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Monday, November 24, 2014
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Published: Monday, 3/19/2007

You Can Keep The Walker, But I'll Take The Apartment.

MONDAY

8 AM

(Just had to throw this in at the top of today's earlier post, which is just below this short squib).

I've written about it recently. Chris Borrelli has written about it recently.

But, really, there's nothing quite like having Toledo-born P. J. O'Rourke himself read you an excerpt of his essay about growing up here. Or, as the blurb for NPR's "Morning Edition" put it (emphasis mine):

Journalist P. J. O'Rourke says it's good to be from nowhere... like Toldeo, Ohio.

Deep sigh....

Anyway, P. J.'s essay is part of a recently published book, "Good Roots: Writers Reflect on Growing Up in Ohio." But in his case, the subtitle's too short. It should be: "Writers Reflect on Growing Up in Ohio, And Express (Directly and Indirectly) Considerable Relief At Having Left."

Deeper sigh....

Oh, if only I, too, could have grown up to be so cahz-mow-PAHL-itan. (Note my intact nasal Midwestern accent. Then, when you listen to P. J., please note that his accent now sounds more like, well, Madonna's.)

But don't take my word for it. Listen for yourself.

6 AM

Youth is wasted on the young, right?

Hey, it goes both ways, pal. As in: Assisted living is wasted on the old.

OK, not wasted, exactly. Old people need a little extra help sometimes, sure. But middle-aged people in the prime of their lives need some, too.

My recent post on the glut of those mini-warehouse storage units that blight our landscape got me thinking again about my mom s time in assisted living.

Although she ended up really liking her new digs (I nearly fell of the couch the day I heard her proclaim, "A one-bedroom apartment is just perfect for me!"), she did not go gently. After years of insisting she d never leave the house where she d spent decades, she agreed (unhappily, grudgingly) to move ("Only temporarily, just to try it out!") to a then-new assisted-living setup in Sylvania.

So we got her all moved in, made it as comfortable as possible, brought in the furniture she loved best, and during those first few weeks we made a point of keeping smiles plastered on our faces and saying lame things like, "Isn't this nice, Mom? Don't you just love it?"

A dutiful daughter, I spent quite a bit of time with her there and, I gotta tell you: I d be lying if I said I wasn t envious.

My mother never again cooked a full meal. She never again vacuumed her own home, or changed the sheets on her bed, or thought about keeping soapscum off the shower walls. Twice each day, some nice nurse dropped by to chat and hand her her pills. If she wanted to run over to the supermarket, sure, she had to wait until that week s bus trip but, c mon. She was still livin pretty large.

Meanwhile, I would leave her place in the early evening and drive home, where there was a child who wanted dinner, where there was laundry that had somehow piled up on the basement floor, where there were entire rooms that cried out for dusting and vacuuming and mopping and well, all that exhausting business of daily life, which continues in full force up to this day. No matter how diligent we try to be, my husband and I can never seem to quite keep up with the demands of our domestic life.

My mother, retired, had all the time in the world. I, still working and busy rearing a child, did not.

Even keeping in mind my mom s swiftly increasing frailty, I couldn t help but ask myself, driving home in the dusk after I d left her sitting in a cozy living room: What s wrong with this picture?



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