She pets the old dog and he is kind, with his soft eyes. He affords you his love, and you afford him housing and forgiveness.

Forgive the food and water dish overturned.

Forgive the shit on the cherry stained wooden floor.

He is an old dog from the pound

and he doesn’t like change

and he can’t deal

and he’s getting back at you.

He’s getting back at life.

You’re used to this, sure. You know that no matter what you say, sometimes they can’t deal.

Working in healthcare taught you that.

You say, “Here are your meds” and they regard you as the devil, because there was no premise. You didn’t follow the small verbal traditions they expect. You are crushed for time, and under client overload.

But they are human beings and they expect normalcy. And tradition. And respect for their human-ness.

And rightly so.

You say, in all honesty and care, “ This is recommended you by the doctor; it’s for your health” – and they spit at you. They claw your skin. If your tone is off, if you use a slightly different phrase

suddenly they hate you.

Alzheimers speaks for them – it takes them over. Their world is murky and all they know is a small routine

at pill time.

So exactly who the fuck are you to mess it up?

This is the curse of the twilight of life and I want no part. I’ve seen it unfold. Too much “as-needed” cough medicine given by the careless nurse - too much death in his bones, pneumonia in his lungs, and germs in visiting winter colds

So he slips off to a forever sleep and when you go to take his blood pressure and give him his meds, you find him dead.

And no one believes you that he’s dead

until he’s been cold for four hours

and doesn’t open his eyes when told it’s dinnertime.

His roommate repeating, “Boy, he must really be tired.” And then there’s Jeffery. He had a monstrous tumor.

No family visited him even once.

But with minimal fight left, he argued against the state not approving his nutritional shakes staying in the personal refrigerator in his room.

It was torture to get him to understand the rules of such a small, fucking insignificant thing, when he was days from death.

I lobbied for him even though I knew it wouldn’t change anything.

“Rules are rules,” is what I was told.

But when it comes to human beings near death - while I dutifully followed said rules - they’re suddenly not worth the ink and paper they’re printed on.

I nursed his morphine. I sponged his tongue. But I couldn’t sit near him constantly because I had others to take care of. As I walked by the nurse while making my rounds, she told me he’d finally let go.

I said, “Ok. Thank you.”

I walked around the corner.

And I cried. I sobbed.

For the stupidity of the state controlling every little thing.

For his earnestness

for his life lived

for his Worth as a human being.

There was Christine – and the nurse insisting I follow orders to put on her TED stockings to help her circulation even though she was on hospice, waiting to die.

Her ADAMANT refusal.

Her infuriating but funny trickery to get me to do away with it.

She died a week later – stocking free - and I will never forget her stubbornness.

When I go, I want to be riding a motorcycle, sliding under a truck, burning off my skin and grinding down my femurs.

I want to be happy and full of life

and then not there.

I don’t want to be a burden

or to turn into bad memories for my loved ones.

I don’t want a million medicines to take, delaying death

and I don’t want to give my caretakers a hard time because I constantly forget who they are.

Or piss myself.

Or fight them

And accuse them of trying to steal from me.

I want to be chopping wood, or humming while I dry a just-cleaned dish

and one day collapse.