I’m being very literal in this post, but the word “Awakenings” immediately makes me think of three things.
I was obsessed with the book Flowers For Algernon in…junior high was it? I loved this book. If you don’t know the story, it’s the uplifting story of a challenged boy gaining intelligence via medical intervention. And then it’s the heartbreaking story of the medicine not taking hold and the boy losing those abilities. Awareness, it seems, is only cruel if taken away. Better to be ignorant forever or is the glimmer of awareness worth the pain of loss?
Then in 1990 came the movie Awakenings with Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro. Wow, what a great movie. I cried so hard. Similar to Flowers for Algernon, the audience watches an average boy become practically catatonic, only to awaken with full senses. Medicine helps but then fails and the man returns to his saddened state – with full knowledge of his own hopeless regression.
And now my own thoughts deal with my family’s own version of the two previous points. My Grandma had a severe stroke a few weeks before Christmas. She wasn’t exactly an active, spry 80 year old before the stroke, but now she is paralyzed on one side, including her tongue, and she has only said a few words. We don’t know how “with it” she is, mentally. She raises her eyebrows to indicate she’s heard or understands, she hugs with conviction (with her working arm), and she can kick a nurse away when she doesn’t want to be taken out of bed. But she can’t point to what she wants, where it hurts, the right word written down for her. How much of reality is she a part of? We all hope she is NOT fully awake, trapped in a broken body unable to share her love or anger. We all hope she is NOT aware of her own imprisonment. The cruel reality is those who love her most hope there is no awakening inside of her. And that sounds rotten.
There are much lighter moments in the subject of Awakenings. As a teacher, I love those student “ah-ha” moments (sorry, is that an Opera term?) when you’ve given just the perfect description that made the lesson all clear. In unison, the students all sit back in their chairs, lift their chin, and say “ooohhhhhhh!”. It gives me validation that I’m in the right business.
On a final note, at the end of this special election day in Massachusetts, I ask myself: “When will conservatives wake up and think about someone other than themselves and their money?!” I am so bummed that Teddy’s death has resulted in a Republican human occupying his seat. But then again, it does make sense in this Puritan-undertone Commonwealth. There’s so much to say about this election and yet I can’t begin to find the words. I’m bummed. This country will always be led by rich white men. Period. It’s how capitalism works. I support capitalism and yet it’s so cruel to the majority. The rich will continue getting richer with those who hold their money dearer to them than their fellow men who need services, affordable drugs, and overall healthcare. Lobbyists and Republicans will never support those things – especially the “affordable” part.
Now I’m rambling and I must bow out. G’night.