Treshold of Revelations: Humans Without Humanity
The following day Asshat's sister, Magpie, was to arrive. Magpie has the type of nasal twang for a voice that's like a diamond drill-it can cut through anything including your sanity in a matter of seconds. It's the way I imagine H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu to sound
, that is if Cthulhu was a shrewish, invasive idiot without even the vaguest concept of tact and appropriateness. I kinda expect that even the Elder Ones have better manners than the Magpie, as to talk to her for even minutes is to make you want to run screaming for Innsmouth
and all of its horror as a welcome alternative.
If her voice wasn't enough, she personifies one of the truths I realized quite early in life: the people who most want to advertise their intelligence are usually the stupidest people around. In this case, Asshat, her brother, at this point could barely be heard when he spoke if you were more than a few feet from him. Often he would yell for my mother, who was in the neighboring room, and she wouldn't hear him. My mother and I decided to leave Magpie with Asshat so 1 they would have private time together to talk 2 we could go pick up some respiratory gear.Before we left Magpie, who likes to announce every five mintues that she graduated from an ivy league college, stopped my mother to ask if she should check in on her own brother from time to time. My mother was confused, "What do you mean check in?" "Well I wanted to do some work on the computer." The computer was in the basement on the other end of the voice. Luciano Pavaroti couldn't have yelled loud enough from the living room to be heard in the basement computer room nevermind a guy who could barely talk thanks to lung cancer. In this case, Asshat, her brother, could barely be heard when he spoke if you were more than a few feet from him. Often when he would yell for my mother, who was in the neighboring room getting something for him, and she wouldn't hear him.The "work" that Magpie was referring to was the VOLUNTEER work she did helping to rescue beagles in Florida.
Now, I do not in anyway disparage people who save animals. My cat is a rescue, my mom's cats are rescue cats. HOWEVER if you have the choice between spending time with your dying brother and trying to help save animals over the internet, I'm gonna say go with your brother. I'm an only child fer chrissakes and even I understand that time with your brother is short. Not to mention that the two aren't mutually exclusive. My mother and I were coming home in a few hours. I refuse to believe she couldn't put it off for three hours. But in truth, she just didn't want to spend time with her brother despite her presence there.
However, where I would slapped this stupid bitch upside the head and said "Listen, go sit with your brother until we come back." My mother patiently explained that Asshat couldn't talk that loudly and needed help with things like walking to the bathroom and COULD NOT CALL FOR HELP so SHE HAD TO STAY IN THE ROOM. (She did not punctuate the sentence with "idiot" or "bitch" as I would have.) She grudgingly went to sit with her brother.
Before we left my mother told Magpie to be sure BE SURE to give Asshat his 3 pm pills. She told her twice and even put a note in front of a little dish filled with the appropriate pills that said "3 pm!" We gave her exactly one thing to do.
Did she do it?
No. She forgot to give him his meds which included pain medication, something he absolutely needed. I mean seriously, one thing ONE THING. Mind you my mother was the one who was giving him IV fluids, emptying spitoons filled with bloody phlegm, even draining his lungs. And this alledgedly intelligent human being couldn't remember to give him clearly labeled pills? I mean did she think the meds were OPTIONAL? Did she not get that giving a terminal lung cancer patient his medications on time is important? And if she didn't get it, why the hell not?
Later, Asshat's son, Gekko, arrived as well. We were all sitting in the living room chatting, Asshat was in the middle of saying something, when suddenly he coughed up bile. The son and the sister RAN OUT OF THE ROOM.
Let me say that again. They fled.
Being me, I thought that they had run to get paper towels or something useful. It never occurred to me that they had just run out. My mother and I cleaned Asshat up. I took the bile soaked tissues and walked into the kitchen, which is where I found his son just standing there.
Growing up disabled, it does something to you. You learn quickly that the horror of what has happened to you is not being trapped in a body that's the enemy, but how people treat you because of it. The people who should be there for you, abandon you. They make excuses not to come to the hospital. To avoid asking how you are. Or to just vanish until things are "better." To leave you to crutch home, 5 blocks in the rain, from the hospital alone. To expect you to act after a 5 day emergency hospitalization that everything is fine. The people who have benefitted from your empathy. The people who should have your back. The people who should understand. They are the ones who generally disappoint and on an epic level.
The converse rule is that the people who come through are generally those you don't expect. Some random person you barely know who sends you flowers or an encouraging email or stops and asks if you need help. Unfortunately, those people are far outnumber by those who lack basic humanity.
I threw out the tissues and washed my hands. I knew the worst part of what had just happened wasn't the lack of control over his own body. It was knowing he had become revolting to his own sister and son. To know that what had happened to him had so frightened them they had fled the room. I know what's like to see that horror in the eyes of others and that is why I acted like everything was normal. I went back into the room where he apologized profusely for what had happened. He apologized
-as if he had some control.
My mother and I told him he had no reason to apologize, and of course he didn't. It wasn't like he wanted to barf up phlemg. The son finally came back into the room. The conversation started to resume a bit, but there was a problem.
Where was Magpie?
Five, ten, fifteen minutes went by and there was no sign of Magpie. Finally I went into the kitchen to get a refill of my iced tea and that's when I saw her. She was in the back garden pulling weeds and talking on the phone. She ran out of the room and didn't even care enough to check on whether her brother was OK. She just decided that weeding and chatting was more important than her brother's feelings in the same way she decided that those beagles were more important than her brother's welfare.
I have to be honest with you that incident so upset me that I was spitting mad for a week. I have no idea how a person can care so little about the welfare of a fellow human being, nevermind a sibling. As I said, I hated the man and yet I found their behavior so obherent that I literally couldn't talk about anything else for a week. It is, to me, a perfect distillation of how human beings generally lacking humanity especially when it's the most important for them to have some.
Karma, however, will pay them back as someday they will know what it's like to have their body fail and their family flee. It's what my father told me all those years ago: The one great common denominator of all humanlife is pain. If you ever wish great pain on someone, you only have to do one thing: wait. And so eventually their apathy will come back to haunt them in the form of those they will expect to support them. They will then know the horror of causing family members to flee, having family members hide from their needs with invented important tasks, and having family think your basic needs are unimportant or more importantly they don't care to protect your feelings in the least.
Personally, I would like it better if people could actually act like human beings, but having lived with disability for so long, I know I might as well wish for a hot tub filled with blue Kool-Aid and a calorie free Swiss chocolate. But will I take plain ole vengeance? You bet I will. And the truth is, if I ended up seeing them sick I probably couldn't run out on them anymore than I could run out on Asshat. Luckily, I'm sure other family members will have that covered.
Labels: apathy, cancer, death, family, lung cancer
Bad Bunni posted at 8/10/2010 11:04:00 PM