15 July 2010


Photo of Residents and The Loving Staff From The Fernald Center's Pool.

Please Help Save Them!

I'd really like to tell my family story a little bit.  I'm focused on my sister that passed away not too long ago. It is a little bit sad but, she changed my life and it certainly confirms my belief that we are all sent here on a mission and we don't leave until the mission is accomplished.  I'm not going to get into religion or into a lot of  other issues. Maybe just a touch on faith and heaven. I can be long winded so I'm going to try really hard to make this story very brief.

Today was a day of memory and celebration.

I had a "disabled" sister that passed a way not too long ago. She wasn't supposed to even reach puberty but, Patty was stronger, smarter and wiser than I'll ever hope to be. Patty couldn't talk much. She couldn't walk. She needed constant care...she couldn't just go get an ice cream or download a bootleg. She never had a date...although she was very attracted to men. She could never get the hottest haircut or neatest pair of shoes because...her hair was kept short for care taking needs and she couldn't go to Filene's Basement to get a great deal on shoes. She was so "disabled" that she was very limited in what she was "physically" able to do.

We all grew up with Patty at home and she was just our sister. We always knew her the way she was so...it was not like she had a bad car wreck or something and she was now different. We just took for granted, like most of us do, that she was just our sister...how little we knew.

As we got older Patty ran into respiratory problems requiring a breathing tube and a feeding tube implanted into her throat. She lived less than 10 minutes from me in a facility that is now closing due to State and Federal cutbacks
There is a great mission to close The Fernald Center in Waltham MA.  There is a lot of politics, greed and corruption involved.  There is much behind the scenes shady dealings...and illegal corner cutting to swiftly make a deal.  I have attended the meetings at the city hall in Waltham, MA.  The Fernald Center is a Safe Haven and A Protected Community For The Severely Disabled, Severely Mentally Handicapped.  A piece of property with a staff of Medical Doctors and others that dedicate their lives to these beautiful souls.  These are people that need constant professional, protected care.  They live in a community of care, comfort and safety.  Many have been discarded by families.  Many have families that weren't equipped to care for a child at home due to the nature of their professional, medical needs.  Families would visit the residents and see such joy in them...and cherish the fact that the TEAM devote their lives for pennies to ensure they have the best space in time possible.  Mitt Romney, ex-Governor of Massachusetts, current Governor, Deval Patrick and many, many greedy, corrupt groups want to capitalize on the land.  People at the City Hall meetings propose and pitch ideas...LOOKING FOR FEDERAL AND STATE FUNDS to put in stores, an apartment complex, a bus stop, a dog park...You name it.  Everything and Anything except what is the right thing.  Even if you have no God...We must care for the least among us.  These Cold Hearted Criminals are choosing a bus, a tree and a convenient store over human beings.  People in desperate need of care and protection.  People that don't have what so many of us take for granted...walking, talking...etc.  These proposals and meetings should never take place!  Shame on all of them for not choosing a human being.  The Fernald Center is almost gone.  Clients have been placed in crowded, understaffed, inadequate small group homes.  The precious folks that needed urgent critical care...are now disappearing...dismissed, discarded and forgotten.  Some were put into a postage stamp apartment, given a small stipend of a check, and a promise to have a "check in" from time to time.  Yeah, Right.  Many were returned to their families.  Very elderly parents that love their children...but, just can't save them.  Can you believe this?  Why isn't their funding for these people...with hearts that break like ours...feelings that get hurt like ours...but, fear and pain that we will never know.  Care that we, Thank God, will never require.  Corporate greed and those that benefit...how can they enjoy their luxury by murdering...or torturing...or putting people in danger...knowing full well that they did it?

 My sister died just before turning 40. She would not have lived without her caretakers in that facility. Especially one lady that dedicated almost 15 years to my sister. She misses my sister terribly. As do I.

My sister's favorite holiday was Thanksgiving. In the residence where she lived her caretaker and staff would always prepare a Thanksgiving dinner in their bungalow for the patients and staff. Although my sister couldn't mash the potatoes or season the gravy, she was the boss on this day. It was her special day when she felt SO important. She would sit in a specially designed chair where she could sort of sit upright (built by my grandfather...a Carpenter off the boat from Scotland) and communicate to everyone through eye movements, wild erratic hand gestures, and by kicking her feet on this special chair. Everyone asked her what to do and if it wasn't to her liking...she let it be known. Everyone in my sister's very small world knew her very well...and knew her communication methods...and they knew when she meant business.

