On nursing homes, family visits … and resentment

Screen shot 2015-03-17 at 11.07.18 PMI should be happy (?) that my father is OUT of the hospital and back into a subacute unit of a long-term facility, aka a nursing home. But this, his third round back, is more depressing for me. He sleeps more, interacts with us less, and it seems to get thinner by the minute. There’s no other way to say it — it feels like I’m losing him.

I’m also slightly, ok maybe definitely, losing my [was it ever normal?] mind. I’m angry. A lot. It doesn’t make me want to punch anyone; it makes me want to check out and stop speaking to everyone (except my parents.)

Life goes on and, more and more, it’s only my mother and I who visit and spend hours with my father (my mother more than all of us, as she has been forced to retire as a result of my dad’s fall and hip fracture.)

My brothers, both who have children, visit less and less. Two and three days go by and no visit. And I resent more and more. I have to be there every day. Throughout this whole ordeal, I’ve missed two days. I can’t see this going any other way for me.

I’m not going to lie; I’m pissed about their lack of devotion. I do not understand how you could not visit your father, the sole reason we were even born into this country, and became the people we are today. And checking in with my mother? Not so much.

Am I going crazy?

I actually met with a friend recently (something I hadn’t really done since my dad fell and became very ill) who also has a father in a nursing home. The situation is different. This person isn’t close to death, but immobile, and being in a nursing home is because the person’s spouse simply cannot handle the complicated care.

But this friend, one of five, told me that only one other sibling visits their father. “What can you do? You can’t get mad at it. And you can’t keep asking them to visit.” That’s true, I guess.

It’s hard to accept. I feel like I have anger, acid, or vomit, hanging at bay at the pit of my throat lately. I’m so disgusted. How can people be like this? Why are people like this? How dare they live their own lives? How dare they go out and have fun? Get a haircut even? Anything, all while my dad is stuck in a room. He can barely talk. He’ll probably never feel the outdoor air or direct sunlight again? How can you not just want to sit there with me!!! Aaaarrrrghhhh.

The anger and resentment affects so many other things. It’s like a bad domino effect. (Only I’m not reacting. As per usual, I’m bottling it all in.)

For instance, I posted a story on Facebook about a guy who walks 21-miles to and from work in the suburbs of Detroit every day because he doesn’t have a car. An old friend (Let’s go with acquaintance. If we were once friends in high school but haven’t spoken since then, don’t hang out in person, are we friends, really?) comments that the man is stupid for walking that far for a job that pays $10 per hour. -__-

I want to de-friend and block this person FOREVER. But not before insulting the person’s ignorance, of course.

A nurse’s aide at the nursing home gives me a look when I nicely ask her to do something. Nothing monumental. Just, oh, I DON’T KNOW, turning and positioning my father — something that should be done so he doesn’t develop another pneumonia and worsen his bed ulcer. She then s-l-o-w-l-y obliges. I want to throw a shoe at her.

A tourist slows down and then stops short in front of me when I’m on my power walk to work in the morning? Yeah. I lied. I maybe want to punch this person.

I need a break.

I know what I need to do is just live MY own life the way I want to (which is visiting my father as much as I can) and realize that maybe my brothers are experiencing my dad’s demise differently than I do. Maybe visiting is hard for them. Maybe.

But being angry about it, which I am not saying this blog post absolves me of, isn’t the way to go. I WILL TRY to let it go. I can’t promise I will, but at least it’s out here on the record, right?

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On the passing of Colombian vallenato legend, Diomedes Diaz

Diomedes Diaz
Diomedes Diaz

I have an interesting relationship with Colombian vallenato music in that my Colombian-music loving self didn’t always love it. I recall my cousin Maria asking me why I didn’t love it at and me saying “it’s old people music.” Ha! (We joke now that she was — and still is– a romantic, and I was [and still am] a cynical cold hearted kid. Go figure.)

I often heard vallenato at parties growing up because it is somewhat of a somber music, in which the ‘grownups’ sat around, reminisced about their homeland, and had shots of aguardiente. At home, my dad preferred to play salsa and cumbia as he was always more of an upbeat music fan (like me!).

Like my father, I preferred to listen to salsa and cumbia, and later champeta, but I gained an appreciation for vallenato as a young adult when I really started paying attention to the lyrics. So sentimental!

The music has its roots in Colombia’s pastures of Valledupar.

This form of music originated from farmers who, keeping a tradition of Spanish minstrels (Juglares in Spanish), mixed also with the West African-inherited tradition of griots (African version of juglar), who used to travel through the region with their cattle in search of pastures or to sell them in cattle fairs. Because they traveled from town to town and the region lacked rapid communications, these farmers served as bearers of news for families living in other towns or villages. Their only form of entertainment during these trips was singing and playing guitars or indigenous gaita flutes, known as kuisis in the Kogi language, and their form of transmitting their news was by singing their messages. (Source.)

Known as “el cacique (native chief),” Diaz was regarded as one of the best singer-songwriters of vallenato. But he didn’t come without controversy:

Diaz led a tempestuous life, serving time in jail over the death of a fan at a party in his home. He often showed up late to concerts or not at all, something his fans put down to his addiction to drugs and alcohol.

In 1997, at the height of his career and shortly before the launch of his album Mi Biografia (My Biography), a fan and friend of Diaz, Doris Adriana Nino, was found dead by the side of a highway in Tunja province. Forensic experts at first said that she had died of a heart attack following a drug overdose at a party hosted by Diaz, but a later forensic report suggested she had been suffocated.

After a lengthy trial, Diaz was sentenced to 12 years in jail for homicide, a sentence which was later reduced to six years.

Diaz, who had been put under house arrest, went on the run when he was due to be transferred to jail, allegedly hiding away in an area controlled by the infamous paramilitary leader known as Jorge 40. He handed himself in to the authorities in 2002 and, after having his sentence further reduced, was released in 2004. (Source.)

