Posts Tagged ‘elderly’

From the Editor’s Perch

March 22, 2013

Babies

Adoption

“We’re a couple of characters,” the bearded fellow said.

I was visiting my father over lunch the other day, in an intermediate care facility.  My father wasn’t feeling so good and wasn’t very communicative, so the bearded fellow pretty much had my ear.

“We’re both adopted,” he said, nodding towards the other guy.  Which I found a bit extraordinary, as it was both of them, and then our son is adopted.  Also, their adoption isn’t usually the first thing a couple fellows in their eighties bring up.

“He’s suffering from dementia.”  The bearded fellow nodded to the other fellow with the Albert Einstein hairdo, who smiled genially.

“He’s a banker.  But he can’t remember where the money is.  Can’t remember where the bank is, actually.”

The fellow nodded.

“Oh, well.”  We all laughed.

I told them my son was adopted.

The fellow said, “I came from a family which was dirt poor.  There were eight or nine of us, all adopted, in a small town outside of Las Vegas.  My father was Japanese and my mother was Irish.  And my wife and I have eight daughters, all adopted.”

He lived on a boat now.  “I’m hiding from the world.”

I said that I thought that sounded reasonable.

He nodded.

“My wife is a neurologist who went on missions.  And each time she went, she’d bring back another baby.  Until finally I said, ‘Honey, you’ve got to stop going on these missions.”  Back then in the late 50s and early 60s, it was very easy to adopt.  You basically just picked them up.  “In Burma, at the brothels, they had the babies stacked in the corner.  If someone wanted one, they just took it.”

It took us three years and a lot of paperwork and education and travel to adopt our son.  Things change, I guess.

“Back then, it was a lot easier to adopt children from Ethiopia.  So a lot of babies got transported north and were adopted through Ethiopia.  Everyone thinks they’ve adopted an Ethiopian.  We thought we had.  But then she grew, and grew and grew, until she was 7 feet tall!   We had adopted a Zulu.”

“She earned her way through the University of Washington playing basketball and then went on to medical school.”

Photo by Google Images

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From the Editor’s Perch…

April 27, 2012

The New American Economy

On a recent trip to Florida for a wedding, I may have gotten a preview of our coming American life.  Changing demographics and current economic canvassing predict that we’re due to have a bumper crop of aging, underfinanced, citizens facing retirement soon.  These past couple years of economic woes appear to have tossed a lot of them out of their employment sooner than expected.  And it looks like, from my brief visit to the snowbird South, that a lot of senior citizens have decided to move to Florida as planned.  But rather than relaxing on the beach, they find that to make ends meet, they must find work in the service industries.  What does this look like?

Well, just about everyone who worked in the hotel we stayed at looked to be either middle-aged or pushing 60.  The bartender looked like he came of age in the 70s with Steely Dan and Credence Clearwater.  The group of men fixing some plumbing and wiring in the wall could have been old Shriners.  The waiters we suspected of being on work-release for older cons. Tatooes and shaved heads and Van Dykes, and on the whole, pretty grumpy personalities predominated.  Dropping a plate didn’t make ours miss a beat.  He just kept walking.  We generally got one shot at claiming his attention, and after that we were on our own.  The maintenance people felt like a squad of retired military or cops with large guts and veined legs.  And the waitresses were not a good advertisement for breakfast.  I got the feeling that these were people for whom life had not gone as they’d planned. 

When we arrived, it was dark and my wife couldn’t see much out the windows.  So she asked the taxi driver if “you have palm trees here?”  “That’s a stupid question,” he replied.  The bus driver wouldn’t tell our group we were headed the wrong direction.  It was the drunk in the aisle who felt the need to speak up.  And the guy down the street, mowing the sidewalk strip wiped his brow and had to catch his breath before making conversation.  Maybe they were just East Coast People: brusque variety.  Or maybe they were just old, and tired.  Whatever the situation:

‘Enjoy your vacation Carl,’ I’m thinking.  ‘You may be on their side of the counter sooner than you think.’

Photo by Carl Nelson


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