Why Educate, Selfish Priorities

I just returned from visiting one of my newer friends. He is in hospice care. I wanted to pay my respects and tell him, “Thanks”.

Two years ago is when I met him. It was my partner’s birthday party and many of his friends joined us. Don was one of them. Recently we bumped into each other and he reintroduced himself. I recognized the name and looked at the face to make a connection. I must have had a blank look on my face.

He said, “I’m the one that planted the wild flowers in your front yard.”

Oh, yeah! THAT Don. In my defense, I was not home that day.

Don has been well known for his work, not just in the community but in the state and across the country. A definite good guy. He is someone who has found a fitting niche in our community. A strong spoke in the giant wheel.

This was not my first visit to a hospice facility. Even though I’ve never liked hospitals (I fainted the first time I remember being in one), hospice is different for me. I see hospice as a place of loving care, comfort, and support in moments of gentle humanity.

It is times like these that I return to my education soapbox so here I go.

More and more boomers are entering the retirement age and with that progression comes health (or lack of it) and dying. Three conditions in which we rely upon the care of others to manage our day to day activities. When you look at retirement, hospitals, and hospice facilities, who do we traditionally see manning them?

Minorities are the principal staff manning these facilities and providing care. Is it because the job is taxing? Is it because the job pays poorly? Is it because minorities care more?

Several years ago I was at the airport waiting for my flight. I gentleman from just north of town engaged in conversation and began to share with me why he felt we should not provide for the education of minorities. His reasons were all of individualism and detached humanity. The gentleman was several years older than me and I felt he would understand my point.

“Think about this,” I said. “These kids are the ones who will be taking care of us when we are in the seniors community, when we are sick and dying. They will be the leaders, the workers and the inventors. They will be the ones making decisions of who lives and who dies. Wouldn’t you want them to be the most educated? Don’t you think it is a sound investment?”

It’s not just minorities. It is all our kids. We show them that work is more important and we dispense them onto the care of others, strangers, or electronics. We hope they get the Three R’s, and if we’re lucky, we get a couple of hours with them each day. That is no way to teach civility, sensibility, love, faith, and caring… all those things we do not mention in school. We teach detachment.

As far as the gentleman at the airport, I think he got my point.



Forever Changed

We go through life seeing ourselves in a certain way. After time goes by we sometimes fail to see the subtle instances when we have grown but there are moments that mark an instant in time when we know a giant step has taken place. For me such a moment occured one summer day.

It was an early Wednesday morning and I was scheduled for an interview after lunch. It was a great opportunity to lead a new venture under the team that had been mentoring me, and though not a sure thing, I felt I had a great chance to land the exciting opportunity.

Wednesday was also my appointment day with the doctor. I had awakened early that morning with lower back spasms and I thought I’d mention it. This was my first baby and I was breaking ground.

“No, I don’t see this baby coming  today,” he said.

And he was wrong.

After being reassured deliver was still days away, my husband and I went to the grocery store and I could not take two steps before I had to tightly grasp the shopping cart for support. Once home I realized I’d have to cancel my interview.

“Well, you better have a really good reason,” said my mentor and potential new supervisor. He seemed to think that being in labor was an OK reason.

When we brought the baby home we settled everything as we had planned. The crib was on my side of our bed and my husband’s side faced the window. I remember going to the kitchen for some reason and as I returned to the bedroom I saw the room before me and something more. To the right, I saw the baby in the crib next to the bed with his father sitting on the side of the bed looking out the window. And to the left, I saw the same image but without the crib or the baby, as it had always been before.

I stopped for a moment to take in this vision and I immediately understood that my life  was now forever changed. Without qualms, I stepped forward to the right, and with peace and expectation in my heart, I opened myself up to the new person I had become.


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