Friday, September 09, 2005

The Day I Watched My Mother Die---

Millions of Americans have found their voice since watching the horrendous news coming out of NOLA.
I am sure that the limbless Iraq vets and Iraqi citizens whose country we bombed wished that we had had found our voice a bit sooner....

I am on my way to a three day Department of Peace convention in good ol DC. But peace is something that has been hard to hold in my heart since 8/30.
Because I watched my elderly, crippled, bed-ridden mother die again that day.

I watched my wheelchair bound father gasp for air as the water covered his blind eyes.

I watched the people whom I have spent twenty years of my professional life helping, gurgle for air as the waters of Katrina, free to murder at will, thanks to GWB budget cuts, caught up to them.

I see the pictures in my mind; a long slow race with the water god. What did the person in Louisiana, wheelchair bound and total care due to being born with cerebral palsy, although with a normal IQ think of, as the waters converged over his air passages?

What would you think? I know what you would think, in the middle of a seeping, sure death. You would be thinking of a way that you could help the other people shoved into a school gymnansium and left to die, well, you would be thinking of a way to help THEM.

If you could just move the attached voice box on your wheelchair so that you could spell out HELP PEOPLE ARE DROWNING! " and somehow get that message to the "authorities" before you yourself succumbed, you then you would have helped someone.

You live in a nursing home or a group home, and have for a few years now, because your elderly parents can no longer manage your involved home care.
And where are those parents???
Your mind focuses on them, as the water creeps ever upward. The people who stayed close by even after they moved you to the group home. They bathed, fed, and changed your diapers, even as your helpless body grew pubic and facial hair as you matured into an adult.

WHERE ARE THEY? They live close by. You can see the streets to their house--you memorized them while in your wheelchair on all of the weekend drives home.

WHERE ARE THEY? If you can see the water seeping up to the IV, and now almost at your elbow, then surely they would have seen the water outside by now. And, you know, that if your parents saw that water, that even at their advanced age, and even with Mom having had the stroke, they would be here. They would rescue you, and get the other stricken people here, to safety.
If they were alive.


Dad, still thinking that he was the strong Korean War Vet who not only survived, but managed to carry and evacuate three of his remaining company to safety during a horrible battle, ---well, Dad would have carried the partially ambulatory Mom, to the car, and they would have driven straight on to get you, their last child. Their late in life baby.
WHERE ARE THEY?

The thought of them drowning in their home is too difficult to bear. What if Dad, at 78, had slipped in the driveway while helping your mother? What if the hell named Katrina had caught them both out in the open, while they were trying to get to you?

My head drops gently forward.
The water is almost at my chin now, anyway.
I now know where my parents are.

They are dead. Drowned in this hell named Katrina. They devoted their entire life to me, their late in life baby and last child. They lived the last 30 years of their life caring for me. Fighting for me. They formed the Parents of Children with Disabilities Alliance, a few years after I was born.


They helped the young couples who had just learned that their beautiful baby would never walk or talk, or move on his or her own again, to value the life they had brought forth, and to cope as best they could.

My parents valued my life. That I know. And if they were not dead, they would be here. The water is almost at the tip of my nose now. Most of the old people from the nursing home have resigned themselves to the rising water. Some writhe about in their wheelchair's, fighting the waves of reeking, putrid water.

Some try to be heroic, but the energy needed to push someone else in a wheel chair to a different room in the gymnasium, a room that is hopefully safe from the water, is just too much. Especially when you are in a wheelchair yourself.

But I guess they would rather fight the injustice of a rising water and a world that no longer cares, than to surrender to a heartless sea.

I keep trying to communicate with people via my voice box. But that is now soaked, and I can no longer drown out the cries and the horrible gurgles of the people around me who are drowning. I tried to stay the course.

My parents were so brave. I watched them fight for me all of my life. I know they must be gone now. Please let me just join them. I wish not to suffer anymore than I have in this life. I wish peace and health to the workers who brought us here and left us here to die.

I am going to hold my breath now.
I will make my slack mouth muscles grip together, and hope that the foul smelling water will take pity, if not on my disabled body, then on my dead parents, and let me drown quickly, and painlessly.
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Like so many others, I watched the hell that is Katrina be unleashed on Americans, as our Administration and Arabian Horse fancier types watched, clueless.

As the old people were slowly airlifted, finally, from their deluged homes, I kept thinking of my bed ridden mother. She was bright, quick, strong, and suffered a massive stroke three years ago. She was brought home and cared for by Hospice and her adult children until her death seven months after the stroke.

I keep wondering--if NJ was hit with a Katrina type disaster--what would we have done with our mother? There was just no way that you could have moved her.

The medical equipment, the medicine that had to be refrigerated, the care needs... What in the world would we have done?
Allthough, I know what we would have done. The siblings with children woud have been made to take to higher ground. IF an ambulance was available, we would have hired one to take us---somewhere.

Probably, though, we would not have been able to hire an ambulance, and we would have tried to ride it out. When the waters reached the top of the ramp that my brother had built for her, I am sure we would have started to devise a plan to get her, in her hospital bed, to the second floor.

And when the waters reached the top of the stairs, and started pushing through and down the hallway, we would have started trying to make a hole in the roof. The windows in the top half of that old farmhouse were no way big enough to hoist my mother through and up to the roof.

And when the waters made their way to te top of her hospital bed, and we still hadn't managed to break through the roof--what would we have done?

Left our mother to drown before our eyes? Or died trying to push her through the too small hole in the too strong roof, while the too strong water drug us down into the hell that has been named Katrina?
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oh, and Brownie--yes, you did a heck of a job. Just ask people like me, and the relatives of the folks who used to live at St. Rita's........

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