We take from our life experiences certain things that create meaning, and provide a simple answer when we search for some type of cosmic understanding of life’s problems.
This weekend I lost my dog Dustin. He was an old Golden Retriever that weathered being run over, losing his leg, and putting up with the vagaries of old age that would stymie even the most steadfast of dogs. In Dustin’s later years, his personality bloomed. If you would come over to my house for a visit, Dustin would take a pillow off of one of the beds and bring it to you. You didn’t have to ask him, he would know that you were a friend and he would want you to be comfortable.
He loved Egg McMuffins and belly rubs. When he was able he would get on the couch next to you, put a big hairy arm with those huge puppy paws on your shoulder, and rest his head. This was his way of giving a hug. You were instantly his uncle or aunt and he would remember you when you returned. He asked for nothing more than love, which he gave back in abundance.
In his old age Dustin’s needs became more immediate. His schedule was erratic. He could no longer get through the doggie door without a gentle nudge, he could no longer clean himself without the assistance that a moist towelette provides. He would wake me up in the middle of the night asking to be let out. I would wait for him while he did his business at 2 in the morning, often impatiently, often with a few choice curse words that did little to hurry him along. When his one hind paw could no longer get purchase on the slick wood floors, I duct taped it up (to the horror of his vet), and then reversed the duct tape so that the sticky side was exposed. This allowed him to walk under his own power. He felt good about that.
I could do this for my dog, yet I cannot do this for my mother. I don’t feel good admitting that, but her needs are amplified and can only be met through technology and skilled nursing care. Dustin’s needs were simple.
My mother’s needs are complex. Seth Ellis and the rest of his ilk would want you to "age at home." This might work for animals, but humans require more than moist towelettes and gentle nudges.
However, they both require commitment. The commitment that is lacking from those who now carry the ‘We Take Care of Our Own’ flag.
It’s sad that the lesson that we learn from our pets do not transfer well to our fellow man. I’m sure Jeff Katzenberg has a pet. Maybe a dog, or a cat. I’m not even going to ask the rhetorical question that you are now expecting. The answer is he wouldn’t.
Why is it that we treat our animals with more respect and commitment than we do our fellow man? How can the board of directors of The Motion Picture Home summarily discharge those in their care? Why do they refuse to accept donations for the one part of the fund that is most needy? Why do they alarm and terrify the elderly with questions on "where are they going to move to?" Why do they plant bogus police cars in the parking lot to intimidate the residents and their families? Why do they financially reward those who have orchestrated this opus? You see where I’m going with this.
The treatment of the elderly of the Long Term Care unit is unconscionable, even more so when you realize that they wouldn’t do this to a dog.
The Motion Picture Industry is probably the most charitable industry on the planet. We personify all that is good in this world — we are the first to recognize diversity in employment, we design magic and then employ it to inspire and fill our senses. When there is a catastrophe, we are the first to react, the first to reach into our pockets, and the first to organize relief using the gift that God gave us — creativity.
Then why not to our own elderly who built this industry from their own sweat? Why do we as an industry of charity accept the lies that a nursing home can bring down the entire Motion Picture and Television Fund?
We wrapped Dustin in a blanket on Saturday and put him in the car. My wife, who is the strength of the family, took him to the vet where she cradled Dustin in her arms until his eyes closed and the vet somberly remarked, "He’s gone." There is a simple dignity there. His last days were spent in his home. I only wish that my mother’s last days are spent in the home she is in now, The Motion Picture Home. It’s a great place to end up in.
We will keep it that way. It’s the humane thing to do.
Please join us Saturday for our Don’t Break The Promise rally. We will stand vigil outside of Jeffrey Katzenberg’s "The Night Before" party. The funds he raises will not go to the most needy of The Motion Picture Home.
We will not let the promise be broken. Please stand with us.
Saturday, March 6
5:00 p.m. To 9:00 p.m.
Will Rogers Memorial Park
Across from The Beverly Hills Hotel.
Bring your doggies.