My aunt – my father’s sister – was an “Old Battle Axe,” as they used to say. She lived past age 100 through sheer willpower.
She had actually made a life goal of living a full century. With that in mind, she and I found it easy to talk about her death as she got sicker in her old age, and became more determined to reach her final destination. It also helped us think through what she wanted her life to be like when she got there.
She always stressed to me that she didn’t want anyone to go out of their way for her. It wasn’t just a question of refusing heroic measures if she needed life support. Nobody was to turn their life upside down to visit, or to care for her; certainly not to attend any funeral or observance of her passing, when that time came.
You do what you can; you pay your respects; and you move on. You pray for people, sure, but you don’t put your life on hold for them. Simply not fair.
She felt very strongly that people are entitled to lead their own lives. Every person is important, but nobody is so important that everyone should drop what they are doing for her.
She also thought that people who do that – turn their lives upside down for somebody ailing – do it for their own reasons, not for you. They want money, or they feel guilty. Or they are “goody two-shoes” that want to “save the world” – but not really save you.
She had contempt for these “goody two-shoes,” with good reason. My aunt had spent decades working as a probationary social worker for the City of New York. She was immensely proud of the fact that she was the first woman to be promoted to the position of supervisor.
Of course, she had to threaten to sue the City for discrimination to get that promotion. Year after year, she had seen her male colleagues advanced ahead of her, many of whom were not as qualified as she. When she finally had her fill of petty politics and power plays, she pushed back – hard.
To her credit, she beat the system; but she never lost her disdain for city bureaucrats and politicians. These people were all about setting up their own little fiefdoms, coaxing the “little people” into serfdom with phony smiles, bribes, and promises of a better world. A world they ran.
She called them “Goody two-shoes with fancy ties.”
Smart lady. She knew what made people tick. And she knew phony-baloney altruism when she saw it.
She is no longer with us, but I can tell you with certainly what she would say about today’s shutdown of society to care for a tiny portion of the population. She would call it lunacy, and remind us that every person is important, but nobody is that important that everyone should drop what they were doing for them.
She would declare that the orders to close down schools, businesses, and entire industries are nothing more than power plays by the municipal and state overlords to seize more control over our lives.
She would state that these fatcats get paid good money to fix problem, not cause them; and that it was their job to find a way to control COVID-19 without killing more people than the virus would.
And waving her finger at me, she would admonish, “I told you to watch out for those goody two-shoes.”