Needing A Thick Skin In This Family
Posted on July 2, 2015
Tuesday was a bit of a bizarre day. It ended with me dreaming I was in a pitch meeting for Top Gun 2. Yes, Top Gun 2. I was concerned the studio was just going to make some cheap, awful film with a crap storyline, bad actors, and zero direction. Why would I think that? Probably because there haven’t been many movie out lately that excite me. Like…at all. I continue to have zero interest in seeing Jurassic World, and even the new Terminator film didn’t cause my eyebrow to raise. I’m not in the habit of missing Arnold’s movies, but this one? Meh.
Incidentally, I took over the pitch meeting for Top Gun 2 and convinced them that they should introduce a mix of female pilots with the male pilots, which could go far in providing natural tension and even a bit of levity to break up the tension. Naturally, since Tom Cruise didn’t appear available for the film, we should bring back a couple of the other characters from the first film as a way of making a connection to it and finding out what the others are up to. The other people in the room liked the idea. Weird. It’s sad we’ll never find out if it would have worked.
I won’t be mentioning that one to my husband. He’s coming home Thursday evening for a little over a week, which will be nice since I’ve only seen him for a whole 30 minutes in the last 2 ½ months. And despite my best intentions to not tell him about the new short story that’s currently being edited, I blabbed. I mentioned one author friend had read it and told me “I cried. I don’t do crying.” I also read an abridged comment another author friend made; “…it’s got a depth I frankly didn’t know you had in your writing.” There was barely a moment of silence on the phone before my husband quipped “See? I told you your previous stories were shit.”
Yes, he was kidding, but this is the sort of kidding he does with me that makes me kick myself for telling him about any new projects I’m working on. It’s my own fault. There’s that saying about the definition of insanity being doing the same thing over and over again, only expecting a different result. It applies here.
Speaking of insanity, my mother ordered and then asked I watch a DVD about Alzheimer’s she saw part of on TV. That was fun. The information part of it on just what happens in the brain was genuinely interesting. Watching the subjects they followed around for a little while who were afflicted with it, along with how the family members were dealing with being caregivers, was less fun. It make me realize we’re not alone and that we all have similar thoughts about it. I admit I’m starting to feel a bit resentful lately and that has to go.
The eye-opening part of the documentary for me is when the daughter of a mother bedridden and mostly unresponsive from Alzheimer’s states that her mother may have the beginnings of pneumonia. If so and because the mother never would have wanted to live with the disease like she was, they weren’t going to treat the pneumonia. The outcome would be obvious. I don’t know what happened or if she did ever contract pneumonia, but it was chilling to sit there and realize they were talking about a way to let a family member go that was legal, but also a conscious decision.
That conversation couldn’t have been easy. I’d struggle with it, and I’d struggle with having made that decision for the rest of my life, whatever it would have been. Would I want to live with Alzheimer’s after seeing what it’s done to my father? Not a chance. Would my father have chosen this? Not a chance. Could I let him go like that when he’s bedridden and mostly unresponsive? I don’t know. I just don’t know.
Sadly, Dad would have shared my husband’s quip about my stories and even laughed with him (my husband) about it.
Talk about needing a thick skin in this family.
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.
7 Responses to “Needing A Thick Skin In This Family”
Katherine Trick says:
July 2, 2015 at 9:15 am
Ralph has a very odd sense of humor that only few people will understand. Funny, but annoying at the same time and if you’re not intelligent enough to get it, you’re out of luck. It’s his way of telling you he loves you without having to say it, and annoying you at the same time. See—–all good from his perspective.
The DVD your mom had you watch would disturb me a little, too. I’m starting to have to be that care giver to mom (and dad, too, a little) that has to make the hard choices and be the enforcer of getting things done and it-s not fun or easy. No one tells you about this part of being a grown up. We’d all run away at 20 if we knew what was coming and how sad and not fun this part was going to be. I-m just glad there is no shortage of wine and coffee to help me thru it all.
I think what you do for yourself to keep your sanity is what saves us all. I need to take a lesson from you and treat myself to a concert or a short trip once in awhile. A break from the insanity is ultimately what will save your sanity, or so I’ve heard.
Patricia Hebel says:
July 2, 2015 at 9:28 am
Don’t feel bad. I have been the butt of many jokes from the husband, child, my parents, his parents, my cousins, his cousins, and down the line. I have often just said to myself, just roll me over, stick a fork in my ass, I’m done. I have a hide like a rhino now.
Brent Seth says:
July 2, 2015 at 9:52 am
A sad fact of life is that only the people you really care about can really hurt you.
Patricia Logan says:
July 2, 2015 at 12:16 pm
Being a caregiver of family is very difficult. My mom passed away after two years in a hospital bed in diapers at home. Prior to that, she was nearly immobile in a wheelchair for about 6 years. She ended up in the wheelchair exactly 6 months after she retired at 70 and that sucked. All their plans of traveling after her retirement and spending their final days disintegrated for my parents who’d been married for over 50 years. My dad and I ended up changing diapers and pushing pain meds while transporting her back and forth to the hospital for her final years. It sucked big time.
Having done that, I wonder whether I will have to do the same for my husband or him for me. More than likely it will be me in the wheelchair because he makes a constant effort to stay healthy like playing racquetball every week. It’s a grueling sport and he’s pushing 60 but he’s been doing it for well over 25 years and he’s going strong. That said, do I want to burden him? No one wishes that indignity on their family. My mother hated it when we had to change a messy diaper but we always did it with a smile and I would regale her with the latest family adventures while we did it so I could distract her from what she perceived was her humiliation. My father hated every second of it but he never stopped stopped encouraging her to get better.
My advice… try not to watch any shows highlighting Alzheimer’s again. They suck.
July 3, 2015 at 8:57 pm
Yup. Good advice.
Diana Copland says:
July 3, 2015 at 12:02 am
I think everyone who is in the caregiver role has moments of resentment. I did. and in regards to the daughter deciding not to treat her mom’s pneumonia, I can only say I so get it. My dad began to show signs of kidney failure. He’d been in assisted living for Alzhiemer’s for six months, and had become basically non verbal. The treatment for his condition would have required a catheter. He was non-verbal, but he wasn’t non responsive, and I knew how much he’d HATE having that done. He hated the catheter when he had hip surgery. As his power of attorney and caregiver, it was up to me to decide whether to treat it or not. I chose not to. It was both the hardest, and the easiest decision of my life. I knew what it would mean, but I also knew he wouldn’t understand what they were trying to do and would have fought them tooth and nail. I did what I knew my dad would have wanted, when he was still my dad. I think you ask yourself that question; what would HE choose. That takes a lot of the guilt away. And I’m with someone else who commented further up; you’re living it, you don’t need to watch video’s about it.
July 3, 2015 at 9:00 pm
Even doing the right thing would weigh heavily on me. I guess it comes down to me asking myself if I have the right to determine if someone lives or dies. It may be the right thing, but it’s still something I would carry with me the rest of my life. But that’s me. I know other people have done it and found a way to be at peace with it. Maybe that’s something I’d eventually have. I don’t envy anyone who’s ever had to go through that.