Sunday, October 24, 2010

Another Neighbor, Senator McConnell. Karen Was Someone's Little Girl.

Dear Senator McConnell:

“The American People” voted overwhelmingly in favor of President Obama’s agenda so many of your comments confuse me. Remember that election in November, 2008? What did you think "The American People" were trying to tell you when they booted your party out and voted President Obama in? Many of us are unhappy because he allowed your party of no to obstruct and to water-down what he did manage to accomplish but that does not mean we would prefer to have you in charge. That is just faulty logic.

This recent statement from you clearly indicates that you still don’t accept the fact that your party lost, and suggests that you want to forget that your real neighbors in Jefferson County did not elect you.

“I know it’s become fashionable in some quarters to refer to Republicans as ‘the Party of No.’ But if we regularly voted for things we opposed, we wouldn’t be worth much,” he said. “The American people wouldn’t have anywhere to turn if the party in power gets carried away. And it’s clear to me at least that most Americans now believe the party in power got carried away.”

As usual, no one can possibly believe that you have a clue about what “most Americans” are thinking, or how many are living, even in your own neighborhood. Until I see some sign that you are catching on, I will continue to introduce you to your neighbors. Today, I present Karen. She was someone’s little girl.

Karen has a room on York,

a far cry from the mansion she lost on Winter.

Maybe it isn't far.

Three miles, give or take,

seen differently by car, bus, or foot.

It's far enough she can't walk over to look at it any more.

Truth be told,

it wasn't ever a mansion

except in Karen's heart.

It was an investment

to the man who scarfed it for a song at auction,

and remains a source of irritation

to the renters who pay a small fortune for it now,

getting little in return for their money.

It was a cry, for sure.

That part was true and never changes.

Karen was someone's little girl. Had to be.

Mothers can't run out before the baby is born,

so she belonged to someone for a few minutes

no matter what happened later.

Like all little girls,

she came into the world with innocent eyes

and a spontaneous smile.

Maybe the investor got what was left of those at auction too.

With or without joy,

Karen was someone's pride at some point.

Someone clapped when she took her first run across the room,

and noticed when she strung her vocabulary into a full sentence.

Surely, Miss Gray patted herself on the back

for implanting the multiplication tables in Karen's hard head,

and Johnny Rogers puffed his chest

over distracting her from them.

Ah, yes, Karen was someone's crush.

She attracted plenty of attention

from the football player who shared her table in biology class,

and the big eared boy on the bus.

And there was that driver at the moving company

where she answered phones after graduation,

who couldn't keep his eyes off her.

She might even be someone's unforgettable first love.

She thinks she was someone's wife in the seventies

He might have died,

or wanted her dead

and he might still dream about her smile.

Speaking of smiles,

she smiled a lot on Winter,

when she was someone's neighbor.

She waved from her chair on the porch,

took soup over when anyone was sick,

shoveled Mr. Turner's steps,

and made a quilt for every baby born on the street.

She didn't get to smile the day she left.

Her friends weren't out there

when she sorted through her things at the curb

to gather what she could carry,

but she would smile the next time she saw them.

She walked back to Winter as long as she could,

because babies aren't born on York

and there aren't any porches.

She would walk back to Winter to look for smiles,

if she could still walk

She smiled a lot when she still had teeth,

and others smiled back.

She had teeth when she still had insurance.

Teeth and glasses, and allergy medicine

so her eyes and nose weren't so runny, and red.

Maybe she's glad she doesn't have glasses on York,

so she doesn't know when people don't smile back.

She had insurance when she still had a job.

She was somebody's valued employee for thirty years

and has a pin to prove it.

Well, she had the pin

until she lost it on the curb on Winter,

but sometimes she still has memories of the job she loved.

She had a job when she still had her health,

or at least when she still had the strength

to pretend she had her health.

She was someone's inspiration

when she ignored her pain

and continued to work

for her insurance and smile.

The doctor got that

long before the investor came along.

She was someone's friend

when she still had health and a job

and teeth and a smile.

She was everyone's friend.

She loved.

She cared.

She was someone's savior,

everyone's champion,

a crusader of causes.

She is someone's cause now.

She is someone else's sin.

Since someone criticized me for posting only negative things, I tried—really tried—to find some feel-good stories about what you’ve done to help people like this neighbor I introduce today. Didn’t find a thing. Darn. But, to please those who want positive news, I’m including a few links to recent articles I found about Congressman Yarmuth’s involvement in local projects.

Center for Women and Families breaks ground on new apartment complex

Giving Back, Congressman Yarmuth donates congressional salary to local charities

Mortgage Help for Kentucky’s Unemployed [“Thousands of Kentucky families have been hit hard by the economic downturn, struggling to pay their bills and keep a roof over their heads,” said Congressman John Yarmuth, of Louisville. “Ensuring these families can stay in their homes isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s critical to our economic recovery.”]

Congressman John Yarmuth Announces $3M for St. Bartholomew Senior Housing

Looking forward to bringing in Lori soon,

Sandy Knauer

Senator McConnell, Meet Your Neighbors

Dear Senator (much to my regret) McConnell:

Even though this is dated, someone brought it to my attention today so I'm bringing it to yours. Now that you've vowed to do nothing in the Senate, and your candidate, Rand Paul is such an embarrassment you are hiding from sight, you might have time to go back and revisit some earlier decisions. Maybe you can even pull your nose out of the air, walk the streets of Louisville, meet some of the people I've met here, and grow a conscience.