In honor of my sister Patty, my sister Cathi (a 12 year politician in one of the cities near me that quit politics when she finally realized how corrupt it is...how many scams go on...and where state and federal money really goes...etc...) and her politician friends (good ones) gather together and fund a really big Thanksgiving dinner for the remaining patients and staff and families etc... My sister's picture is set up on a little table and everybody floods in for the buffet. I knew she is there with us...having a ball and laughing her ass of at me skidding across the floor on spilled cranberry jell and then crashing in to the dessert buffet table (yes, I'm as graceful as a ballerina wearing lead boots).

My sister fought her way back to life so many times that there is no way I don't believe in miracles. I can't count how many times I was called to "prepare for the worst" only for my sister to have a complete recovery the next day. She was pushing and fighting for her life in her little "disabled" body everyday...but,for what reason?

One day I was called at work by my sister Cathi and she said, we have to go to Patty's...it's almost time. I work for an airline and it's really hard for people to reach me so, I should have realized the seriousness of her infection this time. I just took for granted that Patti struggled for life and just figured she'd be fine in a couple of days. My sister picked me up at the airport and we drove to her little bungalow on the grounds of the facility. It was pretty late at night near the end of summer and all was so quiet. My sister had a very pink girly room decorated with pink ribbons, purple curtains, hearts and...well you get it...a little girls room. The nurse whispered to us that she's comfortable and pulled my sister aside and motioned for me to go in. I did. I could hear her little tiny rock waterfall running...the hum of her oscillating fan...and the sound of her breathing machine. She didn't waken or even stir. I was cracking my wise ass jokes to her (she loved it when I would cuss...and tell her she had a fat ass, even though she didn't) and I was feeling her forehead, hands and cheeks with little touches that she loved. I spent time whispering to her that I loved her and gossiping about the staff and movie stars and stuff. When I returned to my other sister and the nurse I was told to "prepare for the worst" again. I just took for granted that when the sun comes up and it was time for her lilac bath she'd be just fine again. I was made aware of the DNR paperwork but, I really didn't think anything was all that serious. My sister drove me home and I chatted with her about nothing much.

The next morning before I even woke for work my phone was ringing. The doctor called and said, "you'd better come right away." I don't know if it's a protection thing I have or, the fact that I was focusing on how crappy things were in my life at that time or, just refusing to believe that my sister would be leaving earthly bonds soon or whatever because, I didn't freak, panic, get sad or run out my door screaming. I just pulled on a t shirt and jeans, brushed my teeth and dabbed a little lemon-patchouli on my neck and I got in my car and took the 10 minute drive to Patty's HOME, THE FERNALD CENTER. To my sister that I always took for granted that she was going to always be ok.

My various family members and friends came and went all day from my sister's bungalow. People came from everywhere. I had NO idea how many people's lives my sister touched. I had NO idea how loved she was. I had NO idea what I was in store for that day. NO idea.

I stayed by Patty's bed all day long in her room crowded with people coming and going all day. I took tiny breaks for a smoke or a sip of coffee but, I basically knew I needed to be caressing Patty's hand at all times...or smoothing her forehead...or whispering in her ear gossip about how I thought the cute doctor was having an affair with the girl from the medical files department (whom by the way came too).

