Lesson 107 on Being seen and heard
One night, quite out of the blue, my daughter, by this time grown up, had a seizure when she was out. Her friends, who were much more sensible and competent than I would have been, got help and managed to contact me, but they didn’t know what hospital they were being taken to. They said they would let me know as soon as they could. It was before mobile phones.
As I lay awake, waiting and frightened, I had a sudden memory of the mothers of The Disappeared – the many, many women of South America whose adult children had been seized in the past by the political regime. The mothers whose lives had been spent never knowing where their children were or what had happened to them. Every year they gathered with photos of their sons and daughters to stand in silent testimony to show the world that these children had existed and been loved and mattered. They mattered.
In fighting for Justice for LB we are witnesses, but persistently noisy ones, to another kind of disappearance.
Because Connor and Nico were meant to disappear. An implacable authority, with plenty of resources to cover its tracks, tried to bury them too, but in mounds of spin and jargon and callous disincentives to their families to keep them alive and seen.
We fight for them, because they mattered.
We fight a system that increasingly seeks to disappear its most vulnerable members. The elderly, as well as the dudes and dudettes, are locked away, without respectful care and human consideration, denied treatments they need to keep them healthy, ultimate condemned to die.
However much this is dressed up in glowing vision statements and shiny aims and empty “consultations” and mutual back slappings for meeting “targets”, that is what is happening.
Yesterday I blogged about living in two cultures, but in only one do I feel valued. In the other I feel increasingly invisible, without worth and disregarded as an older person.
In the first one evening, I caught the last local bus home. It leaves quite early around 10.30 and its terminus is Magaluf. It was a bendy bus full of noisy teenagers, as you would expect, off for a good night out. But as we made our way apprehensively up the boisterous,crowded aisle, two lads immediately gestured to us to come and take their seats. They spoke to us cheerily, treating us simply as fellow human beings, not as old nuisances who should have been penned up in their homes out of sight and mind.
Today we think of Connor and Nico, of their lives, their families and their all too preventable deaths. But they stand for all the others with names known only to those who loved and cared for them.
All the others, young and old, our present system seeks to disappear.