It’s funny, the things that make us laugh and the things that make us cry. Funnier still is the line between the two, because that is even finer.
I live half a country away from my family. My mother, who is 90, is in long term care. She doesn’t know us. In fact, she doesn’t know who she is or where she is, that’s how far gone dementia has taken her. My father, also 90, is of sound mind, very sound mind. He lives independently in a seniors apartment complex. My sister manages their care, and has for some years after I moved away.
We talk regularly, about our children, the weather, our parents, although that subject is often filled with emotion. It’s hard to watch your parents age, harder still to watch them become ‘dependent’ on us when we spent a lifetime dependent on them. So suffice it to say our conversations about family can be sad.
Yesterday my sister and I spoke, as we do weekly. Our father required minor surgery these past few days and given his age, we were understandably concerned. As it turned out he is fine. Surgery went well and he is recovering but until we got this news we were, naturally, worried.
During this time my sister expressed concerns around my mothers care. The nursing home have advised she can no longer walk (she already lost her speech) and they need to arrange for a wheelchair. No problem, we are prepared for such costs. We were surprised however, to find out wheelchairs are always custom made. Who knew? Apparently there’s a whole process around obtaining a wheelchair and a hierarchy of approvals that would rival political office.
After all is said and done her wheelchair could well take 6-8 months to obtain. In the interim she’s using a ‘loaner’. Now, given her age, we wondered if it wasn’t more practical to simply keep the ‘loaner’, after all, if she manages in it for more than half a year by the time her custom chair arrives, how bad can it be? Oddly enough, they also advise she needs running shoes, with good rubber tread. Ok, now they just said she can’t walk. Why on earth would she need running shoes, especially with good tread? Where’s she going to run? No matter. My sister approved the cost of the wheelchair and bought the shoes. Who are we to argue? We had a good laugh over the absurdity of it all and then turned to other matters, primarily the ‘what if’s’. We’ve never encountered a death in our immediate family (Hard to believe, I know)
We started talking about what would happen if our mother should pass during Covid and my sister, the only local contact, questioned how things would proceed. I mean, I guess my mothers body would be sent to a morgue? Then I expect we’d be contacted about which funeral home to go to? Then we stressed over the funeral….how would that happen? My mother is to be cremated, we know that, but my sister wondered how we’d get the ashes and manage a burial. Then, out of nowhere, she said out loud, “I wonder if they do curbside pickup?”….and I lost it!
Then we both lost it (shows you what stress can do) and we laughed,,,,and we laughed,,,,and we laughed. (Ok, I even took the phone into the bathroom so I could pee I was laughing so hard) And then, quite out of nowhere we cried. Just goes to show you how fine the line is between joy and sadness. I realized then, many things.
Life is full of upheavals. Some are grand. Some not so much. But the true emotion of a situation will come at you out of nowhere. If you had told me a joke about curbside pick up for human remains I would have been shocked at the insensitivity but here I was enjoying that very joke, not at the expense of my mother, rather, at the relief of my soul. I guess our stresses build up, unnoticeably, and they release when least expected.
We still stress over losing our parents, and the ‘how’ of it during a global pandemic remains an issue, but we still talk about it, and yes, sometimes we joke about it, because our souls need the outlet. It’s been a long road, not always easy, and when the going gets tough, we’ll be there for them, together. Until then, we do what we need to keep sane, and happy. So sometimes we laugh…..because we know that eventually we will cry,…. and life is all about balance.