Tag Archive | patients

Christmas Shopping and Social Injustice

holiday-shopping-social-mediaI haven’t stepped up on my not-so-famous soapbox in a while, but I got something stuck in my craw this weekend. Here it goes . . .

Now that the turkey leftovers have been in the refrigerator over ten minutes, the dishes are done, the guests have gone home, and we have watched so much football our eyes are bleary–it’s time to shop!

Heck, this year, stores couldn’t wait until Thanksgiving dinner was over; they had to open their doors and welcome bargain seekers right after we all gave thanks for family and the ability to spend more money this year than last.

Okay, that’s the way it goes. A mere mortal can’t fight the advertising gods, can she? From now until Christmas Eve we will all be seduced to “get in the spirit”  of opening our purses and wallets to fill the cash registers of neighboring retailers with pretty pictures, schmaltzy, familiar Christmas music and the smell of cinnamon. There’s no escape.

This year, Ken and I have a little more money than we have had in more than three years, so yes, we are looking forward to being able to buy a few more presents than we have in a very long time. I am receiving my Social Security check now, so I can be more generous to all. I am also paid by the state to care for my husband. I don’t care if other benefits have fallen by the wayside now that our bank account isn’t on life support any more. I don’t feel cheated. I was just glad the help was there when we needed it. Now the government can give our former share to starving children or homeless people. But will it really go to them?

The United States is richest country in the world, but a good share of its citizens are working poor because good manufacturing jobs of the past have gone overseas and have been replaced with too many retail jobs that serve shoppers and don’t offer salaries big enough so workers can provide a decent holiday for their own families. The same goes for the fast food workers who serve frantic shoppers a quick lunch as they scurry from store to store, searching for the “perfect” gift.

Does anybody else get sick from this topsy-turvy situation? The list of our “other half” or our have-nots can go on and on, while the do-nothing fat cats in Washington say America cannot afford a decent minimum wage. . .or affordable healthcare. There are as many opinions in Washington as there are _ _ _holes who have sat on their butts for two years, blocking good things for people who really have no voice. The people screaming are millionaires or soon will be. If these legislators haven’t grown up privileged, it seems they forget the struggles of their before-Washington families after they’ve been there a while. And yes, I am a bleeding liberal.

Yes, we have a budget problem, but we also have a poverty problem. Most people who have good jobs and enough money don’t want to face the poorer side of society–after all, it’s not their  problem. Right?

I believe we are setting our country up for a big upheaval because any society who forgets the needs of its people will surely crumble. If you don’t believe me, just look at the history of big governments throughout the ages.

I say when a child goes hungry or must sleep in an unheated room, or worse yet, live on the harsh streets of our large cities, this is a problem for ALL of us. Just remember, if a person feels no one sees them or values their life, the whole society will suffer. Eventually, these unseen people will create a rebellious group who will rise up and fight back. If you don’t believe me, study history.

So when you’re out there shopping, put a buck in the red kettle. Put a canned good in the barrel at the grocery store, give a toy for tots and maybe tip more than you usually do when you’re served well in a restaurant. Say thank you to the workers who must give up their holidays to make yours happy and bountiful. Be appreciative. Take a deep breath when you are at the end of your shopping rope and remember the under-paid server or clerks are having a tough day, too.

Dad’s Final Journey

Marriage 001 (2)My father laid in a hospital bed for the past month. My brother, sister, and I traveled up and down a bumpy road as he journeyed through his last days. We laughed together. We remembers together. Sometimes I’d simply sit by his bedside and hold his hand while he dreamed things I’ll never know. As I sit, I listen to the hospital daily routine interrupt my memories. “Doctor So & So, dial 795.”

I think about times when I was small before my Dad got sick with heart disease. I was about seven when he taught me to throw a baseball and catch like a boy. He taught me how to hit, too, and together we broke several windows in the back of the house. I remember the day I got my first mitt, and Dad taught me how to oil it and mold a pocket. Then a floor washer goes down the hallway as loud as a street sweeper. Nurses and visitors scurry out of its way. I pardon the interruption of my thoughts and watch my Dad sleep.

He’s curled up on his left side, and I realize I sleep the same way. He appears so small right now. He’s no longer the man who was my hero most of my life. Now he’s become a child waiting like all children seem to do. The instant I think this thought he reminds me he’s a man by producing a hefty snore.  I giggle because it seems like he’s reading my mind.

The white noise of the television set on the wall fills the silence, along with the whispers of nurses outside his door. A squeaky wheel on a food cart goes by just in time because I feel a tear trying to escape my eye. I promised myself I would not cry when he can see me.

I pray his journey will have a happy ending and unite him to all of the wonderful people who filled his life. Hank, Paulie, Eddie, and his other volunteer firemen friends will reminisce about the fires they put out and the babies they brought into the world. His brothers Marco and Jimmy, along with his sisters Rosie, Mary and Jo can plan a family reunion. My mother will head up the party, her arms opened wide, probably asking Dad why he took so long to join them. All of these dear departed souls have filled my life, too. I smile as I picture them presenting Dad with his angel wings, and him taking his first test drive. They all will laugh and be young again.

This earthly journey Dad has walked for 89 years is nearly over. He’s fought gallantly for the past 50 years to live out everyone of the days he was given as best as he was able, but the time to rest has come. I kiss his cheek one last time and walk away. He’s earned his peace and from now on, I will carry him in my heart.