Wednesday, 3 October 2012

op/ed-the strange silence of charlene eve davis.

Perhaps you think of this blog as a place to come and read a personal memoir.That is fine-thanks for your interest.Maybe you enjoy a virtual look at a place you may never have been,that being Calgary,Alberta,Canada.Or perhaps you enjoy the odd op/ed piece.Again.I'm flattered that you would take the time to read what I've written.But,if you think for one moment that this blog is only some airy fairy journey down memory lane,or some online walking tour,and that it has no poison pen function,then let me caution you,this entry is not for the faint of heart.In truth,the kananaskistraveler has always been a blog for the asking of difficult questions,when the need arises.And,while I would prefer to deal with more pleasant subject matter,I will not shrink away doing the dirty work that op/ed often demands.

Let me lay down some groundwork here.I'll be as brief as possible.Both me,and my two sisters have training in working with disabled persons,though only my youngest sister is still employed in that capacity.You see,she has superior training to myself,having obtained a university degree.That is to say,she has a full two years more education than my training at community college.I make this point simply to suggest to you that I may well be lacking in comparison to such loft educational accomplishments.Perhaps I should humble myself at her feet.But such concerns have never stopped me before,so I think I'll just stumble ahead instead. 

In 2006,our mother was killed in a tragic car accident.My father was seriously injured in that same accident.At that point in his life,he was dependent on my mother for his care,having suffered a series of strokes over the preceding years.In just a few short moments he lost his primary caregiver and his life's companion,not to mention the various injuries he sustained.

Fortunately,or so it seemed to me at the time,my youngest sister stepped up and said that she would provide for his ongoing care.She packed up her life in a city a few hours away and moved back to our hometown to do just that.In those few months,we talked frequently and I thought we shared the same concerns for my father's well being.We found a decent,competent caregiver to fill in the hours when my sister had to work.This person also happened to be a loyal and longtime friend of the family and was willing to step in and see to my fathers care.I was told that this person was also my fathers choice for his caregiver.It seemed that we were making the best of a tragic situation.During one phone call to my youngest sister,I mentioned the need,in fact,my absolute expectation for complete transparency on her part.She seemingly agreed in principle to this idea.After all,she is a reputable member of the care giving  community in her small city.Would it not be completely to her advantage to be as transparent as possible?

Fast forward three years to February of 2009.Just two days short of three years from the date of my mother's untimely death,our father also passed away.I assume his body simply gave up, and he went on to find in death the peace he always wanted but never found in his life.

Naturally,I had questions as to exactly what happened.The whole problem is,though,that I still have those very same question.Over six years later!You see,my youngest sister,the reputable,responsible,above reproach caregiver,who agreed to be totally transparent when taking on the job of my father's care,has grown strangely silent.Now she certainly has the right to remain that way,if she so chooses,or is so advised.But I must say,if that's her choice,inquiring minds tend to wonder why.

Now to be perfectly clear here,I am not accusing my sister of any abuse,neglect or misuse of power.It is my understanding,however that caregivers are accountable for the care they say they provide.When I worked in that field,we had to maintain records of client contacts,incident reports and comprehensive daily logs,among other things.Now,in my admitted ignorance,as compared to that of my more highly educated sister,I never resented having had to provide that information,either to government,where appropriate,to my employer(obviously),or to the concerned parents,siblings or other family members of my clients.It only seemed natural and appropriate that family members would be concerned about the well being of their loved ones and the quality of care being delivered.I regarded transparency to be in my own best interests,as far as maintaining a good reputation.

But obviously there seems to be a huge difference in point of view in such matters between my sister and myself.After all,she has two more years of education than I,and,naturally,she must be aware of some deeper reality that I have not encountered.

So let me tell you what I do know,just as an aside.It likely has very little to do with matters at hand,but at least it represents facts as I know them to be.One of the very first acts that I saw my youngest sister perform on my father's behalf was that of,to be plain honest about it,kicking both of her siblings to the curb when it came to being able to address their concerns.As soon as my mother was buried,as soon as I went back to my home,the full width of North America away,all the doors and windows of my fathers home were slammed shut and I could not obtain any information as to his well being.Furthermore,I found that his caregiver was making accusations-wholly unfounded ones-against my character.Now this really makes me wonder what was going on here.Would I be presumptuous in suspecting that perhaps there was a move afoot to short circuit the normal channels through which transparency is expressed?I simply ask,because,as ignorant as I am,when my nose smells smoke,I start to look for the fire.I would do what seems natural and simply ask my sister about this,but the problem is,she isn't talking to other family members.You see,she has grown strangely silent.Oh,certain of her friends and allies have been more than willing to speak for her,most notably her children.They always seem to pop up online and make an effort to besmirch my character,just to preserve the idea that their mother is the virtuous one.Most recently,they have indicated that my sister"doesn't want to be involved in a pissing match."Well,fair enough.I wouldn't want to engage either knowing the kinds of questions that are in the field of play,and that they are perfectly reasonable questions.No point to a pissing match if the likely outcome is that you will end up embarrassed and sodden with yellow water.

But silence has it's pitfalls.It's presence begs a lot of questions,and indeed I still have many questions of my father's primary caregiver.Some of them are very pointed,hard questions,but that's part of the burden of being in a position of power.I only wish that these questions could be asked in the context of family concern,but,you see,after over six years,that has come to nothing.Which serves to point out one of the biggest disadvantages of silence.It invites questions that might normally be asked in private to be forced into more public venues.Now I'm sure this does not concern my youngest sister,being,as she is, above reproach and so much more knowledgeable than anyone who might dare to wonder about her integrity.Moreover,I'm certain that all the normal paperwork is,unquestionably in order.Still,questions asked in public can take on an embarrassing tone-just ask any politician.So,Charlene Eve Davis,are you willing to step up and tell us,so to speak,how you didn't inhale?

Not all questions are created equally.Let me explain.There are those questions that can be easily answered,even if the person being asked does not want to answer them.Such questions might take a form similar to this":how many children do you have,and how many have the same father?"It's a simple matter of checking relevant public records.A little homework can often be quite revealing.

Then there are questions to which you already have partial answers.Such as:"How many times and on what occasions did you leave your father in the care of your teen-aged daughter?"The partial answer is based on observations made personally,and those observations bring a myriad of other questions to mind.

Finally,there are the questions that,to date simply do not have an answer,except of course to that above reproach caregiver who has agreed to be wholly transparent,but hasn't said when.I won't provide an example of what those questions might look like,because surely by now you've managed to catch my drift.My point was,that,truthful,candid answers aside,the mere fact that questions are being asked publicly,more or less,can be slightly less than advantageous to someone who is otherwise above reproach and is presumably trying to maintain and advance a career.

There is a saying that says something to the effect that"not only must justice be done,but it must also appear to have been done"(paraphrased).So,Ms.Davis,let me invite you to end your strange silence and provide the appearance of justice.The alternative is that I can draw conclusions based solely on what I see,even though there may be much more to the truth than meets the eye.The problem with that is,of course  that it leaves you with no voice,and me with possibly ill informed or simply wrong opinions,and dozens,if not hundreds of unanswered questions.Questions that I'm growing weary of asking. Surely you could clear up many of these misconceptions by ending your strange silence.

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