Monday, June 29

Broken House - A Parable

Van Gogh - Pair of Shoes

The facade, once faded green, has now been painted a blissful, institutional yellow.

I drive by on my way to my new home. This new home doesn't quite fit me. I feel like a man who has been forced to walk barefooted and considers himself lucky to have found someone else's discarded shoes. I know I should feel grateful to be shod at all, and yet, these shoes do not fit me, they were not made for me and no matter how hard I try I cannot force myself into feeling that these are now my shoes. They are good shoes. Well, good enough shoes anyway... they are not my shoes. However long I may wear them, they will never bring me comfort, only a blister on my heel to remind me that I should be grateful. I force myself to feel grateful.

I see the pink babydoll buggy laying abandoned in the front yard. The garage door is half open revealing a sterile orderliness. Tools hung in their right places on a peg board. Boxes stacked neatly against one wall. God does like a neat tidy package, perhaps that's where we went wrong? Too frenetic in our desires, too much in love with life, too chaotic in our security, we filled it with our loud voices and the things we had acquired in our travels, our music and all of the miscellany that comes with years. From elementary school finger paintings to high school year books, we crammed it all in--knowing that this was our home. Or would someday be. Perhaps that is why? Because we had the audacity to assume our future.

I have seen them of course. I know them. They know me. But not in a way that's personal, not intimately, like old friends who share their darkest secrets. Yet they do know my darkest secret, they've glimpsed a part of my shame. Without this we might have been friends. Might have walked our children to school together or stood by our mailboxes and chatted about growing tomatoes or trimming the hedges. As it is now I feel the sting of red in my cheeks whenever they approach, I move away quickly lest they recognize my stain.

Still, they are good people. They took the time to ask other neighbors where we might have gone. They gathered the mail that came in our name in little rubber-banded bundles and saved it for us. When they found us they gave us the mail, and some of the items that haste had made us leave behind. Important things, a baby picture here, a book that showed our fervent adoration in its well-worn cover and broken binding. Other things that they felt might have significance to a family with children, they would know these items, recognize them immediately, they are a family as well. I know they are good people. I hope for them that they find the shelter and security that we could not hold onto. I hope this house, this bright, friendly, yellow house, does not become an ami de cour as it did for us.

I drive up the street to my new house and feel the blister of my unfitting shoes.
I force myself to feel grateful.

For my house and thy house no help shall we find
Save thy house and my house -- kin cleaving to kind;
If my house be taken, thine tumbleth anon.
If thy house be forfeit, mine followeth soon

The Houses ~~Rudyard Kipling

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Dee said...

Hey! Thanks for stopping by my blog (Brainsplitter) earlier. Just wanted to do a follow-up with you on a comment you made. You said you hate your HMO. Sounds believable. Is there a story you'd like to share? I would be interested to hear it, and with your permission, I would like to talk more about it on my blog.

Let me know what you think.

13messages said...

Such a poetic and touching post. Thanks for sharing.

T said...

Dee, my HMO nightmares started


And they are still continuing. My HMO has tried to deny claims, I've had to keep submitting them. I'm also sick to death of doctors who are beholden to the insurance companies. Being refused because my HMO won't cover this or that procedure.

All I want is one great Doc who doesn't abandon us when they find that the insurance won't pay as much as they'd like for a procedure--or try to fit treatment into what the insurance company will cover. It's as if the HMO is telling the doctors what they can and cannot do. And it has nothing to do with what's best for the patient, but rather, what's good for the HMO.

I was in the Army and health care was never a concern. We went to the doctor whenever we needed to and, not surprisingly, we didn't need to go often. I think we'd save a lot of money if people were getting regular and preventative healthcare instead of waiting until illnesses become dire and then paying ER costs or worse, needing hospitalization at the taxpayers expense.

I lived for 5 years in Germany and their healthcare system was incredible to me. Nobody there was freaking out about having to pay for the healthcare of the homeless or the jobless because everyone received the same health care. It didn't matter whether you were a millionaire or a street sweeper, you were entitled to good healthcare.

I wonder sometimes if American resistance towards this type of across-the-board care is related to our derision of Communism? The whole idea that everyone pays in equally and receives equally? But this is about life and death. Surely that should be an inalienable right to all of us as human beings.

If it is just about money then common sense and past experience dictate that preventative care is far less expensive than emergency care. As the taxpayers who are footing the bill we should demand the least expensive solution over the long haul. I'd love to think of my kids growing up in a world where no 'company' has the right to decide who is worthy of good health or how physicians can treat their patients.

T said...

13, thanks for visiting. You two are an amazing, loving couple. That's a beautiful thing. I hope we'll be friends... always.

DarcĂ­a said...

Your writing in this parable is like painting a sad picture with words. Beautifully done.

T said...

Darcia, thanks so much. I'm glad you were here.

Michael Manning said...

This writing is so right and so solid and so soulful. It is a great feeling to see you back, my friend! :)

mad said...

Thanks for stopping by the other day and leaving a comment. Good luck with your book.

T said...

Michael. I'm so glad be back. I've missed everyone so much.

I'm working second shift right now so get used to seeing my comments pop up after the witching hour. It's my favorite time of the night.

T said...

Mad, I told you I love haikus!

Dee said...

Hey darlin', again, major thanks for the story. I did an open post asking for people to share their healthcare stories. If you know of anyone who'd like to share, please send them my way.

