I’m proud of Dad. The way he has been facing this terrifying Pandemic of COVID-19.
[picture w/ Ram Gudlavalleti, PhD by Nima Slone, 09/12/2016]
Dad has no symptoms. He has not been tested. Like most of us, including myself. At least, as I UPDATE this on April 28, 2020.
Hello federal government: where’s the data on COVID-19 in nursing homes? How about data on independent-living homes in general for elders? The testing and quick results? Contingencies like alternate housing & additional support staff?
Far too many elders in these homes are not being supported. States like California are starting to do a bit more.
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My heart goes out to those who have lost and shall lose beloved elders due to COVID-19.
A. I’m trying to help Dad and his brave housemates avert tragic fates. No apparent symptoms for any of them, as of now, thankfully. I’ve been diplomatic, advocating evidence-based science, with his home’s operations manager.
Perhaps, this independent-living home manager feels overwhelmed. She runs 5 Bay Area homes that primarily house elders, including the one where Dad lives: aggregate 70 or so residents. She needs coordinated support just like those who run nursing homes.
Ultimately though, local/state government should help: especially where Dad and his community are involved.
B. Been a Long Road Getting from There to Here
If a traveler from the future had visited 2001 me or 2013 me, in those darkest days of my adulthood, I would not have said I’m proud of Dad.
If that traveler had told me I would become a de facto volunteer advisor in 2020 during a Pandemic for Dad to help himself and his fellow, elder independent-living home housemates, I would have likely given up emotionally.
No way I would have been willing, justifiably to take on such an intensive role — again- in the life of the man who for years projected outward personal demons he didn’t work hard enough to manage through therapy and medication.
To his credit, after 2013 he began to take responsibility to more consistently follow his mental health treatment.
Dad finally told me in 2016 he regrets indirectly yet indiscriminately contributing so much to physical damage that plays havoc with my body to this day.
Stories for other times, after we get through this Pandemic. Dad and I have been mending our relationship for a few years. I know not to wish for the return of this hero of my early childhood, but to embrace his journey.
Good thing my past selves did not know about the 2020 we find ourselves in. To put it another way, I am grateful for unwritten futures. And, for Dad.
I first forgave Dad in 2016 for those dark days. Now I realize, forgiveness is not a one-time act. Forgiveness is an ethos that, during the time of COVID-19, must integrate into a regular practice. Otherwise, that initial act of forgiveness might be in vain.
C. Neural Nets & Thermodynamics of Being Human
Much like the Ideal Gas Law which works only at Standard Temperature and Pressure, so many of we human beings constantly calibrate our lives to try to fit into supposedly idealized scenarios.
Or, for too many on this planet, to barely patch together a semblance of hope and momentum just to get through each day. Food. Water. Shelter. Health.
Now, throw the COVID-19 Pandemic into such a mix. Entropy. Chaos. Yet, the universe finds order amidst cataclysms. Since we are made of stardust, so can we. So, we shall.
Dad has been forgiving himself more. I can tell this helps him to step up as much as he can during this Pandemic. He has come a long way. So has our relationship. There are many with far more challenging scenarios to navigate than us.
D. Catalysts for Reform
The Age of COVID-19 demonstrates like few other catalysts in most of our lifetimes just how necessary it is to renew, refurbish, and remix forgiveness over and over.
We cannot help but embrace more acutely expansive vulnerability. Riding fear instead being driven by it, loss of ego, love.
This is not easy. Pandemics are not supposed to be. Dad’s independent-living house has no 24/7 in-house staff members. Not that this guarantees any lack of COVID-19 outbreak.
I am grateful that my dreams at night have largely been nice during the Pandemic, so far. I dare to imagine those of my Dad and of his housemates. They are older, confined, and each faces many challenges.
Does that mean they don’t at all have lifelong skills to manage this Pandemic? That they lack any agency to learn how to adapt to this? This is the San Francisco Bay Area: we have earthquakes, wildfires, floods.
E. Distaster Plans & Diplomatic Negotiations
It was from that natural and climate disaster preparedness framework that I began to check in far more often with Dad of late, before the Santa Clara County then statewide California shelter-in-place orders took effect.
