Arlo Guthrie wrote the Motorcycle Song (The Significance of the Pickle) in 1967 as part of the counter-revolution then sweeping the country. Son of folk musician Woodie Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie’s best known work is Alice’s Restaurant Massacree. The chorus to the Motorcycle Song is as follows:
I don’t want a pickle
Just want to ride on my motorcycle
And I don’t want a tickle
‘Cause I’d rather ride on my motorcycle
And I don’t want to die
I just want to ride on my motorcy – cle.
Clearly, the lyrics are not going to resonate with most for long, but it is amazing to me that 50 plus years later they still have a place in my brain. I think this is because inane as the words may be they strike a chord with us because none of us want to die; we just want to go on as we always have. Yet as we all know the one constant in life is change.
I remember reviewing a posting on YouTube in which a person dying of cancer commented that they had blinked and their life had passed them by. Today, as I look at my mom, now in a nursing home, it does seem only like yesterday she was comforting me as a child or teaching me some principle she believed in. She was not a perfect mom, but then again, I am not a perfect son. I do know, despite her inability to recognize me today, that I was loved and am loved by her.
But neither my father, my sister, or my brother were prepared for what has happened. Despite the signs that evidenced my mom was slipping into dementia we ignored what was happening. We did not plan; we did not meet as a family; we did not seek answers to the issues that were beginning to confront us. Rather, we kept riding our motorcycles down a road we thought would never end, but it did.
When my mother went off the cliff, so to speak, we had less than 24 hours to find her long-term care. The rehab facility we had trusted told my mother, the patient with dementia, they were discharging her, but they never told my father or anyone else in my family. There was no assistance in finding a placement option, and there were no satisfactory answers to the questions we had. I remember my father and I speaking about what our options were, and I warned him that any option would be expensive. I remember the anguish in his voice as he told me he would pay any price to find solutions.
We ultimately worked it out, but how much easier it would have been if we had stopped riding for a moment and had looked at a roadmap. We could have done some elder care planning, and we could have taken some steps to ensure a smooth transition to long-term care. We could have protected more of my father’s money, and we could have prevented some of the emotional roller-coaster he was forced to ride.
Too often we are all like this; we refuse to see the forest for the trees. I recently tried a case in which a mom is fighting jurisdiction in Colorado concerning the custody of her children. Although relations between her and her ex-husband have been strained she ignored the signs that a child custody fight was brewing, but ignoring the problem did not keep it from coming. So it is with us all; someday will come, and we had better be prepared for what it will bring. If we can help you with your family or elder care issue, contact us. We may not be able to stop the movement of time, but we can probably help prevent the impact from being what it might.