How Is It Different Today?

Will this generation finally solve the U.S. race issue?

There has been a lot of turmoil in the United States these past few weeks. Unusual turmoil. Yes, I know, there is a deadly pandemic, not that turmoil, that turmoil is for another post. This is not the first time the United States has experienced such turmoil. In fact, many aspects of the turmoil today echo turmoil from the past.

Racial, ethnic and religious intolerance is a hallmark of the United States. One could argue that the founding of the United States was, at least in part, a result of the religious intolerance in 17th century Europe. It should come as no surprise then that intolerance thrives in the United States today. It is genetic.

From the Founding Fathers to the present day, the United States has blamed the problems it faces on racial, ethnic and religious bogymen. The Puritan line of the Founding Fathers had the Catholics, and all the Founding Fathers had the Native Americans. In the 1840’s it was the Irish, followed by the Germans, and the Chinese, and from 1880 to 1920, it was the southern and eastern Europeans. The list goes on.

Most of these religious and ethnic groups came willingly, seeking a better life, although some indentured themselves to afford the trip. Africans came as slaves, against their will, as early as the 17th century. Moreover, although the United States Congress banned the importation of slaves in 1808, it was not until the end of the Civil War in 1865 that Africans became at least partial human beings in the United States.

As the years wore on, many of the second-generation ethnic and religious groups victimized by intolerance fomented intolerance. As these groups blended into the United States and became an accepted part of this grand experiment, they slipped easily into the intolerance habit, in spite of their recent experience on the other side of the equation.

However, one group, those exposed to racial intolerance, has never easily blended into the grand experiment. The very nature of the fabric of the grand experiment keeps them from becoming a part of the experiment. Africans and other people of color have fought for every scrap of fabric they have.

From the early 1960’s, one hundred years after emancipation, until today, they still have to fight for every scrap. Selma, Martin Luther King, the Watts riots, Reagan’s “Welfare Queen”, Rodney King, Treyvon Martin, Michael Brown, and so many others that it boggles the mind, are all echoes from past turmoil in the present turmoil.

However, the present turmoil is unusual when compared to past turmoil. The sides have changed, the protesters are more diverse, the outrage is more widespread, and the rhetoric more direct. Perhaps it is social media. Perhaps it is fatigue. Perhaps it is just time. We may never know.

Maybe a generation finally says “Enough.” I hope my generation is listening to that generation. They have something important to say.

When Memory Fades

How cognitive degeneration in a loved one can cause self-doubt

Hello gentle reader(s). This one is a bit of a wallow. I hope you continue reading, but you will not be thought less of if you stop reading now.

Although I’m not really the eternal optimist (can you be both a cynic and an optimist?) I guess I always figure it’s going to get better. No matter how bad it seems, it will eventually get better. Eventually. So here it goes.

Tonight I invited my mother, father and aunt over for dinner. The average age of this group, excluding me, is about 90 years young. My mom (87) and my aunt (91) are both still with it, but my dad (90) was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago. He’s fading, not fast, but more noticeably.

We were all at the table, dinner was done, and the talk was about my house and the improvements I could make, and what the house might have looked like before the previous owners made their changes.

Dad was trying to participate in the conversation, but it was soon evident that he had forgotten where he was and who I was. Despite the fact that I have been his son for a long and intentionally-unrevealed-to-the-reader time, and despite the fact that he has been coming to my house on a nearly daily basis for the past six months, he continued to tell us how much this house we were in reminded him of his son’s house.

My aunt dealt with my uncle’s Alzheimer’s for more than 10 years. His care became too burdensome for her and he recently passed after 18 months in a memory care facility. She recognized what was happening in the conversation, and I’m sure my mom recognized what was happening as well. Mom’s been coached by my aunt and by her caregiver’s support group throughout dad’s struggles.

I also recognized what was happening, but it didn’t keep me from trying to bring him back to the present reality. I introduced myself, reminded him where he was, but try as I might it didn’t seem to work.

As they left I walked them to the car, but I still don’t think he knew who I was, or that this was the same house he would come to tomorrow. I’m pretty sure that when I see him tomorrow he will remember who I am and that this is my house. At least for a while. But he will never remember our conversations tonight.

I hope I had enough conversations with him when he could remember. But I will never know. I think we’ll be talking a lot more from now on. Even if he can’t remember.

Hey, Is This Thing On?

Or, the next installment of the Perils of rudyblues

Hello gentle reader(s), it’s rudyblues here. I know, I know, where have I been. It’s been a year or more since I’ve been here. Might have something to do with my fear of commitment. Or being a Pisces. Or a lazy slug. Enough with the soul searching, get on with it.

A lot has happened with old rudyblues in a year. Not just another year older (note to self, check that About page) but thousands of miles from where we last conversed. Is it considered a conversation when I type and you (maybe) read and type back? Seems a little disjointed.

Old rudyblues has pulled up stakes and moved his sorry behind from Illinois to Arizona. Me and Cat Master Jenna jumped in the rental truck filled with the precious bits that I wouldn’t entrust to the movers and made a three day drive from snow in the Midwest to sand (and gravel) in the Southwest. I think I once made a somewhat disparaging remark about ocean front property in Arizona. And maybe one about moving and something about not being a Rockefeller. I hope anyone here who read those remarks will forgive me.

Since old rudyblues has no wife (divorced) and no children (that he knows of) he has taken up the mantle of relocating to help care for his ailing father. Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years back and old rudyblues is in a position to help Mom take care of him. I bought a house that’s two short blocks from theirs and Mom brings Dad over so I can watch him while she gets some time off. He mostly sleeps but when he’s awake you have the same conversations ad infinitum. Come on, he’s nearly 90 after all, you can’t expect sparkling conversation all day!

I arrived here on November 2, 2019 after selling my house in Illinois and buying a house in Arizona in about one month’s time. It was a whirlwind. Mom found the place, I flew down in October to see it after I had already made an offer on it (I know, not smart), and we closed in a Starbucks in Joplin, Missouri while I was driving through on my way to Arizona. Lucky for me nothing fell through. Living in a U-Haul is not on my bucket list.

Did I mention snow in Illinois? Yes, the Midwest weather had to get in one last slap in the face when it heard I was leaving. I woke up on moving day to three inches of lovely, slushy snow. Thanks, Mother Nature!

But we arrived in Arizona in one piece. With a house. But no furniture. Furniture didn’t arrive until the end of the following week. The sellers left a couple of recliners (I love the product name BarcaLounger for some reason) but after a couple of night’s sleep(?) in those I broke down and bought an air mattress. Best. Purchase. Ever.

I arrived in Arizona during the meteorological sweet spot. Lows around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, highs around 75, sunshine, blue skies, an occasional rainy day, just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas with Mom and Dad and aunts and uncles and cousins in the area. I had abundant fresh oranges and grapefruit on the trees in the back yard and life was good.

Today, it was 109. Humidity was 9%. It looks so nice through the windows. But I know I shouldn’t succumb. On the positive side, I installed solar panels on the house. I got my first electric bill last month after turning them on. It was negative! I’m an energy magnate! Woo hoo!