Lost and Found

I left off about my aunt’s sister in my blog entry: http://40andoverblog.com/?p=5014.  I have learned much since but it was hard for me to reconcile the information.  My aunt’s blood nephew found his other aunt, thought dead for so many years, in an institution in New York City.

My aunt’s nephew, whom I want to claim as my family, is a good man.  His mother’s papers left no clue, either, that a sister was alive.  He is trying to do the right thing in a fractured family.  He is also trying to find out about his family.  Only a scrap of paper in my aunt’s files gave him a clue an aunt might be alive and he followed the trail until he found her.

She is 88 years-old.  She was never “quite right” in her youth and her mental state has deteriorated beyond any ability to communicate.  (Would she have deteriorated so, if she had family to support her?)  She can provide no information about the family nor, we think, can she experience any solace that, after so many decades, a man she never knew existed came to claim her as his family and do the right thing.  At long last.

But my newly-minted cousin can’t undo the decades of neglect by siblings — both his mother and my aunt — who lived within miles of her.

I asked my uncle yesterday, “how could this be that Aunt [blank] had a sister who needed help?”  My uncle shrugged.  He had no idea that everyone wasn’t dead.  No one asked questions “in the old days”.

At long last, someone stood up for this woman.  But it was too long in coming.  Far too long to make a difference.

Now the weight of the tragedy is on our generation.

We must teach our children: Never again.  Never ever again.

The tragedy at Fort Hood

Brave men and women lost their lives at the hands of one of our own

Yes, Major Nidal Malik Hasan is one of our own. 

Just as much as Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, is one of our own. 

We can make all the shallow distinctions but radicalism creeps person by person, as it did with McVeigh and, as we are told, with Hasan.  The horror and the responsibility begin and end with the person.

There are always signs in retrospect.  And, they allow for a useless free-for-all for Monday quarterbacking pundits.

Yes, let’s look closely at this tragedy and learn its lessons.  But, first, let us bury our dead with honor and with thanks of a grateful nation. 

Just a few days ago, President Obama stood ramrod straight with a crisp salute as the fallen soldiers were carried off an army transport to be buried by their families. 

It is tragic that he must do so again so soon and under these circumstances.

Kitty Genovese 40+ years later

My sister is guest blogging with me. She is helping edit this entry. So, it will be nicer and better written than usual.

On Sunday, my partner, son and I were on our way back from the Bronx Zoo on the No. 2 train. Somewhere in the Bronx, a woman had a petite mal seizure (form of epilepsy it seemed) on the train, but no one knew that until she came around. Everyone was joking about her being a drunk or a drug addict. Someone helped her back on the seat. Then, everyone continued talking about her as if she wasn’t there. I got up and walked down the subway car to see if someone was hurt and and asked her if she was ok. She said she has seizures and felt ok. She seemed dazed and I kept my eye on her and asked her a few more times about how she was feeling. We got off the train at the same stop in Manhattan and I made sure she knew where she was and that she had her wallet with money to get where she needed to go (back up to the Bronx). I was startled and sad that no one else came to her aid and people thought it was funny. I didn’t even help that much, but I hope I made her feel a little safer.

Over 40 years ago, Kitty Genovese was stabbed countless times while her neighbors looked on. Psychologists say that this communal inaction is known as diffusion of responsibility. No one will act unless someone else does, and therefore no one acts.

So, only one person needs to act and everything can change. Yes, we can.