Photo by Ashham M on Unsplash
  1. Maddening moments will prevail and continue in direct proportion to your comfort level with your future death. You will personalize the situation and then feel guilty as you recognize none of the sitting and listening to someone breathe for hours is about you.
  2. Nurses are heroes for showing up, again and again. They smile, soothe, quietly measure and stop the constant beeping. They know how to treat someone both like an adult and a child when needed without embarrassing or insulting them.
  3. If you do not do everything you can to help yourself when hospitalized, you will slowly erode the respect you have from those who are there to help you. The damage to your self-respect will delay your recovery as you become increasingly victimized by your overall physical state, which will debilitate your mental state becoming your next most significant challenge.
  4. Fantasies and hallucinations are different from diminished mental capacity, and it’s useful to identify the difference if possible. When its suggested birds are pecking at someone’s head, or a nurse is mistaken for a dog, the chances are high that’s a hallucination or a fantasy.
  5. There are currently no simple solutions for elderly long-term assisted care. They are all a mix of Motel Six, college dormitory rooms and hospital sights, scares, smells and sounds.
  6. Know that you may reach a point where it will be too late to rescue your relationships with others. You can not possibly cram in all of the missed conversations that needed to have taken place years prior. You will realize the mistakes did matter, the birthday cards sent are like yellowed grout around the bathroom tile. In the beginning, they showcased the regular, gleaming square rhythms of life, but now you see they too cracked from the constant run-off, as life rained down.
  7. Things that should not be funny will be humorous, and it will be entirely acceptable to find them hilarious. It’s not cruel; it’s coping. You will feel turned inside out, breathless by the inevitability of death — the constant itching of life, forced to reflect on your own haphazard choices. No matter how prepared or diligent you believe you have been, you realize you will never be good enough, and you realize your economy plus dreams of life will be as good as it gets, and that will have to be good enough in the end.
  8. You will see people naked that you would have previously never seen without pantyhose and hairspray, let alone without panties. You will happily rub their feet, their hands and brush their hair. You will recognize small vanity measures win over sound nutrition. A little red lipstick matters more in the short run than a few more green beans.
  9. You will feed them while encouraging them to use their fork realizing unlike teaching your toddler how to hold a utensil; this is not a developmental milestone. You’re not sure if its laziness, stubbornness or true motor skill regression but you decide to play along and keep feeding them because you love them. And, on some level, you admire their possible manipulation of the situation.
  10. Every once in a while when your Aunt thinks no one is watching her, you will catch her eye and see a twinkle as though she’s in on a big, NSFC (not-safe-for-church) joke. When you make eye contact, she will perse her Revlon red lips and ask you when the Jell-O is coming. You both will know this is her way of saying she’s glad you’re there.

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