What is it with these people who are angry about the new ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? I see several posts on my Facebook page about how annoyed people are that their feeds contain too many videos of people doing this challenge. I say, “Then perhaps you should not watch them.” After that, I roll my eyes.
Why is this a problem? I’ve seen people pronounce that others may be doing the challenge to bring attention to themselves, rather than the disease or cause itself. I’ve seen people criticize the doers of the task (dousing themselves with ice water), proclaiming those people don’t know enough about the disease and/or don’t understand how incredibly awful it is.
For what it’s worth, here is what I think…
I lost my father to a disease that most people do not understand, and some people do not believe exists. What I would not give to have the recognition for his disease that we now have for ALS. I do not know who came up with this challenge, but I think he/she is a fundraising genius. Many people who would have never paid attention to ALS are now aware and several of those people are paying attention, creating more attention, and some of them are donating to a very worthy cause.
I personally don’t care if there are a few people out there who are “attention hoarders” and are doing the challenge because they want to be filmed and have the video put up on social media. Of course that is a terrible reason for doing the challenge, but it’s certainly possible that someone else might see that video and be made aware of a disease that needs more recognition. Maybe that person will see a video put together by one of those “self-promoters” and decide he wants to volunteer to help solicit donations for the cause, answer calls on a hotline, hand out water at a fundraising walk, or donate a large amount of money to a cause he now knows and believes is worthy.
Granted, both of my children wanted to do the Ice Bucket Challenge. They had no idea what it meant, who it might benefit, and I admit, they just wanted to have cold water poured over their heads. I was delighted they showed interest because it gave me a chance to sit down and talk with them about the disease, how the Challenge would benefit those who have it, and what a great idea it was to start creating awareness for this disease. My sons even took time to look up “ALS” on the Internet and read more about it. I hardly think the children doing the Challenge in many of the videos I’ve seen aren’t being educated about the disease by their parents prior to performing the task. To me, this is wonderful.
I also have a huge problem with those who are angry with people who are not donating to the cause, but rather doing the Challenge instead. First of all, I believe that’s how the instructions are given; a person is to either donate to the cause or do the Challenge. Why all the frustration and anger? What if the person taking the Challenge can’t afford to donate? What if said person has already donated or plans to donate but doesn’t feel that he needs to make it public? How do all the angry people know that the Ice Bucket Challenge Taker isn’t a very philanthropic person who has already donated hundreds of dollars to other worthy charities and simply cannot do more?
Instead of tearing each other down and criticizing a person who wants to participate in something that is simply good, why can’t everyone support each other and share the videos in order to create more awareness for this debilitating disease? It’s true, if everyone could donate, it would be ideal. After all, the foundation needs money to find the cure, help the afflicted, and to support their family members. However, creating awareness is also very effective. We should all remember that keeping silent about a disease that needs attention won’t ever get us anywhere. Creating awareness will make a difference in the long run.
That being said, I’m going to check out my Facebook page and see if there are any new videos of people doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I’m going to watch all of them and then be thankful there are people out there spreading the word one way or another.
Today we heard of the death of Robin Williams, the ultra-talented actor loved by virtually everyone. He was our big brother, our father, our neighbor, our teacher. We saw him as someone we might like to invite over for coffee or dinner, and discuss his many roles, his life as a celebrity, and his innate ability to make us all laugh. What we would not like to discuss over meatloaf and mashed potatoes would be his struggles with depression.
It’s hard to talk about- mental illness. It’s not fun to discuss, for sure, and perhaps we feel that if we don’t talk about it, the sadness will eventually go away. It simply doesn’t happen that way. The less we talk, the more the illness takes over. The more we stay silent, the more people will die.
I lost my father to suicide in March of 2001. I was pregnant with my first child, a baby I lost two weeks after my father took his own life. In September of that year, the Twin Towers fell. It was a year of total misery. Not long after, my beloved father-in-law died, and I lost the last dad I would ever know. I wasn’t sure I’d make it through.
