unsung heroes

on national holidays like memorial day, i like to remember less-commemorated populations that made our country what it is today. native americans and africans sacrificed their cultures and lives, not by choice, to make our so-called democracy possible. seems like a paradox, somehow. their descendants also fought and died in wars waged to preserve our way of life, which was built on disrupting and destroying others’ ways of life. just because we were not alone in the world in behaving in this barbaric way, doesn’t justify it.

on days like today, we celebrate freedom, democracy, and fallen heroes who died defending those principles. or, at least, it’s another excuse to get off work and party with friends and family and beer. it’s the american way. why not also remember the people, both original americans and american slaves, who died in the line of fire, both as heroes and as collateral damage.

that’s my mem-day speech. and now, back to beer.

cheers alert

i decided just to be different, to do an experiment. instead of all the depressing aspects of the VOE, i will attempt to list some positive ones. gasp. don’t get used to this, it’s not some epiphany i woke up to, it is only a test. if nothing else, it’s probably good for my health. here, in no particular order, are ten:

1. i don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn and go labor out in the pouring rain, extreme temps, etc. just to be able to afford to survive to do it again.

2. i have a roof, a room, more than basic necessities, and provisions. i.e. beer and booze, the essentials. food and water are a bonus.

3. it’s quiet and clean and not chaotic.

4. i’m still relatively healthy enough to do this job, and hopefully future jobs (NOT involving caregiving), possibly even my old job, if i’m desperate.

5. the surroundings are gardeny and parklike, with lots of wildlife. some of my few plants are still alive.

6. my bills remain minimal for the time being. and i’m not the sibling that has to navigate the complicated financial and legal bureaucracy of this job.

7. my ‘client’ is not yet at the totally nonfunctional stage requiring expensive 24/7 medical and personal assistance.

8. i can hypothetically make my own schedule and do whatever, in between caregiving responsibilities. i read a lot.

9. i still have remote contact with family and friends, who are still speaking to me.

10. last but really first, my son is alive and relatively well out there in the world. as long as that is the case, i’m essentially ok. the rest is just accessories.

there you have it. that takes a lot out of one, so don’t hold your breath for a sequel. the next installment will undoubtedly return to the solid comfortable ground of apathy and despair. just to reassure those who think i’ve really flipped, finally gone demented all the way.

that was so mentally exhausting, i need to go drink my brunch of champions. cheers! (just to stay with the cheery theme.)

uncomfortably not numb

my whining and droning column has been sadly neglected lately, as i lapse deeper into existential nothingness, so here i am back to try to remedy that. for the chance stray reader who happens to stumble upon this post, MARVIN ALERT! (if you have to ask…) if you prefer your blogposts all cheery and upbeat, stay away. go LOL somewhere else. if you like punishment, stick around.

as the two-year mark of my VOE incarceration nears, let me take this opportunity to take vital signs. i appear to be still alive and, if not kicking, at least not in final death throes. there’s a heartbeat, however irregular. i breathe, whenever i remember to. i still go through everyday motions and minimal maintenance. i even have occasional spasms of mindless productivity, when the pointless tedium gets to be too much. it’s just the brain i’m a little worried about….

you think i’m joking about dementia being contagious? all right, then, communicable! genetic, whatever. the fact that i’m undoubtedly repeating myself verbatim from other posts only proves my point! all i know is, i’m losing my mind, piece by piece. i can see it happening. (i feel a rousing chorus of ‘daisy, daisy…’ coming on.) i won’t bore you with symptoms. it doesn’t help that i’m in the vicious cycle of caregiver mode, wherein you’re surrounded by dementia, hopelessness, and no mental/social stimulation, day in, day out, to the point where you have no motivation to get out and retrieve what little sanity you have left, so the apathy and lethargy just settle in and turn you into a zombie. but not a comfortably numb kind of zombie. maybe that wouldn’t be as bad. at least it has a catchy tune. (yes, being facetious.)

ultimately, the whole point of this caregiver business is maintaining dying, toddler-like oldsters until they die, without going totally broke. sorry to be so honest. if you do it as an unrelated employee, at least you get to detach and go home, or, if not home, then to your real life occasionally. i can’t imagine choosing this as a vocation, but i have to admire anyone who has the capacity. it can’t be the pay. it’s definitely not the mental stimulation, although it can be physically and intestinally challenging. it takes a certain kind of fortitude. one i was ironically brought up to not have by the very people of whom i’m left picking up the pieces.

by its very nature, eldercare of parents confronts and bombards you with unresolved issues and chaos that nobody wants to deal with, and isolates you from others. in my case, it’s my own personal hell coming back around to taunt and haunt me. no one else can really identify with it. people prefer to cling to their own airbrushed version of who people were, and to dismiss the complexity of navigating the wreckage and rubble left to us to sort through. they can’t relate to someone who suspends life to manage the death-process and its aftermath, and don’t want to think about its implications. no one wants to face the horror and dread of being next in line to disintegrate slowly and dependently.

well, that was…depressing! in true marvin style. i just want to say something confessional right here. i realize i sound like a harsh, callous, unforgiving person. probably you’d be right. i wish i could be the compassionate, altruistic person people imagine i am. it would be a lie. for decades i learned how to be passive, stupid, worthless, and resentful. i was working through that, when i was thrown back into ground zero. if i still believed there is a reason for everything, i’d say this was on purpose, to confront me once and for all with my origins and need for closure. i’m not sure i believe in anything, anymore. all the human constructs or spins i’ve ever put any faith in, have proven to be hollow and insubstantial. or futile and meaningless, to get biblical about it. so. just me here, doing what must be done, because someone had to do it, and i was it.

i wish i could think of a particularly snappy marvinish comment, like ‘bleah’, to wrap up this pathetic monologue with. did you know that douglas adams was born the same year as me, only a month apart, and died this month in 2001 at age 49, of a sudden heart attack? maybe i admire him partly because he got it right: he had a brilliant sense of humor, and then he up and died while the going was good. he didn’t outlive his vitality and impact.

or, as marvin might have put it, he was ‘one of the least benightedly unintelligent organic life-forms it has been my profound lack of pleasure not to be able to avoid meeting.’