Monday, January 29, 2007

Predicted low temps for tonight make me very thankful for our warm cocoons, with 31 in Tampa, 21 in Makanda, 34 in Folsom, 14 in Boston, 6 in Portland, 19 in NYC, and 32 in Brandon. The only one I worry about is our Portland resident. I pray he is in a warm place. Last I heard, he was in a homeless shelter. Thank God for those who take them in. Have mercy, Lord, on those who are suffering in the cold while we are staying warm.

I had a conversation yesterday with a friend at church about the difficulties in dealing with mentally ill family members. Seems the subject has come up a good bit lately. How to care for loved ones who are mentally and/or emotionally unstable has no easy solution, especially when there are vulnerable children in the home who could be harmed. And that situation has presented itself, at one time or another, to every member of my family.

My father used to get calls from his nephew Charlie, who would ride the bus to Tupelo, then call Uncle Si to come pick him up. Charlie seemed harmless to me, but he was retarded, and Daddy refused to do more than feed him a couple of meals, maybe let him stay overnight on the sofa (there were no extra beds at our house), then put him on the bus back to Jackson. It wasn't that he didn't love Charlie, but he didn't want Charlie to depend on him, like he seemed to want to do. Charlie's parents weren't able to manage him, neither were his sisters, both younger. Charlie had been known to expose himself to the girls, and Daddy didn't want that happening at our house, or any of his other risky behavior.

Charlie eventually found his way to a residential center that was equipped to educate and help him and others in his condition. I've often wondered what became of him. Last I heard, he married another developmentally challenged person and they lived together at the same facility. He would be almost 70 now, if he's still living.

The reason I mention this is that I know certain family members are suffering the anguish of guilt and remorse for not being able to care adequately for these very needy, dependent people. Realizing and admitting our limitations are not easy things to do, but they are necessary if we are to maintain our own sanity and balance. Doing all we can do, then letting go and trusting God to take it from there is as hard for some of us as walking a tightrope between two skyscrapers would be.

Part of doing all we can do is to advocate for them within organizations that have good records in providing for "the least of these." Our government, our churches, our communities all need prompting and prodding at times. Whether it is educating ourselves, joining a fund-raising walk with NAMI supporters, or just donating to their cause, all of us can contribute to improving their lot. Be sure to check out this website. To find the report card for each state, click on Take Action, then Grading the States. Mississippi gets a D. Thank goodness, Maine is a B state.

No comments: