Thursday, May 24, 2012

- Pondering The Perfect End

When I was a kid, I worked in a nursing home for a stretch. It was a pretty good job for me given how limited my skills were at the time, and it didn’t pay so badly. Back then nursing homes were almost exclusively staffed by women, but they needed at least one man to help lift the heavier patients. So by working on the over night shift (we never called it the graveyard shift) I managed to make as much money as an LPN on days – even though I knew absolutely nothing of medicine, and precious little of anything else.

The place I worked was considered one of the very best private care facilities of its kind, but it was still a horrible and often humiliating experience for the patients there. And it was an interesting learning experience for me. I had already changed hundreds of diapers by the time my daughter was born, and had spent a considerable time dealing with people at their weakest and most vulnerable. Back then no one had ever heard of Alzheimer’s, and a broken hip so limited your mobility that it was a death sentence. Now the only downside to them is that you set off the metal detectors at the airport. My father in law has two.

It was the first time I had ever watched someone die as well. A woman was brought in unconscious, in obviously poor condition and wasn’t expected to live for very long. While making the rounds the next Saturday evening I and another staffer (a non nurse) happened to be there at her last moments. In fact, I was taking her pulse at the time. The girl who was with me over reacted badly, and went running terrified down the hallway screaming the news at the top of her lungs while looking for a nurse. This was greeted with looks of abject horror from the Boy Scout Christmas carolers and visiting family who were crowding the hallway. That was the girls’ last day by the way.

Anyway, John Derbyshire is waxing philosophical about the approach of the end, but his many fans should be carefully not to think too much of that. I saw him last weekend and he looked pretty good to me – certainly no closer to the end than when we met a few years ago. His chemo is finished and he was cheerful and in good spirits. If he was a little tired so too were we all. Sporting clays is more exhausting than it looks.

In the way of optimism, part of our discussions last weekend included plans for the future that extended years, which you don’t usually bother with if you don’t think you’ll be there to see them through.

I think it’s likely that he’s just being a little grim. Now that’s something that’s actually pretty easy to believe about him. It could just be the weather or something. Like Clemens, any reports of his demise are being greatly exaggerated. It’s just that this time it’s John doing the exaggerating.

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Just to waylay any concerns about the well being of our man Derb, here is John posing for a quick photo at our sporting Clays Shoot last Saturday. Pictured with him also are his son Danny, and Peter Griffin, animated star of the popular Fox TV series "Family Guy".

5 comments:

Chess said...

Tom....did your wife snap this pix of you at the jersey shore.?

Derbs is being human.You folks with children have so much to think about once you are confronted with your existence on this rock.I dont. I have it set up that 2 friends with 5 girls take my pie and divide it.Yep .All girls . Go figure.I am hoping its a gentle push forward in life with a few bucks in their pockets. I already know they are being raised conservative. So i figure with my demise I am driving a stake into the heart of liberalism..Those European man thongs are something else!!!

Tom said...

If you knew how closely that photo resembled my wife, you would surely be jealous.

Chess said...

Good for you....Speaking of endings...Can we flip Facebook over to the NYSE and do this all again????Jesus...No wonder grandma and pa have their money in a can in the cupboard.

frithguild said...

I have been a little reflective over the past few days, so I have been trying to repair my relationship with my family - my older sister first. So alot of that has to do with our relationship with my father, rest his soul.

I remember when my father was diagnosed with chronic lymphosytic leukemia. To me and so many around him he was like superman in many ways. A self made man of the 50's and a hard drinker ans smoker. He was 56 then. I remember the feeling of shock when I learded he had "cancer."

He never took care of himself the way you should. He drank and smoked until the end. He also went out golfing and never wore sunscreen, even though he was told that CLL sufferers are at a high risk for melanoma. That took him when he was 74.

He would have gone on much longer, if he managed his risks better. But he had a pretty good life even with CLL. His chemo was not that uncomfortable. He needed to undergo it when his white count was up. It became "no big deal."

I remember one visit when I sat in the kitchen with my older sister. Dad was drunk as usual and was in the hot tub a couple of hundred yards away. The we heard him laughing, really loud. He was just sitting there in the tub, all alone, with a Remy Martin and a cigarette. He was laughing at the world because he had everything he wanted.

Sometimes when you meet somebody and their family you don't know that you can give a little comfort.

Chess said...

Tom..... I have to have a little hope when i see the greenies and left rallying around Rosanne Barr and Larry Flint...for their crap bout S E Cupp.. I know you have mentioned ANN C. before. Any history on her from your standpoint.?.My mind is wandering on perfect endings and it has headed for how better the world would be without some of these beacons of liberalism..sorry.