Weekend Wanderer: Get the Hell-icopter Out of Here!

personal growth for all

A few months ago, I wrote about my parents’ friendship with the man I now call my future stepdad. Neither he nor my actual dad is well, making them modern-day Roman gladiators – the last one alive wins the prize.

In Rome, the prize was palm branches. In the Temple of Doom – the senior facility where my parents and future stepdad live – the prize is my mom.

I’ve never taken care of palm branches, but I have taken care of my mom. Palm branches seem easier.

I suppose I could refer to my future stepdad as Claudius, after Hamlet’s uncle-turned-stepfather, but that’s just me trying to sound cultured.

It’s also a bit much for the weekend.

So we’ll call him Mike Brady.

I know way too much about Mike Brady because, well, I know way too much about my parents. Many Gen Xers like me spend not enough hours streaming Sex/Life and too many hours learning details of their parents’ actual sex life.

Not that anybody is having sex with Mike Brady. That I know of, anyway. The day is young. Details on that could very well land in my lap before the day is old enough for drinking to be socially acceptable.

My mom has even told me she has no desire to marry Mike Brady – should he win the gladiator battle – for either love or companionship. She says he’s too short.

“Too short for what?” is something I’ll never, ever ask.

I have heard many times from my mom that Mike Brady’s wife never should have died before him. He’s simply not good at caring for himself.

The reality is my mom has neatly filled the caretaker role left by Mike Brady’s deceased wife. If you’ve ever played Skee-Ball, you know each used ball is replaced by another ball. Well, Mike Brady’s caretakers are human versions of that system.

Now, Mike Brady has been in the hospital for a few weeks now. This, like everything else in my parents’ lives, tried very hard to become my problem.

My mom – and Mike Brady’s family, of course; you know what a tight-knit bunch those Bradys are – felt the hospital was not caring for Mike Brady properly.

Never mind that Mike Brady signed himself out against the hospital’s wishes.

Wait. That might have happened the last time he was hospitalized. It’s hard to keep track of my health, my kids’ health, my parents’ health, AND Mike Brady’s health. I don’t even have his Medicare number written in a notebook like I do for my parents.

I do know his doctor’s phone number though. That’s a whole other story.

Anyway, my mom and Mike Brady’s family decided the piddling little community hospital was not good enough for Mike Brady. Mike Brady needed a university setting, preferably in the city.

And I have connections. I could call in some favors. Get Mike Brady helicoptered – helicoptered! – to the big city university hospital. (Hell-icopter?)

The Atlantic piece I referenced earlier noted sandwich generation Gen Xers – should we just say sandwich generation-Xers? – like myself spend about $7,000 annually on elder care. A helicopter ride would cost me at least that much in a single afternoon.

I enjoy being an overachiever, but that’s a bit extreme.

I suggested the much simpler and more logical route of asking for a transfer.

Am I a monster for not getting a helicopter for Mike Brady? This piece in The New York Times says to be a successfully sandwiched generation-Xer, I should “let the patient lead.”

Well, maybe not if my mom is leading me to other patients.

My husband is an only child, with parents a decade younger than mine. Remember Skee-Ball? Yeah. They’ll roll right into place as soon as my parents roll out.

And they’re not the only ones. I have – potentially – a lifetime of caregiving ahead of me.

Maybe I should just buy that helicopter. Or is it Hell-icopter?