Kickbacks 101

She walked in with her husband Jerry.  Jerry had worked for the State of Nevada.  A sharp guy at one time; he’d dealt with computers, programs.  All heady stuff.  Lots of stress in his job; I didn’t ask why or how.  Stress is rampant, kinda like the reality show we’ve all gotta watch, because it’s our show.

Nice lady, Gayle, but worry had pressed its mark in her face.  When she smiled, which was rarely, it seemed as if her body had forgotten those muscles.

“Jerry had a stroke,” she said.  “How many I don’t know.  The other places don’t want him.”

I knew of “the other places.”  The County’s Daybreak, Share the Day, and the Continuum.

“Seems odd,” I said.  “He seems to be a good enough guy.”  I looked at Jerry.  “You’re a good guy, ain’t ya?”

He shrugged.

“We fight at home,” said Gayle.

It was an early introduction to the caregiving world, at least those of other people.  Here was a woman who’d married a man in the prime of his life.  He’s working his ass off for her, for him, for a future.  It’s not easy; one day a blood vessel pops, and this baby is in a bad place.  Everything changes.  You want love to solve it all, and it does for a while.  Then fatigue sets in, your back wrenches, the bathroom becomes a sanctuary.

I’d felt this with my late wife.  You want them to live, you want normal.

And it just doesn’t happen.  “What places did you try?”

Gayle sighed.  “The Continuum doesn’t want him.  I won’t even look at Share the Day.”

My wife and I exchanged looks.  We’d visited that place.  I thought it was more like a doll house, cozy and creepy at the same time, but why comment further?  Not a great conversation starter.  No problem – Gayle pressed on.

“The woman who owns that place,” she continued, “I knew her when she was a kid.  Nuts.  When it came time to put her grandmother in a home, you know what she did?”

I shook my head.  “What?”

“She demanded a kickback.”

I was surprised.

I shouldn’t have been.

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