There Is No Place Like Home

Can’t you just see Dorothy clicking her heels? There is no place like home. There is no place like home…

I’m sorry, that’s as funny as this post is going to get.

There is no place like home. Most people would agree with that. Some would even tell you there are places far worse than home. Those are the places we avoid, the places we fear. The places we sometimes absolutely refuse to abide… But sometimes we’re forced into such places.

As most know I recently returned from holiday and as everyone knows (or anyone that’s ever left home for more than 12 hours) things stack up.

I was sorting through an endless list of digital solicitations when I came across an article. This article was not a solicitation; it’s a magazine I actually subscribe to. The article was written back in November and titled Patients Have the Right to Choose Death From Bedsores by Art Caplan from the division of medical ethics at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.

(If you don’t subscribe to Medscape you can see most of it here or here)

I won’t bore you with the legalities or the medical jargon but the point made was this: a person’s right to die has far-reaching effects. That in itself is not anything new but the method in which the man chose to die was essentially unheard of.  The article did not delve into the gory details of dying by decubitus but more of how one person’s decision might affect those around them. Their right to die and how that right might disrupt the well-being of people indirectly related to them.

To die from bedsores – to choose to die from bedsores strikes me as a horrendous way of exiting this life yet I must respect that person’s right as much as I would anyone’s refusal of life-prolonging measures.

Much controversy and upheaval came about due to this man’s decision. He simply refused to be turned. The poor gentleman was cautioned regarding the onset and side effects of decubitus ulcers – essentially that pressure sores would develop, his flesh would rot, infection would set in and death would be slow, malodorous and uncomfortable to say the least. Being of sound mind he declared this his fate. You see the gentleman could no longer live in his own home after suffering a series of debilitating strokes and thus decided not to live at all.

The sad thing about his choice was not only how it affected him but everyone else in the hospital. For five weeks (that’s how long it took) it is said that the odor grew stronger as he grew weaker. The room in which he stayed was treated as isolation not due to contagions but to contain the stench as much as possible.

He had one daughter.

It is not my intention to judge or point fingers, this man was of sound mind, an opinion substantiated by professional reports. I don’t intend to weigh in on the family dynamics other than to express my sympathies. I’m not up for debating Kevorkian issues, to each his own and let your conscience be your guide. So what is this post about? I’m not really sure except to possibly bring light to the reality that our decisions reach far beyond the tips of our fingers and our own demise… and the fact that there is no place like home.

Crazy Conversations (Enumerating Kin)

Cotton, peas, your friends, your seat, your nose… There are a lot of things you can pick. Family isn’t one of them. Disclaimer: Life is crazy, people are crazier and my family… well they get the crazy award if there is one. This is a work of ‘true fiction’ inspired by family. The names have been changed to protect the guilty. CAUTION: They cuss.
Enumerating Kin

Cousin Bill: We need to get together more. Somebody ought to plan a family reunion before all of us are gone.

Sue: Yes, someone should take charge and do that, not that you would go – you haven’t gone to any of the other ones.

Cousin Bill: I didn’t know there were any other ones.Front Porch & Family Photos

Sue: You say the same thing every time.

Betty: Don’t get on his ass. You ain’t been to many of `em yourself missy!

Sue: I wasn’t getting on his ass. If I was getting on his ass he would know it, trust me.

Cousin Bill: It kinda felt like you were gettin’ on my ass. Matter of fact I think you left a mark.

Sue: Poor baby, you want Betty to kiss it and make it all better.

Betty: I’m not kissin’ his hairy old butt.

Cousin Bill: It ain’t hairy. It’s smooth as a baby’s bottom. You wanna see?

Betty: No thank you.

Sue: I do.

Betty: You’re sick in the head girl if you want to look at his rear-end.

Sue: You looked at it so I guess you’re sick in the head too.

Betty: My lookin’ was an accident. I turned my head as soon as I could but I gotta tell you I still have nightmares about it.

Cousin Bill: Would somebody just plan the damn reunion already!

Sue: Betty you’re the oldest why don’t you start a list of paternal relatives and we’ll go from there.

Betty: What is paternal?

Sue: From the father’s side.

Betty: Oh that’s easy. Let’s see… there is Aunt Lou and Uncle Delbert-

Sue: They are from mother’s side of the family and they passed away twelve years ago.

Betty: So you want just the live ones?

Sue: I think the dead ones might have a problem making it to a family reunion.

Cousin Bill: I imagine they’re having their own reunion in heaven. God rest their souls. Sue would you get me another beer?

Betty: I’ve seen dead people at reunions.

Sue: Just make the list Betty we don’t have time for your ghost stories.

Cousin Bill: Lord knows her stories do go on. We’ll all be at that heavenly reunion by the time she finishes.

Betty: Why does it have to be just Daddy’s side? That’s plum rude.

Sue: Let’s work on one thing at a time. We can make a maternal list later.

Betty: What’s maternal? Never mind, I know the answer.

Sue: Good.

Betty: But I don’t think there will be many people show up at a reunion for pregnant women.

Sue: Dadgum you’re sharp as a tack. So how many have you got on the list so far?

Betty: Ummm. What ever happened to Jim and all of those girls? And Jerry and his wife – none of them had any boys did they?

Cousin Bill: Nope. No males to carry on the family name. I reckon we’ll disappear from the annals of history.

Betty: Annals. Is that the same as anus?

Sue: That’s right Betty, it is. That is called a synonym. Don’t worry Bill I’m sure the county has an accurate record of you.

Betty: Well that makes sense now. Curtis is a history butt and he is always talking about annals.

Sue: So you’ve got Jim and Jerry’s clans. Who else?

Betty: You know they had three sisters and a couple of brothers that was stout enough to produce some male offspring. They each had at least five kids and most of `em was boys.

Cousin Bill: What does stout have to do with it?

Betty: A man’s seed has got to be strong to make a boy. Can’t have no little pecker either. Boy seeds are puny little swimmers; they have to be planted deep. Yep, you gotta park `em right on top of the ovary or they’ll never make it.

Cousin Bill: I think I’ll go get me a beer.

Betty: Did you know there are millions and millions of sperm released every time a man relieves his self.

Sue: When he urinates?

Betty: No dummy. Piss don’t have sperm in it. When he umm… you know… has an orgasm.

Sue: Why are you whispering? Orgasm is not a dirty word.

Betty: Well it sounds vulgar to me. It sounds like oral – makes me think of oral… you know. Come to think of it, that might be the reason Jerry and his wife never had any boys. And Jim too. Girl they was puttin’ it in the wrong hole!

Sue: Oh dear lord baby Jesus. You don’t really believe that do you?

Betty: Do you have a better theory?

Sue: No. No Betty I don’t. Let’s forget about the millions and millions of misplaced scrawny sperm for now. How many do you have on the list?

Betty: Two.