when my “stuff” is not together

Bloggers are supposed to have their “stuff” (or whatever word signifying one’s essential wherewithal) together.

Via Facebook, people, responding to a delightfully open-ended, non-directive question (What’s on your mind?), typically share with family and friends and cyber-kinships latest news, meditative musings, and flash, succinctly-expressed observations of life in this world. Not quite so with blog posts. There, often, writers pose a real-world problem or issue (something nearly universal; the sort of thing that sizable numbers of folk encounter), present a position, provide (putting their best proverbial feet forward) a rational perspective, and speak from a salient standpoint or newfound insight (sometimes so novel that one’s readers guffaw with a gladsome “Aha!”, a contemplative “Hmmm,” or if, when the viewpoint is not so fresh, innovative, or unique, then with an “OK, that’s not the worst or most insubstantial thing I’ve ever read”).

At least this is what I think bloggers are doing. And in this, we’re supposed to have our “stuff” together (or so I thought). Except when we…I don’t.

Today, I write because I need to write, to share, as much for myself as for anyone, my disquieting lack of clarity.

My mother, Lolita, her name (despite the readily instant association with the 1955 Vladimir Nabokov novel of the same title that scandalized my mother!), from the Spanish, meaning suffering (how sadly fitting), is a long-lived Alzheimer’s disease patient. First diagnosed in March 1996, her trek, to coin another literary phrase, though one dealing with different sets of maladies, though, too, one highlighting the often daily repetitious downward spirals of human living, in Eugene O’Neill’s words, has been a long day’s journey into night.

In mid-October, I enrolled my mother in hospice. The admissions officer was compassionate, listening sympathetically to my concerns, comforting me in my anguish, and competent, explaining with kindly attention and care the procedures and protocols.

Yesterday, at the end of a lengthy conversation with the hospice nurse – considering that the daily nutrients provided via my mother’s feeding apparatus were keeping her body alive and believing (truly, having known for quite the while) that she never would resume sentient consciousness, which would be her definition of “quality of life” – I inquired about removing the G(gastric)-tube. With so much to contemplate, the information-gathering consultation is scheduled for early next week.

Informing the owner and the primary caregiver of my mother’s assisted living residence, I was apprised of the latter’s strong objections to any action that would lead to the termination of my mother’s life. “I am a Christian,” she said, “and only God can give life and take life.”

Amid a swirl of conflicted thoughts and feelings, none accessorized with easy-to-operate instructions or ready resolutions, I, whose “stuff” is not together, ponder what is next. I, too, a Christian, pray for goodly, Godly guidance.

5 thoughts on “when my “stuff” is not together

  1. Oh, father Paul. This dear lady doesn’t realize that none of us has a corner on knowledge of God’s will, no matter how proudly we display the Christian sign, and that it is sometimes possible to stand in God’s way even while we think we’re doing the right thing. The sad thing is that your beloved mother is leaving. She has been leaving for a long time now. I will pray that God grant you peace in the midst of sorrow and a sweet appreciation for every good gift that has been named Lolita in your life.


    • Sandy, your words of prayer touches me in a deep, soul-deep place. I long for peace and I do appreciate with greatest gratitude the gift of my mother and the gift of life she has granted me. As for her primary care-giver’s beliefs, no, I do not agree with her views of God’s will or her “take” on Christian theology and ethical application, though I do think that I understand the ground on which she stands. Alas, as for standing in God’s way – indeed and in deed, doing the wrong thing for the right reason – yes, I believe I understand that, too. In all of it, as the poet saith, we/I have miles to go before I sleep. Again, my dear friend, I thank you


  2. Paul, for the record no one has their “stuff” together in a situation like this. One of the most difficult decision in our lives, is making decisions about our parents. Whether we are Christians or not, it is still a HARD thing with no clear cut right answer. As I’ve heard you say many times. I can see both sides in this situation.. BUT the end result will be the same. At some point in the Hospice process, you will still lose your mother, the woman who gave you life. I’m happy that you are taking the time you need for the decision, You will be getting great support from everyone who loves you, AND the information you need from Hospice. I know this is a decision you must make alone, but trust that everyone who has been in your shoes, and those who care for you, are praying for the Godly guidance that you seek. Take the time you need, and be good to yourself no matter what your decision.


  3. I’m shocked and sad that a caregiver can be so quick to judge. To oversimplify in the name of “being a Christian” is way out of line. Today after church, three of us were having a discussion about your situation, and we universally expressed concern for you and support for your decision. I hope you are blessed and upheld by God’s presence in these days ahead.


  4. Thank you, Anne, I do appreciate your care and support. I meet with my mother’s hospice care nurse and her social worker this afternoon. Although I disagree mightily with the theological and ethical viewpoint of my mother’s residential primary caregiver, I do understand the perspective. And, all told, the care my mother has been rendered is exemplary.


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