What is Washboard Express?

Washboard Express is a way for me to express my own opinions, to be a provocative gadfly, by writing a "letter a day" to the President. I may miss a day here and there, because sometimes my family with be my first priority, but my goal is to write a total of 365 letters, representing one full year. To say I have opinions about most things would be to understate the obvious. Those of you that know me, know this is true, those who don't know me, will learn that it's true. The Washboard is a reference to going back to basics and "keeping it clean," so if you would like me to post your comments or opinions on this blog, I only ask that you be respectful. So go ahead, express yourself, and I look forward to an exchange of ideas and opinions.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What February Means to Me

February is one of those months that cause ambivalence in me, and I'm sure many others as well.

The family & friend birthdays are over at the beginning of the month, so the cards are sent at the end of January... I make my notes on the January calendar so the cards don't arrive late.

When I was a kid we used to have two Presidents holidays, one for Lincoln on the 12th and one for Washington on the 22nd. I can't remember when they changed all the holidays to be on a Monday and incorporated two great presidents into one, but for me it wasn't a good sign. Yes, it simplified things, but for who, I'm not sure. I guess it saved money for employers, as they only had to pay employees for one holiday, and I get that. But what about those two presidents? There can only be one First President of the United States, so I definitely think Ol' George deserves his own day. And Lincoln kept this country together, he opposed slavery and knew that a divided country could not stand forever. So I think Lincoln deserves his own day too.

Now in the middle there is Valentines Day... a day for lovers, for couples, but what about all those people who are alone and without a significant other? What day is designated for singles? What's that I hear? Hallmark has discovered how to capitalize on a day designated for single people. Why is that? Do they not think anyone cares enough to send the very best to a person by themselves? Isn't that exactly the kind of person who needs someone to say they care? So I'm blaming and shaming Hallmark for not having a day where we recognize the people who live alone. And for those of you who do care, take time to send them a valentine this year, just to let them know you're thinking of them too.

And finally, February 22nd is not only Washington's Birthday, but it's my brother Dennis' birthday also. I haven't heard from my brother in almost 5 years, I'm not even sure if he is alive or not. That is a terrible feeling and makes me incredibly sad, because the last time I saw him I was putting him on a bus back to the bay area and back to homelessness. What kind of a sister would do that? At the time I believed it was necessary because he was unable to quit drinking and I couldn't continue to support him in his apartment without that condition.

Yes, we helped him after his stroke, we took him in before and again after his heart surgery, and we took him back and forth to his Dr. appointments. My sister Marian and I split the cost of his new dentures and dental work, we bought him cloths, and restored him to a reasonable state of health, which took a little over a year. In that year he did not drink, not even a beer, those were the conditions. We tried to get him into Yountville, a home for Vets, but the waiting list was over a year. So my friends helped me furnish an apartment so he could be independent again, we bought him a TV for his birthday, and set up a bank account with all his saved VA benefits. Dennis loved the apartment, it had it's own little yard so he could BBQ if he wanted to. It had a gym and a swimming pool, and was in a very nice neighborhood... we thought he could manage on his own now.

We were wrong... he started drinking again, and his apartment turned into a pig sty. He was buying things from home shopping channel... things like coins and misc. gems not worth anything. He didn't eat right and he stopped meals on wheels which would bring him food once a week. He was rapidly heading back to being homeless again, and I couldn't stand to see it. So I put him on a bus with everything he could carry and sent him back to the bay area.

I never heard from him again. I still don't know if he's alive or dead... I just know that February is a sad month for me. Sad because I'm not alone and some many others are, and sad because I think my brother is alone and I should have prevented it.

February is not my favorite month.

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