Thursday, July 31, 2008

Update on Mom...A Day Before I Leave

I am in Italy still. I leave tomorrow by train for Zürich, Switzerland and Saturday I leave from Zürich airport to go home. Mom isn't going to make it. While they are not absolutely sure yet, they are doing final tests to confirm that she has Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. It's a disease that affects one person in a million, but she has every symptom. "Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD ) is a very rare and incurable degenerative neurological disorder (brain disease) that is ultimately fatal."

So now it appears a matter of weeks or months at the most. She has not recognized me or my sister since I've been here, three weeks now. She has reached the point where she's in a waking coma, hardly seeing us anymore. The doctor at the hospital is very dedicated. We spent three hours today answering all her questions. She made family trees, she took lots of notes, and she called other experts. She told another doctor while we were there that this was the most serious case they have had in that hospital department in a long time. She also said that they were going to rule out any other curable diseases she might possibly have, but that at this point all signs pointed to CJD and that she would be surprised if that wasn't the illness that has invaded my mother.

So I thought I would share with your some photos I took tonight of mom's room. My sister and I went in there to surround ourselves with "mom." I was surprised to see an English book on her night table. My sister told me that mom was still reading in English before the disease hit her so hard. I didn't know that she had retained the language at that level. So you can see some of the books she had read or was reading in the first picture.

The other photos describe themselves.

Thank you again for all of your support. While there is still a little hope, there's not much left. I plan to return as soon as possible, though it may be for her funeral if the doctor's predictions are right.

Italian Signs...Just Suggestions Really

See the photo? See the red signs in the middle? Can't see them too well? So look at the second photo for a closeup. What do those signs mean? They mean NO motorcycle parking and NO bike parking here, thank you.

What do you see right below the signs? You see motorcycles. You see bicycles. They are parked.

In Italy, signs are so much fun!

Three Kittens in a Clump

I just had to take this picture. Kittens are so cute. Too bad they grow up to be cats!

Are Poor People Poor Because They Are Too Generous?

So here's a question that has been on my mind for a while. Are poor people poor because they're too generous with the little they have? Are rich people rich because they (generally speaking) are not willing to part with anything they have?

I have had two life experiences that lead me to this question. When I was young I worked as a pizza delivery guy on the side for about a month. On the wall of the pizza place was a large map so that we could see where we needed to deliver our pizzas. Each time a pizza was ready to be delivered, the next guy in line would go get it, look at the address, find it on the map and leave.

We knew which part of the map represented the rich neighborhoods and which represented the middle class and poorer areas. When we would see that the address to which to deliver our pizza was in the rich area, we would groan. We knew we would come back from the rich person's house with little or no tip. The poorer the home, the higher the tip was generally. When the doors to the rich homes would open, I would see a lot of fancy things, but I guess buying all those luxuries meant there was no money left for a tip. Once I delivered 12 pizzas to a party at a rich person's home. My tip? A big fat zero. The owner there said, "Oh, sorry, I don't have enough for a tip." I wondered why then he hadn't ordered 11 pizzas so he would have enough left over to compensate me, the driver.

Another time when I was young I volunteered to go door-to-door to seek donations for a boy in our neighborhood who needed a new liver. He suffered from a rare childhood disease and would die without a new liver. We needed to raise about $40,000 and I joined a group that canvassed the town. We made our goal. The boy got his new liver. He lived.

While canvassing, I found out that the richer the home, the more quickly the door would get slammed in my face. The poorer the home, the more willing they were to share what little they had to help the boy. Some of he poorer folks had real concern in their eyes and would ask for details about the boy, saying they would also pray for him, asking if they could help the family also with meals and such. The rich? Some of them handed over a couple of bucks, most of them wouldn't even talk to me.

So is it a vicious cycle? The poor stay poor because they're too generous? The rich stay rich because they're too stingy?

I know that there are no generalizations here. There are many generous rich people and there are many poor people that would not give a penny to a good cause. But am I wrong to think that in general my thinking is right?

Where are the Restrooms???

I was at the hospital. I was looking for the restrooms. I saw a sign, the one in the first pic you see here. I followed the sign.

I found out what the sign meant. It didn't point to the restrooms. It pointed to the elevators. The second pic shows the sign next to the elevators.

Really? The elevators? Yes. I thought the sign was the international symbol for a place where to pee or poop. No, in this case it means you can go up and down in a metal box. I thought about using one of the elevators as a restroom out of spite. However, I'm not a spiteful person. I proceeded to search and find the real restrooms. I thought of looking for a sign that showed an elevator, thinking it would point me to the restrooms, but I didn't see one of those. It's OK - I found them anyway.