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Facts of Life

MY SANDWICH: AlienDude(left) Granny Marnie(seated) SmartAlec(right)Dear Diary,

Sometimes my MIL Ruth (dementia) and I get into great philosophical discussion on some really heavy topic and shed all kinds of brilliant insight on amazing meeting of the minds. I don’t even know how these little chats happen. Maybe I say something like, “So, Ruth..I haven’t seen Waldo from down the hall.. Room 213, in a looooooong time..(Pause to see if she jumps in)
Is he still..a-r-o-u-n-d?” (See how I avoided the word DEAD?)
Then Ruth will ponder that question for a minute or two..or three and say, “Well, last time I saw him he was alive. Let’s see..hmmm…it’s so darn hard to keep track of these things. Why? What do you know?”

It’s a well-known unwritten law that around Happy Daze Assisted Living, you don’t ever talk about death or dying..probably because you don’t want to put ideas in anyone’s head. Really. Because let’s say Selma catches wind of the fact that Roger kicked it..maybe she might think about the fact that perhaps SHE may not live forever and that would freak her out so badly that she would suffer a heart attack and WHAM another Happy Daze casualty. That can’t look good on the ole STATE record, eh. Ruth and I have a very open line of communication. We can talk about (almost) anything..and do until one of us has to find the bathroom, discovers her chin hairs need to be plucked again or feels it’s time to go see what kind of stew they’re serving for lunch in the dining hall. POOF! Discussion O-V-E-R.

Today the topic was lifecycles of the human being..including birth, death and everything else in between. Ruth tells me after my “Where’s Waldo?”question.. that she saw something on MTV (I told the staff to turn it OFF after My Sweet Sixteen) that got her “thinking” about life and the “D” word. Let me just take a moment to tell you how I feel about Ruth “thinking”. Any pondering on a given thought.. is not always a good thing with dementia. When Ruth starts to think.. it becomes darn hard to shut it off. I could be hearing about the topic in question for hours..if not days (depending how “stuck” it is in her short term memory bank). But, it’s a good time killer and keeps her out of mischief— so I indulge her.

Just so we can all be clear on where I stand on the subject of death..NOT a huge fan. Why couldn’t the system work a little differently? So—if I were in charge..first off.. death wouldn’t be all.. final. I’m not big on the..That’s it. You’re O-V-E-R. It would be more like a coffee break, “Hey guys! Just stepping out back for a few years. I’ll see you in TEN. Be chill.” Ruth, has another perspective.

“When you get to be my age..ummm..92 (she ages herself by ten years to lessen the shock) you start to consider the fact that you might not be here forever..”

ME: What are you saying to me? We’ve already paid for you here through 2015. You can’t go anywhere.”

Slight fib. But just the thought that she might consider she has an option makes me nervous.

RUTH: Well, I feel I’ve had a very full life. I have gotten to do many wonderful adventures. I’ve had sooo many delightful men in my life..


RUTH (long pause while she thinks about all the men): PAUSE



RUTH: (cont.) When it’s time— it’s time.

We had some great clarity come out of this twenty minutes of analysis and I thought it would be very helpful to all our readers to summarize these high points..if only to shed some different kind of meaning to the purpose of life and the ending stages that we all must endure.

Ruth likes to hear the story of Grandpa Max. This amazing man lived a full life until the young age of 108 yrs. when he decided he needed a day off from work and took a permanent LOA. Grandpa loved his Schnapps (booze) and cigars and when he reached 100 he’d lament, “If I knew I was going to live this long..I would have taken better care of myself.”

Ruth likes to rub it in how great she HAS taken care of herself. Her hair always looks great, she has a girl (me) who does her nails and her figure has always been slim. Ruth says she has a great life. I do have a hunch that it’s in that thought “I have a great life” that there is great peace and contentment inside— making surrender to life’s process possible. Ruth lives in the minute and lives life with GUSTO. So.. she’s more then O.K. with the rules of the game of life. Good on HER.

“But Granny” I say, “just think..if we were to use my death system, we would all be given some kind of written contract going into the game that stated much time we have. That way..if there are any procrastinators among us who are still hanging out, watching life meander by, wondering why on earth they are would be stated in BOLD, legible print the amount of time they have to get their “shwanky” together.

“Party A may remain on planet earth for a period of _______ years under guidelines listed in section D paragraph 322 F which states..Not one second is to be wasted and not one day pass without some feeling of accomplishment, joy, gratitude and fullness.”

Ruth loves my system. Unfortunately. It’s out of my hands.

Being in MY SANDWICH GENERATION means that we have a foot in both worlds. We have Act I. of life— with our children. The great thrill of so many wonders of existence, revealing themselves..unfolding daily. Then we have our seniors in Act III. Slowing down and becoming more reflective of their time spent.. how they can spend it with the people they love. Because we are taking such great care of ourselves..straddling these two worlds should not cause any snappage. If anything, we have exposure to both sides. We can draw on the experience of both the left leg and the right legs to jump into OUR life with both. Live life to the fullest with no holding back..and embrace IT..
and the ones you love.



Copyright © 2009 My Sandwich Generation. All rights reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized 14 years, 11 months ago at 11:05 pm.

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