Yesterday morning, outside the lounge window, here in the Catskills:
There has been criticism in some media and social media quarters over the avalanche of U.S. media reporting on the November 13 Paris massacres. Pointed to especially has been the comparatively far lesser coverage of the November 12 Beirut suicide blasts, in which over 40 were killed. The disparity between the two has prompted accusations that Americans simply don’t care nearly as much about mayhem in Beirut as they do about mayhem in Paris:
I’m not going to try to defend a difference in newspaper column inches and cable TV air time between the two horrors. Rather I will attempt briefly to address what is probably the basis for it. A personal experience came to my mind.
Late on Thursday, I had driven my father and sister back to his Pennsylvania house (a 2 and 1/2 hour trip). Yesterday I came back here to the Catskills. I have been so stressed out in the last month over the death of my uncle and especially my mother, I wanted to be alone here in my own house for a few days…. and listen to music, watch the occasional deer, and stare at the scenery:
But that didn’t mean I’d cut myself off completely. Last night, I was chatting with a cousin on the phone. We were discussing my mother and my uncle, and their deaths, and remembering family, such as our grandparents.
Suddenly my wife messaged me – from ENGLAND – asking had I seen what was happening in Paris?
This morning I’m driving my now widower father, and my 44 year old sister (she lived with my parents, and so now lives with my father: let’s please not go there right now), up to our (my wife and mine’s – and I know that’s ungrammatical, but I don’t care right now) place in the Catskills for a few days.
We probably don’t have to do this, but I desperately want to. Dad agreed. He needs a different view and I think he knows that.
And I have to get the hell away for a while from this (my now late mother’s) October 26 place of death. Increasingly, I can’t bear this f-cking house. I never wanted them to move here to Pennsylvania (it’s not about PA itself; but let’s not go there either right now), and my late mother is “everywhere” here still, of course.
I delivered my mother’s eulogy at her funeral Mass back on Saturday. It was the toughest few pages I’d ever had to write. Even harder was sharing it verbally in the church with the other mourners.
After all, there are the basic facts to cover: her birth, bits on her upbringing, her marriage, her family, where she’d lived and worked, etc. More important, though, are the human aspects. Somehow I got through the 10 minutes or so without breaking down, but, as I spoke, I remember feeling numb….
I thought I’d share some of it with you here:
We’ve settled into a daily routine of helping look after my cancer-stricken mother. Unless something goes amiss, the days are now pretty predictable. But when something does go awry, it can create minor panic.
Yesterday, when Mom’s oxygen was inexplicably not flowing, my father started to “lose it.” I had to step in and reassure him, “Easy. Let’s check it carefully….” All the lights were on indicating correct functionality.
It turned out the line had been loose at the connection on the machine.
* * *
In other tech news, naturally the four year old (that’s right, four) G.E. dishwasher gave up about three weeks ago – before we got here and before her cancer diagnosis. $450 to fix, minimum, the repair guy said; better to buy a new one. “We call G.E. short for ‘generally expensive,'” he added.
Visiting my parents is at times like stepping back into a slower, simpler time. They prefer to use cash. They still write checks. They still do bills by mail.
While they do occasionally buy from Amazon and other online retailers, when it comes to MAJOR APPLIANCES they still go pretty traditional. At least my father does. I’d tried to help him buy a new dishwasher online, but he insisted on going to “old reliable” in person for a replacement.
Oh, my. And then it began.
As I’ve noted before, I will always remember, in the immediate aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene ripping through the Catskills in August 2011 – and us, with a generator, so we could actually watch some news and have internet – hearing CNN’s Anderson Cooper actually say, “Prattsville, New York,” several times to a worldwide audience. It was surreal. We always see disasters played out in media “elsewhere,” but it never happens to “us,” right?:
That nearby town had been virtually destroyed when waters from the massively overflowing Schoharie Creek tore through it. Four years on, the scars are still there, yet it has rebuilt wonderfully – there are new stores and refurbished homes. (We venture in there primarily to shop at the well-stocked “Great American” supermarket.) It looks almost like another place now.
Hello! Made it! Woke up in the dark here in the Catskills – still feeling on U.K. time.
Just had a coffee in my favorite mug, which sat in the cupboard waiting all these months….
“I cannot live without books.” That is an actual Thomas Jefferson quote. Yes, a real one.
We flew into Newark airport yesterday afternoon.
Boarding at Heathrow, in our row sat – of all things – a 60ish Australian lawyer who’d been to the Australia dismantlement of England at the Rugby World Cup on Saturday night. He was heading to New York, he’d said, because Australia wasn’t playing again for a while. He had decided to “hop over” to the U.S. for a week before flying back to England for the next match.