Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Yemen and Eugene

My brother-in-law in Yemen has a young employee who was driving to another town on company business not long ago and was stopped by a policeman who was tipped off by someone else that this guy had connections with Americans and had money on him. The young man refused to pay the policeman a bribe and ended up in prison. Things got steadily more ugly and at this point he is still in prison, no one is allowed to see him, and no one really knows how he is.

A similar thing happened some time ago to another young man my sister and her husband knew, and when that man got out of prison, all of his toenails had been ripped out. We hope and pray that this isn't happening to the young employee, but for all we know he is enduring much worse.

Each time I've been in Yemen, I've been struck by the corruption and the Stories: hazy, vague, fearful tales swirling through the ladies' afternoon parties or hinted at in a chat with a neighbor, about a cousin's friend and the terrible things that happened to him, or what happened to the brother-in-law who got on the wrong side of a powerful family. These things almost never make the news, but they live in hushed retellings behind closed doors.

Meanwhile, an 83 year-old woman named Carol, who has been coming to our writers meetings in Eugene, died on Sunday. She was sweet and determined and talented, and was working on a book about singing. It appears she had a stroke maybe as early as last Tuesday, and she lay beside her bed, alive and helpless, for up to four days until she was found.

It gives me the chills to think of what she went through, alone and dying. And it blows my mind to think that despite having five children she had no one in her life to check up on her every day or to notice that something was wrong.

How disconnected have we become as a culture if this can happen to a clean-living, competent, middle-class woman? Interestingly enough, this sort of thing would be inconceivable in a place like Yemen, where grandparents stay with the extended family and are cared for until they die.

Odd, isn't it?

Quote of the Day:
"Well, if Mom dies, at least we'd still have several cooks."
--Ben, when we were talking about a young man with no mom and his bad eating habits


  1. Isn't it interesting the things we see that are wrong with other cultures...yet somehow we don't see the things that are so devastating in our own. I really appreciate your pointing this out, and the irony of it all. I'm sorry that you lost your friend, I'm sorry that she suffered so much, and I'm sorry that her children didn't think more of her than to leave her without care for so long. I believe that we, as the church need to step into these areas of service in our culture simply because this IS what's happening. What a witness to others that we are the hands and feet of Christ.

  2. This makes me so sad to think of this poor lady being alone and no one who cared enoght to check on her on a daily basis at least. My mom isn't that old but has some health issues and I check on her on at least a daily basis if not more. We need to look after our family members more.Some day we won't have them, and that is something I'm not prepared to think of yet.

  3. Good food for thought, Dorcas.
    Been thinking along these lines myself, as i have a good friend who lies in a coma with 2 little ones at home....and she recieves no visitors since her husband is in jail, and her family has disowned her. If we condemn anothers' life choices, how inclined are we to be there in the moment of need. Read recently of an elderly man abandoned in a nursing facility, once wealthy and well known, who was grateful for the visitor to his roommate.......... are we doing enough?