You know how you get things in the mail that require your attention but you just don't have the time to deal with it at that moment; so you stack it on the desk to attend to later? Well, for me, pretty soon (and much to my dismay) those bits of mail build up to a large stack and I begin to feel overwhelmed. Yesterday I began to wade through the most pressing of these 'to do's' and whittled down the pile. I registered for classes, RSVP'd to events, and sent payments that were needed on bills that were almost due. At the bottom of the pile, I found the piece of mail that came last week. At the time I remember shaking my head, laughing, and saying to myself, "I have got to write a full explanation on this form; but I don't have time right now." Today, I finally got around to writing it. I'd like to add that I have been accused of being irreverent and sarcastic in my writing. Sarcasm is my form of humor and I don't want the reader to think that I am actually serious...okay? With that disclaimer, I hope you will enjoy the letter I sent to the Clerk of the Superior Court:
To Clerk of Superior Court:
We received the Jury Summons for my mother last week and my first reaction was laughter. I had to share this with you since clearly, she will be excused from jury duty; but I felt a NEED to explain further. Whoever reads this, I hope that you laugh along with me.
My mother is 98 1/2 years old. I would have to say first and foremost, at that age one would hope that she is not driving! That alone is enough of a reason not to report for jury duty unless of course there were some sort of transportation that would take her to and from the courthouse. The fact that there was (in bold numbers) a note of her date of birth on the upper right hand corner of the summons gave me a moment's pause, since there are probably other potential jurors of a certain advanced age being summoned to serve who may not be of sound mind. Why oh why would these elderly folks be summoned to serve as jurors?
That brings me to my second point: statistics show that approximately one out of every two people in America today who are over the age of 85 years old have Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia. So I can safely assume that when a summons goes out to an individual over 85, the person is most likely not capable of serving on a jury, nor would we want them to! My mother is no exception. She has advanced Alzheimer's. I am caring for her full time; and that brings me to my third point: the stress and frustration, the exhaustion and the mixed emotions of a caregiver providing care for someone with cognitive dysfunction is extremely high. There are days when I dream of respite...somewhere I could send my mother to give me a break. Unfortunately, most respite care is not affordable for us right now and so day after day, I must maintain a cheerful disposition in spite of the overwhelmingly sad situation.
At the risk of sounding a bit irreverent, I began to muse humorously and with an ample amount of sarcasm. (I have found that humor is a great coping mechanism.) How tempting it was when I saw this summons to say to myself with a wry smile, "Hmmm...maybe I will drive Mom to jury duty every day and let them babysit her for a week or two. " Then I had another darkly comical thought. "If I don't reply on Mom's behalf, I wonder what would happen? Perhaps they would send someone for her. Maybe they would cart her off to jail for ignoring her civic duty. " I could see myself waiving good-bye calling to the Sheriff "My mother goes to bed at 8 PM. Oh, and don't forget, she takes her tea with sweetener and a cookie at 3:00!" That made me laugh out loud and so I want to thank you for indirectly providing a little levity in my otherwise difficult day. I truly wish I could share this summons with my mother who would have also had a good laugh over the situation if she still had a healthy mind. (She always found humor in irony.)