Saturday, October 31, 2009

Varlam, Robo-Fag, and the doctors

RantWoman is having this kind of awful reaction every time she gets another item from her friend Lynn's Caring Bridge site. Again?

There is a famous Georgian movie from the era of the collapse of the Soviet Union called Repentance. The movie is supposed to be this huge metaphor about trying to bury Stalin, though the stiff that keeps turning up at every turn in the movie is called Varlam. RantWoman is thinking of Varlam every time she gets another message about Lynn's journey out of this world.

RantWoman confesses she does not remember a lot of the movie plot except that the family tries to go about doing a bunch of different things and this Stalin-faced sarcophagus keeps turning up in the middle of whatever they are doing. Even though this is supposed to be a great masterpiece of post-Soviet culture, one of RantWoman's main motivations in attending was to be indoors in air conditioning during utterly disgusting summer humidity in Indiana. RantWoman also saw the movie dubbed in Russian over the Georgian, and the dubbing voice had a very strong Georgian accent, so RantWoman found attending to plot details very difficult.

RantWoman also suspects that even the background of the image is probably way more than Lynn or Margaret want to interact with. RantWoman is posting her meditations to her own blog rather than the guestbook because they are a little tasteless and irreverant. It's Halloween and lots of things--besides bailed out banks and all that zombie craze stuff--are muddling back and forth between this world and the next. Even so, if Varlam is not exactly applicable and RantWoman is going to go on at length best do it in her own blog.

Lynn took her last voluntary drink of water on Monday. Last we knew she is still among the living, having her lips moistened and nothing else. RantWoman finds herself wondering, is there some sunset Lynn is supposed to see, some baby she is supposed to hear wail, some music or hug she is supposed to experience?

RantWoman is also pretty sure in Lynn's situation, even if she were heartily sick of many realities, she might decide to change her mind and swill a lot of water and put things off until it's more obviously time. RantWoman supposes she would want to be in the care of people who would honor this change of mind. But then, RantWoman could not even put her own cat to sleep when it was totally obvious to everyone except RantWoman that it was time: cat suffered two more days on RantWoman's account. RantWoman is really, really glad not to be in Margaret's shoes.

Thanks to Halloween-themed free association, though, RantWoman is muddling about on another tangent, whether it is harder to usher a loved one out of this world if one is a healer and healthcare practitioner than an ordinary person.

RantWoman's friend who passed away on the Fourth of July was the son of a famous gerontologist. The father as well as a lot of friend's family were present at his passing. So was RantWoman, but it was his father who pronounced him dead and dutifully wrote down the exact time of death for the death certificate.

Friend had been supposed to ride with the mayor in the Fourth of July parade in connection with volunteer of the year recognition of a lot of public education work about AIDS, but he was, um, indisposed. The Fourth of July parade was one of those hometown events that featured a lot of little kids on garishly-decorated bicycles and an honest-to-god portable toilet on the portable toilet company's truck. RantWoman went with friend's sister and niece to the parade in the morning and had quite a good time.

RantWoman thinks at least one of his parents was with her friend but does not remember. RantWoman does not remember much of the rest of the day except that everyone gathered again at friend's apartment in the evening. Besides the fizzling firework, there was a hospice worker who,after the friend's passing, offered some warbling oboe music while we all waited for the coroner. Not quite adequate oboe performance is a recurring theme in RantWoman's life, which is one reason the detail sticks in her head.

Over the next few days, RantWoman helped friend's family clean out his apartment. RantWoman especially remembers friend's mother coming across some boxes covered in tinfoil and asking what they were. RantWoman had not previously seen the friend's Robo Fag getup from a trip to the bar the previous Halloween, but she knew exactly what it had to be: "Oh, I think it's a Halloween costume." Friend's mother, RantWoman decided, had a right not to have to know exactly the details. RantWoman also remembers, one of the last things we did when cleaning out the apartment: we played the answering machine with friend's voice one more time. "This is (friend's name). I cannot come to the phone right now, but please leave a message. ..."

RantWoman has two other friends close to her age who are medical practitioners and have ushered parents out of this world. RantWoman's friend the gay dentist who is still in the army reserve was at his father's side. This friend talked about how his dad said three different times three different ways that he was ready to go.

RantWoman has a friend from high school who is now an AIDS researcher. RantWoman did not know friend's parents very well. RantWoman remembers one conversation with her friend's mother, The mom suggested that, although the League of Women voters is a teensy bit liberal for her taste, that a young RantWoman might really like getting involved with them. Indeed?

As friend's mother aged, RantWoman's friend fretted many times about her fear of her mother smoking while on oxygen, and friend reported her mother had to have one last drag on a cigarette before the ambulance hauled her off to the hospital. The other funny detail RantWoman's friend shared: upon cleaning out her mother's house she found something like 30 pairs of perfectly folded brand new polyester pants. She has no idea what her mother was thinking with the pants.

RantWoman, again, does not want Lynn to have to be here a second longer than she is supposed to and she sends heartfelt prayers to all who are closer. RantWoman especially hopes that by the time she herself is figuring out which local requiem performance she is going to. that Lynn will also have found rest.

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