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Worldwide Ace » Sublimating into Senility

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Sublimating into Senility

28 November, 2005 (21:48) | Growing Up

To put it simply, I have a strong distaste for my mom’s parents. My grandmother is an ignorant bigot and my grandfather is a forceful and stubborn republican. I’ve been instructed not to discuss anything controversial in their presence. Despite this, I sometimes have the urge to come out of the closet to them, despite not being gay. If I feel real randy, I imagine showing them a picture of me and my imaginary butch black boyfriend. Unfortunately, I have something which trumps my distaste: pity.

In the last two years, my grandmother’s health has deteriorated faster than a meteor passing through the atmosphere. She’s had colon cancer, broken her hip, lost any ability to keep from randomly bruising and bleeding, and lost her mind (though she appears to have found part of it). She now uses a walker, doesn’t read (because it takes too much effort), and can’t go up and down stairs. My grandfather has to assist her with cutting food and many other tasks that marked her independence. Without much choice, she’s accepted the decline of her health for the most part.

My grandfather, who sat on me when I was 9 for crying, has suddenly gone from a cantankerous old man who rules anything in his domain (which happens to be anywhere in his local vicinity at all times) to a surprisingly gentle and caring man. It’s a little bit of a culture shock for me, but it’s nice to know he’s human after all. Where he once would yell at my grandmother and “put her in her place,” he now encourages her and attempts to lift her spirit and take care of her.

Tonight, as my mom is flying back to Boston tomorrow, the four of us went to the Outback Steakhouse for dinner. My grandfather verbally slapped our waiter around before ordering, giving him clear and demeaning instruction on how he wanted the meal served. The waiter took this in stride and performed admirably to my grandfathers wishes. When the food came, my grandmother yelled at all of us to leave her alone and stop watching her eat, despite the fact that none of us were. I think the best thing I can say about the meal was that the food was very good (though they undercooked my first steak since 8th grade).

As I finished my plate, my grandfather took a sip of water and then immediately began throwing up on his plate. It was only a little bit, but my mom started freaking out. Apparently, he got some of his food caught in his throat, but was fine after a moment or two. It’s obvious how much strength he’s lost in the wake of my grandmother’s slow decay.

At the end of the meal, my grandmother nodded off as she’s prone to do. She slowly toppled over until her head was resting against the wall. When we woke her to leave, she attempted to take off her shirt so she could put on her night gown. She couldn’t understand why we were going outside. I don’t think she even realized we were at a restaurant.

These are the marks of senility. This the evidence that my grandparents are slowly fading into nothingness. Despite my distaste for their opinions and personalities, I don’t enjoy watching it. It scares me. I certainly wouldn’t wish this on anyone, though it could be far worse. I know I will watch my parents age as well, and then I’ll watch my friends do the same, and all the while, I’ll be marching towards a similar fate.

Yet it’s not old age that bothers me. Up until a few years ago, my grandfather skied regularly as a member of the Over the Hill Gang, a group of 65 and older skiers. They were vibrant and spending time on the slopes with them challenged me. I still didn’t like my grandfather, but he’s family. I’ve seen old men do many things, more often than not with dignity. That’s old age. What I’m seeing shouldn’t be.

Old age is badge of honor that should be worn with pride. It’s an indication of a life lived, time served, and an end to a remarkable journey. It shouldn’t be painful or drawn out. It shouldn’t cause harm to those around. It shouldn’t drive spectators to look away.

Some day, we’ll all die. That’s fine by me. I just wish there was some way I could make sure it didn’t happen like this.

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  • There’s always the Hunter S Thompson method of making sure you don’t grow old and frail. Not sure I would recommend it.

  • There’s always the Hunter S Thompson method of making sure you don’t grow old and frail. Not sure I would recommend it.

  • I’m torn on suicide.

    I’m pro-Kevorkian (assisted suicide in cases of severe pain and slow death) and anti-Cobain. I think there are good ways to commit suicide (drugs induced) and bad ways (most everything else). If it’s messy or painful for my loved ones, I couldn’t do it.

    Regardless, suicide is a long way off for me. And I’m more likely to die of cancer or heart disease before I reach the proper time for suicide.

  • I’m torn on suicide.

    I’m pro-Kevorkian (assisted suicide in cases of severe pain and slow death) and anti-Cobain. I think there are good ways to commit suicide (drugs induced) and bad ways (most everything else). If it’s messy or painful for my loved ones, I couldn’t do it.

    Regardless, suicide is a long way off for me. And I’m more likely to die of cancer or heart disease before I reach the proper time for suicide.

  • this is hard, i’m sorry. this is the second post on my friends page that made me tear up. i’m scared to death of senility. part of why i’m interested in nursing is learning how to prevent things like this. you have my sympathy.

  • this is hard, i’m sorry. this is the second post on my friends page that made me tear up. i’m scared to death of senility. part of why i’m interested in nursing is learning how to prevent things like this. you have my sympathy.

  • amen

  • amen

  • Thanks.

  • Thanks.

  • I don’t like my mothers family either. At all.

  • I don’t like my mothers family either. At all.

  • My great grandfather died a couple of years ago… he was in his 90’s, and he’d been senile for almost as long as I’d known him, but he got so bad in the last couple of years. Your grandmother is lucky that she has your grandfather to take care of her when she can’t do something, though. A lot of people aren’t so lucky.

  • My great grandfather died a couple of years ago… he was in his 90’s, and he’d been senile for almost as long as I’d known him, but he got so bad in the last couple of years. Your grandmother is lucky that she has your grandfather to take care of her when she can’t do something, though. A lot of people aren’t so lucky.

  • Yeah. I’ve been really impressed by his personality change. My mom always said if my grandfather died first, my grandmother would die because of it.

  • Yeah. I’ve been really impressed by his personality change. My mom always said if my grandfather died first, my grandmother would die because of it.

  • Maybe by the time we’re their age, we’ll get to pick how we want to die?

    My toes are cold.

    And my fingers.

  • Maybe by the time we’re their age, we’ll get to pick how we want to die?

    My toes are cold.

    And my fingers.

  • Perhaps. I always envisioned myself dying in some very specific ways… like getting shot in the back… or getting stabbed in the back… or getting hit by a train… in the back… most of the time I just don’t see it coming.

    Go someplace warm and full of love, like Trump Towers.

  • Perhaps. I always envisioned myself dying in some very specific ways… like getting shot in the back… or getting stabbed in the back… or getting hit by a train… in the back… most of the time I just don’t see it coming.

    Go someplace warm and full of love, like Trump Towers.