a few years off of my life yesterday, when she said she was going to store an un-needed firearm in a safety deposit box at the bank. My question is: how would you arrange to walk into the bank with the thing? Seems like the potential for a huge misunderstanding exists in any scenario

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  30. Connie said on May 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Despite being a librarian Brian, I had no idea about the ad until Pros posted it. I fast forward past the ads whenever possible. And you know, librarians hate these kind of ads that play on the great stereotype.

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  31. Prospero said on May 23, 2012 at 2:53 pm


    You mean you aren’t constantly accosted by guys singing Buffalo Gals and offering to lasso the moon?

    The most obvious takeaway from the Romney article is that Pere would not be happy with Fils about anything his politics represent. The father was a good man. The son is a Moloch-inflected golem powered by selfishness and greed. The tragedy of RFK’s assassination is what the USA has become. The tragedy of G. Romney’s fading away is one and the same. Nixon’s the one, he’s responsible for Ailes and for the continuing version of Atwater’s southern strategery.

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  32. brian stouder said on May 23, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Connie – the commercial made me chuckle, but it is apparently a failure (at least in my case) because it failed to highlight the product.

    Anyway, stereotypes aside, all the librarians I’ve ever known (present company most definitely included!) are interesting, intelligent, and beautiful people.

    And b’th’way, a little library story for you.

    Our Allen County Public Library is also the home of the old Lincoln Life Insurance collection of Lincoln papers and so on, and a week ago Chloe (our almost-8-year old) and I went to the library because they had a copy of the 13th Amendment, signed by President Lincoln (somewhat superfluously, but hey! He earned it!) and a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation also signed by President Lincoln, on display in the Great Hall (under glass, with armed security nearby).

    I’d seen these a few years back at the old Lincoln Museum, but what the heck, it was a good excuse to roll downtown, and the young folks are generally always up for a trip to the library.

    After we got there, we learned that a scholar was going to give the very first Ian Rolland Lecture – that very evening – in the lower level, and the price was free.
    So – Chloe took her time and selected two books, and then we spent 20 minutes in the computer room where she played various games, and then she indulged me by accompanying me into the lecture, where we spent the next hour. The young lady really didn’t want to attend that, but she was quite a trooper*, and I was very proud of her….plus, the lecture was fairly interesting.

    *about 10 minutes in, she was fast asleep

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  33. Prospero said on May 23, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Didn’t know who Ian Rolland is so I looked him up:

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  34. brian stouder said on May 23, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Ian Rolland is precisely the kind of fellow that Romney pretends to be; a very intelligent, involved, successful, striving person; a member of the 1%, certainly, and an investor who invests himself in the genuine betterment of his community.

    He headed the Lincoln Financial Corporation for years before retiring. According to family lore, he grew up as plain as a pair of shoes, within a block of where my dad grew up (off Broadway, near Home Avenue somewhere)

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  35. Dorothy said on May 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    brian they love us at our local bank – we recently refinanced with them and know a couple of the office people really well. We’ve had some fun conversations when in there over the last 5 years when we had to open some CDs, or open our safety deposit box. I’d probably clear it with the guy we know first before we put Dolores’s gun in the box. And we have a case for it – it’s not like I’d walk in with it, twirling it around on my thumb like John Wayne!!

    And by way of explanation about Dolores – please know that she has long been a cantankerous, nasty, argumentative boob who never shies from sharing her racist opinions with us about her Jewish neighbors (one of which saved her life by calling 9-1-1 last month), the black women (sent by the Veterans Association) who came to clean her apartment, any number of people she came across when grocery shopping or going to the doctors. If she were my aunt I would have stopped talking to her years ago. Mike has argued with her a number of times, their phone conversations occasionally ending with him slamming the phone down. The next time they talk it’s like nothing happened. It’s bizarre and I’m glad I’m not the one who has to talk to her regularly. I think I have mentioned this before but in case I did not, she was a Major (a nurse) in the Army, and she’s retired (it was her lifelong job until she retired), so she’s accustomed to bossing people around. The medical people just roll their eyes behind her back when she starts telling them how to do things while she’s hospitalized. She really is not a very nice lady at all. You’re right, though, maryinIn – I am glad we are doing this for her as my conscience would kill me if we were not. It doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it, though.

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  36. Prospero said on May 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Genius tactic. Funny as hell, like Dick Tuck v. Nixon. Works on the second coming of Milhous as well:

    However, Tuck was up to his usual tricks during this campaign, such as when he hired several pregnant women to show up at Nixon rallies carrying signs that read “Nixon’s the One.”

    Nixon thought he was getting his own version of Dick Tuck (Le Fouille-Merde) when the RNC hired Donald Segretti, but Segretti turned out to be a clueless lame fratboy in comparison.

