Saturday, January 31, 2009

On Crime and Punishment

My brother's home was burglarized while they were at work on Monday. Jewelry, cameras and a computer taken. Oh yes, and the TV. You can read about it in his words at his blog:

One of the things "taken" was a photograph of one of the thieves, courtesy of the little video cam used to monitor the cats when Ian and Meda are away. It was almost as if the thief was mocking the camera. Although he had one hand across his face, Ian and Meda recognized the culprit. When the photo was posted on two of Ian's blogs, several other people recognized him, too. So did his mother.

Short version: The police picked the kid up either last evening or this morning, he reportedly confessed, supposedly blamed his friend, and his mother is working on getting back as much of the property as she can. This all happened as a community effort -- people talking, people observing, people taking responsibility. People besides Ian and Meda. It's a good example of a benefit of living in a small community where everyone knows everyone. Or knows someone who knows everyone. Where the rest of the community really cares about what happens to you.

The young man in this story clearly had not read the Ray Stevens Rules of Life. Rule #1 probably did not occurred to him until last night. If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. Ray used that almost as a mantra. He told our own kids. He told our foster kids. He told me. He told anyone he felt needed a reminder. Sometimes he'd grin. More often he was deadly serious. If you cannot accept the consequences of your action, don't do it. It's about the same as the Front Page Rule. If you don't want to see it printed on the front page of the local newspaper, don't do it! Then there's Christianity's version: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Rule #2 got missed, too. Don't burn your friends. Or in the case of the more youthful generations, or your parents' friends. Ian and Meda are not close friends of the kid's family, but they are friends. And they are neighbors. Bad decision on the kid's part.

Perhaps some good can come out of this. Perhaps the young man will begin to understand that there are logical consequences that go along with all behavior. "Good" behavior, behavior that is acceptable to the community, has positive consequences. "Bad" behavior usually has negative consequences. Given enough positive consequences (although I don't see many positive consequences coming from this particular action), perhaps he can focus on good behavior rather than bad.

If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.

Look for the good. Give thanks. Keep praying ...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Memory Lost and Found

My dad has no short term memory. On Monday afternoon he could not remember whether he had gotten his hair cut that morning (he had). He remembered signing up (they don’t) and everyone clamoring impatiently for attention (they do), so he gave up his place for someone who wanted their hair cut worse than he did. Hmmmm.

Clearly his boat does not fall into short term memory. From my perspective, he hasn’t had it all that long. After all, he didn’t start boating until after I left home, and this was not his first boat. But he bought this boat 40 years ago, in 1969. It was a day or two ago, wasn’t it?

My mother suffers terribly from motion sickness, so the boat was never a family affair. Ian doesn't fish. I don’t know that he and Meda have been aboard the NaDu-K2 except on those occasions when they were scattering ashes – first my Uncle Jimi’s, then Ray’s. I haven’t been around to do any boating. Consequently, I’ve never had to learn to operate this boat.

Today I went down to the yacht harbor, met one of my dad’s fishing buddies, and learned about starting the engines. They are a pair of BMW diesels and significantly larger than those in an automobile. Or at least the engines in the little cars that I drive! She's not a really big boat, just 28', but she's big enough to go inter-island all the way to Kona on the island of Hawaii. That's 200 miles in each direction. Daddy and his friends regularly took her to Molokai for a weekend of fishing.

All the fluids were within normal ranges – except the fuel. Oh, dear, need to find someone to drive the boat out of the harbor, over to Sand Island, fuel her, then bring her back to her slip. Even the batteries had plenty of water, although they didn’t have much charge. But there was enough to start the engines. One is running beautifully. The other is blowing oil. Now to figure out how to move the engine compartment covers around by myself. Off is not too bad. On is a different story.

Next stop: hospital. My father and I had a real conversation about the boat. I asked him about the reels. He told me there were two Shimano 14-0, three Penn 12-0 and two Penn 10-0 reels – exactly what the fishing buddies had told me. There is a pole for each reel. Lindsay had taken them home while he was working on the boat, so we have to get them from his family. Along with the keys to the boat and the key to the bicycle lock.

I started into the start-the-boat checklist, adding it to my iTouch. Check the fluids. Turn on the batteries, then the circuit breakers. Don’t turn on the Deckwash Pump unless the valve is already opened. Daddy interrupted. "Don’t open the valve. If you forget to close it, you will sink the boat. In its slip." He has.

On the bridge, find the correct key for each engine. Start engines, one at a time. Make sure all the gauges are working properly. Let the engines run 10-15 minutes. Then reverse the list.

Daddy was pleased. Pleased that someone in the family is taking care of the boat. Pleased, I think, to have a real conversation with someone where he wasn’t struggling to keep up. Pleased that his experience has value.

Meanwhile, he wants to come home. The nurses divert him several times daily, then walk him down the hall towards his room. He is happy again. He is "home".

Look for the good things. Find something, and give thanks. Don’t forget to pray ….

Friday, January 16, 2009

Stormy Weather and Holiday Weekends

It’s Friday heading into a 3-day weekend, as Monday is the federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King. State and local governments on Oahu, in cooperation with the National Weather Service, have made it a 4-day weekend for schools and government offices. Seems that there is a major storm approaching, and winds this afternoon are predicted to run to near-hurricane levels.

It was breezy but not out of the ordinary this morning when Mother and I went to the market. This afternoon when I went to the hospital it was rainy and the winds were a bit more persistent. We’re supposed to go to a political open house for Lila Berg this evening. Lila is the State Representative for whom my brother works. She is also a personal friend and a proud owner of several of Ray’s carvings purchased on the trip to Groveland “to meet the artist”. How she first saw his work is another story altogether.

My dad is less spacey today that he has been for the last day or two, but maybe it just appears that way because we did not have the opportunity for any substantive conversation. He was sleeping when I arrived with a bunch of daffodils. He woke up as I returned his refreshed vase of flowers to his bedside, but was snatched away by his CNA Soon He to get him up and ready to go to physical therapy before her 2 p.m. staff meeting. We watched a few minutes of the Sony Open together before he went off to therapy and I came home.

He did not mention the absence of Mr. Tomashima from the bed next door. The bed is empty and stripped. The bulletin board is cleared, the wheelchair is gone, and the “Family will do Laundry” sign has been removed from his cabinet. Mr. Tomashima has not been doing well. It’s possible he has been moved to a critical care facility. I suspect that Mr. Tomashima has left us altogether, but know better than to ask staff. Apparently my father is either unaware or unconcerned. Or he has forgotten.

As far as my mother is concerned, it is clear to everyone but her that she really needs to be in an assisted living setting. Perhaps she considers that since I am here she IS in an assisted living setting. She will go to any one of several banks, two markets, and the mall by herself. Any streets that involve more than two lanes of traffic moving at more than 25 MPH she avoids. She also avoid driving more than 1.5 miles in any direction. Five pounds is a very heavy load for her to carry – unless it is genealogy books! She can prune bushes in the hard using her trusty butcher knife, and can strip leaves off the branches to separate what goes in the garbage can and what goes into the compost pile, but after an hour or so she needs a long nap. Those are days when we eat out, order from Panda Express, or indulge in a frozen meal. Otherwise, she does the bulk of the cooking while I do the clean-up.
She promised Ian she would do something about assisted living early this year. It makes economic sense. The two of them can live at One Kalakaua in a nicer setting with lots more help and fewer worries than we will soon be paying for my father alone where he is now. Please, God, give her the nudge she needs to make that transition.

There are some silver linings. We have options. The parents can afford those options. That is more than many have in similar situations. So we focus on those positives, give thanks, and keep praying ...