Here are a few who I will never forget. If they survived the devastation of the Bush years and the Republican Party obstructionism so far in the Obama Administration, you might start on and around Broadway. That's where I met most of them. Maybe ride the bus from home to your office, I'm sure you'll see them, or others just like them.

Reverend Stanton - You'd surely have to love this man. Well, maybe not. Most people would.

The alcove seemed a strange location for sorting laundry, but who was I to judge this man? He wasn't blocking the entrance or hurting anything. In fact, his sweet smile was a nicer welcome than I usually received from the security guard.

"Good morning," I said as I passed him to open the door.

"That it is," he replied. "God bless you, dear."

"And you." The door closed behind me. He was out of my line of vision as I stood to wait for the elevator, but not out of my mind.

Another employee joined me before the car arrived. "Where's security? Did you see the bum outside the door?"

It was difficult to honestly answer her question. I had seen the man, but didn't want to call him a bum. "He's a pleasant man," I said.

The elevator arrived and she continued her rant as we rode up together. "I'm complaining. We don't need bums out there blocking the door and begging every time we come or go."

"He did neither when I came through," I reported. "Said good morning and blessed me. Did he ask you for money?"

"No, I didn't give him the chance."

Grateful for my third floor exit, I wished her a good day and headed for my office. When I opened the door, I found my coworkers huddled around our frantic receptionist. "I'm calling the police," she exclaimed. "He has no business out there."

"The man in the alcove?" I asked. "Did he do something wrong?"

"He's loitering," a secretary said.

"He smells bad and he's crazy," the bookkeeper added.

The receptionist picked up the phone and I went out the door and down the stairs. "Have you had breakfast yet?" I asked the man.

He continued to sort clothes into two stacks, darks on one side and light on the other. I say light because he only had one white sweatshirt to go with the three dark items.

"Not yet," he answered. "I'm planning out my day now. Gotta get the laundry done so I'll be ready when they call." He moved the darks to the right and the white to the left. "VA's making room for me to have my surgery. Gonna call when they have a bed available."

"Sir, I have a strange favor to ask. Will you go eat breakfast for me?"

"Reverend," he said proudly. "Reverend Stanton. Army chaplain."

"Reverend Stanton, Miller's cafeteria is two blocks away. I'd give anything to run over for scrambled eggs and a bagel, but I'm already running late for work. Can I talk you into going there to eat for me?" I held three dollars out to him. "Please?"

"Gave up my place last week," he said, ignoring my money and my request. "They keep you forever at the VA, you know. No sense wasting rent money while I'm in the hospital."

"Reverend, you have to move from this spot before the police come. Some employees in the building are uncomfortable with a stranger on the premises. I'm sorry."

Reverend Stanton gathered his laundry, draping one item at a time over his arm until all four were settled. He used his other hand to hold onto the wall and struggle to his feet. When he turned to face me, he looked at my money but made no attempt to take it.

"Knee replacement. Was supposed to just pray and counsel like my first tour. Only reason I re-upped for the second one was to pray with those guys who had been there too long. Ended up getting my knee blown out." He smiled through foggy eyes. "But I can't complain. God brought me home alive."

"Then take this money as a token of my appreciation for what you did for your country," I encouraged.

He patted the clothes with his right hand. "Would you mind if I used your money for the laundry instead of breakfast? If I eat, it won't do anything for your hungry."

I opened my purse and took out another five. "Here, have breakfast and do the laundry. You can't take dirty clothes to the VA hospital."

He stuck the money in his pocket and blessed me a few more times before limping away. I watched until he crossed at the corner, hoping he'd find a friendlier alcove in which to wait for his call from the VA hospital.

He Never Did Like Rice

It was warm, so I sat outside, to eat my lunch in the sun
I met a man who'd lost his way, and didn't know any one
He swallowed his pride, avoided my eyes,
and in a tiny voice, shared with me his plight

My stomach's churnin', feet are burnin', and my heart cries
He nodded his head, self-consciously said, he hadn't eaten in nights
I offered to share my meal, and without thinking twice
He said thanks, you're awfully nice, but I never did like rice

He looked so sad standing there, I offered him a smile
Tried to show I truly cared, before he walked another mile
I didn't have a penny to spare, but I tried to be nice
Said I had enough to share, but he still didn't like rice

I see him nearly every day, on corners here and there
I still hear him ask, have you a dollar to spare
I always say a little prayer, please help him through the night
Let him know how much I care, even if he won't eat rice

He ages faster than he should, from sleeping on the street
Carries along a stick of wood, to aid his crippled feet
I'd help the man, if I could, his stomach pays the price
no matter how hungry he feels, he simply won't eat rice

Could be rice was all he had when he was in Hanoi
Could be hunger isn't so bad, compared to life without joy
Or maybe choice matters more when it's the only thing left in life
So he treasures the freedom - to voice his distaste for rice

After you think about the vets for a few days, I'll introduce you to some other homeless people.