Lost Afghan Baby Reunited With Family

Lost Afghan Baby Reunited With Family

Despite all the bad news coming out of Afghanistan there was some good news.

Lost Afghan Baby Reunited With Family

At long last, some happy news out of Afghanistan. After an agonizing five months a baby lost during the chaotic American military evacuation has been reunited with family members in Kabul.

By D. S. Mitchell

 

Left With A Soldier

On August 19th, 2021 thousands of people rushed the Kabul airport trying to leave Afghanistan, in the wake of the U.S military withdrawal. Anyone who was watching on television saw the chaos that unfolded.  After twenty years of military occupation America was pulling out. In the chaos of the evacuation the father of a then 2 month old boy, Sohail Ahmadi, left him in the care of an Afghan Republican soldier. The boy and soldier somehow, yet unclear, became separated.

A Taxi Pick Up

A taxi driver told social service officials and reporters from Reuter’s News Service that he had found the baby alone and crying, abandoned on the floor of the airport. By his report, the driver searched the area for the child’s family but was unsuccessful. On his wife’s advice the man took the baby home. The couple’s initial attempts to locate the parents of Sohail were unsuccessful. The couple gave him the name Mohammad Abed. “If we had not found his family then we would have protected and raised him as our own child,” the taxi driver Hamid Safi told news reporters.

Mournful Goodbye

Sohail’s father, Mirza Ali Ahmadi, said he searched for 3 days at the airport for his missing son. In utter despair he said, he finally boarded a plane to the United States with his wife and their four other children. Months after the departure,  with the help of social media channels, several emergency relief agencies and local police, the relatives of Sohail were tracked down in Kabul just last week. It was at that time the boy was handed over to his grandfather.  The grandfather was elated, telling reporters that Sohail will be cared for by his aunt until he can be cleared to join his parents in the United States.

Tears of Sadness, Tears of Joy

It was a sad goodbye for the taxi driver, his wife,  and their three daughters. Mrs. Taxi Driver, Safi’s wife Farima said, “I felt responsible for him like a mother. He used to wake up a lot at night. Now when I wake up he is not there and that makes me cry. I am a mother. I understand he will not be with us always and he needs to be with his parents,”

Sohail’s Father 

‘We were in a bad condition these past five plus months,” Sohail’s  father reported, after they had had a video reunion, “but now that our son has been found we are happy,”  The case of Sohail Ahmadi has a happy ending, but for many other children separated from their families in a war torn world this outcome is rare and we should celebrate it.

The Powerful Words Of Dr. King

The Powerful Words Of Dr. King

Dr. MLK had powerful words for our society

The Powerful Words Of Dr. King

By Wes & Anna Hessel

 

The Great Doctor

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stands as the paramount leader of the civil rights movement.  There were many more alongside him, most notably the other members of the “Big Six”.  They were James Farmer, A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, Whitney Young, and John Lewis.  But Dr. King, or MLK, as many refer to him, was the most visible light and lightning rod.

He Still Speaks To Us

His words continue to speak volumes today, calling us to continue the fight for what is right. Most particularly right now is the need to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act.  That is the legacy that should be made to honor both these men who worked staunchly for what they believed.  Dr. King’s own family is calling for a hold on celebrating his day until these voting rights bills are made law.  In the meantime, we hear the echoes of MLK’s quotable phrases and speeches.

Continue reading

Looking At Elder Care

Looking At Elder Care

Caring for an elder family member requires strength, patience, and support.

Looking At Elder Care

The Build Back Better legislation stuck in the Senate would provide relief for many American family members struggling to keep a family member living at home vs being placed in a nursing home.

By D. S. Mitchell

Caregiver Risks

Most of the people called on to help an ill or disabled family member have no training in being a caregiver. Not only that, but many spouses, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters have their own health problems and physical limitations. The risks of being a family caregiver is premature aging, sickness, death, depression, anger, resentment and potential financial loss. Aside from that, it can be rewarding and more worthwhile than anything you will ever do.

