July 4, 2011

Beyond Obama's blue pill: folksingers!

What medical treatments will the government approve, in the future, for the aging population of America? Two years ago, President Obama let it slip that cheap painkillers would supervene more expensive cures. And here's a new, low-price palliative for the oldies:
Every week, three music therapists from MJHS Hospice and Palliative Care crisscross the city and suburbs to sing songs to the dying. With guitars strapped to their backs, a flute or tambourine and a songbook jammed in their backpacks, they play music for more than 100 patients, in housing projects, in nursing homes and even in a lavish waterfront home. The time for chemotherapy and radiation is over.

The music begins: a song to hold death at bay, a song to embrace death, or to praise God. A Vietnam veteran asks for a song in Vietnamese. One man asked only for songs with death in the lyrics, to force his family to talk to him about the future. He was ready to talk about it. They weren’t. So the therapist sang Queen’s version of “Another One Bites the Dust.” “Amazing Grace” and other spiritual songs are most often requested just before death.
It's a jobs program for sensitive young women who might feel uncomfortable busking on the city streets, waiting for cold-hearted businessmen to drop a dollar in their guitar cases. The government will drop the dollar in, and the elderly patients will be too polite (and also physically unable) to walk away.

Welcome to the hospice, where the strumming of Joan Baez wannabes will prepare you for death. They will ease your "final transition." You'll be ready to die before they're ready to leave.  If you hang out too long at the hospice, be forewarned: When you've heard "Amazing Grace" 10,000 times, you've only just begun.

Can't we please pick our own music? Recorded music played by virtuouso musicians? Maybe Beethoven's 6th Symphony.... or "The Man in the Box"....



IN THE COMMENTS: Jim said:
I was on the faculty in a music department with a music therapy program for ~25 years, and taught a couple of courses to students majoring in MT during that time.

The MT professors/practitioners have been relentlessly pursuing their dream of obtaining funding from medical insurance and the public schools. They point to a growing body of MT research - all of it advocacy, most of it incompetent, much of it just silly - to support their lobbying for the loot.
ALSO: When you get to that hospice and the folksinger arrives, remember John Belushi. (Suggestion via RLC in the email and Sixty Grit in the comments.)

190 comments:

iftheshoefits said...

I heard it once said about a place, "it's a great place to go when you only have 6 months to live, cause it will seem like eternity."

For some reason that came to mind this morning.

Shouting Thomas said...

That's really heartless, Althouse.

Don't you know that the nursing homes also hire Golden Oldies groups to play 50s and 60s hits?

Of course, they don't pay much. You make more money if you do the one man band thing... that is, you record the band Minus One.

Then you strum and sing along with the recording.

It's a big hit, although 3/4 of the audience is usually asleep halfway through the first set.

Fred4Pres said...

I have seen this place before.

Ann Althouse said...

"It's a big hit, although 3/4 of the audience is usually asleep halfway through the first set."

Maybe they are faking it to get you to leave. What about people who want to hear quiet? Why is it assumed that any stimulation is a good thing? I have to die to "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and smile so as not to hurt the nice young (old?) musician's feelings? Fuck that. It's not fair.

Don't pay much? They shouldn't pay at all!

Damn. A hospice with rock entertainment?!

Have you ever heard the expression "let me die in peace"?

Lucius said...

I wouldn't mind finding a sensitive young Baez-wannabe and playing her Beethoven's Sixth--

Music to *live* by!

Now, Jim Pinkerton needs to have a word with us about finding cures . . .

Godspeed Jim.

Ann Althouse said...

@Fred4Press That is already linked in the post.

Fred4Pres said...

Great minds think alike! As soon as a read the post I though, sounds like that place...so I did not get to the actual link.

William said...

OMG This will make these poor defenseless people people want to die. I hope they get to choose whether or not they have to go through this......

David said...

Kill me now.

Lucius Septimius said...

I'd only want folk singers if I knew I could do this before I croaked. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvR6d08L3nc

gerry said...

Death by trumpet

Shouting Thomas said...

Maybe they are faking it to get you to leave.

I've never done the gig, Althouse. The "you" was generic.

Here's a nursing home joke.

Young woman goes to nursing home to visit Mom.

Mom is sitting in a wheelchair in the day room. Young lady decides to watch for a while to see how the old lady is cared for.

Old lady falls asleep and slumps to the left. An attendant appears and straightens her out.

Old slumps to the right. Attendant reappears and straightens her out.

The young lady is thrilled with the high quality of care. She walks into the day room to see her Mom.

"Mom," she said, "They seem to be taking such good care of you here."

"Oh, they're OK," the old lady replies. "But, the dumb SOBs won't let you fart!"

LordSomber said...

In "Soylent Green" they just used Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Grieg.

AJ Lynch said...

Did the NYT story deliberately avoid reporting if the singers are paid and, if so, who pays them?

Henry said...

Meanwhile unemployed visual artists fan out to the bedsides of the dying to paint very tiny murals...

Matt said...

The singing nun from Airplane, brought to life.

ALH said...

We have a music therapist in our cancer center...I love to hear them play - but it might be cheaper to pipe in some folk music via Pandora

somefeller said...

Actually, I agree with ST, this comment is rather cold, particularly after one reads the article. It sounds like no one is forcing the elderly to attend these programs, and if it brings them some measure of joy or peace in a difficult time, it's a good thing.

I remember when I was a little kid, the nuns who ran our elementary school would bring groups of children to sing as a choir to nursing homes. While I didn't enjoy that very much (I wasn't much of a singer and I thought those places were creepy, because they were), it seemed to bring them some joy, and as I've gotten older, I can better understand how having some children bring some life and song to one's day can improve the spirits of an elderly person in a retirement home or hospice. If a professional or semi-professional musician can do that, so much the better.

Shouting Thomas said...

Actually, I agree with ST, this comment is rather cold, particularly after one reads the article.

Actually, my remark was intended to be sarcasm. I guess that wasn't properly conveyed.

Sixty Grit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

Mozart's Requiem followed by Bob Dylan's Ballad of Hollis Brown. That covers the Madison folks and the outside of Madison Wisconsin folks too.

Greg Hlatky said...

It could be worse: they could bring in mimes.

Maguro said...

They love to inflict folksingers on special ed classes, too. Anyone who can't fend for himself is fair game.

Diego de la Vega said...

Actually, I'd prefer a dog.

somefeller said...

Actually, my remark was intended to be sarcasm. I guess that wasn't properly conveyed.

Apparently it wasn't, in my case! But in any event, I stand by my comment. Unless people are being forced to attend these programs, I don't see the harm, and I've seen examples of the benefits it can bring if done in the right context.

Lucius said...

I want the "Davide Penitente" and Fiona Apple's "Pale September".

Dying day, or just any good day.

Julie C said...

I prefer this to the piped in, non-stop 40's era music they play at my mother's assisted living facility. At least you have a live musician and have some control over what the person plays for you. And there's no end to the piped in music but a live human has to leave eventually.

But the thought does occur to me that if I end up in one of these places, will they be playing my music (the Clash, the Talking Heads, Van Halen, AC/DC) or some crappy pop stuff? I think I know the answer ...

