Saturday, June 26, 2010

Meet the Outlaw

Here is a certain young lass as she appeared 55 years ago:

Would you ever guess she would grow up to be a rebel? Look at that starched organza dress! That sweetly upturned fringe! Perhaps I am using that ball as a memo recorder, reminding myself to inflict damage on the person or persons responsible for the stiff dress and stupid hairdo.

This sweet child, in the next 21 years, would grow up to:
~ run away from home at the ages of three and sixteen.
~ write a letter at the age of nine to Jack Ruby protesting the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald.
~ have her first run-in with the law at age eleven for throwing rocks over a freeway bridge.
~ smoke, drink, and take drugs from the age of fourteen through adulthood and become a member in good standing of Alcoholics Anonymous.
~ organize a sit-in on the high-school administration steps to protest the Vietnam War.
~ threaten “legal action” against a high-school teacher for throwing me out of geometry because I talked in class. That one got me to the principal’s office, where I lost the battle and was sentenced to the library with a geometry book for the semester. I failed geometry and never enjoyed math again.
~ engage in a heated argument with my senior-year history teacher about the efficacy of war and was ejected from class. That one also got me to the principal’s office, where I won the battle for free speech and was sent back to class.
~ stage a walk-out during an Explorer Scout meeting when the local police chief came to address the scouts about the field of law enforcement (it was that kind of era).
~ threaten PG&E with a formal complaint to the state utilities commission for wanting to charge me a new-account fee when I was simply changing addresses in college. (They rescinded the charge.)
~ threaten J.C. Penney with a complaint to the Better Business Bureau for their shoddy vacuum cleaner (I was just out of college and it was my first vacuum cleaner; the store gave me a refund).

That sweet little girl has grown up to believe in her right to free speech, to protest infringement of her rights, and to be heard by the powers that be.

My legal projects and research on behalf of my infirm mother, concerning the violation of her civil rights and state laws perpetrated by a local hospital recently (here’s a brief of the gory story), have taken away my blogging time. I’m sorry, my blogging friends.

I’ve written protest letters to the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, the California Attorney General, the California Department of Public Health, the county district attorney, the county ombudsman’s office, and many patients’ rights organizations and attorneys. The wheels of justice turn slowly, and so far no one has emerged to champion my mother, except me.

Now I’ve written a lengthy letter to the American Civil Liberties Union, asking them to take on my mother’s case on behalf of elderly people across America whose Advance Directives are routinely ignored by medical institutions.

Over my lifetime, my protests have about a 50/50 success rate. That’s not too shabby. Ballplayers who bat .500 get beaucoup bucks.

Wish me luck?


This is a Sepia Saturday post. For more personal glimpses of history, visit the Sepia Saturday blog here.


The Bug said...

After reading your history I can't believe that anyone would NOT listen to you! Good luck!

Nancy said...

I think you are one feisty lady and I think you will have success with your efforts. It's very sad to read your blog posts about your mother's "leaving." Though her body and mind are leaving this life, I believe you'll see her whole again after this life. Blessings to you.

TechnoBabe said...

What a cutie with the pretty hair and starched dress. You grew up to be your own person that's for sure. When you believe in a cause you are totally committed. Keep us informed on your mother's health and any responses regarding your mothers cause.

RNSANE said...

Chris, you were such a sweet little glad you didn't grow up that way. We've needed voices like yours to make changes in this world. Goodness knows, we're in a pile of s*@t but it would be under our armpits were it not for the likes of you.

I share your furor about your mother. During my five day hospitalization last week, I learned that the advanced directive ID I carry in my purse is not sufficient, I must have a copy of the notarized paperwork each hospital admission so I now carry a copy is my glove compartment and in my datebook which is always in my purse, plus each son has a copy. Why have a wallet ID then? My doc also has a

Matty said...

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "well behaved women rarely make history".

Enchanted Oak said...

RNSANE: Carmen, that is just exactly the kind of obstructive disregard I'm talking about! Try to imagine all the different scenarios in which a person MIGHT find themselves unfortunately brain-damaged in an ER. What if the Med-Evac guy doesn't take your purse, just your ID? What if you're in a hotel far from home and your whole blooming body goes haywire while you're in the bar with just that cute little wallet? My goodness.
There are so many ways we could land in an ER and fail to meet that particular medical facility's convoluted policies about what constitutes a "viable" Advance Directive. There needs to be a national, portable, legally binding form of identification for people who have made directives, like the donor's dot on your driver's license. There also must be a very serious penalty levied against medical facilities that either don't comply with standardized protocol or don't comply with a person's Advance Directive.
Oops. I thought I was talking to the ACLU again. Sorry.

Christine H. said...

Well, it's no surprise to me. What do I see here? I see a photo of a young girl sniffing a toy ball for traces of hazardous chemicals. That was the beginning.

