Banks County Opinions...

OCTOBER 15, 2003


By: Shar Porier
The Banks County News
October 15, 2003

The dilema
It’s so quiet. All I hear is the slow rolling of the gentle waves. Above me, the stars glisten like multi-colored diamonds on black velvet.
I smile and think of those Elvis paintings. Best not to compare what I beheld to that...
I snuggled down in the sand. Can’t believe I’m out here in short sleeves in September. But, it’s warm, the sand is warm.
Wow, Mars is really bright.
The crescent moon ducked in and out of the wispy clouds. I closed my eyes. Peace.
Suddenly, I was in another time. I could hear my mom clearing up the picnic dishes, popping those Tupperware lids. My dad sat there looking out over the lake in his favorite lawn chair; pipe in hand.
As for me, I was racing up and down the lake shore line, laughing at the gulls who were trying their best to get my sandwich. Pushy birds, you know.
My older brothers were way out on one of the sand bars. I thought about joining them, but changed my mind. They always dunked me. I was safe on land, I could outrun either of them. But in the water, they always nailed me.
My kid sister was busy filling up buckets with sand. I decided to go help her build a sand castle.
Life was so simple back then. There were no thoughts of what the future held. No thoughts of death, only life – free, and wonderful life.
A particularly noisy wave encroached and slid under my feet. There go the blue jeans. The wet sand wriggled. I moved a few more feet up the shore. The tide was coming in.
This time, when I closed my eyes, a very different image played through my mind.
It was from earlier in the evening at Mom’s nursing home.
Violet was struggling to get the spoon of spaghetti in her mouth without getting it all over her. A lovely woman of 85, beautiful smile, beautiful eyes. She had had a severe stroke and had palsey. Every breath was a labor. Every movement took great determination. The tubing that ran from a machine carried precious oxygen – the only thing keeping her alive.
Across from me, Eleanor (one of three at the table, so I called it the Eleanor section) was stubbornly refusing to eat anything but the noodles from her chicken noodle soup. Every time I was there for any meal, that was all she would eat. A stroke had turned her into a mere machine. There was no light in her eyes. No recognition of anyone. But she knew those noodles.
Mom was chewing, chewing and chewing. But, instead of swallowing, she’d spit it out on her fork and lay it on her plate.
Mom, do you have trouble swallowing?
“No, I just don’t like it.”
Mom, you really need to eat your food. Especially your meat. Your protein is so low, they consider you malnourished. I’d hate to see you in the hospital with a feeding tube in you.
“Well, they keep serving the same thing.”
Her “the same thing” was actually some special food I had brought – little selections of some of her old ethnic favorites. The restaurant owners had been very kind. They gave me small portions of all sorts of things, at no cost.
If she liked any of them, I was to call and they’d see she get them. One place would send something one day, another the next. She’d have little delicacies to look forward to every day.
Though she had said she would like to have these very dishes, she wouldn’t eat but a bite of each of them. And every one tasted “bland.”
There was no reasoning with her. I knew it was more than the food. A wave of great sadness washed over me. But I had to ignore it, shake it off.
I tried to get her to take just a few more bites. I figured even in the chewing she’d be getting some nourishment. But, she was so weak, chewing was a hard task. She was wore out.
We went back to her room and watched a little TV. She likes the Animal Planet. Anything with critters.
Suddenly, she looked up at the wall where the old, old pictures of her mother’s hung. Out of the blue, she told me that when she looks at them she thinks things she shouldn’t.
Like what, Mom?
“I don’t think you really want to know.”
She was so fragile. Literally skin and bones. That was why I was there. To try to help get some nourishment in her. But I knew I was fighting a losing battle even before I left. I knew in my heart what was wrong and no food on this earth would solve the problem. I held her hand and stroked her thinning white hair. She was quiet for a few minutes.
Tell me, mama. If there’s anything I can do...
“Well, sometimes I just wish I were dead and buried.” Tears filled her soft, brown eyes.
I can understand that. I’d probably feel the same way if I were in your shoes. It must be hard to see yourself like this, in this place.
“No. I never would have thought I’d end up in a place like this.”
Her voice quivered. Though she fought hard to be strong, the feeling of grief overwhelmed her. She cried. I cried with her. It was all I knew to do. I had no answers, no way out to offer her. It was maddening to feel so helpless.
“I can’t believe I’ve come to this. Just half a room and a few pictures. I just don’t... want to live like this anymore.”
Oh, Mama.
I hugged her close and kissed her forehead. I rocked her in my arms for what seemed an eternity until her sobs subsided.
I wiped the tears from her cheeks and told her to blow and said: Well, you know, I’d be cussing God out about now. He’d be getting an earful.
She smiled and said, “Well, I wouldn’t cuss him, but I’d sure like to tell Him a thing or two.”
We squealed with laughter and she asked, “Think He’ll get the message?”
I just looked at her and smiled back, silently praying for her sake that He did.
Once again the waves rambled up and soaked my feet. The cool chill brought me back to the here and now. Maybe tomorrow I could find a way...
Shar Porier is a reporter for The Banks County News.

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The Banks County News
October 15, 2003

Shame on Alto council for breaking law
The Alto City Council blatantly violated the Georgia Open Meetings Law Monday despite a public outcry from citizens who apparently know the law better than the leaders of the town.
Any action taken by the council in this illegal closed-door meeting is not valid. The council has left the town open to legal action for its total disregard for the law.
The Georgia Open Meetings Law clearly states the legal reasons that citizens may be shut out of a public meeting. No where does it state that a loan can be discussed behind closed doors. However, this is just what happened Monday night.
Several citizens, including a mayor candidate in the Nov. 4 election, pointed out that the move is illegal. That didn’t stop the council from bull-dozing ahead and shutting the public out.
The state law allows meetings to be closed for specific discussions on personnel, real estate and pending litigation. A discussion on a loan repayment doesn’t fit in any of these categories.
It’s a shame to see public officials have so little regard for the law or the citizens of the town. Let’s hope that future actions are done according to the law.
The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233 Fax: (706) 367-8056

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