We care about many things in this holy land.
We are a diverse group of some 320 million souls, passionately concerned with things like guns, football, which movie had the highest box office figures this past weekend, whatever Kanye West has to say, the Kardashians, and those idiots who sell duck calls.
Oh, we care, deeply, loudly, and, often as not, irrationally.
One thing we don’t care much about is what happens to our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, husbands and wives, and any others who’ve had the poor foresight to grow old.
And the funny thing is, we’re all headed, inexorably, toward that moment when we are unable to lift ourselves out of bed, unable to recognize our children, unsure of what day, month or year this is, incapable of contributing to and participating in this competitive, free market world.
That is, unless we’re lucky enough to go to sleep one night and fail to wake up in the morning. Many people consider that a tragedy. But it pales compared to watching a human being waste away as one health care facility after another says, Hey kids, you’ve gotta move your mother now! Her insurance is running out. Her bank balance is approaching zero.
My mother, for one, won’t ever vote again, so no politician really cares about her. She won’t ever be able to contribute money to any lobbying groups or professional associations or advocacy organizations, so no one with any clout will speak up for her.
She’s superfluous. A drain on society. A taker.
And many of us loathe takers. So many, in fact, that we’ve elected to Congress a whole raft of men and women whose whole purpose as public servants, it seems, is to protect the rest of us from takers.
They’ll be damned if they’re going to spend our precious tax dollars on all those takers.
So rather than provide reasonable, comfortable, resting spots for our fellow aged human beings, rather than financing dignified send-offs for those preparing to take that mandatory plunge into heaven or hell or the chilling nothingness, we instead give them…, well, nothing.
Because we don’t care.
A friend of mine comes from the Netherlands. Her parents were elderly and sick. They were in pain with no hope to ever lead productive, fulfilling lives again. So, in their homeland, they were given the option of convening all their friends and loved ones for a big going-away party where they could say goodbye and tell everybody how much they loved them. People ate and drank, there were laughter and tears, embraces, and closure. Then each of the parents was given an injection and within moments, was dead.
What a way to go.
We don’t do that here because we care about something called the sanctity of life. I wouldn’t argue with those who espouse that, only every time I see my mother, I pass roomsful of people lying in their own shit, their eyes aflame with dementia, their sleep disturbed by three or four other hapless souls down the hall wailing like banshees, their rooms flooded with harsh, fluorescent lighting, their arms pierced with needles, and tubes coming out of their urethras so that the janitorial staff won’t have to spend all day mopping up piss. I’m not seeing much sanctity when I go see Ma.
The closest things come to that is when Ma stirs out of her private misery long enough beg her god to take her, now.
I’d love to throw Ma a going-away party, the way they do it in the Netherlands. I’d do it because I don’t care about any “sanctity of life.” I care about Ma.