Financial Resources Make the Difference

Receiving affordable or free home care may be what makes the difference between a family member being able to stay in their home or being moved into an assisted living or nursing home. One in five Americans provide unpaid care to family members so they can continue to live in their home, according to a recent AARP report.

Continue reading

OPINION: Sorting Out Generational Differences

OPINION: Sorting Out Generational Differences

Family gatherings often result in anger and hurt feelings.

Minding the Gap

OPINION: Sorting Out Generational Differences

The pain of family dysfunction is frequently on display over the holidays

By Megan Wallin

Farewell Patience

Despite the cries of “holiday cheer,” the truth is holidays can drain you of every ounce of patience and good humor you possess. The dark underbelly of family gatherings is that they often culminate in contentious  counter viewpoints. These instances can be quite grating for all parties, especially where generational gaps are involved. While it’s easy to dismiss such disagreements as being a result of an ageist culture, one that neither admires nor protects its most experienced members, I sense there’s more to it than that.

Times Change

Often, the mindset that genuinely worked for one time in history does not work when applied to another. During times of war, hardship and economic depression, children grew up fast. They often skipped the phase that allowed them to develop as individuals and instead adopted a more collectivist perspective, with an absolute respect for authority. Case in point: The idea that children are to obey all adults—absolutely and without question—is a concept that has actually led to insanely corrupt and egregious cover ups of child predators.

A Shift in Parenting Priorities

Now, armed with this knowledge, parents no longer tell their children to trust all adults or do as they’re told without a prior relationship established. Perhaps as a result, we have more self-aware young people and more challenging behaviors at times as today’s kids test boundaries with their parents, teachers, and older family members. Gone are the days of “Because I told you so,” as we usher in the new era of, “I understand that you’re upset, but you cannot do that because . . . .” We are demanding accountability from parents as well as children, and while it may be an exhausting way to parent, it’s by far the preferred method for newer generations.

Continue reading

Memories of a Montana Christmas

Memories of a Montana Christmas

I remember Montana winters with snow and family.

Memories of a Montana Christmas

Christmas Memories. . . Reflections on a Different Time

By Megan Wallin

I  remember many of my childhood Christmases being snow-covered, Kinkade-looking holidays, because we weren’t at home in the dreary and temperate climate of Seattle, Washington, but venturing into the small town on Alberton, Montana.

My mom and her then-boyfriend would take me with them to visit his family in that small town nearly every Christmas or Thanksgiving. There, I would read endless books in their basement, drink an abundance of hot chocolate, build giant snowmen, cut down a Christmas tree near their family cabin, and occasionally wander around finding remains of dead animals—all of which was utterly fascinating for a kid used to life in the city.

For context, this was the mid-1990’s, a time when children weren’t glued to the internet, there were no Tik Tok trends, and we had actual breaks from our classmates’ influence during vacations due to the absence of social media. Parents also seemed more at ease with our lack of ties to the outside world, and—perhaps under the misconception that the world was “safer” then—would sometimes let us roam during the day and come back for dinner at evening. One year, that roaming took a particularly dangerous turn.

I was about ten years old, and the snowfall from the previous night had created a white blanket that came up to my knees when I tried to walk. Naturally, this was an invitation to hop and skip through the fields just beyond the house where we were staying.

Once I ventured past the road and began walking through the field alongside it, I became a bit careless, jumping around in the newly fallen snow, enjoying the feeling of falling down into something not quite solid. I hadn’t ventured far, and could still see the house in the distance, with the road nearby barely visible under the fresh blanket of white. The air was cold enough to feel heavy, and the silence of no traveling cars, or other people, seemed to add to that weight.

Moments like these were some of the most peaceful my city-bound senses could take in. Then it happened.

The ground beneath me seemed to completely give way, and that falling sensation lasted for an uncomfortably long time. I think my surprise was so great and the air so cold that I couldn’t even muster a shocked yelp. I just fell dangerously into a narrow pit, previously wholly unnoticed.

