Tuesday, November 21, 2006

a pig in a poke

tomorrow my mom turns 60. she pleads for no fussing, no fete-ing, but i'm giving her the lladró i bought for her in barcelona. my mom’s tastes aren’t high-dollar by any stretch, but when she and my dad married, he gave her a lladró: a maiden limned in characteristic fluid pastel sweeps. she looks like my mom. llater, when they were going splitsville, the maiden fell over and her head broke off at the neck. my mom kept her and repaired her, and the maiden and her finely-cracked necklace occupy the mantel.

recently, to commemorate a seminal day in MY life, my mom gave me a lladró of a girl with dog, rampant, licking her face. it’s so perfect that when she gave it to me i bawled a little. (okay, a lot.) she’d had it for years, waiting.

so tomorrow i’m giving her a pig, un cerdito de la suerte, which, the accompanying brochure informs me, embodies “courage and determination, for it only fights to defend its own and knows how to use all its resources to sidestep difficulties.” fits. plus, my mother took a shine to pigs after my grandmother, well-versed in pen & ink ways, went through her pig period.

so, a pig for her birthday tomorrow, and last night, for an early birthday present, an argument about rose. my friend shteve, whose daughter i learned this weekend was a friend of rose’s before the accident, said that rose is hardly responsive. if you give her a present, she’ll just pluck at the wrapping paper; that’s about it. her situation hasn’t changed since last march.

- she’s 18 – i told my mom – and she’s not getting any better. if that were me, i don’t think i’d want to stick around. this is an argument for… whaddya call ‘em… those something wills.

- a living will.

- right. i mean, what’s the point?

- she’s still alive.

- but what constitutes “alive”? mom, she’s not like dr. fellows. there is NOTHING there that i can see. no brain activity, no responsiveness. steve says her state’s almost vegetative.

- so if that happened to someone you love, you wouldn’t take care of them?

my mom’s voice has gotten small and tight. we’re now talking about something completely different, and i am regretting those 2 glasses of shiraz. then again, would this conversation be any better completely sober?

- …. no, i’m not talking about caretaking. i’m talking about what i would want if i were in rose’s situation.

- well, how would we know what you wanted if you were rose?

- that.is.why.i.am.talking.about.living.wills.

jesus christ this should not be so difficult. we fucking stopped the machines on pete because we knew living in a wheelchair, in an unresponsive body, would be too cruel, against his wishes. we didn’t NEED a living will to understand this.

- but finn you don’t KNOW. you don’t know how rose’s family feels.

something is up,and it’s time to back down, to keep pete resting where he is.

- no, i don’t, no. and yeah maybe she’ll come back.

i’m unconvinced and my mom’s hackles are raised. i walked into the minefield of someone who’s taking care of a parent with alzheimers. i should have known better.

that lucky pig better work.


Anonymous said...

So we are now officially sisters separated at birth, because what you wrote is nearly word for word how that conversation would play out with my mother....

finn said...

well that kinda blows my theory that it's a mom thing, that your feelings change once you understand what it's like to be responsible for another human being.

we almost sound ... gasp... socially conservative!

Anonymous said...

So how's this for freaking weird-
My Aunt spent the last several years of her life in a wheel chair after an anuerysm left her impaired on the right side. She lost her speech and the use of her right hand. I always thought she had no quality of life at all, although it does seem she had more going on than someone in Rose's situation. To be honest, I do not have a living will, because if something happens to me that leaves my mother the decision maker there is no way she would honor my wishes. I have finally convinced her that I would want to be an organ donor, it took years to get her to agree to the concept.
So on the way home, I come to the stark realization that if something happened to my daughter, I'm not sure if I could let go... Am I a hypocrite, or just a nut job?

Anonymous said...

eeeech life is tough sometimes. stick with the pig.


finn said...

i dunno, kath. it's really easy to debate euthanasia in a disconnected abstract, but when it becomes personal it's a whole 'nother game. it's hard enough putting a dog down!! i can't imagine doing the same for a child, so i can understand your mom's reluctance to give away any part of you.

but, at the same time, we don't want to live like rose, and burden those consigned to care for us. hypocrites, nah. nutjobs, perhaps. :)

have a happy thanksgiving. here's a t-shirt to wear to the table.

Anonymous said...

I had to pass on the shirt, Dad claims to be a republican...