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  37. mark said on May 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Perhaps Dolores would be better served with assistance from other people. The VA (and military) have programs that will assist her.

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  38. iceblue2 said on May 23, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    As I lay on a gurney getting ready to roll into surgery to have a portion of my lung removed, I faced at that moment, the real possibility of dying. I’d already made provisions for my animals, my belongings and wrote letters to those important to me, but at that moment, it was very real and sobering and scary. I cried.
    That being said, I’m alive and well and am, for the most part, pretty happy to wake up every day. The possibility of death before old age though, is very real for me and I don’t dwell. Long before the cancer, decided I didn’t want to live to be old and unable to function. Since then, I’ve decided that if it comes down to where I get to make that decision, I’m moving to Oregon. This is my plan, but I don’t have it in writing and this discussion has prompted me to get it done. By that I mean look up actual information, have a place to go etc. As Mark P said, if it’s good enough for my animals, it’s good enough for me.

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  39. Prospero said on May 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Well, Dorothy, you know what Dolores means en espanol: misery. From L dolor, pain. Dolor fundamentu, pain in the butt. Illegitimi non carborundum, don’t let the bastards grind you down. (From American Gen’l. Vinegar Joe Stilwell, and 10,000 Men of Harvard,

    Good for you iceblue. I intend going out while I can still do it with a bang.

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  40. Julie Robinson said on May 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Ian Rolland was instrumental in the integration and improvement of our local schools, through his leadership in organizing a lawsuit. That’s just one small example, but I would like to tell a story about his wife, Mimi.

    The old offices at the non-profit I used to work for were patched together from everyone’s basement and garage leftovers and were spectacularly unattractive. Nothing matched, everything was old & grimy, and there weren’t even any windows. In a fit of desperation one very long winter, I tacked up old calendar photos of flowers and landscapes. It was a bit of color and a distraction.

    Mimi came in to visit us one day, and as she looked around our little dump, she lavishly praised my old calendars. She said lots of other lovely things too, but I’ll always remember how she looked for beauty in the midst of ugly. And this from a woman with a fabulous art collection, no less.

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  41. DellaDash said on May 23, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    I was a clueless 29-years-old when I set up camp in my grandma’s Arkansas hospital room at the request of my mother and Baptist minister uncle.

    My initial paralysis upon arrival, after flying into Little Rock from Califonia, then driving north 90-odd miles up the middle summer-lush corridor, to find a whispering cornhusk barely contained by the chrome cage of a bed; was quickly dispelled by a vibrant young woman (about my age) who’s own grandmother was in an adjoining room. Mary had been keeping an eye on ‘Miss Idela’, and bustled about with the practiced ease of a nurse, virtually plumping up the whole room with her chirping liveliness. Eventual BFF and mentor in all things southern, the first vital thing Mary showed me was how to give my grandma a drink of not-too-cold water while cradling her head and allowing her to slowly, feebly sip through a straw.

    So, first lesson – keep Grandma hydrated.

    Here are some other things I learned while tending my grandma during the final year-and-a-half of her life:

    Don’t expect under-staffed, over-worked nurses to be able to give adequate attention. In my case, it was a small-town hospital without visiting-hour restrictions, so I was able to ‘set up shop’ (a cardtable and newly-bought typewriter for creative writing, and a basket of yarn with a giant crotchet hook for a rug-in-progress) in her room. The one time I treated a hospital stay as a mini-vacation, there was hell to pay.

    I actually had the authority to hire and (mostly) fire the parade of doctors who popped in, scribbled a few things on Grandma’s chart, and grabbed a piece of her Medicare pie. Later, after her first hip broke, I got to insist on keeping the perfectly good yet brown-skinned oesteopath, who was distrusted and even shunned by well-intentioned locals stained by the ubiquitous bigotry.

    By the the same token that doctors had to be weeded out, so did the plethora of drugs they perscribed. It took a while, but I finally figured out what was necessary for her well-being, such as it was; and what was causing her to drool, walk jerkily like she was attached to a spastic puppeteer, lose track of night or day, and ask for Grandpa (who’d died five years ealier). Once the painkillers (for arthritis) were out of her system, I didn’t have to keep telling her that Grandpa was dead, then watch her weep with the loss all over again. More important, her mind was back to the extent that she could encourage me to tap out nonsense at my typewriter in order to keep my own mind sharp. And she, herself, was back…to tell me stories about her life. My grandparents had owned and run the town newpaper. Grandpa was also mayor, sheriff, justice-of-the-peace, and deacon of the 1rst Baptist Church. Even after Grandma died, when in my grief I beat myself up for being too young and healthy to understand the pain I had demanded she endure, I wouldn’t have done otherwise. (Even now, more than thirty years later, I can’t write this without crying.)