What I had discovered was a hole left by the removal of an old telephone pole, and while it didn’t fill completely with snow, it was difficult to see given the current conditions. There was barely enough room for my body, the space was so slim, and it was a wonder I hadn’t broken a limb during descent. But there I was: trapped, standing straight up and down like a soldier, with little room to move or climb my way out of the frozen earth, and nothing to grip.

Snow was still falling. I found my voice, taking in a full inhalation of cold air after breathlessly screaming, “Help!”

I quickly began running through scenarios in my mind of who would discover my body, and when, and how. Would it be Spring? I tried to picture who would attend the funeral at the Presbyterian church we attended in West Seattle. My mind raced with questions about whether I would die from the cold or suffocate from being buried alive. Fortunately, I didn’t have much time alone with my thoughts.

Coincidently, and not at all in 1990’s fashion, an adult was already looking for me. One of the nephews had ventured out to see if the small child who had come to visit was actually wearing a proper coat for the weather. He heard my panicked screams and interceded immediately, perhaps already aware of the gaping hole in the ground.

I spent the next hour drinking hot chocolate and regaling the group with my tale of “near death,” snuggled up in a warm blanket and gazing outside occasionally. I knew it would be a while before my mom let me outside-and out of sight-again.

Now I think back on those times as we all prepare for holidays where we sit in someone’s living room with a large television present and likely no snow outside, and continually micro-manage our children who are either on screens or needing excess supervision because they are otherwise occupied. (Either way, we’re essentially deciding between “more than the recommended amount of screen time” or “potential trip to the E.R.”)

On one hand, our children aren’t in danger of being buried alive in the snow in a remote small town in Montana. On the other hand, holidays have become just another day off work and school, where we provide an excess of toys and entertainment only for it to pale in comparison to one day in a newly formed snowdrift.

For now, I accept that nostalgia may cover a multitude of sins, so to speak. Life wasn’t necessarily better or worse a few decades ago; it was simply different.

 

Suicide Is Permanent, Please Stay

Suicide Is Permanent, Please Stay

Suicide Is Permanent, Please Stay

D. S. Mitchell

Just The Facts

If you are between 15-35, suicide is the second leading cause of death for your age group.  For all age groups, suicide is responsible for more deaths than murder and natural disasters, combined.  Men take their own lives four times as often as women. Many men sadly would rather be dead than seem ‘weak.’

Those Left Behind

As you can see, suicide is not a rare, or isolated event. It is very real and definitely permanent, and it leaves those who are left behind, in utter despair. For them the suicide event is plagued by stigma, guilt and self-recrimination. The most common question from those left behind is, “what could I have done differently?”

A Societal Contract

Suicide is like the tentacles of an octopus wrapping itself around all of us, casting doubt on hope, and future.  It tears at our social fabric and brings into question society’s compact with the individual.  Whether spoken or unspoken, we as people, are part of a greater society.  As a society, we have agreed to a collective future, a means to provide for our children, to continue our culture, to sustain our existence at all cost. Jennifer Michael Hecht wrote,  Stay: A History of Suicide and the Arguments Against it. And in her words,  “Either the universe is a cold dead place with solitary sentient beings, or we are all alive together, committed to persevere.”

Continue reading

Thanksgiving In Perspective

OPINION: Thanksgiving In Perspective

OPINION: From My Perspective

A Traditional Thanksgiving May Become a Relic of the Past

By Megan Wallin

As an adoptee with strong ties to and respect for my biological Oglala Lakota heritage—now three generations and several European ancestors away from life on the reservation—I’ve had some qualms with traditional American views of Thanksgiving.

There are quite a few people (Native and Non) who feel similarly, but I’ve also spoken with some elders who, despite being deeply ingrained in their tribal cultures, feel neutral on the subject. Their reasoning? Holidays are what you make them. For many, any holiday is a day off to share with loved ones and focus on gratitude, and that includes this one. Still, it remains a bleak reminder of the origin story behind genocide and intergeneration trauma.