Shouting Thomas said...

I don't see the harm, and I've seen examples of the benefits it can bring if done in the right context.

Well, I think you're right, but I don't know if folk music is the cause of the "benefits."

The old folks in nursing homes are so lonely that any sort of company cheers them up. Even if, as is often the case, they have no idea who they're talking to.

Shouting Thomas said...

I've done an intern stint at a couple of nursing homes to prepare for my volunteer EMT role.

The worst thing in nursing homes is the TV playing eternally in the day room. The staff never even bothers to change the channel, and it's usually tuned to the soap opera station.

Alex said...

so what about the hacking of Fox News' Twitter feed? Of course the predictable lefty response to their own sabotage:

idisVA
1139 Fans

3 minutes ago (10:55 AM)
Fox needs to be shut down. It is a dangerous operation regardless of the hacking of their tweeter account.


Pure Alinsky.

c71ff said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTpDUm08QkQ
Do the dog dance!

somefeller said...

Well, I think you're right, but I don't know if folk music is the cause of the "benefits." The old folks in nursing homes are so lonely that any sort of company cheers them up. Even if, as is often the case, they have no idea who they're talking to.

That's probably true, particularly with regard to folk music. If you're in a religious nursing home, religious music is probably better, and in any case the company is what matters. However, just because the music is one singer with a guitar, that doesn't necessarily mean it's folk music (with all the negative stereotypes that entails). One person with an acoustic guitar can do a lot of different things. Just ask Willie Nelson or Django Reinhardt.

The worst thing in nursing homes is the TV playing eternally in the day room.

That or the constant scent of urine. Like I said, bleak places like that need something to break the monotony.

somefeller said...

Well, actually Django Reinhardt wasn't a singer, but he is a good example of what one person can do with a guitar.

Roy Lofquist said...

Tyrants and busybodies are equally annoying. The difference is that you can shoot tyrants with the satisfaction that you are doing the world of favor. Shooting busybodies is kinda like drowning kittens.

Paul Zrimsek said...

If I were a metal fan, I'd insist on a Megadeth panel.

aronamos said...

My kid is a board-certified music therapist, and she is definitely NOT at work to "perform." Her job is to use music to reach specified goals in a patient's care, including gross and fine motor skills and cognition. She's worked with elderly stroke victims, burned children, Alzheimer's and Down's patients. It's not busking up and down the hospital halls.

Please don't judge a good profession by this piece of crap NYT article.

Carol_Herman said...

Oh, and while there's "performance art," the nursers don't change the bedsheets.

You know, this is very unreasonable, don't cha?

Not that hospices can't provide atmospherics. Florists, flowers. And, relatives, a visit or two.

What's nuts is that it is part of a government scheme! WHAT! This is intrusion of the worst sort! It does not lower costs! And, it has nothing to do with legitimate medical expenses.

We all die. And, peace at the end can be obtained with morphine. Where, in our system, you need a qualified MD who provides end of care peace ... because the medicines that cause so much suffering, can be stopped, already.

Can't obama just go away?

Can't he just go and play golf until we elect someone else? This is so embarrassing.

Made worse, because idiots in cngress were part of this process to "vote for the bill that when it passed you'd learn what was in it."

It didn't have quite the affect Nancy Pelosi thought she'd get, though.

It seems we find out about the horribleness of our political choices ... only after all the balloons fall down from the ceiling.

Terry said...

Nine Inch Nails, "Closer".
Over and over and over and over . . .

Carol_Herman said...

There's a local place. When a friend of mine's mother was transferred to it, from the hospital, she said they had a resident cat. That seemed to know when a patient was dying. And, this cat would climb into the bed. And, comfort the dying patient.

The place was spotlessly clean, too!

You can't stop death! But you can provide a place, NOT A HOSPITAL where hope is a live. But a place to die, even if it takes death its own good time "to walk across the street."

The story of the cat comforted me beyond measure. Beyond morphine.

I think we should grab our government's nanny creations by the ear, and toss them as far away from facilities of this sort, as we can!

caplight said...

Having attended to many dying people and their families I was going to write a serious comment but realized it would be wasted on this crowd.

So in the spirit I would want to renegotiate some of the sings I have loved. The line that comes to mind is from Billy Vera's, At This Moment, "If you'd stay I'd subtract twenty years from my life." I'd want every body to know I was only kidding and I'll take the twenty years back.

The Crack Emcee said...

I'll take my headphones, my iTunes collection, and a gun to keep the hippies at bay. I don't want their folk music, or their "spirituality" - which, alone, is enough reason to keep me out of hospice: those places are creepy cult breeding grounds, filled with "reike masters" and other pests obsessed with the trappings of death - yours. Many of them can't even stand to be in the room when the actual event transpires, the hypocrites. These hospice people are mostly vampires, if you ask me.

I say let me die with dignity, at home, like a man.

Andrea said...

These nursing homes sound like my idea of hell: being trapped in a place where everyone else likes to sing along to a folk-music band. Though by the time I get shoved into one of these Death's waiting rooms everyone will be requesting stuff by the Sex Pistols and the Exploited.

BT said...

This is the song they will be playin when they scatter my ashes outside the abandoned Acme Steel plant at 125th & State in Chicago:

Too Much Blood In My Alcohol Level

Jim said...

I was on the faculty in a music department with a music therapy program for ~25 years, and taught a couple of courses to students majoring in MT during that time.

The MT professors/practitioners have been relentlessly pursuing their dream of obtaining funding from medical insurance and the public schools. They point to a growing body of MT research - all of it advocacy, most of it incompetent, much of it just silly - to support their lobbying for the loot.

One man (a lawyer!) hospitalized for depression and who had to endure this stuff described MT activities as "organized infantilism."

On the positive side, it's good to know that there are at least some young women willing to show old folks how to die gracefully.

The Crack Emcee said...

This is the song I told my wife to play when I'm gone. Now she is.

We do make plans, don't we?

SGT Ted said...

These people just can't stop leeching off taxpayers can they? They think that everyone else owes them a living. Then they tell us they do it for "love" and "compassion" all the while pocketing taxpayers money.

caplight said...

Read this paragraph from the Declaration of Independence and replace "Brittish" with the words Washington DC." By George, I think they got it! At least it works for me. However I die, I want to die free, not as some government's serf.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

Shouting Thomas said...

These people just can't stop leeching off taxpayers can they? They think that everyone else owes them a living. Then they tell us they do it for "love" and "compassion" all the while pocketing taxpayers money.

Why just pick on musicians?

Every hipster woman in Woodstock wants to be some kind of fucking therapist... and they all want the state or the fed to pay the bill.

Big Mike said...

You're starting to get there, Professor, but you're still pretty far behind.

Once the Baby Boomers -- and that includes you, don't forget! -- start retiring then instead of contributing a percentage of our salaries to taxes from our peak earning years, we'll start being a drain on the federal budget instead of supporters thereof. Of course Obamacare will push cheap palliatives like painkillers (and fourth string rock bands that substitute loud amps for talent) instead of medicine that might let retired folks live a bit longer. The women had been kept alive through Avastin are merely the point of the spear.

