Saturday, May 29, 2010
I need to tell you about filming yesterday at the Rosie the Riveter Memorial:
Some weeks ago I was introduced to Kendall Wilcox, Executive Producer from BYU Broadcasting when he visited our offices in Richmond. He was working on a documentary series entitled "The Generations Project" (a program based on tracing family histories) which is being aired on cable channels nationally. This segment is about an African American woman who was one of the migrant workers who arrived in the Bay Area as the result of the Kaiser recruitment efforts that swept through her town in Louisiana during WWII.
She's a very interesting subject who had survived the times and actually prospered after the war, becoming a property owner; operating a nightclub in San Francisco, and eventually becoming a political and labor union activist of some prominence before suffering a tragic end as a homicide victim in mid-life.
It was decided that -- because of our being contemporaries and both African American -- I might be able to provide context for Bessie Colvin's story by being filmed in conversation with her son (through whom the family narrative is being told).
It was a fascinating experience in that -- though I'd been interviewed on camera fairly often in the recent past, never before had I participated in this kind of in-depth production. The camera crew was led by a petite young woman who obviously had the entire script in mind and could envision the final product. We filmed for several hours (though it seemed far less), and the "star" (Colvin's son) proved to be a warm and easy partner who made the adventure completely effortless. It only took a moment after we were introduced for our souls to touch and -- if the result of the piece turns out to be as warm and comfortable as it felt -- the day went well and the production will be just fine.
The show will be aired nationwide in October.
Hadn't realized how bad it had become. Working five days-a-week while visiting Dorian at Elmwood every day for the past 7 months -- plus keeping up a battery of activities in relation to my work has taken its toll. I'm buried under by debris and may have to have the refrigerator hauled away without breaking the seal. I can't imagine what pathogens might be flourishing in there. Maybe I'll just have it delivered to the Bayer Pharmaceutical Lab for research for some new cure for the Ebola virus.
All kidding aside, with my daughter coming home to live (temporarily) with me in my small condo will bring with it a cadre of social workers, in-home help aides, physiotherapists; all with judgmental eyes with which to view her living conditions. Since acquiring her two live-in cats and their cat box as well, things are becoming desperate, indeed.
This move is necessary since the RCEB case management team didn't kick in until last week (after a 7 month stay in nursing homes!), and the long-range planning that should have been handled months ago means that they were not prepared for locating a living arrangement (read that group home or a residential placement in an institution) where her two felines would be accepted. Giving them up is simply not an option; but how could they possibly know that?
So, after she worked so hard to master climbing the 16 steps (with a walker in hand) in preparation for coming home to my upstairs condo, I could not refuse to answer the door, right?
It means that living for all this time in a one-bedroom apartment with two futons decoratively stacked on the living-room floor and meant to accommodate occasional visits from grandchildren, means that grandma will be sleeping on one. I'll have to give up my single bed to one who can't possibly physically rise from floor level, at least not for many months -- if ever.
Everything in me screams that this is an unwise decision. I should have insisted upon finding another solution that wouldn't undermine our lifelong quest for her independence. Unwise, maybe, but as in most instances with me, it's intuition that takes over. Logic aside, there's no resisting that.
Now I'm needing to get out to the supermarket and find myself some super-strength vacuum cleaner bags and locate the nearest Goodwill store so that I can thin out my closets in order to accommodate the " Dorrie stuff" that I've been hauling around in the backseat of my car all these months because there was simply no time to unload ... .
If I don't post for a few days (I've taken two days off to try to get all this figured out), know that I'm alive and well and up to my ears in "logistics"!
Sunday, May 23, 2010
She has now graduated from wheelchair to walker and is attacking her physiotherapy program with a vengeance; announcing a few moments ago that she'd walked 1200 feet since rising this morning, and had climbed 14 steps to the garage (with an attendant, of course). This has been a day of achievement -- and besides all that, Elizabeth (a ranger partner from our staff) is bringing her pet feline, DotCom, for a second lesson in becoming a therapy cat (the first was a week ago). Elizabeth thoughtfully brought her animal friend on a leash to visit with Dorrie in the courtyard of Elmwood last week in what promises to be a first "training" in a new career. Dorrie is ecstatic with her new position as a Trainer-in-training!
This afternoon I'll drive into Berkeley to pick her up for dinner out. She's dying for barbecued ribs and in an actual restaurant at that. With a walker we can manage it. With the wheelchair it was a goal to be attained.
Her crochet work is serving backed-up orders (they're beautiful!) which she will continue upon release from the facility -- with a promise to deliver as completed. We're hoping for her return to NIAD (National Institute for Artists and Disabilities) soon after her release.
Life is good ... again ... maybe; at least until we learn the extent of her limited recovery, and how far they'll reach to effect her future.
... and what the implications are of her now extended disabilities, and how far they will reach into and effect my own limited future ... .
Good questions, all.
.. but for this moment it's barbecued baby-back ribs and mild sauce and another session of DotCom's training as a cat therapist! Elizabeth plans to involve Dorrie after her discharge in plans to occasionally visit nursing homes in the area with DotCom for the purpose of making life more pleasant for those whose lives are being lived in shadows. Dorian's experience as a patient will certainly inform her new career, and her great love for felines enables her to appreciate their value as "therapists." No need for intellect here, guys, just a loving heart and the willingness to give. Fortunately, she was blessed with both, as was Elizabeth.
By Jove, with the loving caring support of Elizabeth Tucker, I think we've got it!
Photo: A portrait of the late "Speedy Reid." Dorian painted this as a tribute for a noontime memorial service she conducted at NIAD the day after he was put down by the vet at the age of 17. Note the halo.
Photo #2: Do click to enlarge. The expressions on all three faces are testimony to DotCom's ability to give comfort and reduce stress.