Don’t Mess with the GrandmasAugust 20th, 2009 © by Susan Swartz
I’d like to speak for the grandma camp, the people some fear will be doomed if the president and health reformers have their way. Which grandmas are they trying to scare? Are the fear-mongers so out of the loop they don’t know anything about today’s grandmothers? Grandmas have come a long way since the old Saturday Evening Post Norman Rockwell image, although despite their sweet smiles and homey aprons, I doubt even they would have let anyone push them around.
The modern day grandmas I know, including myself, do not scare easily. President Obama understands the value of grandmas. In dispelling this notion about death panels he spoke of his own grandmother who helped raise him. Does anyone really think that he became president so he could pull the plug on grandmas?
Remember too, that he’s got a grandmother at home right now, his mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, who put her career on hold to help run the household so Barack and Michelle can do their jobs. You think this man is going to mess with grandmas?
The grandmothers I know are much more into living than dying. They tango dance, move to Mexico to teach English, go sea kayaking and run marathons, not to mention their own businesses. And, like grandmas always have, they find time to help raise their kids’ kids.
They have lived their lives as independent take-charge women, but they are also realists and know they won’t live forever. They’re not squeamish about discussing end-of-life decisions. They don’t worry about someone pulling the plug. Rather, they worry about someone some day putting in the plug when there’s no earthly reason to keep them going.
As for advance health directives or living wills, which some have twisted into a death panel, many grandmas are already doing it for themselves.
We realized long before the cruel circus that gathered around Terry Schiavo back in the George W. years that you don’t want religion, politics or family grandstanding their beliefs if you become a long-gone human in a vegetative body. You want your desires written down.
Our family doctor talked to my husband and me about filling out a durable power of attorney for health care the same time she urged us to get a colonoscopy. She didn’t insist on either but suggested that after age 50, both are unwise to ignore.
I am grateful for the part in my directive that says I intend to control my own medical care and if I can’t, it will be up to those who love me most and who understand my wishes. It states that I prefer to die at home and please spare me any futile medical treatment.
Some people would choose a different way. But for me having an end of life understanding feels empowering, like signing the organ donation form so that if I get hit by a bus and there’s anything left the hospital can give my cornea or kidneys to someone who can use them.
I was relieved when the president finally talked back to the ghouls and said their death panel scare tactic was “simply dishonest.” If that’s the best argument they have they’re pitching to the wrong crowd. You can’t pull the pashmina over our eyes.
Grandmas are too tough to be victimized and too busy to be targets. Do you think we spend every morning at the gym and popping fish oil to let someone off us at their convenience? Besides, trying to scare a population of aging boomers, on the cusp of Medicare, who will remain the loudest and most powerful generation for years to come, is not only insulting but politically stupid.
And one more bit of grandmotherly advice. If you look ugly and tell lies and keep interrupting with your tantrums you’re going to end up on YouTube and your face will freeze like that.