He can't pay for illegal, er, "undocumented" immigrants and take care of old folks both, can he? And probably the undocumented folks will vote for Democrats after the next amnesty. And the old folks, well, they're just going to die anyway, aren't they?

Chip S. said...

If they unionized and went on strike, that might be nice.

virgil xenophon said...

I see sixty grit is a man after my own heart and that both Greg Hlatky, Maguro and AA are nobody's fools..God protect us from those who would save us from ourselves--FAR better to die alone than forced to go into the great beyond with the insipid mewellings of unwashed street people folkie wannabes ringing in our ears as our last memories of life on Earth .. David is right. Before being subjected to THAT, kill me...kill me NOW.

wv: flunw---are we having fun yet?

Alex said...

What I always hated about leftists is their preach-i-ness. They can never live and let live. They must always be crusading. Like garage.

caplight said...

would it kill Google to put an American Flag on the logo today? Shheeesh!

E.M. Davis said...

I hope to be a Richard Burton on my family someday.

Mike said...

Well fortunately a lot of oldsters are deaf anyway--and can't hear what the gubmint says is good for them.

And more than a few of the lost souls in nursing homes aren't fully aware of their surroundings anyway.

So let this WPA program for musicians roll on. For those who can hear, and who are aware, it will only spur on determination to die ASAP.

E.M. Davis said...

BTW, that video sucks. Poorly conceived and edited. You shouldn't give them the eyeballs, Professor.

SGT Ted said...

Music Therapy; yet another junk science scam trying to access insurance money payouts.

The same type of folk who think insurance payments are too high, but there better be a high-on-the-hog, living salary to be extracted from the same insurance companies to pay for their bullshit. Or, since the money is drying up from private insurance, they want the taxpayers to send the check instead, all the while tell us how wonderful and compassionate and caring they are, as well as how evil, greedy and selfish we are if we don't pony up the loot.

This insurance and taxdollar leeching extends to a lot of other social services and quasi-medical
"professions" that cannot earn more than minimum wage in the private market, if there is any demand for them at all.

These are people with alleged University degrees who often earn less than a McDonalds manager with a GED who worked his way up the ladder.

Synova said...

Recorded music?

I like writing science fiction because you can be King of the World. A new colony can start out with whatever rules they think are important. One of mine, in one story, was to arrange it so that professional, recorded, music was discouraged in favor of live performances and amateur performers and a culture where everyone played *something*.

There is something about a live performance that is profoundly different from a recording, or why ever attend one? But snooty people do.

AllenS said...

obama counts these music therapists as jobs created or saved. The new America. You'll sing or listen, damnit!

ricpic said...

I can't think of a worse way to go than looking at the fatuous faces of hippies and being forced to endure the fatuous "music" hippies make.

edutcher said...

Dr Berwick's idea, I'm sure. Our betters not only know when we should die, but also how we should be played out. And, of course, all paid for with taxpayer money.

"a song to hold death at bay"?

We'll have to put an end to that.

virgil xenophon said...

BigMike/

I was with you all the way until I noticed that you've evidently slipped up and imbibed (unknowingly, I'm sure) a few molecules of the lefty kool-aide as evidenced by the fact you deployed the term "illegal immigrants viz the CORRECT term in law: illegal "ALIEN." You may need to begin a therapy regimen to purge yourself of any remaining traces of double-think and/or (as the case may be) double-speak. Institutional references can be helpfully provided..

SGT Ted said...

I contrast this with my own experience as a musician. Our group was all paid for by ourselves and we did gigs at music homes for free or maybe a meal. Not even a tax write off.

Lonetown said...

OK, if "another one bites the dust" is not satire from the author, our republic is finished!

PatCA said...

Oh, that's just awful. I am beginning to hate music--it's everywhere, at top volume, the grocery store, the gym. What is the point? Are they trying to break us down and them brainwash us?

There is no escape from them except death.

PatCA said...

The first photograph is hilarious. The young do-gooder, the oldster, trying desperately to ignore her.

It cries out for a caption contest!

Herman Carol said...

Depressing.

Synova said...

I don't see being all impressed with one's self over providing "therapy" or deciding it's medical and therefore should be paid for by the government, but people in nursing homes are often lonely and having something different happen and new faces to see is always a good thing.

How nasty does someone need to be inside to figure that someone else would be better left to monotony and a recording (that they might not like either) than listen to some bad music?

caplight said...

"I can't think of a worse way to go than looking at the fatuous faces of hippies and being forced to endure the fatuous "music" hippies make."

Do the hippie chick singers come in hairy and non-hairy arm pits? I have a definite preference.

Sixty Grit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SGT Ted said...

It's not really the notion of live gigs of bad music at a home. It's the notion that everybody else should pay them for it, either with insurance or tax dollars.

These "ameteur" musicians want to be paid for what should be a charity gig.

Alex said...

I hate music I don't like imposed on me. That's why I take my iPod to the gym.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

What about people who want to hear quiet?

They could hire mimes.

:-D

caplight said...

Sixty: if you and I are in the same hospice and you have them singing "Stairway to Heaven" I will personally end your life. Not only is it unimaginative but the song sucks.

Big Mike said...

@virgil, I grovel in shame and abject humiliation.

ricpic said...

Stop the presses! Carol Herman just posted a ONE WORD post!!!

edutcher said...

No underscore - it can't have been her.

She?

EDH said...

Jerry: Mr. Fields? The agency sent me.

Old Man: Agency? What agency? The *CIA*? Who let you in here?

Jerry: The woman, she--

Old Man: Oh her. She steals from me. Steals my money. She says she doesn't speak English. My ass she doesn't speak English. Plays that freakin' "voo-doo" music, tries to hypnotize me. She thinks she's gonna turn me into a zombie and then rob me blind. Well, I wasn't born yesterday. I may drop dead today, but I sure as Hell wasn't born yesterday. Now get the Hell out of my house...

Jerry: Mr. Fields, I'm here to spend some time with you.

Sid: Oh, really. Are you the boyfriend? I know she's got a boyfriend.

Are you going to *kill* me? I'm an old man for crying out loud,
you gonna kill an old man, you coward?!?

Freeman Hunt said...

Have you ever tried to select music for a dying person?

It's hard!

There's lots of quiet. Then one thinks, "Maybe this person would like to hear some music. But what?" Do you pull out the Billy Idol CD the person liked? It's odd to hear punky Billy Idol over the visual of a dying person. How about something that feels more profound (like the 6th)? Or do you go with ambient music? Then there are the other people around making their suggestions which you probably think are vulgar and horrible.

And the whole time the dying person just lies there, and you have no indication as to that person's preference.

So you play something for a while and then you turn it off. A little of this, a little of that. Moderation in guessing.

ricpic said...

I want Beethoven's 5th playing at top volume when I go and fuck anyone else's feelings...but since I intend going at home in the country I won't really impinge on anyone else's eardrums. A nice guy to the end, that's what I'll be.

Freeman Hunt said...

This reminds me that I need to make a final directive of how much and what music I would like played while dying. I can't imagine the audial horrors that might be foisted upon me otherwise.

Sixty Grit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freeman Hunt said...

