I’ve had a variation of this conversation a few times. I meet someone and the topic of why I’m in Peoria comes up. I talk about the choices that my sisters and I have made to take care of my mother, to which the well meaning person I’m talking to says something like, “There will be a special reward for you in heaven.”
As an atheist, I’m really not sure how I should respond. Usually, I’m polite and nod and say nothing. Like I said, they mean well. It’s difficult to know what to say in that situation. I believe they are trying to say that I’m making a good choice by being here. They certainly don’t mean to say something awkward. Instead they wish to comfort me. They have no idea that I don’t share their belief in the afterlife or god.
I could respond by saying, “Well, I don’t believe there is a heaven. And even if there is one, I don’t believe in your god and therefore I won’t be in heaven to get my present. I’m choosing to do this because it’s the right thing to do.” However, I don’t say this because it would be a monumentally jerky thing to say given the circumstances. I think I’m already responding to it in the best way I can respond, by simply letting it slide. Still there is something about them saying it, and the underlying assumptions, that bothers me.
Continue reading “There is no reward in heaven”
I am not a private person. I like to talk about myself too much, not because my life is so fascinating, but because I have a compulsion to talk about whatever is currently on mind, no matter how mundane. If you give me the chance, I’ll bore you with details of my latest weight loss ideas, the electronic gadget I’m thinking about buying, what I just cooked for lunch or even what size underwear I bought at Wal-Mart.
Last summer I made a series of videos about such mundane aspects of my life as going to a movie or riding my bike. And it’s not like I’m able to spin it into some amazing anecdote. I’m sure if a random person comes across those videos, they will most likely watch it, shrug and say, “What was that?”
Sometimes I think I just never outgrew that stage in life when you come home from school and say, “Mommy, mommy, look at this picture I made at school!” as I hand over this pathetic still life made from shapes of colored paper, crayons and glue.
What’s most difficult about this now is that many of the details of my life revolve around illness and family. The details are mostly private and should be. Many of the things I do feel like sharing, should really be saved for personal conversations, not public postings on the web. But still I do want to share a few things. I can’t help myself.
Continue reading “Did I Really Need to Tell You That?”
Watching my mother slowly come apart has been a strange experience. First it was her speech. In the early stages, she was hesitant, sometimes using the wrong word to express something. She might answer a question with a yes or no, only to correct herself moments later with the right answer. Over time, her phrases became simpler and more direct and much less frequent. She still speaks, but the expectation is that she will eventually be mute.
Her emotional expressions have also been dulled by dementia. For instance, she doesn’t seem to express pain very often and you have to pay close attention to notice when she is upset or angry or happy. Eventually that too will go.
One thing that remains is her sense of humor. She loves to laugh, both at the things we do and at herself.
Continue reading “The Comedian with Aphasia”