The Moment You Look in the Mirror and Complain about one Gray hair and your Reflection shouts back – Stop Your Effing Whining!


I’m just back from the city, spent with my friend S who had a stroke eight months ago. She looks much better, is starting to string more words together, but bottom line, her life is permanently altered. She had to resign from her incredible job, something that really defined her and one at which she excelled. Her adult daughter became her primary caregiver, leaving her own job to care for her mother. Not that this is relevant, but there’s never been a husband in the picture. Her parents are deceased. There’s a sister and a few good friends. And now healthcare aides who come every day to make lunch for her and walk with her to run errands or go to doctors appointments. The daughter has gone back to work, thankfully, so S has made enough improvements to be alone in the apartment. I asked her why the doctors insist her aides go with her on all her neighborhood errands – grocery, bank etc., and don’t allow S to her to run her own chores. S wasn’t sure but as she tried to explain it, what I got out of her words was that the doctors don’t feel her ability to speak is strong enough and they worry she’ll be unable to ask for something wherever she is. I scratched my head at this one, thinking to myself that how does one improve if you aren’t out there trying to string together sentences together. Gosh S has lived in this apartment on the UES for maybe thirty years and all the storekeepers know her, so so what if she can’t ask for her cleaning or forgets the words to ask for a half pound of ham. Those store employees are going to help her, not ignore or mock her.

It’s all very strange to me how her post-stroke care is being handled. I don’t understand it one bit and I feel badly that she’s home all day every day except for the times her aides come. I asked S if she felt she could walk to a movie theater alone, or walk up to the Met. Or over to Central Park and sit in the sun. She hesitated with her answer, which I took as a No, that she’s not feeling capable enough to venture out alone. Yet, we were able to carry on a decent enough conversation about all sorts of things, even Hillary Clinton (yes, S is a huge fan of Hillary).

I asked her if it’s hard to keep her emotions in check  – I mean, for now, she literally has no life, other than being cared for. Yes, she’s alive and all, I get it, but S is was one of the most gregarious talented women I know. That S is gone. S said she does struggle with how her life is now – she understands enough to know that one moment in time changed things forever, but I don’t think her brain has enough cognitive skill to be depressed. She can’t read much yet, she gets confused with the words in a book or forgets the plot or characters, so she watches TV, a lot of TV she said.

We had a fun time together despite all, walking around the neighborhood, having lunch out, gabbing a ton.

I brought her some gladioli from the garden and she had no idea what to do with them – I had to find a glass and fill it with water. And here’s the really funny part – she had NO CLUE why I brought her eggplant and peppers. 🙂 🙂 🙂

I cried on the way home, until the last mile when I woke out of my funk quickly – some asshole on Greenwich Road, texting or dialing, came STRAIGHT AT ME ACROSS THE YELLOW LINE – I sat on my horn and the idiot looked up in time to swerve back to his side. One split second more and I would have been hit hard. It’s almost worse when you can see it coming. Connecticut plates, dark blue Honda CRV. It shook me to my core, and my legs were weak the moment I got home and out of the garage. But then I realized that I was fine. I am fine. Life is good. I have my health. I have my mind. I have a roof over my head. The kids are good. Mr. EOS is good. My mother is happy. Who cares if the landline doesn’t work??

So the moral of the story kids, be happy with what you got because you could lose it in one moment.

Time for a drink. Make mine a double.

15 thoughts on “The Moment You Look in the Mirror and Complain about one Gray hair and your Reflection shouts back – Stop Your Effing Whining!

    1. Ditto from me. What a day, especially the texting ass.

      I guess the plus to take away is your friend is being cared for, maybe not to your liking, but as long as S feels safe and doesn’t resist getting help, maybe she’ll improve enough to venture out alone one day.

      1. I see the good in your friends recovery too. It may be slow and you may not like how it’s being handled but you said yourself she’s improved. She’s home and not in some facility, she seemingly can afford healthcare (that alone is a huge plus) and has friends like you to visit her and keep her engaged. Strokes take a long time to recover from.

        As for the guy who almost rammed into you- I would have done a U turn and gotten his license plate and turned him in. You were lucky.