Ironically, some of the people I’ve talked to who are most passionately opposed to Thanksgiving have entirely European heritage. They’ve proposed enjoying the day off but celebrating a Harvest Day, changing the title and the focus of a day ultimately rooted in celebrating colonialism that led to the destruction of tribes, families, cultures and languages. They’re certainly not wrong to think that.

Continue reading

Life After Traumatic Brain Injury

Life After Traumatic Brain Injury

By Sonnet Gomes

My Journey Begins

I will never forget March 18, 2019. It’s hard to imagine it has been just one year ago. It was evening when I got a phone call from my dad. He told me my 2-year old daughter Anastasia had been rushed to the ER for convulsion and fever.

We have a family history of febrile convulsion, so at first I was not particularly concerned. But, I was wrong; it was not an innocent febrile seizure. Instead, my dearest Anastasia was seriously ill. Once at the hospital I was informed that Anastasia had viral encephalitis. The doctor explained viral encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain caused by a virus. The result of that inflammation turned my beloved daughter into someone we do not even know.

My journey with traumatic brain injury began that day. Since then I have visited almost every pediatric neurologist in the region to give me insight into the damage done by TBI. The insight I’ve gained has revealed there are many difficulties for those unfortunate humans living with TBI. I have seen both the worst effects of TBI and a few small rays of hope. Now, I feel an obligation to share what I’ve learned with others who are dealing with the results of TBI in hopes that I can help them get through it.

What Is TBI?

The term Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) defines itself. It is associated with significant trauma or injury to the brain or damage done by infection of the brain. Injury from an accident or traumatic event are the most common cause of TBI. The second most common cause of TBI is cerebral infection. According to  ER records, almost 85% of the TBI cases result from one of these two causes.

Injuries

The first category includes injuries from falls, motor vehicle accidents, sports, or physical violence.  Depending on the severity of the incident, the damage can range from mild to severe TBI.  Do not underestimate a fall from your bed. The height may be low, but the impact can be profound. The same goes for falls from ladders, stairways, or bicycles. Please do not wait for symptoms to develop, get immediate help.

Accidents related to vehicles cause most of the TBI seen by physicians. In vehicular accidents concussion is the usual culprit and can result in a severe case of TBI. Another major source of TBI is athletic endeavors. Sports are associated with high speed and collision. Thus, there is a good chance any sports accident or injury can cause severe brain damage. Furthermore, exposure to explosive events like gunshots can cause a severe impact on the brain. The extreme pressure caused by the explosions damages the neurons and their connections.

Infections

Any infection in the brain will undoubtedly damage brain cells.Viral encephalitis causes the brain to swell, effectively squeezing the brain causing often irreversible damage. If the expansion caused by the swelling is low, then the damage may be small and considered mild. Otherwise, with dramatic swelling the damage is defined as severe TBI.

Meningitis infects the three outer layers of the brain causing a breakdown in the connection among brain cells. Encephalitis, another common infection, damages the white and grey matter often leading to death or TBI. Viral encephalitis because it involves the temporal and frontal lobes, is often characterized by psychiatric features, in addition to memory deficits, and aphasia.

Encephalopathy is often associated with a patient’s post injury or infection condition.  Wikipedia defines encephalopathy as “a broad term for any brain disease that alters brain function or structure”.  My daughter fits this definition. It is making her healing after traumatic brain injury tough.

Signs & Symptoms Of Mild Brain Injury

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. (The injury and resulting damage are temporary)

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Disturbed sleep pattern (too much, or not at all)
  • Gait disturbance, including loss of balance
  • Anger management issues
  • Blurred Vision
  • Memory issues
Signs & Symptoms Of Moderate To Severe TBI

Moderate to severe Traumatic Brain Injury is more devastating and permanent

  • Loss of consciousness for a more extended period
  • Seizures or Convulsions (long-term)
  • Long periods of sleep
  • Loss of coordination
  • Numbness in the limbs
  • Confusion
  • Slurred Speech
  • Loss of speech
  • Mood Swings
  • Behavioral changes
  • Hallucinations
  • Altered mental status
  • Cognitive decline
Is There Any Treatment For TBI?

