Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ethics or the Lack Thereof...

This article by a revered, yet batty, ethicist with the goofy la-dee-da name of Baroness Warnock, suggests old people suffering from dementia should be put down. Wow. That’s kind of icky. I would like to suggest old people suffering from dementia can be looked at in a different light.
I remember when my daughter was five or six, she loved Madonna. I was a nervous wreck about this because Madonna was really NOT the kind of person I wanted her to emulate. In fact, I was concerned that by letting her listen to her little Madonna tape (a birthday gift from her friend who also loved Madonna) I could possibly be accused of neglecting my parental duties. Yikes.
One day, as we were driving along and listening to FM 99.5, Pop Rock, Material Girl started to play. I observed my sweet little cherub mouthing the words “Living in a material world...” and started to panic. I asked her, “Hey, why do you like Madonna?”
“Oh, cuz, she’s just like you, Mommy.”
“Like ME? How is she like me? What do you think this song MEANS?” Full blown panic. I was examining my unexamined life right there, on the way to the grocery store. I was doing a warp speed brain scan. I didn’t own any jewelry to speak of. Our T.V. was smallish and really irritating by modern standards. We only had two bedrooms and one bath. My car was ten years old. No. I didn’t scream materialism.
“How is she like me, honey?” I asked this in a high, squeaky voice.
“She’s a material girl, just like you and me. She buys material and makes clothes. Like you.”
Kids do say the darnedest things. As a matter of fact, so do dear little, slightly confused (medical term dementia) old people.
During our trip to drop our daughter off at college (who, by the way, is now completely over Madonna), my sweet little mother who is 80 and sometimes very confused, was asked how old she was. I think she had dropped some unusual verbal clues in a conversation she was having with the father of another student. For some reason, he felt compelled to ask how old she was.
“Oh, I’m 69.” I was busy dragging things out of the back of the van, half listening, This statement caused me to stop what I was doing and I found the father looked at me oddly.
“No, mom, you are 80.”
“80? No, I’m 59.”
“No, really, mom - you are 80.”
“I’m 89?”
“No, 80.”
“Are you sure? I feel 69.”
This exchange is every bit as priceless as the one I had with my five year old. It was worth having. She was so engaged and darling. I could tell the father of the other student thought she was charming. He patted her hand and agreed feeling your age is every bit as important as being your age. My mother smiled and waved her hand cavalierly over her shoulder. But if the Baroness has her way, my mother should be put down. For the good of society. To relieve the stress on the healthcare system. There really should be a line drawn. A line that means, “past this point, there are things we just won’t say.” Baroness Warnock crossed the line. There are some stresses medicine will just have to deal with.



Words to Live By

" desiring what is perfectly good, even when we don't quite know what it is and cannot do what we would, we are part of the divine power against evil - widening the skirts of light and making the struggle with darkness narrower."

Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) Middlemarch

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