I think I'd rather have someone sit and read me the Psalms or The Oxford Book of English Verse, but the old one edited by Quiller-Couch please. If the new one is the only one at hand, forget it.

Sixty Grit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Synova said...

"It's not really the notion of live gigs of bad music at a home. It's the notion that everybody else should pay them for it, either with insurance or tax dollars."

I object to that as well.

But visiting and singing? I've gone with a church group to nursing homes to sing and then to visit. Singing a few songs actually gives you an excuse to be there without it being all, "hey, I'm here to visit you people I don't know, look at me". I never encountered any grumpy people, so I assume they simply did something else while those who wanted to listen to some songs did so, and visited for a while afterward.

Ann Althouse said...

"I think I'd rather have someone sit and read me the Psalms or The Oxford Book of English Verse, but the old one edited by Quiller-Couch please."

Yes, exactly. That's what I would want. If I'm unable to communicate, but you think I can hear and understand, and you want to help me with what you think may be my boredom problem, don't play music. Read (or speak) words. Give me something to think about.

Sixty Grit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
caplight said...

"Thanks, Cap, I appreciate that kindness."

Back at ya Sixty. I know you'd do the same for me.

Synova said...

"This reminds me that I need to make a final directive of how much and what music I would like played while dying."

Not a bad idea at all.

And I think I'd rather have all the noise turned off. Let me hear footsteps and cars drive by and birds and people talking down the hall.

Synova said...

I passed out once, lost consciousness in the hospital and fainted on the floor. I woke up to the television droning about medical malpractice.

My mom once did home health care for a little girl who was blind and in a wheelchair. They kept music on all the time. My mom thought they should turn it off so she could hear the world around her.

Recorded music. Constantly.

edutcher said...

"The MT professors/practitioners have been relentlessly pursuing their dream of obtaining funding from medical insurance and the public schools. They point to a growing body of MT research - all of it advocacy, most of it incompetent, much of it just silly - to support their lobbying for the loot."

OK, the same thing can be said for dogs. So, if we train the Yorks to go into hospices, we're supposed to expect Federal funding for their upkeep?

rhhardin said...

There was an album called "Speed the Parting Guest" in the 50s that involved a lot of percussion.

The Crack Emcee said...

Ann,

If I'm unable to communicate, but you think I can hear and understand, and you want to help me with what you think may be my boredom problem, don't play music. Read (or speak) words. Give me something to think about.

Oh bullshit. Good appropriate music would give you something to think about - especially if it wasn't something you'd heard before.

What we're all commenting on is being trapped with people who have no taste - and no sense of others. It's their "gig," not your death, and, one way or another, we want it to be over. Flip it around and you never know:

You might want it to go on forever.

EDH said...

Joey Ramone, lead singer of legendary punk band the Ramones, passed away Sunday at the age of 49...

U2's "In a Little While" was playing in his room at New York-Presbyterian Hospital when he died at 2:40 p.m.


"Anyway, Joey turned this song about a hangover into a gospel song, I think, 'cause that's the way I always hear it now..."

rhhardin said...

The first thing they do is take away your dog. Too much trouble for the staff.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I think I'd rather have someone sit and read

I agree. A favorite book that I have enjoyed in the past or something new in a genre that would like to read if I could.

Many of the very elderly either can't see well enough to read or may have the inability to hold a book for extended periods of reading.

If you play Herman and the Hermits, I'm going to rise up out of my death bed and kill you.

The Crack Emcee said...

DBQ,

If you play Herman and the Hermits, I'm going to rise up out of my death bed and kill you.

Exactly. When I read they played an acoustic version of "Another one bites the dust" I knew they were dealing with morons.

Alex said...

Crack - I will personally come to your deathbed and play Enya.

EDH said...

"I'm going to rise up out of my death bed and kill you."

Skyler said...

This explains how the National Endowment for the Arts brought about really crappy art, too.

Freeman Hunt said...

Give me something to think about.

Exactly.

But choose something timeless and beautiful. True art only.

If the person attending really wanted to play music, Ravel's Boléro would be alright. It is almost ambient and always sends me deep into thought. But not loudly. I usually hate loud. I want space to think.

GMay said...

I think I'd rather go the reading route myself, but having done some professional voiceover work before, they'd better be good.

If I had to have music, I'd probably go with Bach - just the right balance between mood, spiritual and intellectual.

GMay said...

"Boléro would be alright..."

Ugh! Now that would be my idea of hell.

Freeman Hunt said...

I'd probably go with Bach

That would be good.

Ann Althouse said...

"Oh bullshit. Good appropriate music would give you something to think about - especially if it wasn't something you'd heard before. What we're all commenting on is being trapped with people who have no taste - and no sense of others...."

I agree that music might work, if it were a great choice at the right time. But music has been inflicted on me so many times, and to be incapacitated and stuck with somebody else's music is something I'd rather have a flat ban on, because the downside is so bad.

Even worse is a television. To be in a medical care facility where a TV is playing... I'd be forced to plug my head up with earphones all the time. I'd have to play something that approximated silence, like Brian Eno ambient stuff or whatever. I'd feel bad about having to do that.

Alex said...

Ann - the good news these days for hospital patients is the iPad and/or Kindle. Nor longer do patients have to suffer in pain AND boredom.

Carol_Herman said...

Bluto became a senator.

Animal House was a Dartmouth Story. So the line that you could become a senator with only a Dartmouth credential is false.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann - the good news these days for hospital patients is the iPad and/or Kindle. Nor longer do patients have to suffer in pain AND boredom."

Yeah, access to any kind of reading is great, and even if your eyesight fails, you can have audio books or use some speech program to get to the words. If your understanding of language fails... you need a backup plan.

David said...

They are performing an important service, giving the sinners in the geriatric group a preview of what hell is like. One more chance to repent!

Lucius said...

@Freeman Hunt: Ravel's "Bolero"?

I won't go there, but some people might think you're--

Ok, I know what you mean by 'ambient', but in all seriousness I'd find "Bolero" at once too charged and too grotesque.

The Crack Emcee said...

Erik Satie comes to mind.

But, again, for the right person at the right time.

chickenlittle said...

After the folk singer era will follow the discovery of drugs to ease euthansia: link.

Freeman Hunt said...

I'd find "Bolero" at once too charged and too grotesque.

That's only at the end of it. And yes, it is that. That's why I like it. It's a bizarre experiment. It's interesting.

caplight said...

In all seriousness, my experience has been that people who are dying enjoy hearing the voices of people they love and know. I have found very few whose hospice experience has been defined by music. It is people. Freeman, what will give the Oxford meaning will be the voice of the one reading it to you I suspect.

Ann, perhaps we could arrange for Crack to visit you in hospice to read selections from his favorite comments over the years.

I'd like to be there for that.

Lucius said...

--Some years ago, when my grandmother was very ill (breast cancer; they'd removed a tumor and she was almost ninety then) and, it had to be reasonably surmised, *might* be dying-- and she certainly thought so herself--

I came in to visit her in the hospital at night and the tv was on playing Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch".

I told this story to my brother later, expressing my repulsion that they'd just let an almost ninety-year old woman lie there with this blaring pageant of violent death playing all night while she writhes in agony trying to sleep.

