Friday, February 19, 2010

For you....

It’s late at night and I can’t sleep
Missing you just runs too deep
Oh I can’t be thinking of your smile
Every kiss you can’t forget
This aching heart ain’t broken yet
Oh God I wish I could make you see
Cause I know this flame isn’t dying
So nothing can stop me from trying

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sad news all around...ugh. :(

I heard from my friend Gloria yesterday. Our friend Carla seems to be succumbing to her very rare brain cancer. Carla was diagnosed in late October with Stage 4 Glioblastoma, a rare brain tumor, and things are not looking good. It's all started with a seizure she had at work, and after an MRI and other tests, the doctor told Carla that it appeared that she had a cyst in her brain that needed to be removed. Shortly after her surgery, the doctors explained to her that she had a very rare type of brain tumor, and that it was aggressive. At that time, she was given anywhere from 4 months to less than a year to live. Other doctors gave her hope, so they put her on radition and chemotherapy. Within weeks, her brain began to swell, and she experienced more seizures. Carla has not been in her home since before Christmas. She has been in and out of nursing homes and the hospital. Today, she's in the hospital. She continues to have seizures, and because of the steriods she's taking, is unable to walk at all. The past decade for Carla has brought her a lot of sadness. First, she loses her father, then her brother to cancer (he was in his 40s). In her mid-40s, Carla falls in love, and gets married for the first time. Her husband dies a few years later from a heart attack. Now that Carla is beginning to see the light again after suffering through so much darkness, this.

I met Carla while working at a law firm in the San Fernando Valley. I always thought she was a bit weird, but with a heart of gold. When I left the firm, I stayed in touch with Gloria and Dora, and we would often see each other. Carla I rarely saw, but we often communicated via e-mail or Facebook. In fact, just before her diagnosis, Carla was telling me she was looking forward to early retirement. She is now 55. I told her why not. She had inherited her dad's home. Her own home was almost paid for, she had a good union pension (her entire career as a legal assitant was spent at labor law firms which afforded her union membership with the Teamsters), basically that she was set for retirement. How sad. How very, very sad. :(

Gloria is not fairing that well either. She was diagnosed with MS a few years ago, and it's been making her very tired lately. Gloria is on her own, and has not re-married since her husband left her a single-mother many, many years ago. I don't know how she does it. My hat is off to this amazing lady.

Gloria also told me that our mutual friend Dora's 22 year old son is not doing that well either. Her son was recently diagnosed with a rare form of eye disease that required a corneal transplant. I just heard that the corneal transplant did not hold, and this young man right now has no vision. Ugh. My heart already went to Dora many years ago when I learned that her second born son was diagnosed with severe autism. Tony, her son with autism has no cognitive thoughts whatsoever, and does not even recognize his own mom. How does Dora do it...I just don't know. God bless my friends, Carla, Gloria and Dora. Many God give them strength and comfort during these difficult and frightening times in their lives. :(

Monday, February 15, 2010

I know what it feels like to be me.

I blog a lot. I blog all over the place, especially on political matters. I also tend to cut and paste this blog address when I blog, and it must be working since I have over 60 profile views, so someone must be reading my posts, which is fine with me. I really have nothing to hide. I love the freedom that the Internet affords people to express oneself. Having said this, I am sure someone who may have read my last post may have said... yeah, right, she does not know what it feels like to be poor. Actually, I do.

You see, I am an immigrant from Cuba. When my parents left Cuban when I was 5, they left with nothing more than the clothes on their back. We left Havana and flew into Mexico in 1965; 3 months later, we moved to California. My father was educated in the University of Havana, but was a jeweler by profession, and he often traveled to the US for business; my mom was a housewife. My father's success is a story on its own, and I will touch upon it very little here.

My Dad was born in Havana in 1914, shortly after my grandparents left Spain during WWI, so my grandparents were immigrants to Cuba. Like all immigrants anywhere in the world to a new country, struggle is inevitable, and my father and his family struggled, which struggle eventually gave them a comfortable life in Cuba. Nothing in life is easy. Anyone that tells you otherwise, is lying. So when my family fled Castro's Cuba in 1965, my father knew it would be a struggle to begin a new life in a different country, especially with a different language. But he accepted the challenge because it would mean that his children would live in freedom, although he was already a man of 51. I am grateful to my father for that decision. Unfortunately, my father died eight years after arriving in the US, leaving behind my mother, my brother (14) and me (13). We were essentially left with nothing. The life insurance basically covered my father's burial. With the little that was left over, my mom bought my brother and me, each, a bike. My mom did not drive, so bikes were now our only mode of transportation, at least, until my brother turned 16.

After my father died, my mother obtained a job at a factory that produced battery products for the military. I believe the name of the company was Mallory, now Duracell, but by the time I was 15, my mom was diagnosed with debilitating lung problems due to cleaning acids she used to wipe down finished battery products. Support for the family now rested on the little income that my brother and I could make, and a little social security widow's retirement my mom received from my father's earlier work history. My brother and I did everything we could to make a dollar. My brother was a busboy. I babysat. There was no food stamp, to Medicaid, no welfare. It was struggle, stuggle, struggle. When I turned 16, we packed the little we could carry in my car, a rusty 1969 Buick Skylark, and my mom, brother, our black lab, Sharky, and I, with my brother's old orange VW Hatchback in tow, headed for California, where most of my mom's family had settled ealier. We had very little, but what we had was love, and an incredible desire to succeed, and live the American Dream.

To make a long, long story short, today both my brother and I are educated, we both have families and good jobs, and are homeowners (my brother owns a home in Arizona and California, and I own a home near Malibu, California). Thankfully, my mom, now 83, is still alive, and is very proud of her children's accomplishments. What I am trying to say here is's ok to be poor, but it's not ok to resolve oneself to staying poor. Struggle never hurt anyone, and if two Hispanic immigrants can live the American Dream, then so can anyone else. Generations of welfare and poverty is not acceptable, and should never be acceptable. I don't believe in poverty begets poverty. One must seek opportunities. Opportunity normally does not come knocking at one's door on it's own. One must will it. So, yes, I know what it is like to be poor, but I also know what it like to have a burning desire to succeed. I made it. What's your excuse?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Entilement Mentality

Many of the U.S. states are broke. It is simply unsustainable for 1/2 of a population to work, while the other half sit at home and collect entitlements (such as welfare, medicaid, and other gov. assistance). Put the people to work. You want Medicaid? You want Welfare payments and Food Stamps? You want to live in subsidized housing? I am all for it, but you must give something in return. Free handouts are no longer an option. Getting up at 11 a.m., and turning on the soaps, is not going to do it. In return for my tax money you are collecting, get up and go to school. Educate yourself; if school is not an option, then, let me put you to work. You say you can't read or write? Fine. Go to the local court houses, prisons, or other other gov. agency, and start mopping floors, collecting trash, dishing out food...once people start realizing that it sucks to work for welfare assistance, they will be motivated to get a better paying job. Absent a bad economy, there is not reason in the world for an able-bodied person not to be able to work for their keep...heck, I work for my keep, and apparently yours too! How many people can the U.S. continue to support (or take in their lifeboat), until the economy completely collapses (or the boat sinks)? I guess we all are in the same boat, so it's sick or swim. I chose swim!