Random Thoughts

I know I said I'd polish off the last two personality disorders this week, but I'm in Sacramento, which is not necessarily an impediment in and of itself, but I've been thinking a lot about the ephemeral nature of life and that's far more front and center than psychiatric diagnoses right now.

My own life will be changing soon since I plan to retire from my lengthy career in mental health; and my mother is terminally ill. She's had an incredible life. At 95, she has every right to fade out of life. Nonetheless, there's something about having a parent standing between you and the void. The inescapable message, once one's parents are gone, is that you'll be next. Or, more pertinently, I will be since it's not your mother who's dying.

In addition to life, I've been thinking about "stuff". Mom had lots of it. I know because I just got through clearing fifty years worth of accumulation out of her home. When I was done, it was just four walls and a roof and I was struck by how little it takes to dismantle someone's life. Oh, don't get me wrong. I worked like a mad thing for a couple of weeks. But, that's not very long, really, to dispose of a long life's worth of things. They won't do her any good in the nursing home. And, they assuredly wouldn't have been able to follow her to whatever comes next. So, in the final analysis, it's just "stuff". Once the dust settles, I think I'd like to clear out some of my own.

When we moved to Mammoth Lakes ten years ago, I did a pretty thorough job sorting since we paid the movers by the pound. But, it's amazing how much new "stuff" a couple of active adults can gather in a ten year span. We have a three thousand square foot house that's full. Oh, I suppose it could hold a tad more. But, why? As it is, I brought things back from Mom's house that probably should have gone to the Goodwill. And so it goes. I listened to Mom for years as she talked about how she should really clean out her closets. Well, she was right. She should have. At least then she'd have had some say about the disposition of everything. As things stand, she's way too demented to weigh in on much of anything.

Which brings me to another topic: modern medicine. We have increcible interventions. When I used to work for a Family Medicine residency training program, the standing black-humor joke was that we live in America where death has become optional. Well, that's not so far from the truth. Mom develops infections that could easily sweep her away, but the MDs keep bringing her back, despite the fact that she has advanced directives telling them not to. All I can do, since I'm so far away, is sit back and grind my teeth. I got into an incredible argument with one of the hospital intensivists a couple of months ago. After the perky little doctor insisted she could save Mom, I asked "What for?", following that up with, "She has no quality of life." Well, the MD didn't have an answer for me. But, she pulled Mom through anyway. In spite of me? Because of me? Hard to say . . .

Truth be told, I'd far prefer it if my mother was still hale and hearty. But, she's not. In fact, she's so miserable, it breaks my heart. We euthanize animals. Yet, we let people suffer. It makes little to no sense. Anyway, I'll get off my soapbox.

Today's blog was far more personal than usual. Promise I'll get back to business as usual next week.


  1. It's hard for me to get rid of "stuff" as well.

    Sorry to hear about your mom. My thoughts are with you.

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