    It was possible to not bow to the inevitable that was being urged on me by the hometown contingent, and keep my vow that Grandma would never go into a nursing home. To that end, I had a hospital bed and bathroom hardware installed; had open-backed hospital gowns in pleasing prints run up by a local seamstress, learned skills with a bedpan, and found out how to change sheets with someone still in the bed. Many a night the washing machine was chugging, but in the light of day, word eventually got around to me that, in spite of being a dang Yankee with many obvious character flaws, my reputation was (somewhat) secure because the town matriarch never had bedsores.

    Options need to be continually weighed on how to help restore someone’s dignity in the face of the onslaught of humiliation. Our time came during one of the periods when Grandma wasn’t bedridden, and I was driving her home…probably from church, or maybe from the chiropractor (where she got her feet elevated above her head, and a very gentle fingertip massage on her brittle bones; while I got an adjustment to the back I threw out by lifting her up without using the strength in my legs). Out of the blue, Grandma told me she wanted to drive. No, she couldn’t do that…so shrunken, she probably couldn’t even see over the dashboard. “It makes me feel so helpless”, she complained in her soft wind-chime drawl. Not wanting to rub salt, I looked around and noticed that we were on a deserted country road with a straight shot toward home. So I stopped, went around to her door, and escorted her to the driver’s seat. It was such a short, uneventful crawl to our driveway to have given so much satisfaction. She never asked again.

    There is a lot more I have to say on this subject, and have gone on too long here already…but I will say this:

    Grandma was on life support for a week before we were able to get the plug pulled. It was ludicrous, her spirit gone, but her bloated, clammy body kept in a state that was supposedly alive. My mother and I agreed that we wanted a ‘living will’ (I think it’s called) in place to prevent our ever being put on life support in the first place. Now that my mother is older by a few years than Grandma was when she died…still living on her own, walking up and down the hallway of her townhouse 20 minutes a day for exercise, driving to church when weather permits, being watched over from afar by her five children scattered about…I’m ferocious about helping her maintain her self-sufficiancy as much as possible. I’m her champion when she refuses to see a doctor or take medication for the numerous complaints from which she suffers (there are always holistic solutions to try like aloe vera and golden seal)…and I’ve earned the right to overrule any objections from my siblings (who want our remaining parent to live forever) in these matters. However, I’ve had to deal with the guilt that I just can’t do for her like I did for grandma…when I was fit and approached the whole thing as an adventure…not because I love her less. There’s a lot to be said for the skipping of generations in this respect. My mother is ready to die. She feels like she’s had a blessed run, but she’s now way long past her sell-by date. I know Grandma wanted nothing more than to join Grandpa, as well. Neither women, though, would ever take matters into their own hands, or request someone else to do so for them. It goes against every fiber of the very faith that allows them to face death with such serenity and grace. I don’t have that faith, but consider it a gift that some of those closest to me do.

    If I’m so lucky as to have a choice when my time comes, I’m probably goin out inna Prospero stylee…far from the gruesome arms of the medical and legal communities.

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  42. JWfromNJ said on May 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Some days I prattle on with my comments. Other days like today I soak in the collective wisdom here. Thanks to all of you.

    My dad has Alzheimers. Still knows who he is, but slipping fast. My mom (72) is his caregiver and it’s taken a big toll on her. She hasn’t been going to groups like I think and she knows she should. My sisters are useless – one is a single mom staking her claim on thier house by not leaving, and the other is an addict and may always be. I’m 1200 miles away but I get the phone calls.

    Mom knows she will have to sell her house, it’s a beach block property that could provide for her future. She can’t handle the upkeep, and there is a seasonal rental unit on site, and she can’t foot the taxes indefinitly. She was stubborn about that for a long time though. I’ve urged her to get a financial planner who has experience with things like this and told her my preference would be for her to move Dad while he still knows who he is and where he is. I’d like to seem them cash out and move here where we are and her sisters live, but for now Florida isn’t for her, although she could have indfefinite financial security and a nice home after selling the beach house.

    My fear is what if she goes first. I just know my sisters are going to need to be smacked in their heads and cut off from the gravy train.

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  43. Suzanne said on May 23, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    My husband and I are just starting with elderly parental problems. One parent with a mild stroke that has led to memory loss, one with heart issues, and one with a bad hip. I don’t look forward to the next few years. The one’s memory may not come back sufficiently which means he and mom will need a lot of help long term(she’s never been remotely self-sufficient).

    It’s interesting that almost everyone I know who works in the medical field says we, as a society, need to deal with end of life issues in a more rational matter. Like so many areas of life these days, it seems we need a rational voice who understands that we all will die someday.

