Recently, my wife and I went back to her home town for her sister-in-law's 50th birthday party. It was quite an event that involved a lot of liquid refreshment and fine food.
During the party the family cat, Shelby, ran across the area beside the pool with a baby rabbit in its mouth. When she dropped it, the rabbit literally screamed and jumped into the pool. I heard it scream, but my wife said, "I didn't hear a scream." She smiled at me with that "no more drinks for you" look. Maybe it was the liquor, but if Bugs Bunny can
sing, then by God this rabbit could scream and I heard it.
One of the guests who saw the rabbit rushed to the edge of the pool and rescued the little bunny. It was dried, fed, and then released back into the wild to live another day. It needed to be free even if it meant that it might die as a result.
The next day we went to one of two nursing homes in the area. My wife's uncle was recently placed in there. We had just seen him at Christmas and he seemed fine then, but Alzheimer's runs deep in this family and we assumed it had caught up with him.
I hate nursing homes. I've never been to one that didn't reek of urine and vomit. When I sit and watch the "patients", there is this blank look in their eyes reminiscent of the pictures in Life magazine of the Jews in Hitler's death camps. It's a loss of faith, of hope. It's the look of imminent death.
Yet, sitting beside the wall with a 90 year old woman is our beloved DB. He recognizes us, stands and walks over to shake our hands and hug us. "Get me out of here!" he screamed.
DB was born and raised in Georgia over 70 years ago. He was one of six brothers and sisters all of whom have lived and died in this town, never leaving their hallowed homestead. As a result, their two small homes on the south side of town have long been paid for. DB lives in one and one of his sister's and her family lives in the one beside him.
I always loved going back there with my wife and sitting around listening to each of them. They do what they have to do to live. Luxuries are cable TV and a good cut of meat. These people are the salt of the earth. I come away grounded and more content with what I have.
DB has had to overcome many obstacles in his lifetime. When he was four years old, he had a stroke that affected his vision. Even now he must wear extremely thick glasses to see. Unfortunately, he was never able to see well enough to grasp basic educational skills. He didn't, however, have a problem grasping a bottle. Probably out of frustration as much as anything, DB became an alcoholic and battled that disease for many years. It is a testament to his inner fortitude that he gave up drinking on his own. I don't know how long it has been since he has had a drink, but I have known him for over 22 years and he has been sober for all this time.
As we stood in the middle of the room, I asked him what happened. He relayed the story of going to the local doctor for a checkup with his brother. The next thing he remembered was waking up in this place. I couldn't imagine that a doctor would drug a sane man for imprisonment in a nursing home nor could I believe that the nursing home's procedures would allow such to occur. Even worse, I couldn't imagine his flesh and blood relatives participating in this heinous act.
Even more ominous, a nondescript lawyer had come to see DB. The lawyer told him he had reviewed his case and that he was in there illegally. He further said he'd take the case and get him out soon. The documents would be prepared for him to sign. Then he left. DB said he hardly ever spoke to the man.
There were a few problems with this scenario. First, DB never called a lawyer. Where did this guy come from? How did he know to see DB? Second, DB can't read. Any papers he might sign could say anything. He doesn't have much but he didn't want to lose what little he had. I told him to trust no one at this point. I wondered what might be going on that could cause such an outrageous act to occur? I resolved to get to the bottom of this.
As we finished our conversation, a one armed man in a wheel chair began harassing a woman who was also in a wheelchair. I heard her scream, "This is my house. You ain't coming into my house and do that to me!" He pushed her backwards into her room. No one heard her scream but me.
I rose from my chair. My niece asked me what I was doing and I said, "I've had enough of this #*!!." I made a beeline for the pervert.
I came up to him from behind as he demanded sexual favors from this woman. I snatched him backwards so hard that his chin hit his chest. "This woman told you to leave and leave now!" I shoved him in the direction of the nurse's station. The little lady smiled. Two patients outside her door clapped. It wasn't that big of a deal to me. Even I can whip a 75 year old one armed man in a wheelchair. I needed to leave this place now.
As we left, Mr. Pervert was rolling his way back towards the hall. I stopped, leaned over, and in my best Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation whispered, "My name is Rick and I'll be back. Behave!"
The next day we went back and DB's sister and her family were there with him. I made sure the pervert saw me, smiling and pointing at him so that he'd know I was watching him.
DB's sister confirmed that he had in fact been sedated (re: drugged) by the doctor for transport to the nursing home since he wouldn't go willingly. That makes him totally sane in my book. I would have to be comatose to be deposited in that loony bin.
I have to wonder if this is legal. I think it's kidnapping and false imprisonment. The doctor should be disbarred from the practice of medicine and all co-conspirators arrested and placed in their own special county "boarding house".
It gets worse. The reasons she had for doing this were outrageous. DB didn't want to keep his house clean. He didn't like to cook. And he needed reminding to take his medication. In other words, every teenager in America can be drugged and locked up in a nursing home. How ludicrous! She apparently didn't want to walk 30 feet a few times a day to help her brother. Or is there something else, something more sinister?
Their little subdivision sits next door to commercial property. The land is more valuable than the small shotgun style homes that sit upon it. Could it be that an offer is imminent for the family for this property? DB doesn't want to sell. He's content with his lot in life. His needs are few. He wants his little house, some food, and a TV set. Because he wants and needs so little, he refuses to sell.
I mentioned to the family that the nursing home would take the property if DB were to be placed in there permanently. One of them spoke up and said they were going to sell DB's house and spend the money very quickly.
"If there's no money then what could they do?" he said with a smug smile on his face. I wanted to say that they would be committing fraud and that all money can leave a trail but I didn't. If they were to try get away with this I wanted them to get busted.
At any rate it was evident that some thought, even if criminal, had gone into this. It wasn't spur of the moment. I felt unclean and ashamed. Money corrupts even those I felt were incorruptible. How sad.
My credo in life is we don't take advantage or hurt children, animals and old people. Everyone else can take care of themselves. All children, animals, and old people do is love those around them. That is all they want in return. To harm them is to violate even the most basic Christian principle, the Golden Rule.
I couldn't take being around these people anymore. I didn't recognize them. They had been transformed into some hideous capitalists that was once so far removed from their persona.
As we said our goodbyes, I whispered to DB, "Don't sign anything." He winked back at me, a tear in his eye. I had given him two cell phone numbers, a home number, and my watts line number. He promised to call me. I don't know what will happen to DB. He has a hearing May 16 to determine whether or not he will stay in captivity. He will have no representation. The hearing will consist of the doctor that drugged him, the brother that kidnapped him, and the nursing home that will profit from his incarceration. Oh, and DB. God bless American justice.
It shouldn't matter that he doesn't keep a clean house. Meals-on-Wheels can keep him fed. My wife or I can call him daily to remind him to take his medicine if need be. He needs to be free, just like the little rabbit.
DB deserves, as long as he is mentally and physically able, to live and die in a place of his choosing. If we can't answer the cries for help of those in need, what is our purpose in life? Where is our humanity?
Can you hear the rabbit scream?