So, I risked a relatively delicate accord Dad and I had formed after a couple decades of discord.
We are not unique in this adult child and elder parent dynamic in the Coronavirus era. So many more people are trying their best to compensate for lacking societal safety nets.
F. Mental Health Privilege meets Pandemic
We humans have respective neural nets that often fire in synchronicity through certain dynamic equilibria. This includes and, on our best days, incorporates the floods of random thoughts and feelings, all the bells and whistles.
I say that acknowledging as best as anyone with relative neuronormative privileges could. Dad, however, does not share that privilege.
Much love to those who, like him with severe Depression, have no choice but try to face the spectre of “The Rona” while enduring mental illness.
G. Intersections in Society in Denial
How could a positive diagnosis for COVID-19 be for one who endures mental health challenges as well as marginalization due to race, gender, nationality, ethnicity, poverty, caste, physical disability, being a religious or non-religious minority, and/or being LGBTQIA?
In societies that happen to have autocratic leadership, or in democracies with prejudiced leaders, the most impacted people cry tears that go unseen let alone felt.
Hello, U.S. Executive Branch, Senate Majority, several state governments, quite a few justices, Zoombombers, scientific-medical-environmental racists who wish to “test in Africa”: we see you.
True colors are not just showing, they’re bleeding through. Your shamefully Eugenicist Tweets are as ephemeral breezes from Confederate flags flailing to sway at “protests” against shelter-in-place & social distancing. Indifferent, or hateful, eyes toward Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Jewish, Asian-Pacific Islander, Muslim, Dalit peoples?
H. Praise be the Invisible Ones
Timing is key. Dad and I have suffered separately, and now collaborate together. We worked hard to overcome so much. Two immigrants reforming our country upon stolen lands enriched by stolen peoples.
Fingers crossed going forward. Honestly though, I’m scared. If Dad is, he hasn’t told me so.
Dad and his housemates — his community — deserve health and safety through this. They are no different than the billions worldwide who cherish each hour of each day they don’t face the rage of La Rona.
I. An Ode for Hope, Care, Solidarity
Healthcare Heroes + The Rona
Sex workers + The Rona
First Responders + The Rona
People with Drug Addiction + The Rona
Domestic Violence Victims + The Rona
Sexual Abuse Survivors + The Rona
Foster Kids + The Rona
Incarcerated People & Detained Migrants + The Rona
Farm/Grocery/Food Workers + The Rona
Delivery Drivers + The Rona
Hazardous Materials Inspectors + The Rona
Sanitation Workers + The Rona
Veterans + The Rona
Artists + The Rona
Far too many more globally + The Rona
J. Your Mask Won’t Cover Your Blind Spots
Many dismiss those most invisible as not being “priorities” in Coronavirus mitigation. Leave them to suffer its horrific impacts, and allow the virus to propagate? So many have been helping though. Many, very thoughtfully.
Yet quite a few “helpers” need so badly to be saviours that they utterly lack consideration for the remarkable and well-versed agency of the invisible ones to handle their business. We should do far more to help the most marginalized: on terms that center their dignity.
K. Marginalized People Lead Us. Not Vice Versa.
Ask these frontline communities & their most trusted advocates not just what they need but also be humble and open to ask for their advice.
Partnership. This will not only help mitigate COVID-19 more widely, it will begin to foster critical and potentially wonderful relationships.
Our world will need such networks to mitigate the next Pandemic…and Climate Crises on the horizon.
Copyright. © Ravi Valleti. 2020.
Futurist artist/activist, Ravi Valleti (he/him) is developing a ‘Posthuman Memoir’ of himself and a far-future fictional descendant, called “Rocket Scientist.” Valleti acts in a supporting role in the feature film “Overwhelm the Sky” - in talks to potentially stream during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Also with hopes for release soon is Valleti’s first lead acting role feature film “Devised.” Valleti is a 2019 Inductee into his alma mater UC Irvine Engineering Hall of Fame for his continuing S.T.E.A.M. equity and justice reform efforts, for advising the March for Science movement, as well as social justice broadly. This Indian-American alum of Space Camp and Star Trek is based in Oakland, CA, U.S.A.