Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I had a frightening conversation this week in the lunch room at work and have had nightmares ever since. I was asked the question, "If you are in a coma, who would pluck your chin hairs?" This is a cruel question for any woman over forty. Although this may not seem like typical lunch room chit chat for most people, we were talking about our biggest fears. I made the bold statement now that my children were practically grown being in a coma was no longer a big fear.

For the record I have lots of fears. When my children were little, I had a fear of dying and leaving my children without a mother. I think some of it was too much time spent with Disney characters- motherless young women easily duped by mean people until some guy shows up. Cinderella, Bella, Snow White, The Little Mermaid..... the list was endless. So, I took out 2 life insurance policies, so they would be able to have piano lessons and go to college if I died. All their finances would be handled by my youngest brother until they were adults.

When my children reached an age where they would be old enough to remember my nagging voice from the beyond telling them to brush their teeth and stand up straight, my imminent death fell off the fear radar and was replaced by the fear of sustaining a head injury and becoming the mother that has to relearn the alphabet and sucks away all the family resources. Being the rational (obviously) mother that I am, I got a living will. Despite many conversations with my family, my mother could never be on board with letting me go. I could be in the deepest coma ever recorded and she would say something like "Look she twitched on purpose!" My mom is the person who reads about some guy who wakes up after 20 years and believes that miracles are possible for everyone. She would be right there visiting me, brushing my hair, and putting lipstick on me. Once again, my youngest brother stepped up to the plate and promised me that he would pull the plug if necessary.

But now thanks to a lunch room chat, the coma is back on the list. Who will pluck my chin hairs if I am unconscious in the hospital? My mother does not have the attention to detail (eyesight) that she once did. My children may promise to pluck my chin hairs if I am in a coma, but don't buy it. However well-intentioned they are, they make promises they can't keep. I have lived the classic "if we get a dog, we will feed it and take care of it" scenario. I take care of the dog. There is a good chance the dog will not be fed if I am in a coma, so now I just feel selfish worrying about chin hairs while the dog is at home slowly starving to death. Luckily for the dog, I know that I can count on my brother. This will be our next phone call:

me: Hey Jon, if I am in a coma will you feed the dog?
Jon: Sure (said with just the right amount of 'my sister is crazy' overtone)
me: Thanks!
Jon: No problem

I love my brother and rely on him to pull the plug if necessary, but I do draw the line at asking him to pull out my chin hairs.