I took a 10 minute break to make some important calls. I called my shrink...he was there for me if I needed him. I called out of work. The important call that I urgently needed to make was last. I didn't even know her number. I hadn't talked to her in a couple of years actually. I, at that point, didn't know why it was urgent that I get in touch with her. I somehow got her number and had her on the phone in about 50 seconds. My friend Esther from California. My friend Esther is an older Southern lady that was a waitress where I used to live in Beverly Hills. She is my spiritual mentor. She is amazing. I briefly told her what was going on...and she said hold on I'm coming to you. I was kind of like what...? (she was on the West Coast and I'm on the East) I heard her take a deep breath and I was just about to say, "uuuh...I'll call you back..." She spoke then. She said ok I'm here with you. You're sister room is so cute...it's all pink and has purple curtains...there is soft piano music playing...the tall doctor is here...there's your Ma...etc. Time just stopped for me. She then took a gasp and I asked her if she was ok. She said, she was fine but, she'd never seen anything like this. First of all I was freaked that she described the place to a T. I was freaked that she described every minute detail of the situation to me. What almost made me faint and drop the phone and race back to my sister's side was what she last told me. "I've never seen anything like this...the room is crowded and lots and lots of people are coming and going but, what amazes me is that the room is so jammed with angels that it was hard to see one from the other...everyone in that room has at least 1 angel. The doctor has 2. Your sister has many but, many are just there sent to wait for her to 'finish up'...BUT...it's you outside the side door smoking is what I'm shocked about. YOU have many, many personal angels...always there with you...holding you up...making sure your safe...etc..." She told me that she's never witnessed a single soul on the planet that is completely surrounded at a ll times by so many angels. She told me something about dark periods in my life and blah, blah, blah...but she's NEVER going to worry about me...I'll always be fine. She then said I'm leaving there...and that your sister needs you right away. Then, I ran to her side like a drama queen, pushing my way past people and right to her side. I said in a loud voice, "someone open the window"...and they did. I asked every body to stand really close...(I was being looked at a little strangely by some of the people) The next thing is Patti's caretaker and best friend said to me...Oh my! Patty smells just like you. I looked at her like, "whaa?" (maybe the patchouli lemon?) I put my right arm underneath and around my sister's shoulder...my other sister Cathi was on the left side of the bed with Patty's caretaker/best friend...my mom was right behind me...my brother in law was at the foot of the bed with my brother Deano. The room was jammed. I put my cheek next to my sisters...the room was in prayer...I was whispering in my sister's left ear...caressing her left palm...and I was telling her that hey...we're all here Patti...and that I was giving her kisses from Nana who was too sick to make it to her...I was giving kisses from Aunt Joan that was far away in Seattle...I told her not to worry about us...that we'll always be together etc...A staff member(oddly enough a Southern woman that wore her hair just like my friend Esther) said aloud, " Patty, what are you hanging around for, honey?" My brother in law (a fireman) said her respiration are at zero or something like that...one of the doctors listened to hear heart and said, "she's still here..." I then whispered in her ear a wish of love and thanks and a little bit of what my friend told me on the phone...I told her I was going to be just fine...and she doesn't have to worry about me anymore (I don't know what prompted me to say that...) Time DID stand still...a tiny hint of a breeze escaped from my sister's lips...I swear I felt the massive energy of great movement whisk through me and out the window for about 15 seconds...then I said, "I think she's gone...she's gone." It was really, really quiet. The doctor listened to her heart and checked her vitals and confirmed that Patty had "died".

Then there was one more weird thing that I forgot to mention. All day long, while we all hung out, while all the people were coming and going...there was a little chipmunk or a baby squirrel in my sister's window scratching at the screen. Even when I had them open the window and the screen he was on the top part of the screen...scratching away all day long. I don't know what made me think about it at that point but, he was gone...the scratching stopped...Then little by little sounds came back. I could hear her little waterfall...I could hear her piano music (by the way her favorite piano piece is called "Winterlight" and Linda Ronstadt did a song for it) on loop all day again...I could sense movement...then I heard the sobs. Even the big cute doctor was in tears.

I gave my sister's forehead a little kiss. I was calm as hell.

I walked out just in time to run into my father...just showing up. I told him what he missed.

My sister in law was out in front and wanted to go in...so I took my niece and someone else's kid...I don't remember...and we were blowing bubbles and playing.

I stayed out of the drama and chaos going on in the room...and  the preparation of my sister's "body". blah blah blah.

Patty's mission was finally complete here. Her job was over and she had to get home. She waited until she was sure things were going to be cool here.

That we were all going to be alright. That "I" was going to be alright.

I'm so sorry for making this into a LONG depressing story but, I'm going to sum it all up now in a few more sentences.

Remember how I said the bit about everyone having a mission here? Patty was the wisest person I'll ever, ever know. Her body limited her physically but, her very being moved great, great things bigger than mountains. My family was extremely torn up. We had your more than average dysfunctional family thing going on.  Patty stitched the family back together that day. She taught us a lot of things. And set a great example. This is what I learned. You should have no limits on love...the capacity of love...or the willingness of love. Things aren't always what they seem. People are not always what you make them out to be. You have choices in life over being happy or miserable. My sister was labeled "disabled" but, she was not. In fact when people bring her up and say things like, "the poor things was so..." I kindly but firmly reply that she was the happiest person I'll ever know and that her quality of life was so much greater than anything many of us we'll ever know. My sister could have spent her time here being in a very miserable state of being. She chose smiles and laughter. She chose not to hide the fact that she was VERY happy to see you. She chose not to harbor ill feelings about what she couldn't do...She chose not to feel jealous. She made her choices with the hand she was dealt...I believe she was given her mission before coming here and carried it out very well. This tiny, disabled person held the capacity to do things I could never do...even if I went to school and studied my whole life. She just held wisdom. Her courage was like that of something that could never be summoned by me. Her demons were that of immense physical pain. She chose joy through her pains. She didn't get a degree, have sex, or even have the horrible task of paying bills and writing checks.