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  44. Dexter said on May 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Mark Twain:
    “Life was not a valuable gift, but death was. Life was a fever-dream made up of joys embittered by sorrows, pleasure poisoned by pain; a dream that was a nightmare-confusion of spasmodic and fleeting delights, ecstasies, exultations,
    happinesses, interspersed with long-drawn miseries, griefs, perils, horrors, disappointments, defeats,humiliations, and despairs–the heaviest curse devisable by divine ingenuity; but death was sweet, death was gentle,/

    death was kind; death healed the bruised spirit and the broken heart, and gave them rest and forgetfulness; death was man’s best friend; when man could endure life no longer, death came and set him free.”
    – Letters from the Earth

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  45. DellaDash said on May 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Why Oregon, Iceblue2? Curious.

    Good one, Dex!

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  46. Dexter said on May 23, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    When is enough enough? Never when Obama is President, and Romney would be even worse, I believe. This news is sickening:|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

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  47. Jolene said on May 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Oregon allows physician-assisted suicide, Della.

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  48. Prospero said on May 23, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    That is a wonderful story beautifully related, Della. Thanks for making my day. It’s also a pleasure to hear about the Rollands. There was a time when rich people in America understood noblesse oblige the opposite of the “born on third/hit a triple” delusion that afflicts people like Shrub Bush and Willard RMoney. It’s related to the dedication to public service that Joe and Rose Kennedy instilled in their kids, back before Greed became Good. Old Joseph P. Kennedy may have been a scoundrel, a rumrunner and a bandit, but he reared his children to understand they had been given much and owed a concomitant debt to their fellow human beings. I’m sure George Romney tried to teach this important lesson to Mittens, but it sure as hell didn’t make an impression. He’s the unholy descendent of Gordon Gekko and Tricky Dick Nixon.

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  49. Sherri said on May 23, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    I don’t want to live forever, and I can’t imagine why anyone does. My parents and in-laws are still reasonably healthy, fortunately, but it’s going to be difficult when they’re not. Like the Maui brother in the Michael Wolff piece, I moved to the other side of the country for a reason. At least my mother has always been clear on one thing: “never put a feeding tube in me!”

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  50. Prospero said on May 23, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    That is a link to a page that facilitates requesting by email that the asshat and no cattle AZ Sec’y of State investigates RMoney’s qualifications to appear on the 2012 Presidential ballot in AZ. Willard’s dad was born in Mexico of a fugitive from American anti-polygamy laws, so a real threat to US security is possible. I’d love to see Alfalfa’s inbox stuffed to overflowing on this grave matter of national security. I’d like to get Arpaio to put the Threat Unit on this, but the Sheriff gives the impression that reading constituent communications may not be his forte.

    The entire process won’t require 60 seconds time.

    The Mexican Romneys:

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  51. Prospero said on May 23, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    I know some of y’all are fans of the execrable Larry David, but Christopher Guest is the real deal.

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  52. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 23, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    My family made me watch most of the “American Idol” finale after the middle school choir concert, and I retract everything I said upthread about suicide.

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  53. Crazycatlady said on May 24, 2012 at 2:51 am

    Beb’s mom is a victim of Alzheimer’s. She is still alive and healthy as a horse. Her mind is burdened from struggling to make sense of a world she cannot understand anymore. As a nursing home nurse, I know she could live on for years.Which is worse, really. Watching a loved one fade away slowly and steadily or sudden death. The dying of the light is worse. Prolonged grieving. Loss without finality.

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  54. coozledad said on May 24, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Having sampled a dissociative or two in college, I don’t understand why anyone thinks they should have to experience mortal pain. Within a few minutes of slightly exceeding the dosage (usually administered for chemically restraining an adult patient of normal weight suffering from violent psychosis) I was transformed into one of those mini Christmas bulbs flickering in a black duvet several miles thick.
    Why someone encouraged me to believe that would make for a Friday night entertainment still baffles me. Still, it has to beat the hell out of punching a hole in your head with a pistol. Try to think of the cleanup crew, people. And leave them a tip.

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  55. Mark P said on May 24, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Something finally occurred to me. The same motorcyclist friend who agreed with me about what ought to happen if either of us ended up smashed to pieces but still breathing after a wreck. He mentioned once that it was not unknown for doctors to hurry the process for some extreme cases by maladjusting their fluid intake, which screws up the electrolyte balance in the body, thus causing muscles not to operate properly. In other words, they die. I don’t think I have ever heard that since (and it’s been nearly 40 years since). I wonder if things have changed.

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  56. Z said on May 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    I have been taunted all my life about how I probably want older people to die, now.

    Now, for the last 9 years, I have been hearing from my parents about how disappointed they are not to be dead already.

    The next generation up lived into their 90s and interestingly so; I do not see what the problem is with that but I have learned to feel apologetic about not criticizing it.

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  57. Crazycatlady said on May 24, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    For most of my people at the nursing home, they are sorry they are still around…

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