"If I don't believe in solipsism, who will?" - Al Batt

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Marlene Bibeau

I met Mark and Jane Stonich through my daughter. When she was in college, Addy worked in a home for ladies who needed just a little help dealing with their life. Mark and Jane Stonich  live next door to the home and occasionally stop by their neighbors just to make certain everything is going okay. Last month one of the ladies died. I am taking the liberty of posting the following edited from an email from Mark to Addy and myself, to celebrate Marlene's life and to thank Mark and Jane, and all the other wonderful people who give of their time and energy to help their friends and neighbors. 

"Marlene was healthy, by her standards, until about a week before she passed away. When born she had a typical life expectancy of 20 years. She managed 71.

At the viewing they had a monitor running a loop of still photos of her. Always smiling, even as a baby. It was clear from the photos that her family was very active and included her in everything. Pictures of her on toboggans and in boats etc. Even recently she had a niece who would pick her up and bring her to soccer games.

However until she got her first powered chair, about 25 years ago, she had zero independence. This is why she would get pissed off when new aides thought they needed to accompany her on her excursions. She loved to go wherever people were working, especially tree trimmers. If I were stuck in her chair, seeing these strong, agile men working high off the ground would have depressed the hell out of me. Maybe she did those things in her dreams.

There is a woman who lives a block north of us and owns a landscaping company that does a lot of work in the neighborhood. When I asked if she knew Marlene, she said, "She must be the one my guys call "The Supervisor"."

Marlene loved critters, any kind of critter. When our Raleigh was a kitten he would climb all over Marlene and her chair, which bugged the hell out of Toby. Most of the time I didn't have a camera handy but she always laughed like it was the funniest thing she'd ever seen.

Mary Jo handled it pretty well but JoAnne was a wreck for a while. They kept Toby. With only two women there the gov't won't pay for 24 hour staffing. So until they find a 3rd resident Ted and some of the others are sometimes there, off the clock. They have arranged it so that Mary Jo and JoAnne are both gone for a good chunk of the day. So they are rarely home alone and MJ has all the neighbors on speed dial."
Mark Stonich
Addendum!!!!!  This is Mark's next email. Mark, you are a beautiful thing. You make me feel good.

"Ted is a 24/7 saint. When he finishes work, at wages that are 1/3 of what they would be in a just universe, he goes home to care for his longtime partner. An 80 year old man in a wheelchair who is always on oxygen. To honor Marlene's memory the two of them made it all they way up to the funeral in White Bear Lake. There they sat solemnly in the church of "Hide the Pedophile" and Proposition 8 while a priest, who didn't seem to know Marlene, went on and on about how great his church and it's version of God are.

If there is a God and he/she/it decides who hits the afterlife jackpot, I don't think where a person goes on Sunday morning or who they love are going to be much of a factor.

Marlene was a terrible driver. Fearless and with lousy coordination. One day she lost control in front of our house and headed towards the street at an angle that meant she would surely tip over when she went over the curb. But while we almost never parked in front, that day Jane's Taurus was there. So like a NASCAR driver safely sliding to a stop along the wall at Darlington, she went nearly the length of the car. Her chair gouging the bodywork & scraping so much white paint off the Taurus that Marlene looked like she'd been in a Hollywood version of a snowstorm. She was mortified at creating so much damage. Until she found out that the reason the car was there, to keep her from a bad crash, was that Jane's new car had taken it's place in the garage. The Taurus was waiting to be donated to a school where students would use it to learn body work. So maybe there is a God.

When Jane informed a man on our block of Marlene's passing he said, "Probably for the best, I'd rather be dead than stuck in one of those chairs." We have known him for 35 years yet neither of us can remember him ever expressing any sort of happiness. Perhaps he deserves the pity we once, mistakenly, had for Marlene. He spends his days drinking and smoking and tending his flowers. (Beautiful flowers, showing that very few people are a complete waste of oxygen)."
Mark Stonich


Margadant said...

I concur in the opinion of the Chief Justice.

Silk Hope said...