Yet, she fought hard for every day to live just to be with the people she loved.

Yeah, I have my ups and downs like everybody else. I'm late for work sometimes or I cuss out a friend for thinking they've dissed me. I've hurt people's feelings. BUT...I never take anything for granted anymore. I, and a lot of us have so many more "gifts" and "abilities" that we'll never realize or be able to tap into. I cherish my loved ones, my planet, my abilities and I cherish that day when I was able to be there for my sister's last breath. I don't think I'll ever bear witness to something as awesome as that day ever again. I'll never forget what I've learned from my sister. I'm so thankful of what I have and what I don't have. I'm open to learning new things. And the most important thing is that I've realized that my sister, you, my partner and even my nasty boss at my first job that fired me...is perfect. In every way. You ask me about perfection in some people? What purpose could some possibly serve but evil and hatred? I'm not sure but, I think it's all about balance. That they were sent here for some reason too. For some mission.

If you don't like this story I hope you didn't read down to this line. If you want to comment that's cool. If you don't that's cool too. Just please, if you're going to say something nasty...you have the right. I just hope you don't do it today.

I really believe that I was "touched by an angel".


PS...I'm really sorry about this long, long supposedly going to be a quick story. I get carried away on this subject. I just wanted to let you know 1 more thing. Patty was my 1/2 sister. I never knew or saw her real mom. She was from my dad's first marriage. Her mother died in childbirth. Something really bad happened to me not long after she passed. I was on my way for a few seconds. I DID see my sister again. She looked differently. Remember how I said her hair was kept really short and her body was mis-shapen? I was...for what seemed like a few minutes was looking up caught up in some kind of breeze and I was standing in front of my sister and a woman was standing behind her. Patti's hair was really long and caught up in the breeze...the woman behind her looked oddly like my other 1/2 brother David. They were both smiling at me...and it's hard to describe...kind of sparkly...then the wind was strong and I felt a really hard jolt. Like a massive snap or something.

And I heard the doctor say, "he's back..." I'm not going to elaborate on this one but, I will say this. "I" know that this time here isn't the end and that true, real love...never, ever dies.

Some time later I was shown some pictures of my sister's real mom.

That woman standing behind my sister smiling was Patti's mother. They are together again.

I feel my mission is not finished here. I believe Patti brought her mom with her for me to see them together.

I believe Patti flung me back to my loved ones. To someone that needed me...or may need me someday.

Prayers and Wishes for all things good for you...as one of God's creatures...you are so deserving.

Be Good to yourself and others...

You never know when you might be entertaining angels...


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  2. That is not a sob story it is a call to arms! I am not going to get lengthy here I am going to ask you a question. You sent me this in an email and I gave you an answer with my experience with the Fernald School farm right here in Baldwinville. You should visit it!

    It is absolutely gorgeous and they threaten to close it every year and the fall festival is great. This year is no exception and I have friends there. You never answered me, do you have that E? That was very good by the way now get wider read, network!

  3. Mr Joiner!!!

    I guess I didn't get that "E" email. I have too many accounts for my different writings. Thank you for your help and response. I don't know much about the Fernald School Farm though. It is so sad to see and hear what the propoposals are for the land. It is in a cloistered, narrow, one horse road accessible spot. The people and their proposals have put so many lives in danger. I'm so upset...and still, no response from "the state" if you know what I mean. No questions answered. Shady dealings, you know?

    I was interviewed by Hank Philipi Ryan last month...and was on the news with Immigration Reform commentary with President Obama's staff...network wide. And I still can't get this out there!!!!
    People need to know of the actions that are murdering, and putting the severely disabled in danger.

    Thank you so much!

  4. JIM!! this is such an amazing story. I posted it on my FACEBOOK page and you had one man sobbing. His name is Richard Lewis, a disabled veteran.

    Please read the comments. You are a Godsend to so many.

    People don't often leave comments on blogs unless they are arguing. But your beautiful tribute to your sister really affects people.

    Love to you and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!



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