"Yeah," he agrees, "but: if I only had a few hours left to live, I think I'd want to watch 'The Wild Bunch'."

Jason said...

If I'm unable to communicate, but you think I can hear and understand, and you want to help me with what you think may be my boredom problem, don't play music. Read (or speak) words. Give me something to think about.

How sad. You really don't understand music!

Freeman Hunt said...

I won't go there, but some people might think you're--

A fascist? I find that piece fascistic somehow.

But I'm pretty much the opposite of a fascist, so they'd be wrong. Unless they were thinking something else, like "someone who likes unexpected things" or "a strange person." Those are probably true.

Lucius said...

I'd give Ravel the good teutonic smackdown with "Tod und Verklarung".

Impressionist-school music always strikes me a bit as a creepy put-on.

Jason said...

Gershwin's Concerto in F.
Moonlight Sonata.
Anything by J.S. Bach except those god-damn Goldberg variations.

Lucius said...

@Freeman Hunt: Oh, that little elliptic dash was meant to lead to thoughts of Bo Derek!!

Sorry. No, Allan Bloom made the remark in "The Closing of the American Mind" that "Bolero" was the only piece of classical music commonly known to students.

I don't know if literally that was supposed to be coming from "10", or just a commentary on its sexualized nature in general.

I was struck, as a freshman reading "Sexual Personae" though, by Paglia's comment that Ravel and Debussy are hugely beloved among gay men.

Consequently, I've discovered one often finds women whose litany of musical preferences includes a slew of 'alternative' fixtures and then "Ravel, Debussy".

I sortof assume this is a fag-hag rub-off from their male friends.

Then again: *was* Ravel a reactionary? I always find all that dead Spanish princess, fairy tale stuff so lavendar. I'm not knocking it qua its 'gayness', or purely as music. But it seems so precious and Parnassian. That school thought they were making the Music of the Future, but that seems so tired now.

I do love Richard Strauss, who did once have breakfast with Hitler but also mocked Goebbels in his (intercepted) letters and spent the war in Switzerland. I don't think Strauss was a fascist, tho that charge has endured.

Jason said...

For me, I will always associate Ravel's Bolero with Ringo Starr in "Caveman."

Carol_Herman said...

You know this comes from our trillion dollar stimulus, don't cha?

How in heaven's name did the congress critters see this one coming down the pike; and, all they saw were their own barrels of "cash in graft."

This was supposed to put Americans working, again?

IT'S THE ECONOMY, STUPID.

Oligonicella said...

Peaches in Regalia - just to watch their fingertips bleed.

But, having spent a lot of time visiting people alone in hospitals, unless you've seen that gratitude of having someone paying attention to them and you're still talk about what they are probably feeling, you're blowing smoke out yer ass.

Many people forget, we have a lot of folks who have outlived their own children. Who visits them, the grandkids? Right.

John Lynch said...

I'm going to write about my father's death. He went off oxygen, turned gray, and died. It was awful.

When his dog had to be put down two years later, the drugs caused a sudden jerk and then his tongue hung out and he was dead. It was awful.

Death is not peaceful, it's awful. Pretending otherwise is a lie.

Alex said...

John Lynch - sorry for your loss. What about all those people who die peacefully in their sleep? Is that a myth?

Freeman Hunt said...

Lucius, I would guess that if Bloom's students were familiar with it, it was probably in a popular movie they had seen. That's usually the only way that young people know any classical music at all.

I would listen to any Tchaikovsky.

Freeman Hunt said...

Death is not peaceful, it's awful. Pretending otherwise is a lie.

Agreed.

Re: dog death. We had to put our German Shepard down years ago. I was looking into her eyes when she got the injection. They did not look peaceful. There was a look of alarm and confusion, then lights out.

Fred Drinkwater said...

My mother sang hymns to herself, and sang them with one daughter or another sitting with her, during her last weeks. I think she was not of a generation or culture that would have appreciated folksingers at such a time.

The "assisted living" facility where my parents have their apartment often has local musicians in the lobby, and the concerts are well attended.

PatCA said...

Oh Freeman, that's so sad about your dog.

Carol said...

In Missoula, MT the music therapy is harpists strolling from room to room. So, harps before and harps after, if you're lucky.

John Lynch said...

We had a hippie death counselor who wanted to talk about energy. My sister was not amused. I felt bad for the poor woman, who was just trying to help.

This will make me sound like a jackass, but I worry less about dying than watching more people die.

campy said...

Bruckner adagios in a loop, repeat as necessary.

Freeman Hunt said...

And now I've dishonored the dog by horribly misspelling the name of her breed.

Luckily, she was a terrible speller, so she couldn't possibly know.

Methadras said...

You know the pattern I'm starting to see. No one can die in fucking peace anymore. It always has to be some melodic, poignant, profound experience that has to be experienced to be enjoyed until the last thing you see in your mind is some flowery la la stuff as you go to the here-after. I just think to myself that I would probably want my wife with me and that's about it. My kids and any grand kids can here about it later. I wouldn't want to be a burden, but jesus christ, don't burden me with your bullshit either.

John Lynch said...

Methedras-

Yes. Better for everyone.

Methadras said...

Freeman Hunt said...

Death is not peaceful, it's awful. Pretending otherwise is a lie.

Agreed.

Re: dog death. We had to put our German Shepard down years ago. I was looking into her eyes when she got the injection. They did not look peaceful. There was a look of alarm and confusion, then lights out.


Death is an unpleasant fact of life. It's not meant to be peaceful, but at least you can try to seek some solace and comfort in it. I'm very sorry to read that about your dog. I can't even imagine what they must go through when that happens. I don't know if I can even go through it myself when the time comes for mine. They are like permanent 4 year olds. They don't know what's going on and why. They just want you and to be with you. I'm sorry you and your dog had to endure either.

Alex said...

I wonder what the passengers on Flight 11 were thinking at the moment of impact.

cold pizza said...

I perform a variation of folk music called "filk" by the sci-fi community. I've also gone to nursing homes to perform traditional folk music and I've a friend who made her living as a sidewalk performer.

The nursing home is, yeah, a captive audience and some of them are highly medicated. My goal was to bring some human touch (sound)to the surroundings. Communal music is a human universal and a good musician can help foster the communal experience.

I've never been paid for any performance and I've never left my guitar case open for tips when I've "practice / performed" in public. But then, I do have a day job and the music has been a labor of love all my life.

My public performing friend had to learn to be a good performer on the street, or she didn't eat. Now she has about a dozen CDs out and does paying gigs. And she still does nursing homes, too, gratis.

A pox on those who have to get paid. We were good for nothing! -cp

wv: "equidi," a cross between a seahorse and a squid.

virgil xenophon said...

@Crack. I always used Satie for Sunday morning hangover/bloody-mary recovery time--along with the British 70s group "The Incredible String Band" for an alternate vibe but giving the same effect..

Clyde said...

Lots of good depressing Simon & Garfunkel choices: "Sound of Silence," "I Am A Rock," "Richard Cory," and perhaps the song that creeped me out the most as a kid, "Patterns." And of course, there's gotta be Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door."

