August 13, 2007

Ignorance Breeds Ignorance

Ignorance breeds ignorance. This was the first thought that entered my mind while viewing a talk show about the Ku Klux Klan.

The KKK is bad enough in itself, but the panelists, from some place in rural Georgia, were giving a bad impression of Southerners, in general, because they were acting rude, uncouth, and all seemed to have the maturity of ten or twelve year old children.

There was an elderly man who proclaimed himself to be the leader of the group, who included his own wife. There was a younger woman with two small children, and two young men who looked to be in their teens, or twenties. It was difficult to determine, because they were all attired in their Klansmen robes --including the children.

The reaction of the audience was hostile, of course, which made the panelists more angry, seemingly, further showing their immaturity.

Seeing this brought back an unpleasant memory of something that occurred when I was about ten or eleven years old.

We lived in Oxford, a little town in Alabama. A family of seven in two small rooms, in a building that was called "the mule barn", because that is what it had been at one time. We lived over the mule barn, because that was the best that Daddy, my stepfather, could do. He provided a roof over our heads, and food on the table. He was a good man, as much as he knew how to be.

When he got paid -- which was every two weeks -- he paid his bills, which included the bill at the small grocery store where he bought groceries every two weeks. The problem was that the bill that he would currently be paying, was for the groceries he had bought two weeks before, and the next two weeks' groceries would be bought on credit again. Never-the-less, he paid his bills on time.

After paying the grocery bill, he would pay any utilities due, which would have been for gas, water, and electricity -- because we had no other luxuries such as a telephone or anything else. Only after taking care of these responsibilities would he go to the bootlegger, pay his bill there, and get his supply of "white lightening" -- on credit, of course --which he would drink over the next two, or three, or four days. As a result of this, there were certain people who decided that he needed a lesson in "morality."

I will never forget how frightened we all were when we looked outside one night to see a cross burning in our yard, around which stood several men in hooded white garments. They stood silently, staring in menacing intimidation. We knew what the KKK was, and what they were capable of doing if their first warning went unheeded.
Perhaps, you are thinking that we were a black family who were victims of racism. We were not. We were a family who lived in poverty, and because of that, were considered "poor white trash." Bigotry, racism, hatred, and self righteousness of any kind...they come in all colors, and know no parameters.

I don't remember much more about that event, except that we moved shortly afterwards.
No, Daddy didn't change after that. He didn't know how to change. He was doing what he knew to do, because that was the only kind of life that he, himself, had ever known. All that it accomplished, I suppose, was that he had been humiliated, and made to feel less of a man than he already felt. That to him, I know, was devastating, because regardless of anything, and as strange as it sounds, Daddy was a proud man. He would never accept anything from anyone, unless he could give something in return. As I said before, he was only doing what he knew to do.

Remembering the pain that I had felt as a child, I could feel nothing but pity, and compassion, for the panelists on the television talk show. And for the audience, as well. I wondered if they recognized what was being played out before them. I wondered if they -- any of them --realized that until the cycle is broken, ignorance breeds ignorance.

And it hurts. It hurts me still.

Sand and Stone

Two friends were walking through the desert. During some point in their journey, they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face.
The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand:
Today, my best friend slapped me in the face.
They kept on walking, until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath.
The one who had been slapped, got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him.
After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone:
"Today, my best friend saved my life."
The friend who had slapped, and then saved his friend, asked him, "After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand, and now you write on a stone, why?"
The friend replied, "When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand, where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone, where no wind can ever erase it."
I think that writing your hurts in the sand, and carving your benefits in stone, might be a hard thing to do sometimes, but it would probably be very good for one's mental and emotional peace of mind to do so.
The thing is, that it's often easier said, than done.

Yep, This Looks Like

Yep, ths looks like me this morning, after being up all night trying to figure out this doggone posting stuff.

It seems that I can get it written, alright, and it automatially saves it to draft, but therein lies my problem. Well, one of them, anyway. I can't get it out of draft for some reason.

Also, I used spellcheck to help me catch my typos, but I did that after the fact, and when I corrected the typos, which were highlighted, when it finally did publish...well, you can see the problem. Now, I just have to figure out how to get unhighlighted.

After hollering for help from my blogmamas, one of them being after she was sound asleep, I'm sure..I get up this morning, and voila there's my post, all published and everything!

Now, I have to work on getting the time adjusted on here, 'cause contrary to what the time stamp says on that last post, it was way after three, at least, this morning when I gave up on the thing.

Now, any of you guys out there who want to jump right in here...go ahead! I will take all the help I can get. I mean, after all, my blogmama has other stuff to keep her busy enough, without her squalling blogyoung'un tugging on her cyberskirt all the time.!

I would preview this, and spellcheck it, but I'm just gonna hit 'publish', and run like heck! Maybe, when I get back, it will be on the blog.

Mama Did You Dream

Did you have dreams, too, Mama? Was there a time, long, long ago, when you dreamed the dreams of all little girls? That when you grew up, you would fall in love, and marry a handsome prince, and live happily-ever-after in a beautiful castle by the sea, or perhaps, high on a mountain...did you Mama?

