We did our Patriotic Duty and visited Great-Grand-Mama at the retirement facility for the Fourth of July picnic. Not much of a “picnic” actually because nobody sits cross-legged on a blanket peeling hard-boiled eggs and eating chicken drumsticks. If they did sit on a blanket most of them would never get up. They don’t do much in the way of water balloon toss or three-legged races either. Mostly they just sit in lawn chairs and say “nice to see you” because at that age it seems, it’s nice to see anybody not in a service uniform of some kind.
We had the extra sodium hotdogs with warm beer. Boy, you know they’re getting the best of care. We had cole slaw (or maybe E. coli slaw) and potato salad, which, like meatloaf, can contain almost any ingredients, including vegetables and small plastic toys. There were also some fattening, artery clogging deserts. Boy these folks have all the best. They pay a fortune to live here and they get all the quality food service any Denny’s might offer.
Then you go back to grandma’s room, a four by four cell with a TV and a toilet, sink and bed. Staying in a Motel 6 would be cheaper and far roomier. What are we doing to the old folks? Can you say “Warehouse”?
I remember when I was a kid my grandmother came to live with us. She stayed for years until just the very few last weeks of her life when she really did need hospice care. But for years she was with us. At first just being part of the family and years later, unable to go over the stairs, living in her own room. My mother took care of her mother as has been the family tradition in most cultures for eternity. Later she also took care of my father’s mother.
But somewhere along the line in the past 30 years younger people have shied away from taking care of their elders as “Senior Care” facilities popped up all over. So for a fee, and a hefty one at that, you can ship your parents off to the “Comfy Care Retirement Home”. Why bother with Granny when you have such an important life to be living? You know the bumper sticker — Be nice to your kids — they’ll choose your retirement home.
I learned a lot from my grandmother in those years. She had grown up on the coast of Maine almost as far north as Canada and she had all kinds of stories about her life in the 1880s up until the 1920s. No TV, no radio, no cars or planes — heck not even the bicycle. What did they do? Well, obviously quite a bit as she was one of eleven children.
We have been hornswaggled by insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, HMOs, medicine-for-profit exploiters, for-profit hospitals, and, of course, the Shady Living Senior Center.
How much is your rent or mortgage a month? I bet it isn’t half of what this place is. Great-Grand-Mama is a widow now but her savvy husband set her up for life with all kinds of investments, even if she lives to be 120. And if she does, the company that runs this ghastly priced bed and breakfast stands to make out like bandits. Hmmm…That just came out without thinking, but “bandits” is exactly what they are. It’s not that she couldn’t be with us — she could. But she was and is convinced that this is the way to go into her sunset years. You couldn’t pry her loose with a sledge hammer. They have her brainwashed. Oh sure, she gets to play bridge with the girls. Hey! We have or could acquire playing cards here.
One of the big problems now is that she’s not sure if she has cable TV — remember that pitch recently to make sure you have a converter box? (She has cable.) And how about the hand-held cordless phone? Golly! How does that thing work? An answering machine. Who’d have thought?
After all, that’ll be me soon.
Danny McBride has played guitar and sung with over 75 name artists in all genres over the past 25 years. His work as the lead guitarist for ShaNaNa was seen weekly for several years on their hit TV show and in the movie GREASE. The soundtrack CD gave him a GRAMMY© nomination and a “Platinum” album. Danny has played since he was a teenager, and has worked as a songwriter, arranger and producer for countless musical projects. He is a graduate of Boston University and has appeared on TV and in several films as an actor. He has a CD called “16 Tunes and Whaddaya Get…a songwriter’s portfolio” available at Amazon and CD Baby and many other stores including iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster and dozens of others. Danny played lead guitar in ShaNaNa at the height of ShaNaNa’s career, which included all those years on TV. He is a sometime political activist and has an opinion about almost everything. Just ask him