For as long as I can remember, my dad had always been ill. The illness wasn’t physical, so it was hard to understand, especially as a young girl. Most of the time I thought my father just didn’t like me very much. There were daily struggles living with my dad; always feeling like I had to tiptoe around our house hoping not to say or do the wrong thing, or praying I wouldn’t forget to do a chore he’d asked me to do. I didn’t realize then that he was desperately struggling to keep himself alive.
Although he died on a chilly day, the sun was shining. I remember looking out the window shortly after hearing he was gone and thinking, how is it that the sun is shining, birds are singing, and people are going on with their lives when I feel like my world has just ended? I was shocked, embarrassed, humiliated, distraught, and full of questions. Who would do such a thing? Who would leave their family? Who would leave me? What am I going to tell people?
I had spoken with my dad just a few days before he died. I told him I was going to have a baby; his first grandchild. As I look back on that conversation, I remember him asking me more than once if I was OK, and if my husband was taking good care of me. “Are you alright? You’re OK, right? Everything is OK?” he asked. I told him I was pregnant, not sick, and that I was just fine. I realize now that he was asking me for permission to go. I had another man who was taking good care of me, so in his mind, it would be fine for him to leave.
I wasn’t fine. I struggled to survive it- his brutal and unbearable death. It was the last thing I thought about each night before I went to sleep and the first thing that hit me like a blow to the gut each morning when I woke. My heart broke every time I thought about how tragically sad his life must have been for him to have wanted to end it that way.
I dreamed about the last few minutes of his life; what it must have been like for him. Did he give his dog a cookie before he locked him out on the back porch? Did he have a glass of whiskey while he wrote the note? Before he walked out the door and leaned against the huge oak tree, gun in hand, did he look at the pictures of my sister and I on the desk? Did he cry? Did it hurt?
He did visit my dreams at night, and I remember this one best: We were in his police car, Billy Joel playing softly in the background, Doublemint gum in the console, and Dad, driving at least thirty miles per hour over the posted speed limit.
I was angry. I was yelling at him, “Why would you do this? Why would you leave us? You have two daughters and you left us here to clean up your crap and live with all these unanswered questions. How do you think we feel?”
The car slowed and came to a gradual stop. My dad turned and looked at me, tears in his hazel eyes, and whispered, “How do you think I feel?” I had no words.
I have yet to feel a feeling like the one I felt when I lost him. There have been hard times since, and there has been sadness, but the pain of losing him the way we did was earth-shattering. Sometimes the ache in my heart would stop me from breathing. It physically hurt to move.
The questions were the worst; questions I couldn’t stop asking myself, questions from other people. Why would he do it? What happened to make him want to do it? Why was the suicide note so incredibly impersonal and matter-of-fact? I finally had to learn that I would have to live with never having answers to these questions, so I had to put them all away in a tiny little box in my brain and forget they existed.
Admittedly so, it was hard to live with him. He was mentally ill and it harmed our family greatly. But as I go through life, I realize it’s harder to live without him. He’s never met my boys. He’ll never know that Grant is great at Taekwando, loves video games, at eleven years old has a post-high school reading level and skipped a grade in math. He’ll never see Luc swim the 50 meter freestyle, watch him play baseball, or see how well he can build robots. These are the kinds of things I could brag about to a grandpa, but I can’t and I never will.
The last three words my father said to me were, “I love you.” I truly believe he did. I don’t believe for a second that he took his life to hurt my sister or me. I know that he felt we would be better off without him. He was wrong, but the illness in his brain made him think we would be fine.
We should have talked about it. We should have acknowledged that something was very wrong. I grew up silent, scared, and confused. It doesn’t have to be that way.
After losing my dad, I started a non-profit chapter and worked to create awareness about mental illness. I met with other survivors, like myself, who had lost loved ones to suicide. I heard stories, so many much worse than my story, and I cried. I joined support groups, walked in prevention walks, and I spoke about my father’s death in front of hundreds of strangers.
I’m no longer humiliated or embarrassed. I’ve learned enough to know that although my father pulled the trigger, it was a mental illness that killed him. I have no doubts.
