Not only for the usual anti-consumerist/grouchy reasons, those too. I hate Mother’s Day because my mother died of complications from cancer two years ago later this month and I haven’t recovered from it. I’ve lived in denial of the Hallmark Holiday both last year, and this one, much to the very likely disappointment of my step-mother.
I live across the country, and because of that, Mother’s Day weekend 2015 was the last time I saw her able to walk. Due the rapid decline of her health after that, it was also the last time I was able to talk to her her before she lost the ability to speak. She lost the ability to communicate when I was still in the car from the airport to the hospital room. I missed being able to say goodbye by about twenty minutes.
There is a lot to the story, and a lot of it very heartbreaking and very personal. But some of it is very specific to liberal and leftist policies that I have supported in the past, and continue to push via social media and campaign volunteer work. Some of it is very universal to the people I share this beautiful country with.
My mother was 66-and-three-quarters and had Medicare and Social Security. She also had an additional plan backing all that up, but the point is: she had access to services and assistance that very few people in this country do. Despite that, she still had to shop for doctors, make sure that her medical records were collected from wherever and sent to whomever she saw next. Maybe nothing could have helped her. Her final days were a surprise. The cancer was discovered on vacation, no origin was found, but chemotherapy was started as quickly as possible. She transferred hospitals, and doctors, and went in for another biopsy that was inconclusive.
Ultimately — she went in for a checkup— and never came home again.
If she had been two years younger or had a different plan, I don’t know what would have happened. I can’t imagine the alternatives would have been any better. And given that she had previously survived breast cancer a few years prior, she might not have been able to get coverage if not for the ACA.
There are too many unknowns, and the information that I have been able to get out of my step-dad about those last few weeks is just too opaque. I do know that if it hadn’t been for Social Security and Medicare, the stress and confusion would have likely been an addition to a burden that was already unbearable… as would the months following.
What I came away with though was a new clarity: What services she had been provided were due to a private policy and a single-payer system established for retirees. The latter was what hooked me and made me question how people could survive the twin disasters of being extremely sick and being too poor to survive the cost of their treatment.
Single-payer Medicare-for-all is an equalizer, economically and socially. What my mother received in care shouldn’t be limited to a small group of people.
There are kids with mother’s much younger than mine dying from diseases every day. There are families that cannot afford to even get the private care that my parents used to subsidize their insurance, or haven’t had a life that blessed them with the savings they needed to retire.
The list continues. Not just the what-ifs about my mother’s care, but the ways that a family could be less fortunate than mine.
And thinking about those possibilities terrifies me now in a way I hadn’t considered before. About what their lives might have looked like, what mine could be, what my siblings lives could look like. Neighbors, friends, etc.
It makes me think about the kind of control insurance companies and hospital administrators have over our lives and our health. That the search for profit is obscuring the basic reason why most doctors, nurses, and researchers get into this industry: saving lives.
And life is one of the core rights listed stated by the foundational document of this nation.
The greedy milking of the American people is cruel, inhumane, and sinful… and corporate control of those lives violates the spirit of our democracy.
No corporate office has the right to determine who lives or dies by their viability to pay their debts. No corporate middle manager has the right to determine the policy benefits that will run out on someone else’s parent, sibling, child, friend, lover, or a stranger.
Healthcare is a human right, because we have the right to live. What isn’t a right is the ability to bankrupt us for that right.
Single-payer means more people will go to the doctor for preventative care, seek help before it’s a major concern, afford the treatment, and be able to take the medications they need. The only people that get hurt are the people who make a lot of money off of our lives. It can never save every life, but think of all those people whose lives could be saved.
Single-payer is about all of us, not just some of us, and certainly not just a few of us.
Those are all the noble reasons why I value the idea of a single-payer Medicare-for-all system. Really this story is about how I miss my mom, and I really wish I didn’t have to. And I don’t want anyone else to have to miss theirs if there is a way to avoid it.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Author: David Fredrick