Adapting to TBI is not easy. I want my beautiful daughter back the way she was, but that is not reality.  All the impact-syndrome and post-traumatic amnesia has overwhelmed me. Quite honestly, such emotions have in many ways made things harder when dealing with my daughter. However, there is hope for people with TBI. Medications and rehabilitation can sometimes bring them back to their pre-trauma condition. For people with severe injury such interventions can at least make life more comfortable. Medication is mostly used to control seizures. Other relaxing drugs are used soothe the brain and help it to heal.

Physical and Occupational rehabilitative therapies can improve a patient’s physical and mental activities. Studies show such rehabilitative activities help in reconnecting neurons in the brain, enhancing the signaling between them.

Difficult to admit, but it is not possible to have the same person back after a severe TBI. But, you can bring to life a new person with proper health care, nutrition, and rehabilitation.

Signs Your Loved One Is Improving From TBI

We all want our loved ones to recover from the TBI. No matter how much they have changed, the new person will be loved with the same intensity and care as before their injury.

Signs your loved one is recovering from encephalopathy or Post-Concussion Syndrome may be small but positive visible signs can’t be overlooked.

  • Improved emotional responses
  • Better coordination
  • Becoming more social
  • Improved communication verbally and with gestures
  • No more constant headaches
  • Regular sleep pattern is coming back
  • Getting involved in the activities, they used to like
Emotional Impact Of TBI

Any Traumatic Brain Injury affects the patient both emotionally and physically. Nevertheless, the emotional impacts are sometimes more long-lasting than the physical ones. You may find your loved one exhibiting symptoms of severe Depression. The happy, jolly person you used to know can turn into a sad clinically depressed person after a brain injury.

People with TBI often become more anxious. Even a small challenge will make them tense as hell. Yes, it is difficult to see them like this, but it is the reality. Anger and irritability are common as frustration and anxiety combine in destructive outbursts with many TBI survivors. You will be required  to deal with poor anger management if your loved one is a survivor.

Insomnia and Mood swings will be the everyday issues. You may also see some mental symptoms with a concussion, including blank stares and seizures.

The Financial Impact Of TBI

I had to re-organize my financial plan after my daughter’s TBI. Now I am saving money to keep up the highest quality treatment for her. It is affecting my professional and personal life; however, family comes first. I have cut down expenses in other areas and increased my contribution to health care. I have not had to take on a second job, at least for now, but honestly, TBI is expensive.

Life With TBI Is Different

Your family will change if you have a member with TBI. Your life will be different from others. Priorities and preferences will change dramatically. It becomes difficult to cope with the challenges of TBI and living a normal life. However, we keep fighting against the odds, fighting to make sure my daughter has every comfort I can give despite her distress. Hopefully the information I have shared will help others confronting TBI.

The Human Need To Reunite

The Human Need To Reunite

By Anna Hessel

 

Getting It Together

We all have a basic need to reunite with those who are important to us; there are many types of reunions: high school, college, and family, being some of the most popular.  We see television, movie, and band reunions, all of which bring together memories which allow us to reminisce about times gone by.

Reunions in the Media

There are a multitude of films about reunions between old flames and friends – I have watched dozens of these movies on the Hallmark Channel, alone.  I am sure we can all remember “Class Reunion”, “Peggy Sue Got Married”, “Beautiful Girls”, “10 Years”, “The Big Chill”, “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion”, and “American Reunion”, just to name a few.