It's hard to imagine that now, as I look at your wasted little body lying there in your bed with the special mattress. Now, when it's way too late, you get something special.

You always wanted to be slim. Now you are. You always wanted long hair, but said it just wouldn't grow, so you settled for a short, curly perm. Your hair is long now, Mama. It's even long enough to do in a French braid...but you don't know that. It's still the same sandy-blond shade that it's been for as long as I can remember. There are only a few strands of grey that blend in so perfectly that one can hardly notice.

Who could have guessed that you would live out what's left of your life, lying in a bed, being cared for -- bathed, and changed, and turned -- and even spoon-fed the times you don't remember how to feed yourself? You, Mama, who spent your life taking care of the needs of others and always putting everyone else's needs before your own, are now having your needs take priority.

But I didn't want it to be like this. I wanted to be able to make up for all that you were denied. I wanted to give you some years of happiness and security...all the things you never had.

I don't know if you had the dreams, Mama, but I know that if you did, they never came true -- but I'll never know for sure if you did, because you are unable to share them with me now -- and you never complained.

I so wanted your remaining years to be filled with happiness and good things. You have nice things now, Mama, and you are here with me, in my home, and I am with you nearly twenty-four hours a day, every day, every week, every month,, and now it's years. But most of the time, you don't know it.

When the diagnosis was first made that you had Alzheimer's disease, you were so full of life. Your smile really would light up any room. You still primped, and preened, in front of the mirror when we would be getting ready to go out...but sometimes, you would forget that you had already gotten dressed and put on more clothing. Once you forgot that you had undressed, and walked into the living room, wearing only your pantyhose. Remembering the look of humiliation on your face still fills me with pain -- but I guess I never thought it would come to this.

As it turned out, you didn't have Alzheimer's disease after all. The diagnosis is just as bad. It is still a wasting disease of the brain . It does all the same things. It kills your dreams, and steals all your memories -- but there are still times when your smile lights up the room. There are still times when you speak as if there is nothing wrong --only then, you call me "Mama." That's okay with me, because I want to be to you, whatever you want me to be.

All good dreams don't always come true, but one of mine has. It's knowing that your are safe and secure, and well-cared for, and that I am making you as happy as you can be made to be happy. And I know that I am so loved. I know, because sometimes when we are looking into each other's eyes, I can see all the unspoken words -- and in my mind, I can hear your soft, sweet voice, and the way it sounded when you used to say, "I love you, Janice. You're my pretty girl."

You know what, precious little Mama? You are my pretty girl.

My mother lived for several years after this was written. She died after after being confined to bed for the last eight years of her life. She died of MRSA, an acute staph infection, which she acquired while hospitalized to have a feeding tube surgically instilled into her stomach. She had had one previously, but it had been removed for two years, as she improved enough to begin eating again. A short time after the first one was removed, she was admitted to a nursing home to recover from a bungled surgery, which almost caused her to bleed to death. A catheter had been inserted into her vaginal wall, rather than into her bladder. While in the nursing home, she was dropped, and her leg was broken above and below the knee, her hip was fractured, toe broken, and her foot lacerated to the bone. We were notified when it happened, but were told that it was nothing serious, and that she had sustained no injuries, other than a bruise on her foot. I was on the phone constantly, asking many questions about neurological evaluations, ex-rays, any fever or infections and I was assured repeatedly that she was fine. We lived over one hundred miles from the nursing home, but went every day to see about her, but then our car broke down, and put in the garage to await parts ordered from out of state, and that very first day that we missed going is when it all happened. Finally, on the fifth day, we got another car so that we could go see about her. It was like a nightmare! She was burning up with a fever, and in so much pain that she was out of her head, and she had received absolutely no medication at all for anything. They said that she refused it! All they had done as far as evaluations, was the toe ex-ray. We immediately called an ambulance and took her to an orthopaedic surgeon there in the town. When he walked into the room, he stopped, shook his head, and said, "You don't even have to be a doctor to see that she has a broken leg!" The whole ordeal is much too much to relay here, but not only had she not received any medication, she was still being transported from bed to chair, left her allotted time in the chair, moved back into bed, turned several times a day, and being put on a potty to "train her", even though the medical records showed that she had a neurogenic bladder, and could not be trained. All of this with two fractures in her leg, one in her hip, and a broken toe, and lacerated foot! And all with no pain medication. She had to wear a cast from hip to ankle for the remaining two years of her life, and she just never recovered from the mental and emotional trauma inflicted on her during that ordeal. When she had the surgery for the feeding tube it was only a few days before she became critically ill, having contracted MRSA. Again, I feel it was due to the carelessness of a certain hospital worker who dropped her glove on the floor and started changing the dressing over the wound with the dirty glove, even though I tried to stop her. I was furious, and within a few days there was nothing that could stop the inevitable. My precious little mother died in the emergency room the day after she was sent home from the hospital because there was nothing left to be done for her. This after all the years that we cared for her with such diligence to preserve her life. It was a labor of love. I miss you, Mama...with all of my heart and soul, I miss you.