Don't forget the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" (another creepout specialy to a six-year-old).

Clyde said...

@ ricpic 11:23

That wasn't Carol Herman, that was Herman Carol! I read it and laughed out loud, because I got the joke.

Old Dad said...

No one knows. My family and I watched my mother die, at her home, in her bed. The decline was slow--over years--until near the end. The end took about three weeks, for two of which she was conscious. We had home hospice, and they were fantastic. Money was not an issue. She could have had anything she wanted. She wanted very little except her family.

My impression is that dying slowly in bed is very hard work. She was not afraid. She was at peace with her maker. She knew it was over, she was ready as you'll ever get to die, but she didn't want to. She died in her "sleep." It was hideous.

Give the dying peace if you can. if that's music, great. None of us will know until then, I suppose.

Sixty Grit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freeman Hunt said...

As for watching human death, I'd say that the harder part is before the person is sliding in and out of consciousness, nearly comatose.

The hard part is when the person says things like, "You know what's strange? When I look this way, I can't see anything to the left of that post! Isn't that odd?" And you're certainly not going to reply, "Oh, then you must have gone blind in your left eye. This is probably the beginning of the end." Instead you have to say things like, "Yes, that is very odd! Luckily you're not missing anything. Nothing interesting going on to the left of that post."

Ann Althouse said...

"just trying to help"

Who are these people who think they are the ones to help? To intrude yourself into someone else's death... why do you think you are the one to do that? The dying person needs to stop what he's doing and figure out how to treat this intrusion, to be reasonably polite in this shred of time that remains for him.

Jose_K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jose_K said...

At least you dont needa tamburine or maracas:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8588938/Hospital-apologises-for-making-patients-shake-tamborine-for-nurse.html

Penny said...

With all the boomers rolling into their golden years, I'm surprised we haven't seen more innovative and capitalist thinking about this dying business. Pun intended.

If given an option, most people wouldn't choose to die in a hospital or a nursing home, and while clearly, the medical community needs to be involved at various points along the way, I don't see that they should be driving this train. You know damn well they want the final stop to be at the local hospital.

Penny said...

Give me some vouchers for end of life care, and I am sure that some private group of people will figure out how to make the experience both more pleasant and cheaper than the Medicare provided alternative.

caplight said...

I have watched many people die. Most of the time it is rather peaceful. I find those with compromised lung function the hardest for family and friends to see. I was there when both my parents drew there last breath. They died three days apart. I consistently find that what matters to the dying person is not the what it is the who. They want to be surrounded (not necessarily all at once or all the time) with the people who have given meaning to their life. And they want those people to be getting along with each other. Some of the most difficult deaths I have observed are where family members are arguing, jockeying for position and already dividing up the assets.that you think you will. Put your time into planning your funerals because planning the process of your death is a rather futile task.
Usually the family member who has been the least loving in life is the most troublesome in the dying process. From the sound of the comments I suggest that most of you will not pass in the manner

caplight said...

that you think. (sorry, blogger is acting up

Amartel said...

Ugh. "Comfort singers" a/k/a "The Death Panel."
Ghoulish, sanctimonious, bitter broads.
Loving family members should shoo them gently away because they provide the patient with strong motivation to end it all, right bloody now.

caplight said...

@ Penny: "With all the boomers rolling into their golden years, I'm surprised we haven't seen more innovative and capitalist thinking about this dying business. Pun intended."

They have. It's called "hospice." It began in the not-for-profit sector of the medical community but has moved into the income generating sector of the medical field. It is almost becoming standard practice in my part of the country to make a hospice referral. And unlike Crack (who really needs to get out of the Bay Area for a while) my experience is that hospice personal (even the guitar packing singing ones) are nothing short of angels. If you don't care about dying people and easing suffering you don't last in that field.

Hospice can't take the mystery out of dying but it has gone a long way in eliminating the myths. Boomers who are now burying their parents value experience and living in the moment and detest suffering. Hospice care is a nice fit for those values.

caplight said...

One of the greatest life lessons I ever learned was from my veterinarian, Dr George Gates. We were faced with our dog getting on in years and suffering with various stuff. He said to us with tears in his eyes, responding to our tears, "You don't have a 'feel good' here."
I have found that many times in life I am stuck in making a decision because there is no "feel good" option. I think back to that day and his wise words and inevitably I am able to make the call. BTW we chose to put our dog down rather than to continue her suffering.

Michael K said...

The worst thing in nursing homes is the TV playing eternally in the day room.

When I was a medical student, I spent a summer working in the VA psych hospital. That was in 1961 and the psychotics were still in hospitals instead of the street. The TV in the day room, especially on the closed ward, had a large number of devoted watchers. One of the attendants told me they were all receiving their instructions from it and so it was popular.

Penny said...

"They have. It's called "hospice.""

You need to think BIGGER, caplight, or at least understand that hospice providers, public or private, have grown on the coattails of the medical community, and as such, are merely stepchildren to taxpayer funded medical initiatives.

Are they helpful? Of course. Are families of dying patients grateful that they are there? Of course.

But you never even make it into hospice until they determine you only have another six weeks to live at best.

I am including the year before that, and many, many more.

I am also very clearly saying that even though a business SAYS it is "private", saying that doesn't make it so.

Think about "private contractors" in war zones, or "private contractors" in the construction business. Would any of these PRIVATE enterprises or even the self-employed survive without government funding or government rules that say they get cost plus plus?

NO! But we won't let that get in the way of falsely calling for smaller government, would we?

Penny said...

OK, I got sidetracked there for a bit.

Let me get back to entrepenuerial opportunities OUTSIDE of the sticky arms of government that I don't hate HALF so much as the rest of you.

"WORK" is very cool.

Penny said...

OK, so what if someone used the Match.com method of hooking up old folks with compatible...whatever!

Let the old folks fill in their own blanks, and for a fee, most likely.

Said person isn't six weeks from death, but looking for any number of things that might ease their way as they get closer to "the great beyond", or "their maker" or even the "cold hard dirt".

And just like Match.com, I would expect a series of questions and answers that would put me in touch with someone I want to spend precious little time with.

If the President wants to give me two blue pills? How much would he mind if I fogged out on one, and gave the other $200 to a local blues band that would give me great pleasure if they played in my living room?

caplight said...

@ Penny: OK. Gotcha. Too bad Dr Kevorkian exited too soon. It would be kind of like plastic surgery; mostly out of pocket. I'm seeing a corporate mission statement, "Helping people kick the bucket their way." Reaping profits from the Grim Reaper. I like it.

MadisonMan said...

Read (or speak) words.

Yesterday, my Dad read the Sunday NYTimes to Mom. They read it together for many many years on Sunday, I think it gave him great comfort to read it to her one final time. She was alert enough yesterday, at times, I think, to understand him. At least, I like to think that. Today? She slept almost all day. I suspect she has one or two more days. The ability to die in one's home is a blessing for the both of them, and I am very grateful to Hospice Care.

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Soylent Green may be people but it sure beats this.

Karl said...

I lived my formative years under the tutelage of a man who believed in Science over God. The dude exercised every day & biked to work well before it was cool. Ate all the green stuff & avoided the red - 'cept politically.

