“FIDELISMO” Means Never Having to Say, “You’re Too Late”
News this week that Premier Fidel Castro didn’t attend his delayed 80th birthday celebration has further stoked barely-repressed official U.S. jubilation that perhaps, soon now, the iconic Cuban leader’s time on earth will end. Bush & Co. are rooting for cancer as Castro’s secret diagnosis, something intestinal, they hope, probably involving pain and bloody stools.
I cannot join the vultures’ anticipatory fiesta.
Whatever anyone thinks of Castro’s policies, of his influence, of his rule, this is a man, a human being, and he is hurting.
I lived with my gentle mother in the final two years of her life, cruelly cut short by a cancer which jumped across demographics and lifestyle factors, robbing her family and community of a leading light. We were fortunate that she did not suffer much pain, and could feed, clothe and clean herself — those basic indicators of independence — until the very end. Dying in her own bed, surrounded by love and borne up in her faith, this was nonetheless a cruel end, and cruel to watch as red blood cells were daily replaced by imposters and my vibrant, energetic, strong Mom was replaced by a pale, tired shadow.
Seventy-five or 80 years is not enough, you know, for one who loves living.
A few weeks ago, Alice and Thorne and I visited our old opponent, former Austin Police Department Lt. Burt Gerding, so that Thorne could satisfy the Texas Observer’s desire that he interview Gerding before they published Thorne’s piece on police spying on radicals here in the 1960s. Knowing Burt from old as a consummate gamesman, three of us went together just to be sure that no one let slip the latest plans for The Revolution. We found an old man on a walker, whose home shows the unintentional neglect of one who moves now only on circumscribed paths through his own life, still the gamesman at heart but betrayed by his body, his habits, his sins. A feisty little terrier, Asta, is a bright spot there, as the cardinals we fed on the front lawn, and her elderly cats inside, were warm places in Mother’s that last winter. I found myself still wary of Gerding’s half-truths, but believing him when he said he no longer viewed us — the 60’s rads upon whom he’d spied and played a multitude of tricks — as “the enemy”.
No. The only real enemy is the Grim Reaper.
I wanted to get people to send get-well cards and letters to Fidel, to counter the death energy being projected towards him by our government. Death comes soon enough to everyone, and it is wrong to cast el mal ojo on another’s life. But I am reliably informed that mail to Cuba from the U.S. is held up, scanned, and mostly never delivered. There must be some way to achieve this notion — perhaps through friends in Mexico? — but time may be short. So, for Fidel, that bearded, defiant, laughing, virile, devil-may-care, chicken-bones-in-Harlem and guerillas-in-the-mountains revolutionary hero, I have lit an 8-day candle, to burn until el dia de la Virgen, for courage and for strength.
Fellow Austinite and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong strongly criticizes the U.S. government’s lack of commitment to cancer research and care. Fellow blogger David pH recently wrote about what could be done with the $500 kazillion we would save annually just by becoming peace-loving citizens of the planet.
If U.S. citizens must have a war, a war on cancer (and poverty, illiteracy, homelessness, and everything else David mentioned) would be a most righteous jihad.
Hasta la victoria siempre,