Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dad Woulds

At lunch the other day I was sitting with one of my best friends from college and somehow we began discussing my father. I have no idea how it came about, but knowing myself, it was probably completely NOT where either of us expected the conversation to end up. Whether the conversation was planned or not, it sparked some questions that I've since been thinking about.

Just in case you guys didn't know, my father died when I was in high school. He had cancer for several years, and, to be honest, his death wasn't unexpected. What has been unexpected for me, however, are the questions that are just posing themselves eight years after his death.

Like I said, my dad died when I was in high school. It was spring of junior year, to be exact. The months following his death I experienced all the emotions that go along with losing a loved one, specifically someone you were extra close to. I was always a daddy's girl growing up, and it's just now that I'm realizing how little I actually know about my father.

Back to the conversation with my friend... In that conversation I realized that I never really knew my father. No... That's not true.... I never really knew Bob. And I think, looking back, this is probably the hardest part of losing a parent at a fairly young age. You see, I was old enough to know my dad and I still remember things about him (amazingly, because I have a TERRIBLE memory!) but I only remember him in his role as my father. Of course I knew about his personality, which I believe I inherited, but I didn't ever get to know him as a person. And I think I'm just now realizing what I'm missing out on.

I have always thought to myself, usually after making a bad joke, oh.... dad would have said that. Or after singing in the Meyerson last week, I thought, oh.... dad would be proud and would have enjoyed listening to that. These little dad woulds don't really make me sad anymore, it's just a part of life. But this last week, I've really been in tune with my "dad woulds" and have been wondering, well, would he really? And the answer is, I honestly have no idea! But I like to think the image I have of my dad is the right one.

I guess the moral of this story (because every story indeed has a moral) is that you can never understand or know a person based on one facet of their personality. As if that's a new idea that we DIDN'T learn from the idea of stereotypes... But really. You absolutely cannot put people in a box with a clean label on their personality type, how they would respond in situations, etc. Because really, at the end of the day, we have no idea! I have no idea about the multiple facets of my dad's personality I didn't get to experience as a kid, and I'm just now realizing how much I miss learning that.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Warning: going political

No....not political... humanitarian.

As an avid reader of CNN.com, I'm always up to date with the latest news. Lately, I've also started to include some NPR and talks with Spaghetti (my grandmother) to my current events knowledge. While I'm for a public healthcare option, I can understand that not everybody has the same sentiment. A public option is reminiscent of socialism, and dammit, we're a democracy. I understand. I understand that public-option opponents may be scared of helping those who refuse to help themselves. I understand that there are those concerned that a public option will increase the cost, or lower the standards of their own healthcare. Despite being a by-the-book democrat, I get these concerns.

What I can't get over, however, is that the end result of all our fears lead to people dying. People that could have easily been treated are dying because they are less fortunate than people like myself. At the end of the day, that is the result, and I can't get over that.

And the scary thing is, this mentality... the look out for yourself and your own interests, is carrying over to every aspect of our lives. I have to ask, what happened to the idea that you're only as strong as your weakest link? I honestly think it's pitiful that, for the most part, a majority of us can't look at the big picture. America is the sum of her parts, and when we don't care for all of our parts, we're just running like a squeaky, broken-down machine. We're all better than that!

This mentality that I speak of (which inspired this soap-box rant) is especially evident in morgues in Detroit and even in LA. I read an article on CNN that tells about bodies piling up in a Detroit morgue because family members can't scrape together the exorbitant amount for a funeral or for cremation. The deceased just "hang-out" in the morgue's freezer because they have nowhere else to go. Picture that a loved one has just passed away. Think of the grief and hardship you will go through, emotionally. Now imagine that you are unable to even claim your loved one and give him a proper burial. As sorrowful as the thought may be, that's many people's realities.

Let me just reiterate, that I completely understand and up until this summer have declared myself economically conservative. But where is the compassion and the humanity? How can I, with so much, NOT care for a fellow-human being who can't afford to bury his mother? It is situations like these that call out to us as humans. Not as democrats or republicans. Not as the rich or poor. Not as white, black, asian, or whatever. This story should affect us as humanitarians. Our hearts should go out to the people who cannot afford to bury their loved-ones, and as a society we need to be inclined to help those who are suffering, in whatever way possible.

The point of this rant, and yes, I'll agree that's what it is, is not to change your mind on healthcare, or any number of other political beliefs. It is, however, to remind you that you are human, and we are a community. We live together in a society that will flourish if everybody looks out for each other. To quote wise Jack from Lost.... "Live together, or die alone." I urge everybody to stop and think how they can contribute to society that has given them so much- from National Parks, to public schooling, to public hospitals. Stop and think what you're talented at, and then see what you can do to share that for the betterment of others. If we all did that, wouldn't the world be a much better place?