I also added a link to your blog in my listing. Take care!

Anonymous said...

Quote "I wonder sometimes if American resistance towards this type of across-the-board care is related to our derision of Communism? The whole idea that everyone pays in equally and receives equally?"

Is THIS what you think communism is?!? Really!?

You think your kids will get good care under what's proposed for us? Ya asked those under England care, or Canada care? They are trying so hard NOT to lose their only way for GOOD care - to come to AMERICA! Go back to Germany if you like that much better!

Give pols an inch and we're done! This is OUR country, not the politicians' to do as they please, no matter the cost for the rest of us!

American politicians (dems, mostly) have set themselves up as royalty. We have NO term limits. WE pay for their Golden Medical plan as well as permanent, lifetime retirement and security. BAH. Not what America was supposed to be. BUT COMMUNISM....


Give me FREEDOM and LIBERTY...give me this over opression, dictatorship, or ruthless, murderous, bigoted regimes, anyday. I can handle illness when I am free far better than I could handle good health without freedom. Far TOO MANY people forget how many died to give us the freedom we do have.

Slaves wanted freedom. This generation wants revenge, so they vote freedoms away. How stupid!

Read the history of the rise of the third reich - control the newspapers, radio stations, then the legislative body. The us pols have seized gm, large banks, etc., etc., and are throwing TRILLIONS $$$ of OUR money to the ones that moved them into power.

T said...

Anon, I'll try to address what you've said as best I can in some order.

1) Yes. That is what I think Communism is. In Bowdlerized form: The idea of everyone paying equally into a system and everyone receiving equally from it. That seems like a redundant question. We weren't debating what Communism is.

2) I don't think anyone is coming to America from England or Canada for the healthcare. From other countries maybe, but not those two. Or Germany either for that matter.

3) Please don't tell me to go back to Germany if I love it so much. I was stationed there as a soldier, as was my husband. We have 3 children born in US military facilities overseas. We were in the Army during the war, not watching it on CNN. We defended and served our country. I'm proud to be an American and I know that I've earned the right to be here.

I was saying that I think we should look at other systems of healthcare and see what works and what doesn't. I don't think that has anything to do with patriotism.

4) As far as Pols. I agree with you on most of what you've said, I have no idea why you're flaming me about that. I never mentioned anything about politicians or parties. I was talking about where the 'for profit' medical establishment had failed me personally.

But since you did bring it up I'll just say...
I agree with this.
American politicians (dems, mostly) have set themselves up as royalty. But I would remove the (dems mostly). I think there's corruption and power mongering on both sides.

I agree that the benefits given politicians is not what America was supposed to be about. Nor is lobbying, special interest, or campaign funding. The Troika that prevents all politicians from being above corruption. They are all beholden to someone within this group, although some may hide it better than others.

5) I have no idea what the slavery and a vengeful generation bit is about. It sounds like a race issue and I don't do race. I just don't. Period. An American is an American.
Enough said.

6) The Third Reich? I don't have time (or comment room) to do a whole study on that. But The us pols have seized gm, large banks, etc., etc., and are throwing TRILLIONS $$$ of OUR money to the ones that moved them into power sounds like what I said about Lobbyists, special interests, and campaign funding...
so, yeah.

Please don't get me started on the banks. They've got my tax dollars. I'm not giving them fees as well. I'm about to start keeping my money under the mattress like my grandfather did.

Anon, you seem very passionate about your politics. I applaud you in that. That's what being an American is about.

Have a happy Independence Day.

rage said...

Your writing is so touching. I enjoyed reading this post. Your words certainly hit close to home.

T said...

Rage, thanks so much. I've been surprised at the number of people who have written saying they have been in the same boat, or verging on it, this year. Maybe I should have called it a cautionary tale rather than a parable?

I hope you're hanging in there sweetie and I hope you're feeling well enough to play with us next week.

You're in my thoughts.

Dee said...

No kidding. T., you're a real class act. That's why I liked your story because it was straight-up real, no pretenses.

To this Anon person: Seriously?

First of all, let's go ahead and survey impressions of health care in other first world powers. Oh, that's right; it has been done already and they rank over the U.S. consistently year after year after decade. I kinda wish I had the luxury of having a citizenship from any of those countries as, you know, my taxes would ensure that if I get sick or need treatment, I can actually GET it.

I agree that politicians are a big part of the problem, but the rest of your want was way too incoherent. Code words do not equal health care reform. You can't just throw the words "freedom" and "liberty" around. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights make frequent use of the words "for all," but apparently they didn't think to tack on the words "with money," now did they?

No. And instead of actually discussing the ramifications of reform, certain news outlets just keep whipping up hysteria and distractions. The undeniable fact is that a majority of this country wants a public option in health care. They want to shop for a good, fair deal just like we do for auto insurance, groceries, and commodities.

And like I said earlier, the idea that everyone gets a piece of that good health care really scares the shit out of people in power. We just dress up that fear in hateful rhetoric. Just like we trot out patriotism when we need a good excuse to spy on people's phone calls and hold people indefinitely without charge.

This country is such a joke sometimes. Let's face facts. While we're busy trying to scramble and fix the issue, Slovenia gets to crack jokes about our health care.

T said...

Dee, I was going to write you, but my modem went wonky. Will be by to visit soon.

I have nothing to add to your comment except thanks.