My heart hurts for the family of Robin Williams and for every other family member who has lost someone to suicide. It’s a death like no other, and the path to survival after the fact is paved with almost too many obstacles to tackle.
But I did it. I had to work really hard, but I did it. I feel that I have had two separate lives; the one before my dad took his life and the one after. I sometimes miss the girl who lived less cautiously, trusted more, loved bigger, and who wasn’t afraid. But I’ve learned to love the woman who is raising two wonderful boys and who isn’t afraid to stand up and speak for many of those who cannot.
Still miss him and wish he could watch my boys play. I miss his voice and his bright, wide smile. I miss hearing him sing Billy Joel songs. I miss hearing him talk about his dog.
Every so often, when I hear my boys laughing, I swear I can hear him laughing along. I hope it’s him, and I hope that now, wherever he may be, he is finally at peace.
WHAT is with commercials these days? Have they always been this stupid? Honestly, sometimes I sit and wonder who on earth would write this crap and put it on television? I can’t take it much longer. I may have to boycott TV altogether.
First off, there are the bears with the toilet paper; know which one I’m talking about? You do, don’t you? They are cartoon bears who talk, sing and do their business on toilets. Not only do they poo like humans, they apparently need to use toilet paper. And boy do they love their toilet paper! They love the toilet paper so much, they have to talk about how soft and absorbent it is. They are bears. I just need this to stop. I’m not going to make any decisions about which toilet tissue I prefer based on what a bunch of animated forest creatures think. End this now, toilet paper people. YOU ARE KILLING ME.
I haven’t seen it recently, but a couple years ago, there was a commercial for a margarine that starred a dancing and singing Megan Mullally. I like her. I liked her a lot in Will and Grace, but Lady; you need to stop it with the singing and dancing about the butter. I think the advertisement was made to be funny, but it’s not. It’s sad. I hate it. It’s beneath you. Stop the madness. You are better than this.
There is a commercial for a well-known drugstore chain that airs quite frequently, and honestly, the spokesperson is just too darn happy. No one is that happy. You don’t even see his face, but his voice is so stinking happy, it just makes my stomach hurt. There isn’t anyone out there who is THAT excited about a pharmacy chain. Dude, it’s a store with a pharmacy, nail polish, a few snacks, and seasonal items. Get over it.
Someone tell me why I cannot watch a Detroit Tigers game without having to hear Kid Rock singing the same song, in the same commercial nearly three hundred and fifty times? I realize Kid Rock is probably a really nice guy. I know he gives a lot of time and money to the city of Detroit and its surrounding communities, and I really respect those efforts; but I don’t want to hear him sing. If I did, I would buy his songs. I do not buy them, but I get to hear one of them over and over and over again whenever I watch the Tigers play baseball. I wouldn’t mind it much at all if the commercial aired two or three times during the games, but five or six and I’ve had enough.
I’ve also had it with any commercial containing a talking or singing dog or cat. I really don’t care how delicious that doggie treat is or how much the kitties enjoy the new and improved fish taste in canned cat food. I don’t want to hear about it, especially from a talking mongrel. Hey there, commercial makers; animals can’t talk. They can’t sing. Stop making them sell stuff for you. It’s preposterous.
Thank you, makers of advertisements for a certain feminine wash. I especially enjoy the ad about the young woman who “found out the hard way” that she was not all that “fresh”. I still have a very hard time silently picturing in my mind how she discovered her lack of freshness. I’m perplexed, and not in a fun, curious sort of way. First of all, shouldn’t a mild soap or body wash be enough? From what I understand, that whole area down there pretty much takes care of itself as long as we all practice normal, basic and proper hygiene. So, why the need for a feminine wash? And, while I’m talking about this, why is the wash only for females? If a man were to use it, would certain appendages fall away?
This brings me to the commercials about a certain little blue pill we all know and love. I’m particularly fond of this one, especially when it airs during a sporting event I’m watching with my young boys. “Mommy, what’s an erection lasting more than four hours?”
