Girls Will Talk...
Me and my friends, sitting on the beach, sucking up the sun... ahhhhh...feels the same today, as it did 40 years ago. Sort of...
Some of the most important life lessons I’ve learned have come from girl-talk on the beach... it’s been my go-to ever since I can remember. Back in the day, we’d meet at “the third light” of our local causeway, hang out all day, bubble in baby oil and talk about boys, sex, makeup, hating our parents, and where the evening action would be. In short, we’d grow up together. It was all important stuff, but in an age-appropriate, self-serving, self-centered kind of way. These important conversations helped me navigate the murkiness of life that always seemed to smack me right in the face.
Fast forward 40 years, and the topics are the same, but the “take” on them is entirely different. Beaching in our teens, we pondered the how-tos and what-ifs of sex. These days we talk about whether we’re having it, and why or why not...Instead of makeup, we talk about the pros and cons of Botox and weather waxing facial hair is really necessary. Discussions about upcoming evening action, are replaced with sharing what time we plan to “hit the sack.” And, we don’t talk about hating our parents (typically), but rather - of caring for, and helping them in their senior years.
This is the 5th year me and my girlfriends (the 3 Musketeers) have es-CAPE-d our regular lives, and jammed our umbrellas in the sand. These ladies are relatively “new friends,” only seven years in the making, but they come at a hugely important time in my life – the caretaking years. Not to be confused with the pre-teen or college coed or yummy mummy years, the caretaking years are the big ones. Talk about uncharted waters... if there was ever a time I needed my girlfriends to weigh-in, it’s now.
Yesterday, on the way to the beach, my friend got a call from her sister regarding their 95 year old father. He’s in the middle of transitioning from independent living to assisted living... maybe. It seems her dad had a minor heart attack, which raised some important questions. My friend asked her brother ... “So, how does a DNR (do not rescusitate) directive work in a situation like this? If he’s ‘stroking out’ (another new term for me), and it seems like it might just be a small attack, do we still help him with CPR efforts? Or not?”
WHAT!? My head started spinning with all the ways I could muck up the end of my own 91 year old mother’s life. As her health care proxy, I know I may be called upon to help make this kind of decision at some point, but I never thought about the possibility that she could actually be LOOKING AT ME while I make it! This is a whole new level of “caring for” that I really need to think about.... Do I ask her what she’d like me to do if that situation arises? Do I dial 911 and let them make the decision? Do I dillydally and anticipate that the decision will be made FOR us? No...I am definitely not qualified to handle this stuff.
Then, I started considering other possible end-of-life questions that might arise... What happens if Mom dies in her sleep on a Friday night, and the funeral home doesn’t open until Monday? Does she stay on the couch? Do I do something for her? ... TO her? What happens if I only think she’s dead, and she wakes up on the way to the hospital? (she’s a very deep sleeper...) What happens if Mom is completely coherent, but completely near death, and completely refuses to “let go”? Are there mystical words I could speak that might move her along?
I’m just not sure... not sure how to handle all these things that may never happen. But maybe I don’t need to have all the answers now... Maybe I don’t need to have all the answers ever... Maybe I just don’t need to know. I’m banking on the latter, but just in case – I can always turn to my girlfriends for input. After all, they’ve been to this beach before, and they know the best way to jam those umbrellas into the sand.