Break My Heart

My two elders. Nicky, 13 (91 dog years) and my sister Sarah.

Since I have put it all out there for you already, there’s no harm in confessing here that one of my favorite series on TV has been Sex in the City.  Trashy, ridiculous, self-indulgent and of no social value, Sex in the City was a vehicle for me to leave a bourgeois life for  half an hour a week, an escape from my nursing job and Sunday school mentality, my home cooked meals and commuter husband and high school children with their activities, and watch a bunch of immoral young women fornicate their way across Manhattan.  A close friend said she couldn’t stand Sarah Jessica Parker because the producers pretended that she was so beautiful when she was really quite homely.  I decided I loved her because she made it possible for women who aren’t your standard beauty be thought of as such, as long as they had big boobs and were skinny.  When the series was over, my son bought me the special edition dvd that came in the pink suede box and my guilty pleasure was watching it over and over when I didn’t want to concentrate on something worthwhile.  I could knit a complicated lace pattern, or even blog with the white noise of Sex in the City in the background.  Now it is rerun nightly on the Entertainment Channel.  With Oprah off the air, there is nothing on the tube while I put my feet up for an afternoon break and cup of coffee, until I found SITC again.

But horrors, without warning, an abused, emaciated dog, limping along to music in a minor key blasts on the screen during a commercial break.  It’s an advertisement for the ASPCA!  Don’t get me wrong; I love the ASPCA. They have a very high rating with most watch dog groups, using the bulk of their funding, 73.7% for programs and less than 8% for administrative expenses.  The ASPCA works tirelessly rescuing abused and neglected animals from puppy mills and private owners. The ASPCA has funding sources for sick animals and promotes adoption.  What I am finding them guilty of at this point is preaching to the choir.  Their advertising campaign plays on pure emotional manipulation.  Both our dogs are rescues. We love dogs.  Jim and I reach for our respective remotes and switch channels the moment the ad comes on.  It is too gruesome for our gentle hearts to bear.  It just occurred to me that they want ME to give them more money! Will it help me sleep through the night?  Will they come and ask my neighbor to provide a better home for the horses he keeps on the pile of manure in his yard?  Or rescue all the dogs that are chained up out of doors in the dead of winter in this area?

(I’m limiting this blog post to animals because the Feed the Children ads are too heartbreaking to write about.   And I have my own elderly human being to worry about in my sister Sarah, as my readers know.)

It is in this frame of mind that a story in this morning’s New York Times crossed my desk.  Elderly animals by Isa Leshko, a photographer from Philadelphia who cared for her parents in New Jersey. Her mother suffers from Alzheimer’s and now lives in a nursing home. She says of her Elderly Animals project; “I am traveling to sanctuaries across the country to photograph animals that are elderly or at the end stage of their lives. I began this series shortly after I had spent a year in New Jersey helping my sister care for my mother who has Alzheimer’s disease. When my mother got ill, I made a conscious decision to not photograph her. However, caring for her had a profound impact on me and I knew the experience would influence my photography. Shortly after I had returned from New Jersey, I encountered a blind elderly horse that was living on a relative’s property. I was mesmerized by this animal and spent the afternoon photographing him. After reviewing my film, I realized I had found a project that would enable me to sift through my feelings around my mother’s illness.” Here’s a video about the project by Walley Films

Here’s a comment regarding theTimes article about Leshko by Mark from Phoenix

“The only thing we need to learn from old animals is that we should apply the same humane treatment to old humans. We don’t let animals suffer when it becomes obvious they are in pain and no cure is to be found. Oh how silly of me…..if there was a billion dollar medical establishment which relied on every available method for extending animals’ lives up until the painful last gasp of air as their exists to suck as much money out of the insurance companies and people, they would be hooked up to every machine until no sign of life was present. Like people.”

I think I have post holiday blahs.  Everything makes me sad.  Life is sad.  What good does it to do have all the happiness in the world if people you love and care about are sick or suffering?  Will giving money to the ASPCA or Feed the Children help drive the demons away?  Tonight, if it is clear enough, Jim wants to go out side and star gaze.  He and I prayed together today for our dear friends who have illness, or who are losing their homes, or need jobs, or whose children are going astray.  We are so grateful for the good things in our life, for the blessings and health, and we want everyone to have those things, however unrealistic is it.  And really the only thing that comforts me when I feel like this is that I know my friends feel the same way, they want everyone to be happy and healthy, and they are praying for me, too.

5 thoughts on “Break My Heart

  1. I also turn the channel at those ads. But I think the canisters at registers with maimed animals looking up at you are worse and we really don’t know where that money goes. Do we?

  2. I agree with you about the ASPCA commercials. If only they went in a different direction to ask for financial help! Guilting people into it doesn’t work. Let them show how their dollars help, and skip the negativity.

  3. Suzie, I too change the station when the ASPCA commercials come on. As a matter of fact as soon as I hear the music! I can’t bear to see the suffering animals.
    And, I also love Sex and the City. Although the girls can be shallow and trashy I always love how committed they are to each other. Each one is there for the other, in good times and bad. I think they are the perfect “girl friends”!

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