As I have mentioned in an earlier blog, there are times when I allow my children to watch television. In fact, I have actually used these words once or twice in my lifetime; “Hey, why don’t you two go watch some cartoons while I clean the bathroom, or take a shower, or make dinner, or drink this bottle (I mean glass), of wine?”
We have a few programs that are banned, and my boys know what’s appropriate and what shows are not. I usually allow them to select a program, have a snack and watch while I perform one of the tasks mentioned above.
The other day while my boys were watching one of their favorite cartoons, I paused to take a look at what they were viewing. I saw a blue creature (I think it was a fish), talking with an orange creature (also a fish?), making fun of a pink creature (a rabbit who is apparently the sister of the weird-looking fish), all the while disobeying some fat creature (who is the father of the fish and the rabbit), and laughing. (I have to add that the fat dad creature is portrayed as probably the stupidest animated freak in all of cartoon world and listening to him speak makes you want to stab yourself in the eye with an icepick). These fish go to a school run by some sort of gorilla-type creature with students made up of animations that include a talking balloon, banana, a cactus (who is in a “relationship” with said balloon), a robot, and a few other weird beings that for the life of me I could not identify no matter how hard I tried.
“What on earth is this?” I asked my son. He answered matter-of-factly and gave me the name of the ridiculous cartoon, which meant absolutely nothing to me. As I watched these strange organisms interact with one another, I thought to myself, “What ever happened to Scooby Doo, or the Flintstones, or even the Jetsons?” Those were real, normal cartoons that real, normal children used to watch. I mean, who doesn’t love a group of groovy teenagers who can’t stop eating, who love to solve mysteries, drive a totally rad passenger van, and have a talking Great Dane? Why weren’t my sons watching that cartoon or something similar?
So this is what the cartoon world has come to?
There is another stupid cartoon they watch about some kid who wears a white hat with little bear ears on it. Now, he IS friends with a talking dog, but this dog can stretch himself silly, he's rude, and his voice reminds me of a drunken old man's voice. These characters have a friend who is a vampire, and the sexual overtones used in describing her, although completely lost to my sons at their ages, are totally ridiculous and inappropriate. Who are the people writing this crap and why aren’t we all protesting? These are the stupidest, most ridiculous television programs I’ve ever seen, but it’s obvious my kids like them.
So that brings about the question… Is there something wrong with my children? Is something wrong with everyone’s children? Why aren’t there animated people in cartoons anymore? Now it’s inanimate objects and weird animal-type creatures who speak strangely, make fun of adults, and serve absolutely no purpose other than to spew ridiculousness all over television land.
Don’t even get me started on the shows that actually DO have real people in them; how about that program with the two young girls, one blond and the other with red hair? The blond is mean and rude and the red head has a voice that makes me want to pull out my eardrums and set them on fire. What is it about the show about the family with superpowers? The parents (and I see a running theme here- adults are stupid. Don’t listen to them. Don’t respect them; and by all means do not spend any time with them), can’t figure out how to take care of themselves or their children and they are constantly ridiculed in each and every episode.
I had had enough!
So I sat down with my boys and talked with them about how awful these shows are. I brought out some old copies of programs I used to watch and asked them to sit down and watch with me. There were some shows they liked and some they didn’t. We watched a few episodes of Little House on the Prairie (my kids think it’s funny that I still cry whenever Pa cries), The Cosby Show, and of course, my all-time favorite cartoon, Scooby Doo. Although they didn’t love every single program we watched, they did like a few of them. It was fun to snuggle on the couch and show them what I used to watch “back in the day”.
Watching those programs prompted me to bring out some old home videos. Those were a hit. They loved seeing me jump around as a child and were curious to see what my father (who had passed away before the boys were born), looked like and how he interacted with me. They liked seeing what their grandma looked like when she was much younger.
I think we’ve now come to an understanding and have learned to compromise. My boys get to watch a little of their wretched television, as long they tolerate sitting with me every so often and watching the programs I used to love. I think it’s a win-win situation, and I’m really hoping they find a little love in their hearts for The Brady Bunch. We’ll see…