Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What’s Right Is Right

I was raised to believe that it was a mark of character to treat everyone as equals and to always consider myself as an equal to anyone. Raising a family of eight children was not an easy task in the ’50s and ’60s. My mom and dad both worked hard to see that we were fed and clothed. Extras were not an option. We didn’t have much in worldly possessions, but our parents made sure that each of us kids had a sense of self-worth, and that money or social status didn't make snooty people better than we were. They also taught us to never, ever look down on the less fortunate.

When I married Jim, I married a man with the same principles. Jim strongly  believed in standing up for what was right. He came home from Vietnam with a neck injury that would not heal. After he was discharged, we went to St. Louis to get a service connection. It should have been a slam dunk—but wait—the V.A. had lost his medical records. Jim was smart enough to know he needed representation, and our DAV rep marched back into the records room and returned with Jim’s “lost” medical records in ten minutes.

Jim was tenacious when it came to what is right is right. He entered into a four-decade battle with the V.A. keeping his claim open. During that time, the V.A. Hospital left metal fragments in his neck during surgery, charged our insurance through my employer for service-connected surgery, and treated Jim with a lack of respect. Oh, do you think Jim let them get away with any of those travesties? Not a chance. What’s right is right.

No doubt, Jim learned some of his tenaciousness from his mother, my beloved mother-in-law Virginia. She was a bulldog when it came to equal and fair treatment for her children. The adjective that describes her best is feisty. Virginia, who served her husband and family with love and devotion, was often known to say, “What’s sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander.” She believed in the Golden Rule, and wouldn’t stand quietly by when it came to injustice.

I never had Jim or Virginia’s constant tenaciousness. Mine is more sporadic and, you might say, mission oriented. One of my missions involves being an Alzheimer’s advocate.

I’ve discovered going the extra distance makes a difference. As an advocate for Alzheimer’s, I’ve learned that working in the system can bring about amazing results. I’ve seen a lot of change during my 16 trips to D.C. as an Alzheimer’s advocate and ambassador. We had only small successes for the first 14 years.

However, in the past week, we advocates received two exciting pieces of news. The U.S. Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee approved our requested $400 million increase in Alzheimer’s research funding for FY2017. In addition, the Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer’s Act (S. 857/H.R. 1559) has been included in the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Committee FY2017 Funding Bill. The HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act addresses a critical gap in care and support. Both of these pieces of legislation will help rectify some of the inequities of the past when Alzheimer’s was swept under the proverbial carpet, and five million Americans and their families were left without hope.  

As an advocate, I’ve worked with good people in both major political parties. This is one reason I try to stay out of political discussions on Facebook or in the news. Sometimes I have to sit on my hands, and I’ve deleted a lot of sites from my newsfeed.

An item popped up this morning that just underscored that goose and gander sauce still isn’t the same. The big news today is how much Hillary Clinton spends on her clothes. To be completely politically unbiased, Sarah Palin went through the same scrutiny. Have you ever once seen how much a male candidate pays for his custom suits, silk ties, or shoes? Well, I haven’t. What’s right is right.

Injustice and inequalities will always exist. Sometimes we can only chip away at one small thing at a time. One of the lessons I’ve learned from people I truly admire is that what’s sauce for the goose, should be equal to the sauce for the gander.

I’m not the world’s greatest cook, but I know a little bit about making sauce. For it to be good, it takes careful preparation. It must be mixed perfectly from the right ingredients, stirred as needed, left to simmer, and then stirred again. If done perfectly, it turns out just right.

Copyright © June 2016 by L.S. Fisher
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