        1. I suppose you guys are right seeing S’s recovery as a glass half full. I can see she’s made improvement and I’m no doctor, but my take is she’ll never have her old life back. I can assure you her daughter feels a stronger than normal need to protect and care for S because S is the only parent she’s ever known. That has its built in problems as the daughter gets older, maybe marries and moves. Just saying the long term is glass half empty. Hence my tears for her.

  1. Would it be possible to host your friend for an overnight in Bedford? Bring daughter or an aide along. Will get her out of the city when her world has narrowed so drastically. Who knows, it might just be a shot in the arm for her.

    I’m not one to try out the car horn indiscriminately but have no hesitation when confronted by an jackass of a driver, especially one who is texting or on the phone.

    1. I’ve asked several times if I could whisk her out of the city. I’d be tickled to do that. Each time I’ve asked she’s says Not Yet. She added that her daughter makes the rules (the aspect that disturbs me) but I’ll keep asking with the hope that she will say yes. With daughter or aide along if required.

  2. These days driving is inherently risky.
    Peeps in their cars are distracted, even for a second, touching their phones on especially on curvey Greenwich Road.
    Take your friend to Tod’s Point. Lovely.
    Happy Bastille Day!
    Viva La France!!
    CanCan dancers, Brie and Cuisine….

  3. problems encountered by your friend “S” illustrate a [the] critical issue for many aging friends. how can one act to prevent dependency? IF we lived in Oregon, and IF we had pancreatic cancer, medical intervention would provide an exit plan. But if we live elsewhere and ‘merely’ have a debilitating stoke, we can ”look forward” to years of decline and humiliation while we dissipate our estate. insanity, imo.

    1. All too true UMINN65, which is why we should all have a copy of Final Exit ready – just in case. We all want to die of a massive heart attack or stroke in our own beds but I choose to be the one to decide when it’s time for me to leave the party if I’m not that “lucky”. It takes some preparation & planning but it beats the hell out of a lingering death. End of life issues need to be discussed openly & often. It should be a choice.

      1. UMINN and Anonymous: I come from a long line of people discussing openly and often. My parents are remarkable in that regard – my mother now at 98 has every detail planned for when she goes, my sister and I have rights to all her accounts, she’s PREPAID her cremation (!), she’s carved her name on the stone next to my dad for her ashes to be buried and she’s signed and told us a million times to pull the damn plug if something keeps her lingering. I’ve included my children in such plans as well, although they do not have signing rights to my accounts (!!) and they know where my will and health proxy are. I know so many families where talking about death of plans is taboo. Taboo only means leaving the children in the dark about what needs to be done. So I totally agree with your comments.

        In their 80s, my parents moved into a retirement community where my mom still is. She lives independently in her own cottage but the community has apartments if she chooses to downsize and healthcare if she becomes ill. No surprise these places cost a pretty penny per month and not everyone has the ability to be so protected. More families are dealing with caring for a parent in their home and so many times that brings about sibling frustrations – who takes care of mom more. I’m all for taking a long walk off a short pier if it comes to being unable to take care of myself.

      2. My family refuses to talk about money, death, and taxes. It’s a WASP thing – we never talk about such things, nor feelings. We sibs had a terrible falling out over taking care of dad – be thankful your family hashed out all the details now.

  4. There is your way, and then there is His way….and they don’t always look the same, but His is always infinitely better. And something I’ve been learning about deeply lately is gratitude. Mostly, our society/culture teaches us to be thankful….we don’t have cancer like she does…..we were not in an accident like he was….we are financially stable, or more so, unlike that family. True gratitude flows from the Love in your heart, which comes from God in my opinion, and does not make any comparisons or rely on someone else to be in a lesser or worse situation than us. Jesus says it much better than me: Love is the way I walk in gratitude.

    Hope this didn’t sound preachy, it was not my intent….just stirred up some things I’m working on personally. 💖

  5. My mother is 92, late stage dimentia, at home with a 24/7 caretaker. A few years ago the caretaker told my mother (kidding with her) “Can you please stick around for a long time? I love living here taking care of you, and I need the job to pay my bills!” My mother’s response? “You’re going to have to check with God on that!” Now she doesn’t talk, respond to anything, but still taking food. So who knows!

    1. Dementia has to be the toughest way to watch a parent die. They are there but they aren’t. You are right about the ‘who knows’ part, for any of us!!! God speed Sammi.

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