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My Turn

by Dmae Roberts

From The Asian Reporter, V28, #24 (December 17, 2018), page 6.


The older one becomes, often the more youíre just grateful to be alive. Seriously! Especially here in Oregon. Itís easy to feel grumpy during the winter holidays here. Itís cold; people come down with the flu and colds; the rain, though we need it, makes you feel even colder; and the darkness before 5:00pm means there just isnít much light during the day. Oh, did I mention itís cold and damp?

Winter is also a time of contemplation, and for me, some hibernation. I tend to not be social and just snuggle at home. And the season arrives much too soon. The years seem to fly by now. When I was in my teens and 20s, time seemed to crawl at a much slower pace. Perhaps we just fill each day with so much now. I know I do.

This year has been pretty good for me. I participated in quality theatre productions I either acted in or helped produce. MediaRites, the nonprofit Iíve been running for 27 years, is finding more stability, although I still have a difficult time asking for donations, writing grant proposals, and fundraising constantly. (What makes it easier is belief in MediaRitesí mission of promoting tolerance and acceptance through the arts, education, and media.) My husband and I were finally able to take a real vacation, the first in two years. Despite my bout with a kidney infection, it was a good, busy year.

Appreciation of the value of oneís health often starts later in life. During the last few years, Iíve noticed my knee has become weaker and Iíve lost a lot of cartilage due to osteoarthritis. Consequently itís been harder for me to walk and climb stairs without a lot of pain. This year it reached a point that I feel like my leg is shorter and it is actually crooked.

Because of my recent visit to the emergency room and hospital stay due to the kidney infection, I met my insurance deductible for the year so I decided to go ahead with a knee-replacement surgery. I could maybe wait a few more years, but who knows what my insurance situation will be then. Next yearís insurance plan has not yet been confirmed, although Iíve done all thatís required.

So by the time you read this column, Iíll be recuperating from the operation and starting physical therapy. Iím not happy about it, but I am grateful I have insurance and the surgery wonít cost as much if done this year.

Iím doubly grateful I have a loving partner who can help with all the physical difficulties Iíll endure after the procedure. Richard has prepared our home with handrails and a shower bench. He found a stationary bike for physical therapy as well as a walker. (Yes, Iíll need a walker until I can get around on my own again!) It will be a painful process, but Iíll feel much better in a few months. Everyone Iíve contacted who has undergone this surgery says it improved their mobility. That is my hope.

I realize and appreciate how very lucky I am. Iím not homeless and we actually own our home. I have friends and colleagues who are wonderful human beings. I feel connected to a vibrant arts community and organizations that advocate for people of color. Oregon, as much as it has beautiful landscapes aplenty, still needs a lot of improvement in the areas of diversity and tolerance. But I love this state and I generally believe in the goodness of the people here. Our country is currently going through one of the roughest times with a president and many senators and representatives who donít display much compassion or caring, but I know we can get through this. Itís important we can vote and try to make change for the common good.

Itís been my lifeís work to create documentaries and plays about and with communities of color. Iíve focused on diversity issues in Oregon because of the isolation and lack of connection I felt with other people of color throughout my youth and into my 30s. Iím happy that younger people of color have been moving to Oregon, and Iím beholden to the older ones who remember all that needed to be fought for and changed. Iím thankful that during bleak winter holiday times, many members of the community focus on giving and helping others. We have much to do and we really should assist those in need.

Iím gratified with every breath and thought that I have the time and help of my husband to recover from this surgery and be able to have a better quality of life. My hope is to again walk for miles, climb several flights of stairs, and not feel the knee pain Iíve experienced for several years. Iím also happy the hospital bill will not be as high as it could have been, but most of all, Iím glad I have an opportunity to heal.

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