Monday, April 14, 2014

'They ought to just let her die'

Saturday was John’s bowling day, so Priscilla and I drove to Texarkana and got John from the group home and took him to the bowling lanes. Afterwards, we all drove back home. A Certified Nuerses Aide cared for Mrs. R. while we were gone.

After bowling, but while still inside the building, John walked up and shook hands with one of the volunteers who oversees the bowlers. Like John, all the other bowlers have learning disabilities. The four or five volunteers are parents of bowlers.

John shook hands with the volunteer and then turned and waved at me. He put out his hand. I shook his hand. Grinning, John said, “My momma lives in Little Rock.” I was surprised. I said, “I know, John. She lives in my house.” John pointed at Priscilla, who was talking with another volunteer. John said, “That’s my sister.”

I thought, “Oh my gosh. Is he going, too? We can’t handle him and Mrs. R.”

I said, “I know who she is, John. She and I have been married almost 42 years.”

John, still grinning, said, “That’s my big sister.”

“I know,” I said. “We’ve been living together more than 40 years.”

In the car and leaving Texarkana, John said something about “still growing.” Priscilla said, “John, you are not still growing. You are a grown man.” I told her what John had said in the building.

“Oh lord,” Priscilla said. “We can’t handle both of them.”

“No, we can’t.”

“We just can’t,” she said.

At lunch Sunday, Mrs. R. ate at the table, an unusual event lately because she usually has neither the strength nor inclination to sit up, even in her high-back wheel chair. She ate almost all her tuna casserole and green salad, also unusual lately.

John said, out of nowhere, “My daddy’s dead.”

Mrs. R. said, “No, John, your daddy is not dead. He’s somewhere else.”

Priscilla said, “We’ll talk about that later, John.”

She talked about it Sunday evening when we were almost at John’s group home. “John,” she said, “when Mother said Daddy was not dead, she was confused. Daddy is dead. You know that.”

“Yeah,” John said.

“She was just confused. Her mind isn’t working right.”

“Yeah. My momma’s sick.”

“Yes she is.”

“She’s gonna die.”

“Yes, she is,” Priscilla said. “But she’s not going to die today. She might die in a week or two weeks or a month. We just don’t know. But right now, she is confused.”

John said, “They ought to just let her die.”

As I have mentioned before, John is 57 years old physically and 5 or 6 mentally and emotionally. He saw his father die and his uncle and his aunt die. He sees the difference in his mother from four months ago and now. When he said “They ought to just let her die,” he might have been repeating what someone said 20 years ago when Mrs. R.’s mother suffered through dementia and finally died at 97; or, he might have been giving his own thought. The sincerity and frankness with which he said the words … I think it was his own thought.

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