FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

I’m Seeing Dead Children

by MISSY BEATTIE

Early in the day, I made another commitment to meditation. I sat for 21 looooonnng minutes, my head littered with stray thoughts and redirects.

Mid-afternoon, WidowRica called to talk me into a movie—“Amour.” “While most of Baltimore preps for the Ravens, let’s go to The Charles.” Told me M said the film’s about cohousing.

I’d read a review. Knew it was a story of devotional love. The husband, Georges, becomes caregiver to his increasingly dependent wife Anne after she endures a stroke, surgery, another stroke, indignity, dementia, and more indignity.

But cohousing?

Insert: Some months ago, I accompanied WidowRica and two of her friends to locations in downtown Baltimore. We looked at property for the construction of an intentional community, owned and designed by the residents, where each of us would have private space, share a communal kitchen, other planned areas, have company when we wanted and solitude when we didn’t—caring for each other during good health, bad, the ugly, all the way.

And the movie, well, it’s intense. Poignant. Painful. Excruciating. Real. Emmanuelle Riva brilliantly portrays Anne, the wife so cruelly assaulted by illness. I was jarred by her resemblance to my mother who died in 2011—the facial features, hair color and style, the wit and intelligence. Well, the wit and intelligence of Anne before multiple strokes.

Laura, Erma, and I (The Sisterhood) were at Mother’s side during her nine dying days when she refused food. She was snappy (“I guess breakfast is out of the question.”) through day six. Hospice came.

I thought too of my father. The transient ischemic attacks. A stroke. Another. Anne’s condition and the level of care required after her first stroke reminded me of him.  Unsteady, wobbly, he must’ve hated hearing, “Get your balance,” each time he struggled to stand. He fell and broke his hip in May of 2008, a few days before my husband died. Seven months later, my father had another stroke at the breakfast table. Laura, Erma, and I somehow moved him from the wheelchair to his bed. He was conversational, lucid, unlike Anne, who became demented. Then a third stroke affected his swallowing. Hospice came.

Of course, I thought of the months I was my husband’s caregiver—the small hopes and a surgical procedure that could have been a cure but wasn’t. No hope.

So, there was all that. The memories. Connections. My parents. My husband. The caregiving. The isolation. The horror, the diminishment, the downward spiral to helplessness.

My parent’s words, “Old age is a calamity.”

I saw an elderly neighbor and spoke with her briefly before the movie began. Later, she said, “We need better choices at end of life.”

“Final Exit Network,” I said.

WidowRica was seated beside me. WidowRica who’s been mourning four years, now. WidowRica (aka Sparkin’ Light) with her smile and joie de vivre. WidowRica whose widowy adventures, quests to feel alive, are similar to mine. WidowRica believes, as I do, that if she dies tonight of a massive coronary, FINE.

And, yes, I could see M’s “about cohousing.” Unlike Georges and Anne, those of us living this particular nexus would be among caring friends, lessening the burden for spouses, partners, our children—distributing it, really.

I just don’t want anyone to bear my weight.

My sons understand. The when. Before indignities define my life.

I drove home, preoccupied, chest pounding. Missed both exits near the Kingdom. This wasn’t a negative—the extra miles. I stared at the night sky and began to relax.

A piano passage danced softly. And then a radio voice interrupted with: “The Happiness Movement” and “World Database of Happiness.” I shook my head, as if to clear an aisle or two. How can any of us be happy when children are being droned?

I’d shifted from the brutality of devastating disease and old age to drones.

At home, I typed “The Happiness Movement” and “World Database of Happiness” into a search, finding several sites. One took me to “Politics,” where I saw a clickable “Peace.” Soon I was on another web address, reading, “The world has become more peaceful for the first time since 2009…” This was written in 2012. But it’s February of 2013, and I’m seeing dead children.

This day is an article. This article is a day. These words are as littered as I was when I sat, trying to quiet my mind. As littered as I was when I sat in the theater, littered with the past, littered with all the uncertainties of the future, choices, medical events that might make decisions less controllable or beyond any control, and littered with images of my parents, my husband, drones. All this as I drove, stared at the sky, came home, looked at the sites, clicking on highlighted words, leading to peace. Linking to peace. As if it ever could be that easy.

Missy Beattie lives in Baltimore. Email: missybeat@gmail.com  

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewal of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
Mark Weisbrot
Castro Was Right About US Policy in Latin America
David Swanson
New Rogue Anti-Russia Committee Created in “Intelligence” Act
George Ochenski
Forests of the Future: Local or National Control?
December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail