Free Room, Board, and Medical Care

But the victims are long forgotten by the system . . .

       A few weeks ago I wrote of prisons and prisoners, and quite a number of you ‘clicked’ in and it didn’t surprise me, for more of our tax money goes there than we might think.

       Ten or so years ago, I read that the Government was building several huge prisons and long-time inmates, from all 50 States, would be sent there.

       And, unsaid, but taken for granted, that you and I would continue to ‘foot the bills’. And cost of the new prisons, too.

       The prisons were to be the Final Cells for  ‘Lifers’, who had developed Alzheimer’s and Dementia and had needs far beyond what could be given by regular prison staff. They needed and each year more ot them need, Care Center.

       What bothers me, is that there are thousands of men and women who need the attention only Care Centers can give, and yet cannot afford it. They may have done nothing more illegal than Run a Red Light, or caught Speeding, and yet prisoners, guilty of violent crimes, are now getting such Care, with absolutely no charge to them. We pay the price, not only for that care, but the new prisons, medical staff, medications and procedures..

       If you didn’t read my words of a week or so ago, titled Finding a Home,  In Prison, go back and bring it up. In it I told that at least 75 % of the men over 45, bluntly stated they had never had it so good as they did in Prison.

       First time they’d ever had three meals a day, a place to sleep, rest rooms, clean clothes, and often the first time ever getting Doctor, Dental or Eye care. They repeatedly stated, if ever ‘put out’ (never ever using the word Released) they would commit some crime the very next day so they could get back in.

       Recidivism???   Yes, and according to those men of 45, 50 or older of age, much of it is coldly planned. No accidents.

       Adding to the utter unfairness of this plan, is knowing that many of the people they robbed, or relatives of those they killed, cannot afford the kind of medical care that the culprits who did the deeds, are getting, and Free of Charge. Yeah, they were right. They never had it so good.

       It’s true that prisons, the same as private homes, were not built to provide hospital care, and the average ‘outside’ person, who has good Insurance, is lucky. But remember, the ‘ outside’ person, worked and paid for it, while prisoners get it for free.  At least to them.

       We put them there for Life and it’s taken for granted that their needs are taken care of.   And with the good care they get, their life span is long.

       It’s now a fact that the aged criminals are better cared for than many ‘on the Outside’.  Who can say what the answer is, but it’s unfair that the person who killed and raped anyone who ever got in their way, is living a life of ease, so to speak, while their ‘victims’ would appreciate a fraction of that ‘free’ care.

       The prisoners, culprit, murderer, killer. raper, call them what you will, all stated the truth, when they would say, we’ve never had it so good.. Perhaps in a civilized world there is no civilized answer, but to me, there’s something wrong with the way it now is.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep… Or What?

To sleep:   perchance to dream:  ay, there’s the rub *

       Today I have a simple question and I bet that someone reading this knows the answer. But it isn’t me. Or anyone I’ve asked so far, either.

       It’s like this.   When we go to sleep, what part of us is it that “goes to sleep”? Every one I’ve asked, looks at me with unbelieving eyes and replies, “Well, for heaven’s sake, Ethel, it’s your body that sleeps. to get needed rest”.

       But take a short moment and think. Your body does not go to sleep.   The heart goes on beating, day in and day out, sending blood to every tiny part of our body.

       And our lungs remain awake, also. We breath air in and out, in and out, and,  pooling resources with the heart,  feeds every cell of our bodies. And if there is an infection in the lungs, the body coughs until whatever was ‘asleep’ wakens for some medication.

       Our digestive system works like an assembly line, and is so ‘awake’ that it often rouses us to make a short trip to the bathroom.  Yeah, our digestive system doesn’t sleep. No matter what ‘our sleep master’ does, the digestion system goes placidly along its own way, and the food we ate or drank in the evening is so far along its way that by morning we find our stomach is ready for more.

       Our hair grows.  And so do our finger and toe nails.  And one fellow, when he realized that his body did not sleep, amusedly added, that he thinks his body is doubly active and makes him fatter when he sleeps.

       Our muscles are awake, for we unconsciously turn over or reach and scratch an itchy spot. Don’t believe me?   Well, test it out. Wave a feather, or soft tissue or such over the face of some sleeper and see how quickly a hand reaches out to get rid of whatever is tickling their face.

       What part of us sleeps?   When we are under an anesthetic, some doctor monitors our heart beat carefully to make certain that it, the heart, does not “go to sleep”.

       I’ve finally come to one point that makes me wonder if I’m getting close to what, and how,  we go to sleep.

       We all have heard of the people whom doctors call Brain Dead. In other words their five senses are completely  ‘dead’, and their bodies must be fed artificially, given water and cared for by others. But their body goes on living and there is a family in the news now, who is fighting to take their daughter from such a ‘life’.

       And once there was a young woman . . . pregnant . . . . and the fetus continued to live and grow. Again there was a difference of wishes between family and doctors and I’ve never heard the results. Did the child reach birth? Was it normal? Or would people, even doctors know if that child were normal until it reached adulthood and it would be obvious if it did or did not develop in all ways, i.e. mentally as well as emotionally. And then did they ‘let’ the body die???

       So, I wonder. Is there some spot in our brain that ‘puts us to sleep’ but lets the rest of our equipment remain aware, and continue calmly functioning? But if some person gets physically injured in that specific, critical, spot in the brain, injured beyond what’s meant to be, and as a result,  can’t come back???  In other words, do we each night, come near being a brain dead person???

       Yeah, I know I think of odd questions, but tell me if you know. It’s such a simple question.   Sleep. We do it daily, often more than once a day. Does someone know the answer?

       What part of me is it that goes to sleep each night??? And wakens again when that need is filled???

*  Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1

Valentine’s Day: Eros, Meet Agape

El amor todo lo *

       Love. Oh me. Men have died for it. Women have lied for it. Billions sigh for it and countless songs, stories and poems have been written about it. Greece fought a war because of it and it’s behind every marriage, and its lack every divorce.
       All for Love? So what is love? It is not food for the hungry, or drink for the thirsty. It will not knit the broken bone or give rest to the overworked. It isn’t a drug for the suffering, and yet, today, right now, there are people giving up their hold on life and slowly dying for the lack of it.
       Love is the T.L.C. prescribed for children. So important that every child in any hospital is actually scheduled to be tenderly held, fondled and played with, in addition to the routine times the child is also scheduled to be fed, bathed and otherwise attended.  And is the reason that some ‘qualified’ visitor is asked, if they have time, to hold and caress children whose parents are from out-of-State, or otherwise unable to make frequent visits.  Been there, and done that. T. Y. G.
       It is the magic that changes homes for the aged from dull, lifeless places where, so often, men and women sit silently and dully in empty rooms, waiting for their lives to pass. Yes, it changes them into homes (no more affluent) of quiet activity, alert eyes, contentment and days that are lived. Not just endured.
       Love, Every civilization, culture, people or tribe from earliest times until now, have recognized its strength and made rules and provisions for it. Oddly enough, too, the more ‘un-modern’ the culture, the better their over all concept of love has been.
       Only in modern America has love become synonymous with sex. Other environments recognize and explore the other aspects as well; the mother playing with her children, the grandparent caressing the infant, listening to the child’s woes, or giving cautious monetary aid to the college student who is always short of cash. Are these not also love?

       Yes, and there’s the often forgotten taken-for-granted, love of the parish priest or local bishop for their flock. Only those close-by could know of the countless hours that are cheerfully, thankfully given. Hours whose very numbers make the task seem impossible. And it would be, too, if it weren’t for love.
       No, love is not food for the hungry or drink for the thirsty. It cannot be put under a microscope, analyzed and then prescribed for a broken body or diseased mind. But yet . . . 
       It is both food and drink for the Soul. It is rest for the overburdened and new energy to the sorrowing. the bored and the listless. It has given more peace than all the tranquilizers ever made, and brought a shine and glow to tired eyes and faces. It is the magic medicine that every doctor in the world wishes he could patent, bottle and prescribe for his patients.
       Love. That most tender of emotions. With it, life and the world is a happy place to be. Without it, life loses its savor, its ability to revitalize itself. and dies. Yes, that’s how vital love is.               
       It will soon be Valentine’s day. Give all the love you can, and of all varieties you can find.  See, I’m not knocking Eros one bit, but take time to remember Agape as well.

*  Love conquers all

That Bolt Of Lightning

“Be brave, young lovers, and follow your star…”

       I  turned a hall corner and startled a young couple holding each other closely, sharing a moment of love and tenderness.
       They hurriedly stepped apart, blushing, embarrassed, and their reaction was obviously, that I, of another generation, couldn’t possibly understand them or their actions.
       We live in a world that is programmed to think that love, and all its glory and fulfillment, is meant only for the young. And that if you are 50, or anywhere beyond, that love is out of the question. That any marriage, at those ages, must be nothing but empty, hollow arrangements and could have nothing to do with that tender emotion.
       How wrong they are. Oh, heavens, how wrong they are, and how much they have to learn as they are taking their first startled steps into the world that is the very foundation for every birth, book, opera, song, poem, sculpture, work of art and so much more.
       They were so young, so starry eyed and they think the joys and love they are experiencing can never be understood by people their parent’s ages. But they must be excused, for we know that every generation thinks they invented the wonders of love and sex.
       The wise (blest? lucky?) ones go through the young infatuations, and though moved, recognize them for what they are. To enjoy, learn, but carefully, oh, most carefully avoid any acts or commitments that could entail a child, marriage and so often a divorce. Or a child to be placed for adoption, or raised by a single mother.
       I still re-read Margaret Mead’s 1925 book, Coming of Age in Samoa, after she lived there as an Anthropologist. Among other aspects of their life, Mead wrote of the teen years. In Samoa at that time, love and sex were expected, and accepted with no criticism. She compared sex of those early years, like bolts of lightning, and over just as quickly.
       However, if a Samoa pair conceived a child, (and here their rules were adamant and frightenly strict) but with no censoring they were automatically considered ‘married’ and would continue that responsibility until the child reached adulthood. And horrible punishment followed if those rules were ignored. Mead tells that those early Samoans had no jails. Social laws took care of such things quickly and permanently. The book’s an eye-opener.
       But then, when those ‘family years’ were completed, they had done their duty to the next generation, they were again free to do as they pleased. And again with no criticism. What did it matter? It was the children who were important and had to be nurtured.
       But back from old Samoa to my encounter in that hallway. Teenage love comes, and goes and that young pair I interrupted has so much to learn. How swiftly that first wild love can fling them into a marriage they’re far from ready for. A child? A marriage/divorce? Leaving both disillusioned, bitter and their lives irrevocably changed.
       But life does not stand still.  We get older, hopefully wiser and no matter how badly burned or blessed with that first Bolt Of Lightning, time passes. Life heals and then another love happens. Not the same as the first, nor taking the place of any cherished memories but entirely different. And welcome.
       Yes, I passed that young couple without seemingly giving them more than a passing glance, but they can never know what thoughts and memories they stirred and at the same time what hopes and fears of where their lives, could/would now go.
       I knew they thought I could not understand them, but I understood so well that a smile touched my lips as I recalled the song that tells us, “Love is Wonderful, the Second Time Around,” And whoever penned those words knew exactly what they were talking about.
       And while I’m on the subject and not in Samoa or even in that hallway, but as if you don’t already know, I’ll tell you a secret. If you’re lucky, a third time is nothing to be ‘sneezed at’ either. And a fourth??? You’re asking the wrong person, but each one, in its own way is distinct, different, wonderful, and oh me, all this coming from just one moment’s encounter in an out-of- the-way hallway.