July 1, 2010 § Leave a comment
I saw this story this afternoon at The Anchoress. It is heartbreaking –
Click here to watch. “Jan’s Story, a Love Lost to Alzheimer’s”.
After I watched the story and thought about it for a little while I read the comments at CBS, The Anchoress, and Deacon Greg’s.
Barry Petersen tells the story of his wife, Jan Chorlton’s, and her struggle with early onset Alzheimer’s.
A few things about this story sort of get to me, beyond the heartbreaking reality of it all. The part of the story that has been driving the comments on Catholic site has to do with the fact that Barry is currently living with another woman who he met after his wife’s condition deteriorated to the point where he could no longer care for her in home. She is a widow named Mary who has joined Barry in caring for Jan. Which is obviously a problem if you are approaching the story from a Catholic, sacramental marriage, world view. But I don’t think Barry, Jan or Mary are doing that. They are coming from a really different place, so I think some of the comments are misplaced – but I also found it really fascinating that in the story there is nary a breath between revealing Mary’s place in his life and Barry’s insistence that people shouldn’t be quick to judge him. Normally when people announce they are doing something and then immediately follow it with protestations about how they shouldn’t be judged it is because they know on some level that people are going to judge them and that there is a logic to those judgments.
So many things in this story intrigue me: How we view death and dieing. The way we view mental capacity as the ultimate indicator of life’s worth. What is our vision of married and romantic love – what do those things mean to us and how do we expect them to play out in our lives? What do we do when things don’t go according to plan? What do we really mean when we say “life must go on”? The answers to these questions are different if you are coming from a world view that is Catholic or traditionally Christian than if your view is shaped by the culture at large. It is these exact questions that set the Christian world view most starkly in contrast to the secular world view.
I also supposed this whole thing affects me differently having see my Grandmother go through the process of loosing so much of her memory and mental awareness to dementia over the past 10 years and having watched her pass back in December. At least differently than it would have a few years ago.
Poking around I found a couple more videos about Jan and Barry’s story:
and an interview with Barry:
I think it is very sad that Barry has had to deal with condemnation from Jan’s friends over his decision to place Jan in a residential facility. I understand the feelings that one goes through having to make those decisions – it is hard. It is insanely hard to take someone you love to a place (even a beautiful, well kept, homey place) and the turn around and walk out the door leaving them there. It took a long while before I really was used to the idea that Rachel, for her good and the good of the rest of the family, needed to be in an assisted living setting. I am very familiar with the guilt that eats your heart as you when you walk out of the room, close the car door and drive away with tears running down your face.
There is really no room in my thoughts to condemn Barry for starting a new relationship, especially as his new companion seems to be accepting of the fact that Jan still needs him, she will likely needs looking over for years to come. While it is tempting to hold Barry to the Catholic standard of marriage I think it is utterly unfair to do so without being certain that he and Jan had a sacramental marriage, or at least that they both understood marriage as being unbreakable, a life-long commitment. He claims that Jan would want him to move on with life and celebrate each day. He could be justifying his own actions or he could be absolutely correct in his assessment of what his wife would want. Since we can’t really know these things judgment should be slow and gentle. Yes, he is in a horrible situation and yes, he is doing something morally wrong, but I just can’t bring myself to toss a stone at him.
November 20, 2009 § 2 Comments
Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.
If you haven’t had a chance to read this I really urge you to do so. The fact that enough religious leaders feel this needs to be done is a little unsettling, but what we have seen in other countries leds me to feel that it is more than just a “fear mongering” over reaction and something that needs to be considered very seriously
October 12, 2009 § Leave a comment
Kidnapped Priests in both the Phillippians and in Africa – a good place for prayers. We have five new Saints, the Pope said, “Jesus invites his disciples to the total giving of their lives, without calculation or personal gain, with unfailing trust in God. -The saints welcome this demanding invitation and set about following the crucified and risen Christ with humble docility. Their perfection, in the logic of a faith that is humanly incomprehensible at times, consists in no longer placing themselves at the center, but choosing to go against the flow and live according to the Gospel.”
The Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops is currently meeting in Rome. Of course some good messages are coming out of it already. EWTN is reporting on the call for the African Bishops to be wary of Spiritual Toxic Waste — the loathsome moral erosion that accompanies so many otherwise good efforts to assist with real problems in less developed nations. I think the African Synod is actually ahead of America and Europe in understanding what a culture of life means. This article is well worth the read on that topic. Also on social justice is this thought provoking article.