Parkinson's didn't give a shit.

It is easy to have Power of Attorney for a man who wants every thing coming to him. There are no choices to be made.

For me - I am working hard to minimize the diaper wearing years through a strict regime of drinking, smoking, and sloth.

Penny said...

Cap, it isn't about kicking the bucket, and it is most definitely NOT about getting sucked into "that which is available and subsidized by your government, that means well, BUT, has a SINGLE, LAST STOP in mind for you.

Unless, of course, it suits you to take your last breath at your local hospital, touting the praises of some government subsidized PRIVATE hospice.

Penny said...

The good news is that, even though you will die at your local hospital, all your grandkids will be going to government subsidized PRIVATE schools.

caplight said...

Penny
The problem I see is those five stages of dying. I think the big bucks might be getting them in the denial and anger stages. Once they get to acceptance they spend less money on elective activities.

The prospect of dying changes people and it is hard to put yourself in their frame of mind if you are not dying too.

Penny said...

There is a new "meme" afoot.

"Public/Private Partnership"

And before you hackles go up? Be absolutely sure you understand EXACTLY the positive impact your government has had on successful private business.

If that doesn't suit? Then by ALL means, head out over that hill, through that valley and over the next mountain.

Least I can do is to give you my best thoughts to get you started on a path laden only with fruit and nuts.

You won't starve, and you can take along a suitcase full of clothes if you wish. Shelter will come as you find it.

Is this a NEW underground railroad?

Not so sure. But if that bit of history gives you more courage?

Hey.

caplight said...

The Gummint never partners with anybody. Not really. They let you think it's a partnership but it's a cat and a canary. Sleep lightly.

Penny said...

"The problem I see is those five stages of dying."

Would it help you to know that the "five stages of grief" has been debunked? Do a Google search.

"The prospect of dying changes people and it is hard to put yourself in their frame of mind if you are not dying too."

We're ALL dying, for cripes sake. lol Born that way!

Don't want to minimize your point, however.

Just trying to suggest that there are an untold number of ways to inject LIFE into someone's last years or months or days or hours, provided they are not in a hospital, and not being tended to by someone who came from "you will not live for more than six weeks hospice".

FOOL ME! Trick me! Give me your best friggin' magic show!

Make me laugh! Make me say Awwww! Make me say WOWZER!

In the event that I am too worn out for your entertainment? Then get me some weed or some shrooms or a dot of "SUNSHINE".

If I'm in pain, give me some morphine, and if that doesn't work, give me MORE morphine.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Lucius,

Re: Bolero, it might have been "10," but there was also the Torvill & Dean ice dancing triumph in whatever Winter Olympics that was -- '84? Also, it doesn't hurt that by the time you've heard the piece once, you've heard the tune maybe sixteen times.

As for Ravel being "lavender," it depends what you listen to. I love pretty well all of it, but there are some, er, edgy things particularly dear to my heart. The Sonata for Violin and Cello comes to mind ...

wv: mereadbu. There's a letter missing. Me read buk!

David said...

I had the principal job, with some great family helpers, of shepherding first my second wife and then my mother through the last days of their lives. Both died in hospitals, because they needed something that only hospitals dare give in sufficient quantity. That thing is morphine.

They will give enough morphine only if family is there to advocate it. That requires that you be present by the side of the person dying, that you understand her wishes and that you form a good relationship with the supervisory physician. In one case, that physician was an Indian-American oncologist who had talked to me and my wife at some length about how things were likely to unfold. In the second case, my mother's,it was a very young, smart and compassionate female chief resident that I had known for about 10 hours.

In part we were just lucky. Many medical pros, including many in hospice, won't give large amounts of morphine at the end because it often hastens death by a number of hours. They are afraid of the police. But some have guts and say fuck the police and do what should be done to dampen the pain.

Penny said...

Frankly, I'm tired of hearing about all the kids who graduated from college with huge debt waiting to get tenure at some college or university that will never EVER allow them to escape their self-imposed slavery.

If you want to serve the poor and needy? Do it!

Want to make some money and work off that debt? Let me introduce you to the gray haired baby boomers who are just selfish enough to not save every last penny for their kids and grandkids.

This is a paradigm shift just ACHING to become a "happening".

Better yet? You don't need to be a doctor or a nurse or a therapist or a hospice worker or priest or pastor or a government worker to make things "POP".

Seems to me we only need some hard working schmoes with a little bit of creativity and a desire to make some money while doing a lot of good for a lot of people.

Boomers are an unusually LARGE demographic group, just waiting to bleat about their new, private pasture.

grange2500 said...

MadisonMan, I'm sorry to hear about your mother but so happy to hear about the gift of one more Sunday to share their reading time.
May both your mother and your father feel blessed and protected in the coming days.

Old Dad said...

MadMan,

Amen brother. Good hospice is from the angels. God bless you all. Just keep loving her as best you can.

Methadras said...

virgil xenophon said...

@Crack. I always used Satie for Sunday morning hangover/bloody-mary recovery time--along with the British 70s group "The Incredible String Band" for an alternate vibe but giving the same effect..


Julie Felix was hot as hell.

John Lynch said...

MM-

Read you a lot, and I'm sorry.

William said...

This is a fine thread to dump some late night musingg.....I'm in my late sixties. The next leg of life's great journey is senescence. If you think adolescence sucked, wait till you see sensescence. Well graduating from the nursing home is probably as much a relief as graduating from high school.... I knew a woman who worked in a nursing home. She said that some of the patients tried to look down her blouse when she tended to them. Old age has yet its comforts and rewards......Hey, Mr Tambourine Man by Dylan is a fine song about death. "Fade into my own parade". That's the way to go, embraced by Mother Night.......I like very old music because it doesn't remind me of my own mortality. Gilbert & Sullivan, Gershwin, Jerome Kern--they all came and went before I was even present. Rock music reminds me of when I was young, and there are memories attached to many of the songs. Mozart. That's the way to go. Great melodies that remind you of nothing.

Methadras said...

@Old Dad

No on knows how it will come. My father-in-law lived with us for 5 years until his passing. He was a Pearl Harbor survivor and after his time in the navy after the war, he became a mailman in a local route around the neighborhood where he owned his home. He lived by himself and his wife for 30 years (he was divorced from my wife's mother) and when his wife passed away from the complications of Parkinsons, he was alone. For a long time. We would go over to his apartment and help him out with cleaning up, doing his laundry, making sure things were tidy and clean for him, whatever he needed.

One day I got a call at my house from the local PD that my father-in-law was found stuck in his bathtub. He got it in his head he wanted to take a bath. He had two bad hips that he never got fixed, so it was hard for him to lift his legs beyond a certain point. He always took showers. So this time he wanted to take a bath. When he was done with the bath, he got stuck in the tub because of his prone position of laying down, he could get his legs high enough to leverage enough push to prop himself up and out.

He was stuck in that tub over the memorial day weekend. His next door neighbor was gone for that time, he lived in a duplex and kept banging on the wall in the bathroom that separated them, but no one was there. He had to turn on the hot water to keep himself warm and used it to drink. When his neighbor finally came back and heard the banging he called the PD who came and rescued him and called me, which in turn I called my wife and we all headed down there.

