Do You Sometimes Wonder If You’re The Stupid One, Or If It Really Is Everyone Else?

“Mom. Can you drop me and my friend off at Wal-Mart Friday night? We want to stay there overnight and make toilet paper forts.”

This is a question that was posed to me by one of my children. Obviously. It would be pretty weird if anyone other than my kids had asked me that. Both of them, as of this writing, are in elementary school. I am not sure what leads either of them to think I might leave them overnight at a Wal-Mart.

Target, maybe. But that is not the point. The point is that thinking about this question led me to recall several other things I’ve heard recently that were pretty downright stupid. You know what I mean – things that make you go, wait. Is it possible that no one in the whole world understands anything anymoreI mean, given the state of humanity in general, I think this is entirely likely, but then again maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m the idiot. Or, I guess it could it be that I’m getting smarter. I don’t know. Either way, here are some of the things I’m talking about. Read them and you can be the judge.

  • “Yeah, dude, I just ordered it. It’s an authentic replica!” Quite frankly I don’t even want to talk about this one, because it gives me a headache. But headache or not, I need to know: isn’t a replica automatically not authentic? BECAUSE IT IS A REPLICA???
  • “I like egg rolls, and yet I hate lettuce. Figure that one out.” You’re right, buddy. It’s a head-scratcher.
  • “Could you get him to sign something saying he’s incompetent?” Yes! Yes, I bet I could. And then on the back of that thing I will write out the definition of ‘incompetent’ for you, because oh my God in heaven there is no hope for any of us.
  • “Well, she was alive when she took all those ambulance rides.” This was from an ambulance company who’d just been told that my mother cannot pay her outstanding balance because she is deceased. I said, well, I really fucking hope she was alive when you took her on eleven separate ambulance rides. They said, “Oh, she undoubtedly was.” I felt faint and told them I had to hang up right away before my brain fell out.
  • “That’s a great shade, if you’re black.” So…right. I am really unclear what you mean by this. Are you thinking that maybe I switch back and forth, and tomorrow might be my black day? On the other hand, maybe you’re advising me against it because I’m white? Either way it’s very weird. Are you sure you work here? Do you have any previous experience with, I don’t know, humans?

Okay, fine. To be perfectly fair, that last one was my mistake. She was actually telling me it’s a great shade if you’re wearing black. I know this because I could not let my curiosity go unsatisfied. “What does that mean?” I said to her, when I was still stuck on the original thing-she-didn’t-say-but-I-thought-she-did. “Why would you…what does it mean?” And she said, quite slowly and clearly – “It means that it’s a good shade to wear when your clothing is black in color.”

I am guessing she probably walked away thinking, how could she not know what that means? What an asshole. PEOPLE ARE SO STUPID.

And if I had heard her thinking that – or, I guess, if she had said it out loud as she walked away and I happened to follow her for some weird reason and overheard it – then I would have said to her, girl, preach! I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about.

 

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By All Means, Yes – Please Kill My Parent

Around a week before my mother died, my dad stopped eating. I mean, not totally, but enough that he lost 21 pounds in an alarmingly brief period of time. He’d been getting a little plump, on the nursing home food. Now he looked frail and old. “It’s just part of the disease,” they tell me. “They lose interest in food. It’s sad, but there’s not a lot you can do about it.”

So, hospice was called in; there were meetings to be had and papers to sign. I am the caretaker, now. The only one.

Here is how you feel when you are filling out the advanced directive paperwork for your parent or other loved one:

Artificial respiration? Nope! Kill him!

IV fluids? No, thank you. Just kill him.

Feeding tube? Feeding tube, schmeeding tube! Didn’t I already tell you to just kill him?

Well, to clarify: this is how I felt. It’s not necessarily how you or anyone else felt, or might feel one day in the future. Still, I can’t help but believe that I’m not the only one who has experienced this extreme reaction to a little paperwork.

Antibiotics? Why? Don’t bother, JUST KILL HIM!

In my dad’s case, Alzheimer’s Disease has rendered him incapable of making these decisions for himself. If he could, I know exactly what he’d say. “Keep me alive, you assholes! What, you just want to let me die? Give me feeding tubes and drinking tubes and whatever else they got. Give me all the fucking tubes. What are you, stupid? I’m staying alive.”

So how, you might wonder, could I check ‘No’ to all those questions, knowing what I know about my father? Knowing that if he is magically cured of Alzheimer’s and one days sees these papers I’ve signed, he will murder me in cold blood?

Hello, parents! Meet your daughter!

I try to tell myself that he has no quality of life, anymore, but that’s not even entirely true. He still enjoys music, to the point where he gets teary-eyed listening to certain songs. He still likes sports, though he no longer knows much about them. He likes visitors and just last week he told me he has a girlfriend. It was a joke (I think?) but, if a guy can make a joke, isn’t that a little bit of quality?

The medical community, and certainly the economy, seems to stand behind life at all costs. After all, you pay for a funeral and it’s over. You pay to keep a human alive, and it can go on indefinitely. Also, as a culture, we’re not real accepting of the inevitability of death. Which is good. We shouldn’t be. Until it actually becomes inevitable.

I signed these very same papers for my mother, because by the time the questions arose, she was too sick to consider them. She was so sick that nothing was clear to her anymore. She might still be alive, had I agreed to any of the methods of keeping her that way.

I hated checking those boxes. But I think I’d hate the alternative even more.

Good God, this is getting morbid and sad. Well, I guess killing one’s parents will do that to a person.

Also, if there is an afterlife? I probably won’t see you for a while because let me tell you, I am SO grounded.

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