Have you heard of the Apostolic Visitation of American Women Religious? I find it very interesting – especially how freaked out some orders seem to be and how the Church is trying to calm the waters.
Surprise! the health care bill is going to cover abortions – so say our Bishops and raise insurance rates. If you are surprised by this you haven’t been paying attention. In another stunning-shocker of the blatantly obvious: patients drive up costs of healthcare. Amazingly when patients start to hop on the internet and diagnose themselves they push for unnecessary procedures and tests – but instead of claiming this as a mandate for top down management of healthcare could someone please point out that patients would be more responsible with their requests if they actually had to foot the costs for their care in a more transparent manner?
The much vaunted British system is looking — really scary, especially if you are old, young, pregnant, disabled, mentally ill or have a broken arm. But then again they are planning to fine people for tossing out stale bread and wilted lettuce – so I guess anything goes.
Belmont Abby’s efforts to not be forced to cover ABC are heartening — and I love Archbishop Chaput having his say, “It’s one of the great ironies of the moment that tiny Belmont Abbey would have the courage to challenge Caesar over its right to be faithfully Catholic in its policies, while so many other American Catholics seem eager to give Caesar honors. If you stand up to evil, you may lose. But if you don’t stand up, you will lose..”
Dang it is cold today, maybe all the global warming stuff is a touch over-rated. The energy crisis has been delayed. NASA is going interesting things on the moon. Babies shouldn’t watch TV — did someone pay for that to be researched? It seems like a no brainer. Is email going the way of the letter and will technology save classical music?
Islam isn’t so much Arabic anymore. A quote from Golda Meir comes to mind when I read this story : “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” Netanyahu has some strong thoughts -considering the US’s new “smart diplomacy” I can understand his concerns — if he had any doubts the way the US news reports the issue should be confirmation enough.
Mexico has so many problems: How many Mexicans does it take to drill an oil well? Our southern border destabilizing is troubling enough without the dollar teetering as well. Russia has some interesting things happening – totally my gut feeling, but Russia seems to be gaining momentum – now if they stop aborting their children they might well be the next empire. At any rate Oregon is co-operating in fighting terrorism with the Russians.
Family and home: An interesting aritcle about marriage and women’s desires – though the title “What Does Woman Want” is causeing problems for my grammar brain – can I get an article in there please or maybe make the whole thing plural? Alton Brown rocks – Good eats is really ten years old? Apparently you can get a ticket for catching a Great White Shark in Oregon. I didn’t know we even HAD Great White Sharks. The boys are impressed; I am rethinking my enjoyment of coastal waters. Arizona says social workers can not threaten families to coherce them into cooperation with a social services investigations. Eating Organically on a Food-Stamp Budget — a very interesting little article — now I would like to see her do the same thing on a real economy budget instead of the somewhat bloated max foodstamp allotment.
Liberty: Free-speech gets ever more nuanced. Preserving native languages in Oregon intrests me. Life News is reporting praise for the New York Times while I appreciate that they are being honest enough to confront the violence that is abortion — it isn’t as though those murdering unborn children aren’t aware of what they are doing.
