Sometimes, soaps make you laugh, cry, toss your shoes at the TV or even turn off the television completely. When a show is truly awful, I think they could not pay me to watch. Oh, wait. They do.
And then, some stories are so close to one's own life they are heartbreaking.
Presently, "General Hospital's" Mike (Max Gail) is tearing me to shreds with his end-stage Alzheimer's story. My mother suffered a brain stem stroke. For nine months, she was mostly nonresponsive.
"General Hospital" has done amazing work with the story of Mike's struggle with his ailment, and Sonny's struggle with supporting him. Sonny has him home for a while. My mom, Rose, was in a coma for over half a year. When a nursing home was needed, I felt guilty. How could I abandon my mother? Eventually, I had to take that step. The first home was a nightmare. They wanted to cut the ligaments in her arms. What if she came to? She would have no movement in her arms.
Like Sonny, I searched everywhere for a cure or to something to improve her condition. I took her several times by air ambulance to a clinic in New York that specialized in coma arousal.
Like Sonny, whenever my mom made the slightest move, my heart would sing. When she regressed, it was a twisted knife in my heart. I tried different exercise programs. Some worked. For the first time in months, she could hold up her head. There was the charlatan who would take a bright light shine it in her eyes to wake her up. I would have the aroma of coffee and bacon in the air in hopes that her favorite things would stir her in the morning. The coffee did. I ate the bacon. I hired round the clock nurses to exercise her limbs. Make certain she did not choke.
Like Sonny deciding if he should put Mike on a feeding tube, I knew his angst. My mom was on a feeding tube and ventilator for months. For hours on end, the doctors hectored me to stop treating her. Nope.
When Sonny told Mike he would take him home, a tear ran down Mike's cheek. The exact thing happened with my mom. When I promised to take her home, she uttered her first word in months, "Home." It was her last word for the rest of her life.
One day, she coded three times. I began to think I was not saving her for her sake but mine.
I went into her hospital room. I told her I would always miss her, but I would be OK. If she wanted to be with my dad, who had died seven years before, I understood. That perfect tear rolled down her cheek and we said goodbye. During those months, I never missed a column deadline or my thrice weekly TV appearances. I did it for me and her. I know she would say, "Are you serious? How would destroying your career help me?"
I spent every other moment at her side. I was her advocate. I knew I really could go on when, a year later, I remembered some of the things she did that made me crazy. Trust me, I returned the favor. Mothers and daughters.
"General Hospital" has done a splendid, shattering job of the journey Mike and his family are taking. It is a sad but worthwhile journey.
To find out more about Lynda Hirsch and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: truthseeker08 at Pixabay