My mother wants to know how her dog Penny is doing. At this moment the doctors are feeding her oxygen. She's had ten inches of her colon removed, has suffered a post-surgical stroke, and her resting heart rate sometimes reaches over 200 beats per minute. She is holed up a mere three miles from the Las Vegas strip. When last I saw here, she had countless tubes inserted into her veins. She's definitely being tortured for her own good I suppose. Such medical care is undignified at best. A one-way trip to the pound for our pets is a better deal.
"We know you are suffering," we tell our pets. "We know you don't understand, and your chances for recovery are nil." We cry, maybe we even purchase an urn with "Fido" on it. A moment of fear-- a quick injection, and we weep.
Think it's better to fight the good fight? Medical care provides us miracles? Trust me on this. Better to go out like James Dean or Elvis on the toilet than the torture involved with being near 80 and recovering from years of self-induced bodily abuse and surgical miracles.
Think you can beat the odds of a torturous death by being the absolute ruler of more than half-a-billion souls? Stalin died without medical care because his underlings were afraid to act when he'd suffered a stroke. They didn't want to be murdered for doing the wrong thing.
Et tu, Brute?
Think your faith will save you from an ignoble end, whether that faith is religious or otherwise? Maybe being crucified upside down or burned at the stake rings a bell. Trotsky was dispatched with an axe.
Is it more humane to put us off onto an iceberg to make peace with our God and fall asleep? Should we all opt for a trip to the pound to be made into Soylent Green?
I'm trying to understand all this. My mother was always the prettiest mom around when I was a kid. I didn't know anything was odd about my upbringing. I thought every kid's mom taught them to play blackjack in first grade. I thought every mom drove a Corvette or a pink T-Bird. Wouldn't every mom who got mad at her husband throw a rock through his car window?
Penny is all right by the way. My sister has her. My sister too, despite being a woman of great ability, aptitude, and patience is kind of lost about our mom's illness.
We don't feel we're getting an idea of the odds of recovery. Oh, yeah-- this is Vegas. What's the odds of her making it? Is it like rolling a ten before crapping out? Like double-zero on the roulette wheel? What's a better bet-- is it that you'll come off the slots ahead after a wild Vegas weekend or that my mom's gonna make it? Maybe the slogan of "What goes on in Vegas, stays in Vegas" isn't such a cool thing. I don't want to go in Vegas. Don't die in Vegas. Leave it.
Being human is a burden-- as is being humane.
I don't know the morale of this story. I don't know if there is one. I'm wandering about kind of lost right now. I know, for good or bad, that my mother was this unbelievable life force. She could as often be unreasonable and petty as kind. She regretted nothing I think, and yet spent some considerable time trying to make up for what she put her children through. She's borderline type-2 diabetic, missing a considerable portion of her colon, lost mobility even before the stroke, can't swallow, and is going to be fed with a tube. Yet I truly believe if you had told her all this 50 years ago, it wouldn't have changed her a bit. She'd have been travelling with her big gulp glass full of vodka and downing nary a vegetable no matter what. I expect she thought she'd die riding a motorcycle.
Penny is all right mom, and she misses you.