A Place for Mom

Now, let’s get some stuff out of the way.

I love jumping out of airplanes.

That said, I admit that, while the plane is going up, I tend to find spots of fear in my belly, and they must be addressed with Step 10 and gotten rid of. But then I jump out of the plane and I have a great time all the way down!

I ski double-black diamond runs, I go to the dentist with no trepidation, I enjoy rock climbing and riding my road bike down steep mountain highways. I have what my financial advisor calls “high risk tolerance”. I can watch most any scary movie with insouciance.

But there’s one thing that terrifies me to my core.


I started seeing ads for “A Place for Mom” during the latter part of this past football season. (I only see commercials during football season, because I only see TV during football season). And the first time I saw one, it struck me way down deep.

I followed up quickly with prayers and affirmations, but the next time I saw one – BAM! terrified again.

Ethel and I are getting older (I might have mentioned that I turned 60 this month). And, most likely, I’ll die first, based purely on genetics.

But, were something to happen to her, I might wind up in “A Place for Mom”. (The companion fear is that after I pass away, she might wind up in “A Place For Mom”. I’ve told her that we should move to Alabama so that she’ll be near family, but she won’t do it. So I can’t do anything about that).

And the idea of being in an old folks’ home chills me to the bone.

Infirm, immobile, in pain – smelly, poorly groomed, in pajamas. Eating steamed cauliflower and prunes. Being in a wheelchair. Not remembering what happened this morning. Being alone.

Now, it’s possible that, since I’m a pretty darn active member of Alcoholics Anonymous, that I might get daily rides to meetings by generous, compassionate folks who want to keep the oldtimers around, if for no other reason than that we’re supposed to be wise. But, then, again, I tend to emulate the Circuit Riding Preacher, who has come “to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable” – and so maybe nobody will WANT me at meetings when I’m too old to get there myself. “Curmudgeon” comes with a price.

So there I’ll sit, forgotten, feeble, and forlorn, either incontinent or constipated.

I reckon the only way that I can be sure of avoiding such a fate is to be MORE reckless – ski off cliffs. Bigger cliffs. Climbing more dangerous routes – maybe freeclimbing them. Open water swimming through waterskiing areas. ANYTHING to keep myself out of “A Place for Mom”.

(N.B. – it’s actually very difficult to make skydiving actually DANGEROUS. They’ve got safeguards built into those things now, such that they will fire the reserve chute at 1500 feet above ground, even if one forgets. I’d have to actually sabotage the mechanics of the chute for that to be really dangerous, and that moves over from “reckless abandonment” to “suicide”, which He probably wouldn’t approve of).

Or I could, possibly, work the Steps and get free of the fear. I mean, if that sort of thing worked.

Better to work ’em now, than to try to work ’em in “A Place for Mom”, by which time I might be forgetting which Step follows which.

  1. Donna M Rode said:

    Hi Jim, It was interesting reading this blog entry today. Especially about your fear of ending up infirm, etc. That was Bil’s nightmare as well…that, or hooked up with tubes and IVs in a hospital keeping him alive artificially. Well…he won’t have to worry about that. Some time between the evening of Saturday January 12th and Sunday morning January 13th, my Bil had a sudden, unexpected heart attack and died. He was 65 years, 11 months, and 4 days old. He was just finishing up working at his job in Bellingham so he was in his apartment up there. in 2.5 months, we were moving him back down here to St George. But now he’s gone. I fully and completely get your fear. It’s mine too. Go, live your life, have fun, love your Kim. Hugs!

    • Donna –

      My goodness; I had no idea 😦

      I’m very sorry to hear that he passed away – and so close to a time of reuniting! …but I’m sure that I speak for many when I say that that’s the way that I would prefer to go.

      You’re in our prayers!

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