Much like when tropical music king Joe Arroyo died in 2011, Colombians have taken to the streets to pay homage to Diaz. And Valledupar’s mayor has declared four days of mourning.

Radio stations are playing songs from his vast discography nonstop.

There are several favorites of Diaz I love, but I’ll leave you with “Mensaje de Navidad” since it’s appropriate for the Christmas season:

Again, the lyrics are somber, but true, as the holidays aren’t always “joyous” if one is away from loved ones.

Unos dicen: Que buena las navidades
Es la época más linda de los años
Pero hay otros que no quieren acordarse
De la fiesta de Año Nuevo y aguinaldo
Pero hay otros que no quieren acordarse
De la fiesta de Año Nuevo y aguinaldo

(Source: see rest of lyrics here.)

Making Movies’ ‘Tormenta’ one of KCUR’s “Best Songs” of 2013

Downloads of this album benefits three Kansas City-area charities.
Downloads of this album benefits three Kansas City-area charities.

A special version of “Tormenta,” by Making Movies, (available on a ’12 Days of Christmas’ album benefiting three Kansas City-area charities via the Midwest Music Foundation & Boulevard Brewing Companyhttp://bit.ly/1ju1hf0) is one of KCUR 89.3 FM‘s ‘Best Songs from Kansas City-area Bands in 2013.’ The song is about missing home at the holidays and was written specifically for the immigration cause.

Hear KCUR‘s other picks here –> http://bit.ly/JQx7Tn (Scroll to 38:25 to hear the special version of “Tormenta.” It is very folkloric version.)

Hear the original version of “Tormenta” here via MTVhttp://on.mtv.com/JTk2bW

A still from the music video for "Tormenta." Watch here: http://youtu.be/QYm5RjCLUfs
A still from the music video for “Tormenta.” Watch here: http://youtu.be/QYm5RjCLUfs

The band is now bound for Texas. Follow the rest of their tour here, and check out this video from the last time they played the Lone Star state. (Video by the Houston-based Sinister Kid Studios.)

National Suicide Prevention Week

Suicide_preventionIt’s National Suicide Prevention Week and National Suicide Awareness Day was on Sept. 10, 2013. This Saturday, Sept. 14, the radio show, Fordham Conversations, will feature a discussion about males and suicide.

Fordham University Professor Daniel Coleman discusses his research, which examines gender stereotypes and the link between masculinity and mental health.

“It’s not a very widely known fact that 80 percent of suicide deaths in the United States are men,” Coleman told Inside Fordham in February. “So the cutting edge in suicide research now is to understand why there is this gender discrepancy.”

Read the full story about his research here.

Jarrod Hindman, director of the Colorado Office of Suicide Prevention, talks about the “Man Therapy” mental health and suicide prevention campaign.

You can hear Fordham Conversation’s every Saturday at 7am on 90.7 WFUV or at www.wfuv.org.

You can listen to the show on WFUV’s News Page on Saturday beginning at 7am http://www.wfuv.org/fordhamconversations

#Immigration rally in D.C. today

In honor of the tens of thousands of people who continue to arrive in the nation’s capital for a rally on immigrant rights today, watch the video for “Tormenta,” a song dedicated to immigrant families by Kansas City bilingual rockers, Making Movies.

The song and music video, released in 2010, shows touching images of immigrant life in Kansas City, a metropolitan area whose immigrant population doubled in the 1990s and continues to grow.

The song’s lyrics display the struggle immigrants face as they migrate to the United States for better opportunity, yet the same time, long for loved ones at home (see lyrics below.)

Making Movies continues the “A La Deriva” tour this week with stops in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston. Dates here.

Lyrics:

Tormenta by Making Movies

Yo quiero ver mi familia esta Navidad,
Y quiero hablar con mi abuelo, oír la verdad.
Porque el frio me atormenta,
El frio me atormenta,
El frio me atormenta,
El frio me atormenta.

Yo quiero ver mi país esta Navidad,
Y quiero bailar en mi pueblo otra vez más,
Porque el frio me atormenta,
El frio me atormenta,
El frio me atormenta,
El frio me atormenta.

Coro:
¡No quiero estar perdido!
¡No quiero estar perdido!
¡No quiero estar perdido!
¡No quiero estar perdido!

Yo quiero comer de tu boca la mera verdad.
Porque el frio me atormenta,
El frio me atormenta,
El frio me atormenta,
El frio me atormenta.

Coro:
¡No quiero estar perdido!
¡No quiero estar perdido!
¡No quiero estar perdido!
¡No quiero estar perdido!

Yo quiero saber que va pasar contigo,
¡Déjame saber si voy a estar perdido!
¡Yo quiero crecer, cambiar este sonido!
El frio me atormenta,
El frio me atormenta.

NY Times: That Loving Feeling Takes Lots of Work

imagesBy Jane Brody
New York Times Jan. 14, 2013

When people fall in love and decide to marry, the expectation is nearly always that love and marriage and the happiness they bring will last; as the vows say, till death do us part. Only the most cynical among us would think, walking down the aisle, that if things don’t work out, “We can always split.”

But the divorce rate in the United States is exactly half the marriage rate, and that does not bode well for this cherished institution.

In her new book, “The Myths of Happiness,” Dr. Lyubomirsky describes a slew of research-tested actions and words that can do wonders to keep love alive.

She points out that the natural human tendency to become “habituated” to positive circumstances — to get so used to things that make us feel good that they no longer do — can be the death knell of marital happiness. Psychologists call it “hedonic adaptation”: things that thrill us tend to be short-lived.

Read more of Jane Brody’s piece in the New York Times’ WELL blog here.