Almost 70 years after the battle of Iwo Jima, three of the surviving veterans are returning to the island for the first time. Their trips have been made possible because of contributions from Daughters of World War II and American Airlines.
What struck me was the memory of Bill Schott, who was only 18 when he fought in the famous battle. He vividly remembers laying in a foxhole and seeing the American Flag being raised on Mount Suribachi, although he can’t remember very many other details. That might be as well since it was such a bloody violent battle.
It is very important to write down the memories of our World War II veterans while we still have them. This generation is dying out and within a few years all opportunities will be lost.
That is critical for our family histories as well.
I was talking with my cousin the other day and she asked me if I knew how our grandparents met. I didn’t.
Unless my Mother knows, we will not be able to perhaps ever find out. That is just one small example of what we are losing if we don’t take the time to write it down not only for ourselves, but for the next generation.
World War II re-shaped our world. We need to pay special attention to all our veterans, but particularly those from a war fought seventy years ago.
We were shocked to hear about the death of 87-year- old Glenwood Gardens resident Lorraine Bayless, of Bakersfield, California. Miss Lorraine died while a nurse had called 911. The nurse would not administer CPR while waiting for paramedics to arrive.
During the agonizing crucial minutes the 911 operator, Tracey Halvorson, begged the nurse to give Miss Lorraine CPR or to at least find someone else who would.
We have learned it is not the policy of the Glenwood Gardens’ independent living community to administer CPR in emergencies. Those residents of their nearby assisted living and skilled nursing facilities can receive CPR, however.
Granted, the facility clearly states CPR help is not included in the contract residents must sign before moving in. Everyone is supposed to understand that because it is all in writing.
Somehow 911 Operator Halvorson had not been given the memo and didn’t understand that. Frankly, I don’t understand it either.
This story is very different from the many stories of people who have been saved right off sidewalks because someone knew CPR and cared enough to administer it.
A few years ago, I attended church with a man whose life was in fact saved in a grocery store when he collapsed from a heart attack. CPR was given to him by a good Samaritan stranger and he lived to tell the tale.
That was a far cry from a situation many years ago, when my family was going out to eat on a Sunday afternoon when I was nine. We arrived at a cafeteria in Nashville to find total chaos.
A man had just died while eating with his family. I saw his body on the floor surrounded by his teen aged daughters who were crying uncontrollably.
I’ll never forget it and I can still describe the tiniest detail of the scene including what one of the girls was wearing.
My parents explained to me the cafeteria didn’t have oxygen for the man. Maybe they could have saved him. We’ll never know.
Things have improved a lot since that October Sunday in 1965, or have they?
I was particularly taken back by the nurse’s attitude during the call concerning Miss Lorraine. She spent a lot of time explaining why she couldn’t help, and why she couldn’t get anyone else to help. The clock was ticking-fast.
Our advice is to read the fine print very carefully before you sign for any facility. Know what the nurses do and don’t do. Think long and hard before you incorporate the do not resuscitate clause. Keep in mind some facilities simply don’t provide CPR no matter how much a 911 Operator begs them to. Their reasoning seems to be CPR is dangerous to give to an elderly person.
But what about the other choice of not giving CPR? Isn’t that also dangerous?
If you aren’t satisfied with the policy of a facility, try out the next one in the phone book. There are plenty of them around.
Yesterday was Groundhog’s Day and on the surface the news was good. The groundhog officially proclaimed spring would arrive early. Meanwhile, I experienced a dangerous shadow of my own.
I suffered a bad fall due to the one half inch of snowfall we had early Saturday morning. I was reminded of the post we had last month about being able to be emphatic with the elderly.
Now I know how it feels to suddenly have your feet fly up from underneath you casting you down several slippery steps with one step thrusting you directly in the back as you hit the cold ground hard.
I was not the only one in trouble. There were over 200 car wrecks in a little over an hour. People who often move in from other places make a lot of fun of us here in middle Tennessee when it comes to snow. We don’t know how to get around in it very well whether we’re in cars or on foot. That’s just a plain fact.
I can still feel the sharp shape of the step I had a collision with. In fact, I was sprawled out on the ground in the snow for about ten minutes, unable to get up.
Meanwhile, cars were passing me right and left because I had fallen at one of our rentals which is on a very busy street. No one stopped to help me. Nashville has been described as the buckle of the Bible Belt but I was alone and on my own until I could get the attention of the the tenant living on the other side of the duplex.
I’m still recovering and it’s painful. I didn’t break anything but the muscles were damaged. It was a preview of what is to come with old age. You have to think about every move you make so you won’t disturb the sore muscles. If you don’t, you will suffer searing pains running up and down left of your spine, even down to your feet. Getting out of bed and off the couch can be excruciating and heaven help me if I sneeze.
But it’s the boredom of not being able to work that really is the final wicked blow.
We take so much for granted if we can walk and work.
We often complain about our workdays and everything we have to get done. But what if we can’t move? I couldn’t even get back into my car yesterday, much less drive. I was leaning against the car for almost an hour. I finally found out when the heating and cooling man says he’s just getting his truck out doesn’t necessarily mean he’s on the way.
I had to call my nephew to come get me and to take care of the heating and cooling man. (The tenants without heat had left and had placed me on voice mail. I guarantee that won’t be happening again. Their little phone kingdoms better include a clear channel for me from now on.)
But the worst part is not being able to do the daily tasks of caring for my aging parents. I couldn’t cook for them. I couldn’t do all the things around the house I had planned for a “free Saturday.”
Then there’s my regular job. We’re already behind because of the weather last week. One tenant didn’t move out on time. Another unit is way behind schedule for re-renting. I feel helpless and depressed because I can’t make things that need to happen -happen. Instead, I’m on the couch watching shows like “Too Cute Kittens” and “Hillbilly Hand Fishing”.
Why am I speaking so freely?
This is daily life for caregivers. We have to stay healthy because we have the aged depending upon us. If we get down, it can cause disastrous effects for many others.
But there’s a bright side to all of this. Other family members may recognize what you do only when you can’t do it. A light suddenly reveals what you do and if you’re a typical caregiver trying to work outside with a regular job, it is a massive amount of work. It doesn’t hurt for others to see that just as it sometimes doesn’t harm us to catch a brief glimpse of what our elderly have to endure.
Japan’s new finance minister, Taro Aso, is proclaiming that the elderly should get on with dying.
“Heaven forbid if you are forced to live on when you want to die,” Aso is being quoted as saying.
He can speak for himself, but he is not speaking for me.
Our question is what about the seniors who don’t want to die?
Japan is an aging country with about 25 per cent of its population over the age of 60. It is estimated that Japanese seniors will increase by 40 per cent by the year 2063.
Aso has also renamed the elderly who can not feed themselves as “tube people”.
It is not surprising the finance minister’s comments are causing controversy not only in Japan but all over the world. It is further stated he has angered many Japanese doctors after stating “they lacked common sense,” as quoted by UK’s The Guardian.
I think these statements are very frightening. I believe in the sacredness of life at any age. I believe one of the paramount ways nations as well as families will be judged is based on how their elderly are cared for.
I certainly take offense at the term “tube people.”
That being said, I do believe in working out a living will for yourself and for your aging parents to let you know what they want for their living wills. Those are decisions made on an individual level.
If these comments are not disturbing enough, Aso is further quoted,
“I would wake up feeling increasingly bad knowing that [treatment] was all being paid for by the government. The problem won’t be solved unless you let them hurry up and die.”
This quote is also recorded by The Guardian.
According to The Guardian that probably won’t be a problem for Aso since he is a reported to be a wealthy man who most likely will be able pay for his own private treatments.