Enchanted Oak said...

Hmm. Maybe I WAS looking for a reason to threaten the ball company. I never thought of that.

RNSANE said...

I'm with you, Chris...otherwise, it's not worth the paper it's printed on and the patient's wishes are for nothing. I guess, in this computerized world, these things might be electronically filed and accessed in a central file - and changed if wishes changed. That is a bit scary but, now, medical records are often handled that way and I think it has facilitated patient care and communication among health care facilities.

Alan Burnett said...

I join with everyone else in wishing you luck. I also join in with those who think that it is just wonderful that the sweet little girl grew up to be such a spirited fighter against injustice - on both a global and personal level. All power to your sweet little elbow.

tony said...

That photo would look so very COOL on a "FBI:10 MOST WANTED LIST" poster!

Syd said...

Chris, I love your activism. A fierce protector of your rights and an advocate for so many things tells me you are strong and determined. Those are great assets as you advocate for your mother. I hope that the ACLU takes on the case.

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

I've so many passionate wonderful women who have touched my life. It's quite wonderful to continue to gain perspective through you and your experiences. I love the E. Roosevelt quote too... Eleanor must have been one hell of a woman too, I'd like to have sat down for tea with her!

Marion said...

You were just the SWEETEST baby! And still have much the same look. What a huge tool you have when you fight the powers-that-be! You look so sweet and innocent...nobody would expect you to fight like the very devil for things you believe in.

You're an inspiration to me, Chris. I think of you when I run against a brick wall in fighting for what I believe in. Good luck in the fight for your mother and her care. Big blessings to you!

PattiKen said...

I don't see how you could fail to succeed, my friend, but I will indeed hold good thoughts for you and your mom.

e said...

Wow...Do you know I hated organza dresses and crinolines so much I actually literally tore a dress to shreds?

I could write a list like that except mine was later and I never was thrown out of a class. I don't get why any responsible teacher or principal would stick a kid in a library with a geometry book and no tutor and expect the kid to learn the subject. They set you up to fail...

As for your mother's case, I hope you both win. Go get 'em!

Alice Audrey said...

What an exciting life you've lead.

Enchanted Oak said...

Dear Tony:
I wonder if I could sue the FBI too! They raided my mom's previous home and booted out all the residents without warning or assistance in placement. (That's a big no-no in elder law.) Here’s the unbelievable story Thanks for the idea, Tony.

And dear Alan,
I've never heard "all power to your elbow," sweet little or otherwise. Your comment caused me to compare my right forearm to my left, and note that the right is bigger than the left. Silly observation, but indeed there's more power in that elbow. Hurrah.

Monkey Man said...

Rebel WITH a cause. Make that causes. Good luck with ACLU and your mom.

Poetikat said...

Wow, Chris! I thought I was a rebel for saucing back at the nuns!

Good luck with the latest protest.

I think I do detect a bit of shall we say, insouciance, in that posture.


FireLight said...

Good golly wolly, guuuuuuuuhhhhrrrrllll! Iffen evvuh I have any trouble down here in Alabammer, I am sending for YOU!
Of all the causes, of course, your mother is the most important! You go get 'em Oak! (That is your governor's nickname, but then he is not Enchanted!)
Peace be with you!

crownring said...

Chris, I'm with you! Hubby and I found out just how much weight a living will had 20+ years ago when his mom had a massive stroke. She'd signed a living will, stating she wanted no extraordinary measures taken to save her life, but that didn't stop the hospital from inserting a feeding tube against her written wishes and that of her entire family. She died the very next day.........

BTW, Hubby thinks our generation will consider the suicide option more and more in the future, simply to avoid being in the very situations our mothers are in now. Even the best nursing homes suck (and my mom is supposedly in one of the best in the country) and the costs are just horrendous. Thank God for Hospice or else we'd be doomed to "live on" at the state's insistence...

HUGS to you and yours, hon. And thank you for the nice note on my blog. :)

Mary Ellen

Tari said...

What a bittersweet post. On the one hand innocent little child grows up to run away and do some rebelling on the bad side. On the other hand, grows up and speaks up for what is right. Sigh.

Good luck with your mom. I hope the ACLU takes your case. I became disillusioned with them long ago, but I hope you have better luck.

Nana Jo said...

What a little sweetheart you were. And now you're a big sweetheart, and I wish you all the luck in the world. You're so right on every level. Thank you for fighting for all of us who are or will be dealing with this injustice.

Oh, and I wanted a fairy princess dress like that so much when I was a little girl, but my mother preferred simplicity to starched organza ... probably because she had six daughters.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

A most precious photo and when combined with your history of protesting and rebellion the title would be, "Who can imagine what I will do!" good luck for results!

Marla said...

You are my kind of woman!!!!!

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