It’s Time to Wake Up

We live in this new age of technology. We are getting so much information blasted at us constantly that it has desensitized us. Most of the people we know have cameras on their phones and in their pockets at all times. This has lead to the recording of beautiful things, silly things, and in the last few weeks some gruesome things. When we watch the news about the awful things happening around the would it is easy to push it away and be thankful it is not happening to us, to our families. There is so much unrest in the world right now. So many acts of violence happening that it is shocking that more people are not talking about it. Or if people are talking about it, it’s ‘happening over there’, ‘those people’, ‘not us’. One of the amazing things about the camera phone recordings of police violence is that it makes it real. You see the graphic content, you hear the real life screams. The brutality is shocking. I am so thankful for the brave people in Ferguson. We need to continue this conversation and get to the root of the pain and the dehumanizing of black people in this country. Ferguson makes it close to home. Mike Brown’s murder is an outrage. I am filled with so many emotions I can’t even see straight.

Most of the people who work closely with my dad at the nursing home are people of color. Many of the nurses and cna’s he has caring for him are black. I am so grateful for every person who cares for him. When my dad came back from the hospital two months ago, he was very weak and couldn’t stand on his own. One of the cnas was giving him a shower and left him alone in the shower room twice for extended periods of time. Not only is that not safe, it was cold and uncomfortable for my dad. He was very upset about this and told me about it. I went and talked to the cna and told her my concern for his safety. She promised me it wouldn’t happen again and I chose not to report the incident. Then two weeks ago, it happened again. The same cna was giving him a shower and she left him alone again. When he told me I was very upset. He is at risk for a fall and I am concerned for his safety. I felt it was important for his safety and the other resident’s safety to report this incident. I filled out the appropriate forms and told the nurse on duty. The week that followed the cna wouldn’t look at me or speak to me. I assumed she was mad that I filled the report but I felt like it was an important thing to do. Later that week, when she was getting my dad dressed she asked him if I didn’t like her because she is black. My dad was stunned and said no, of course not! He then proceeded to tell her that I love black people and that I’ve had black lovers. He went a little overboard, but that’s my papa! I was so brokenhearted when he told me that she thought that I had a problem with her because of race. I began to get a glimpse of the pain she feels. The next time I saw her, I asked if I could speak to her and I listened to her. Then shared that I really liked her and I appreciate all that she does for the people but that she can not put them at risk in the shower room by leaving them alone. This was an amazing experience for me to see how racism is at the forefront of her mind. It is a part of her daily experience. It is becoming a daily part of my experience too. I am waking up to how much work we have to do.

I was originally disgusted by the voyeurism surrounding Robin Williams death. Why was the media giving out all of the details? Why did we need to know the position of his body? It also drove me crazy to read the comments vilifying suicide. I heard the news about Robin Williams while I was at the nursing home. I was sitting in the hallway waiting for my dad to get changed after wetting his pants. It was after supper and people were wheeling themselves past me on the way to their rooms, also on the way to having their diapers changed. Most can hardly push themselves but they want to do it themselves because it is a way to remain independent when so much of their lives are dependent on others. Aging, sickness, and death are terrible parts of life.   There is no right way to live and there is definitely no right way to die.

Along this same note I was really freaked out by people doing the ALS ice bucket challenge and not getting the point of raising awareness and money for ALS research. I’m so glad they have raised a ton of money but every time I saw a video I thought,”Do they have any idea what ALS is? What it really looks like?” Then I saw Anthony Carbajal. I am so thankful for his bravery and that he put clips in his video of what it looks like to have ALS.

“I hate talking about [ALS],” Carbajal says in the clip. “That’s probably why nobody talks about it because… it’s so challenging to see, and to talk about. Nobody wants to see a depressing person that’s dying. They don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want their day ruined.”

We are entering into a new time. It is time to wake up and really see what life is like for other people. It’s time to listen. It’s time to talk about it. It’s time to make a difference.


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