October 8, 2009 § Leave a comment
Funny: A couple of “yobs” thought they were attacking a pair of cross-dressers and end up getting a just beating at the hands of the “cage-fighters” in fancy dress. Since I don’t think young men should be wondering about beating up the mentally ill I like that these boys bit off more than they could chew, but the fact that it was captured on those ubiquitous British street safety cams seems sort of “Brave New World”ish to me. — Daily Mail
Touching: A mother hears her baby’s voice and renews her fight for life while in a coma. — Daily Mail
Smart: Who would have thought? Science is great for the questions of how, where, and when but why is frequently a theological question. Theology and science are no more enemies than hammers and saws — different tools, both needed for well constructed thoughts. — Zenit
Dumb: Obviously if children just get more instruction on how to use condoms they will stop contracting STDs. — CNA
Heroic: Catholic sisters save their “flock” of 320 school children from a Tsunami with smart thinking and quick on the foot action. —CNA
Tragic: A brave priest is gunned down in Mexico by drug cartels the Church struggles to help stop the escalating violence in Mexico. — Christian Science Monitor
Interesting: I want to hear more of this from politicians: “I see a country where more children grow up with security and love because family life comes first. I see a country where you choose the most important things in life – the school your child goes to and the healthcare you get.” -David Cameron –Daily Mail
Health care: The problems in our health care system are so complex that one bill won’t even being to address them and any bill that tries is destined to make the problems worse. This article at NPR talks about differences in doctor’s practices and the results for patients – true is the conclusion that more care is often not better, but I wonder what conclusions the average NPR reader will draw from that fact. — NPR
Sick: Someone please feed that girl a sandwich and while we are at it put away the Photoshop. Bad enough that our culture defines beauty as flawless face atop a 13 year old boy’s body, but when even the models aren’t “prefect” enough we have a problem. —Shine
Reason #546 to homeschool: A sick child sent home with total strangers? wow. And a local story too. — KATU
Paisley, Oregon: Don’t worry if you don’t know where it is. Not many people do. –-OPB
Off the Grid: This sounds really interesting. Solar panels have some issues, but I would love to be able to lower my energy-cost and be less dependent on the “grid”. — OPB
Homeschooling: An interesting little about the economy driving some parents to homeschool. — Greenville Online
June 1, 2009 § 2 Comments
A while back a friend asked me what news site I read. Here is a list of the sites I most commonly read for the news. I don’t read every site every day, in fact most days I just skim the headlines of a couple of them and go from there. I try to balance my desire for mostly conservative information with the reality that not everyone sees the world as I do and I like to get a smattering of British, German and Israeli news because they often have very different perspectives on the world.
I have set this page in the sidebar here for permanent reference here: News and World Events
Political and US News (rather all right leaning):
and then to balance it all a bit of
Special interest stuff:
March 20, 2009 § 2 Comments
Ok, so apparently our President said something surprisingly stupid and impolitic on Jay Leno describing his bowling as Special Olympic worthy. I really can’t get that worked up about it. I know I should – Rachel has competed in several SO track events (and she likes to bowl), my cousin Brian won a silver medal in track at the Special Olympics world meet (a big deal, his family traveled out to Toronto and everything) but I guess I just don’t have the energy to really get upset about this. It was dumb to say — but coming from the same lips as “punished with a baby”, I am just not surprised enough to get upset. In the end I think this (Special Olympics Champ to Barack: Bring it On!) is the best response possible.
In one way I am sort of grateful for the gaffe (if you want to call it that) in that it unearthed this video. Apparently in the rush to defend the president some of the die hard faithful Obama supports (or maybe those who just really hate Sarah Palin) brought this video to light.
What is the difference between a Hockey-mom and a Special Olympics Hockey-mom? Nothing. Perfect. I also like how she talks about the absolute terror of knowing that your child is disabled and how love melts those fears away. Say whatever you like about her, but this I absolutely respect: she lives this, and is open about it. Plus it gives me my little excuse to say Special Olympics is wonderful.
Back when I was working downtown I would occasionally take the evening bus home. One my route was a gentlemen who (I think) was autistic. We got on the 72 at the same stop and I started talking to him. I noticed he had a medal and asked him about it. He had won it in the Special Olympic because he had ran “really, really fast”. I told him that was really cool and that my little girl ran in the Special Olympics. “Is she fast too?” he asked. Yeah, she is fast. I couldn’t even guess how many years that medal hung around that gentleman’s neck. But he wore it everyday that I saw him. It obviously meant a great deal to him.
Our world can be very hard for people who aren’t “perfect” but the Special Olympics gives everyone a chance to be a winner and a chance to be their best. It celebrates the fact that we are all worth everything, that we all count and deserve a chance to try to be our best. It is simultaneously what makes the president’s comment insensitive and stupid and what keeps me from getting too worked up about it. None of us are perfect, Barak Obama no exception, and no one is well served by the destructive politics that has reared its ugly head in our Nation this fall. Picking up this one moment of stupidity isn’t useful unless it is used intelligently to say something worth saying.
People with disabilities have much to offer our society and the Special Olympics has much to offer them. So if you are so inclined, or if you have your dander up on this point please take a moment and donate to the Special Olympics while there you might want to read what they have say on the Obama/Leno thing.
H/T to Hotair for the Sarah Palin video and the challenge.
February 16, 2009 § 2 Comments
I can’t help but wonder if a similar result could be seen if you looked at actual women. Does one woman in skimpy dress in the mall affect the way the men who see her view other women? Because if so it adds yet another argument to the reasons women should seriously consider the affect their apparel has on everyone around them.