The man was shaken, a little thinner than he usually was and hungry. I grabbed him a couple of burgers and fries and he ate those like he never seen one before, but he was grateful to be alive. He told me that he thought for sure that was how was going to go, but it wasn't his time. My wife and I decided to uproot ourselves from the home we were in, to buy a bigger one that suited his ailments so he can come stay with us and we would take care of him.

He was with us for 5 years and in the last two months of those 5 he finally started to decline to the point that he had to go to a facility. We knew that near the end we had hospice come in and help us. Those people are living angels. They really are, but they never had a chance to help him. On a thursday night we saw him one last time and he was comfortable and we talked for a couple of hours and he was lucid and we told him we would see him tomorrow. My wife said she wanted to stay with him and that I should go home. She had a nagging feeling that it was time, but he shooed her away and said he's see her tomorrow. So she grudgingly left to come home with me. The next morning, I was outside picking up dog crap and getting ready to put the trash out and I heard the phone ring. This is around 6:30 in the morning. I knew and braced for it. Then I heard the most anguished NO!!! that I've ever heard in my life come from my wife's body. It was awful. I just stood outside with the shovel in my hand hanging my head down to say a prayer. My wife ran out screaming my name and said that dad had passed away and that we needed to go right now to see him in the facility.

It wasn't that far away, so about 15 minutes later we were there and we saw him and it looked like he had fought all night long against the reaper. His bed neighbor (it was a two bed room) said he was fighting it, but there was nothing he could do because he wasn't hearing him as he tried to comfort him from his bed. He died fighting all the way. That's just the way he was. You could see that it wasn't pleasant and was probably painful for him, but he was at least at peace.

My wife still fights the guilt to this day that she should have been there with him to see him through.

Methadras said...

William said...

Hey, Mr Tambourine Man by Dylan is a fine song about death.


Man, the tambourine is the single stupidest instrument ever made and played. It's useless and has no business being in music at all. The triangle has better standing that the tambourine.

Methadras said...

MadisonMan said...

Read (or speak) words.

Yesterday, my Dad read the Sunday NYTimes to Mom. They read it together for many many years on Sunday, I think it gave him great comfort to read it to her one final time. She was alert enough yesterday, at times, I think, to understand him. At least, I like to think that. Today? She slept almost all day. I suspect she has one or two more days. The ability to die in one's home is a blessing for the both of them, and I am very grateful to Hospice Care.


MM, my heart and prayers are with you. May your dad and you find comfort and peace for yourselves and your mom. All the best brother.

The Crack Emcee said...

My father died curled up in bed, asleep, with a glimmer of a smile on his face. My grandfather died the same way. I hope I'm just as lucky.

I've seen a lot of deaths. So many I'm used to it now. The worst was my friend, Robert, who died with his mother on his chest, demanding he pray and he screaming he didn't know how. Another was my friend's father, shot down by his brother-in-law after an argument over what record they'd play. He got six years and, after he got out of prison, moved into Nate's house with his sister.

My favorite is still my wife's guru, Scotty, who I stood over and laughed as he died of AIDS. I had been led to think he was merely my wife's gay friend, but he interfered with our life to such an extent I hated him, and was glad to see him go. If that sounds cruel to you, I'll remind you that, by then, I'd seen many deaths before and his was nothing special - except it meant I was finally free of him, and got to spend a bit of quality time, alone with my wife, for a change. It took his death to achieve that and, in case you can't figure it out, I was a much different person back then:

I would put up with almost anything for my wife.

Kirk Parker said...

Althouse,

"don't play music... Give me something to think about."

You (or the musicians) are doing it wrong.

Freeman,

If you set the volume such that the loud part of Bolero isn't really loud, then you can't even hear the beginning.

And sorry about your dog death--our older Keeshond (who was a more noble creature than any dog I've had before or since) died quietly at home, sitting on the floor next to us. Just let out a big sigh and stopped breathing.

Two days earlier he had collapsed on our daily walk--the first sign of any real trouble, though had had obviously been aging--took him to the vet and found he was riddle with tumors. So of course it was time to put him out of his misery, but we couldn't bring ourselves to rush it. So we brought him home from the vet, and that evening he just died, completely peacefully.

I dug a grave in the back yard and buried him, violating who-knows-how-many city and county ordinances in so doing, but I couldn't see him deserving any less.

AJ Lynch said...

Mad Man- I know you have been a good son and will be there for your Dad. Your parents know that too and it is a great comfort to both of them. My thougts are with you - hang in there.

SGT Ted said...

"Public/Private Partnership"

Two foxes discussing dinner with the chicken.

No Name said...

I'll play some good death songs

"He Stopped Loving Her Today"
"Long Black Veil"
"What I Don't Know (Might Get You Killed)"

Freeman Hunt said...

MadisonMan,

Very sorry to hear about your mother. That's wonderful that she can be at home. Thoughts and prayers with you and yours.

Nate Whilk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nate Whilk said...

To those who like this sort of thing, please do not let me stop you from enjoying it and the comfort it gives you.

But I'm reminded of Sinead O'Connor and Death Midwives back in 2003 (bottom of page):

O'Connor, who married for the second time in 2001, said she hopes to start studying theology in September. She's particularly interested in a group called Death Midwives.

"They help people who are dying not to be afraid and help make death gentle and calm and even a growing experience," she wrote. "I am very interested in that area of pastoral care."


Echoing someone who commented on this, I say that with someone like O'Connor around I wouldn't just accept death, I'd WELCOME it!

caplight said...

My mother was in a coma having suffered a massive cerebral bleed two days after my father had died of a stroke. We had taken her off the ventilator but she still continued to breathe and her heart just wouldn't quit. As her breathing and color changed I recognized that time was very short. My brother and I were standing vigil with her. As I read to her from Psalm 116 she began to draw what were her last breaths. When I read the words, "Precious in the sight of the LORD
Is the death of His saints.
16 O LORD, truly I am Your servant;
I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant;
You have loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
And will call upon the name of the LORD,"
a tear rolled down her cheek and she was gone.

MadMan, I pray that your mother finds peace and that you and your family find grace and comfort in the Almighty, in your friends and in each other. If life was different I would feel privileged to come and cry with you.

ken in sc said...

This reminds me of a story about an institutionalized woman who had not spoken for several years. When being serenaded by a bagpiper finally spoke. She said, “That will enough of that.”

Luther said...

Having witnessed this twice in the last three years, here's what happens when someone is 'checked into' hospice.

No food, no water other than moistened sponge to the mouth. No turning to the side to clear the lungs.

The first experience I was there by myself to hear the final drowning gurgles. Death by asphyxiation.

The second experience was death by dehydration. He lasted ten days, though, with a strong heart to the end.

The one thing that is given is drugs, lots and lots of drugs. In both incidences twelve hours after admittance there was no more communication. The entire Souza led Marine Band could have been there in all its glory. Wouldn't have been heard.

Since Medicare started funding hospice it is a growth industry. Dr. Kevorkian in a pleasant and longer lasting setting is all it is.

I'm not necessarily condemning the industry, after all, it has its place I suppose.