I had to work on New Year's Eve, and the other co-workers had chosen the channel to watch, opting for Regis. So I did not see the channel with Dick Clark on, and therefore, was not going to write anything here about it at all.
However, I just had the Fox News Channel on to keep up with the news about the miners, as background while I read. He chose to show a portion of Dick Clark speaking about is stroke, and asked the rhetorical question of whether or not it was a 'good' thing for Dick to appear at all. He had an MD expert speaking also, who felt it WAS a good thing, as so many will have strokes, and that the public needs to learn more, and prevent them.
Now, what I heard was a man who has obviously had a brain injury, who has obviously been working VERY hard to regain speech. And he has also obviously come a long way, and as he said, it is not perfect, but he is getting better.
So, though I know that many would rather he did not work on New Year's, and though many probably feel as someone that O'Reilly spoke of... "I would rather remember him as he was"... I have to say I do not agree at all.
I think that this man is doing VERY well, and is choosing to LIVE rather than hide away.
Yes, it was 'hard' to listen to his speech. The speech of hearing impaired or the brain injured is not 'normal' in our estimation. But that is subjective. The effort it takes for those severely hearing impaired to gain speech is tremendous, as it is with those who must relearn speech after a stroke. The frustration often leaves many to simply quit and give up.
It also causes many to give up on life and simply wait for the day that they die. They won't go anyplace, won't see anyone, won't do anything more than they have to. I have seen and cared for some very depressed people living like this.
But for those who strive to continue to live, to the best of their ability, it is imperative that they do whatever they feel that they CAN do.
Jack Klugman had cancer of the throat, and lost a vocal cord to it. He also had to relearn to speak, and his voice also is not 'normal'. But he returned to work, appears on talk shows often, and ..... we have adjusted. We have watched his courage, and learned to accept him AS HE IS now, not as we would have him be.
Kirk Douglas also, as I was reminded, had a stroke and has been back to acting since it happened.
Dick Clark will continue to appear in various places, I am sure, and will continue to work on his speech and his ability to walk, to do what he can do. Barring another stroke, he could live another ten, fifteen years, or possibly more. We will adjust to HIS new self also, if he does appear on TV more.
This is a real problem with our society today. We seem to think that anyone who is not 'normal' has less humaness than those who are 'normal'. Less to live for, less to be treated as a human being worthy of life, less to be treated with dignity, accepted for where they are and who they are in spite of what has happened to them.
We subjectively place ourselves... whom we think of as 'normal' in their place, and say 'I would not want to live like that'... instead of realizing that 'normal' is VERY subjective. Dick Clark did not choose to have a stroke. But he HAS chosen to live to the best that he can, where he is now. He has no reason to hide from us.
If we truly loved this Child of God before his stroke, then we learn to see him as still being worthy of that love even now.
Just as it was hard to watch John Paul II gain the weight and grow hunched, moving slower and slower, less facial expression, etc as he grew older and the Parkinsonism took over; just as it is hard to see Mohammed Ali with his lack of understandable speech, and 'blank' face, moving much slower than he did when he moved like a butterfly and stung like a bee... just as it was hard to 'look' at Terri Schiavo and see her as a disabled person with every right to be fed and hydrated via the G-tube OR via spoon-feeding with therapy aimed at helping her to swallow foods, etc... so it is hard to 'see' Dick Clark differently now.
But Dick Clark had a goal, and that goal was to get back to what he loved. Ushering in the New Year on New Year's Eve publically, on television, for all to see. He did it.
We must learn to meet the disabled where they are, not where they WERE at one time, and realize that we could be there someday ourselves.
We have to stop looking "embarrassedly"past the person in the wheel chair, and begin to look AT them, and speak TO them, even asking them how long they have been in the chair, if that is what we are thinking. Then listening to them tell us, IF they choose, how they got there.
We have to stop looking at those with Down's Syndrome or other cognitive/developmental disabilities with 'pity', and instead, help them to achieve what ever they are able to do for themselves, even if it is just to smile and say HHHHAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH for Hi. Or scratch their nose.
We have to stop determining that others' lives are not worth living (in our humble opinion, as WE are 'normal', and they are not... WE are productive, they are not... WE have a right to live... I would not want to live like them, so therefore, they do not have the right to live until natural death occurs...
And we have to learn that people still have a right to be outdoors in the sunshine (as Terri was not allowed), to have rehab (as Terri was not allowed) and to grow to the best that THEY can do, not what we wish that they could do.
We need to learn to be comfortable with Dick Clark's 'new voice' as he has had to. And cheer him on for the courage it took to choose to LIVE, to live well, and not give up.
The powers that be in television decided several years back that Bert Parks was too old and too old fashioned to continue to emcee the Miss America Pageant... and that fact made me angry, and many others.
Do I admire those who chose to LET him be on television the other night?
YES! Very much! Because 'the powers that be' could have said... nope, we need new blood, you just stay home, Dick... we loved you then, we don't need you now. You deserve to rest and take it easy... meaning that he was an embarrassment and shouldn't be seen in public.
Do I think Dick Clark should have been on television the other night? Yes. I think he had every right to return, and that he deserves accolades for the hard work he has done to get to where he is.
And just as we have grown 'accustomed' to Jack Klugman's new voice and accept it, we will learn to do the same with Dick Clark, and any others that may cross our paths....
Labels: Brain Damage, Euthanasia, Terri Schiavo