Novels Too

Multiple novels about reunions fill the book shelves. “The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion” by Fannie Flagg, “After The Reunion” by Rona Jaffe, “The Odyssey of Reunion” by Abhisek Pani, “Blake’s High School Reunion” by Marcia Carrington, “Murder at the High School Reunion” by Steve Demaree, “How to Prepare for your High School Reunion, and Other Midlife Musings” by Susan Allen Toth. There is a bevy of books titled “High School Reunion”, and plethora of ones simply titled “Reunion” or “The Reunion”.  There is even “The High School Reunion Diet: Lose 20 Years in 30 Days” by David A. Colbert – this particular book reminds me of my husband’s ten year high school reunion – lots of preparation on our part to visit three hours with many people he barely knew.

How To Survive Your Class Reunion

Psychology Today has dubbed the high school reunion as “psychological time travel”.  Guideposts Magazine offers several tips for enjoying your class reunion.  A good start is recognizing that many of your old classmates may also have anxiety about attending. A great suggestion Guideposts made was to reconnect ahead of time on social media. Another suggestion was to pick up the old year book and leaf through it, reminding you of the faces, the fashions and the vibe of the time.  When at the event introduce yourself, get up and move around, ask others about their current lives, and spend time with people you didn’t know back in the day.

New Eyes

Definitely avoid heated and divisive topics such as politics, instead focus on the memories. Everyone has experienced setbacks and troubles, as well as happiness in their lives since you knew them.  Allow the passing years to disappear by looking at everyone with new eyes and a forgiving heart.  Don’t obsess about losing that last 10 pounds before you reunite; the fact is  we all age physically, even the prom queen, football star, and cheerleaders.  If it is any comfort, Chicago Magazine tells us, “your 50th high school reunion will be much better than your 20th.  Let’s face it, folks, as we age, we learn to not sweat the small stuff”.

African-American Suffering

Whether called reunions or just “family get-togethers” families have gathered for centuries for no other reason than to celebrate family heritage, faith and fun. Reunions not only give a sense of intentional preservation and family bonding for people, but satisfy a need to nurture. In the United States reunions have deep roots in African-American history, painfully recalling slavery and its toll on family units as they were torn apart and sold off to various plantations.  African-American family reunions may well date back to the Emancipation.  “Information wanted” ads were common in newspapers of the day, and may be the root of African-American reunions as people searched for lost and separated family members.

A Shifting Population

Between 1915 and 1940, a period dubbed as the “Great Migration” close to 4 million African-Americans traveled south-to-north, many heading to New York and Chicago.  The enormity of that black population shift encouraged the growth of family reunions in that demographic.  The significance of extended family formed the idea of the need for togetherness at specific times when all could be reunited.  For more information, please visit the website of the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture: #APeoplesJourney.

Today, family reunions in all cultures symbolize heritage, fellowship, and a sense of community.

Ms. Hessel is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists

We Wish You A Happy Birthday

We Wish You A Happy Birthday

By Anna Hessel

 It Only Comes Once A Year

Have you ever thought about why we celebrate birthdays?  Is it because everyone deserves a special day of their very own; or do we just want an excuse to eat cake?  Many of us have photos of that momentous first birthday with cake smeared all over the baby’s face. Some bakeries now even sell miniature ‘smash cakes’, for a nominal fee, of course.

No Pictures

I recall birthdays of my youth, complete with frosting pink roses on my cake. And great games like pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. Was thinking  of reprising the classic pinning game for my upcoming b-day, but alas, I have no picture of our current Oval Office occupant, no insult intended to all the donkeys out there.

The Way It Was

Children’s birthday parties of yesteryear included goody bags with sugary treats and plastic trinkets, and had old-fashioned fun, like board games and music from a stereo set up on a card table.  Today, children’s parties are much more elaborate events, with clowns, bowling, pony rides, bouncy houses, kiddy-size race cars, and a trip to visit that gigantic cheesy mouse.  Every little girl is a princess, and every little boy is a ninja.  School treats must be individually wrapped, unlike the box of bakery cupcakes we all proudly passed around when I was in grammar school. Continue reading