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vivico1
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Redlighting and nursing homes

I just thought of something in the book today and wanted to see what everyone thinks. I think there are comparisions to life in a nursing home and live in these train circuses, or at least in this story, which made having and elderly man in a nursing home telling the story of the young Jacob even more meaningful to me.

Ok, I hope no one takes offense at this and understands what I mean, and may even find a few other comparisons between the two places that they would like to share here.

Anyway, I was thinking today about this redlighting they did when a circus worker got too old to work, or maimed or whatever. Their solution was to just ever so cruelly, redlight them, kick them off a moving train, and if they survived fine, if they didn't even better and the ones who did it, like Blackie seemed to even enjoy it. Then I thought about some, not all nursing homes and some families, not all, throwing their elderly in there the moment they may not be able to take care of themselves. Some people really are quick to do so and those are usually the ones whose elderly wind up in the worst nursing homes. Sometimes the nurses in those kind too, can be like the Blackies out there and just have no care at all for the elderly in their care and may ignore them, abuse them, or "redlight" them to a corner in a wheelchair all day long, till you find them in a puddle of urine on the floor and nearly falling out of the chair. I have seen places like this and these are the elderly that rarely have visitors too. Does this make any sense, what I am comparing here about the story?

I think young Jacob came close to getting redlighted in the circus and he knew it and escaped it. I think old Jacob, sitting in that chair, with not one family member coming to his rescue, to take him to the circus, was not going to be redlighted to despair, or his room, or sitting in a chair for a whole day and once again, took matters into his own hands and ran from it. Everyone is right that there may come a time when we have to put a loved one in a nursing home and I am not saying thats a horrible thing to do to anyone, often it is the most needful thing, but I think we all can do our best to see that they are at least taken care of properly there. And many of us may wind up in one too. I worry about that because there if something happened to me that I could not decide where to go, say a stroke or something, I have a tremendous fear of being warehoused and redlighted into a state institution of horrors because there is no one to take care of getting me into something decent, and I may have no money for anything else. I try not to think on that too much lol.

I heard a woman at church today, that just moved into our area ,after she put it one elsewere, say how one of her daughters "rescued her" from a nursing home but it took 6 weeks to do so. She had been living on her own by another one of her daughter in another state, got a bladder infection and something happened to her from the meds or something that she said she was just out of it for two whole days, has no memory of it, all she knew was that after coming to, just two days later, she was in a nursing home and couldnt get out on her own accord. Her daughter had had her put there and it took this one 6 weeks to get her out. This woman was very talkative, knew what she was saying, could walk with just a cane and the whole thing had scared her to death but she feels safe now. Quite frankly we sat there in silence thinking how can this be? But Tammy, her daughter said thats exactly what happened. To me, her other daughter redlighted her on her own, without even checking with other family members, just booted her from her own life!

Do you think there is a comparision in the book with this, or just in my own mind about the book lol? What do you think? I think there are a lot of comparisons between the two, the circus and the nursing home that we are just starting to touch on the further we get into our discussion and I wonder now if that may be a reason too why Sara chose this old Jacob in his circumstances to tell the story of the young, because as we have pointed out, both stories, the old and the young, are really good stories that could stand on their own without the other even. Got any thoughts? I am curious :smileywink:
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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kiakar
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Re: Redlighting and nursing homes

This is a great comparsion. Yes, nursing homes that are run by private industry to make profits are wrong to start with. We say business men, on the average are greedy for the buck, but we let them care for our elderly cutting costs so they can profit greatly and our elderly only last a few months when stuck at places like these. We have two nursing homes run by our hospital symstom. And its the best one I have ever visited. They always have enought help, its clean and nice to be in. This is non-profit, same as the hospital symstom. We expect workers not making barely minium wages to care and act professional when inside these people are hurting for lack of making a decent wage. Nurses usually are the second best because salaries are less than in hospital settings. So to compare these profit seeking nursing homes are the same to me as throwing someone at a moving train or off of one too.
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cindersue
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Re: Redlighting and nursing homes



vivico1 wrote:
... I think there are comparisions to life in a nursing home and live in these train circuses, or at least in this story, which made having and elderly man in a nursing home telling the story of the young Jacob even more meaningful to me. ... redlighting they did when a circus worker got too old to work, or maimed or whatever. ... nursing homes and some families, not all, throwing their elderly in there the moment they may not be able to take care of themselves. ... Got any thoughts? I am curious :smileywink:




I never thought of those circumstances being very similiar. But your right! Redlighting from the circus, redlighting the elderly. Very good! :smileywink:
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vivico1
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Re: Redlighting and nursing homes


cindersue wrote:


vivico1 wrote:
... I think there are comparisions to life in a nursing home and live in these train circuses, or at least in this story, which made having and elderly man in a nursing home telling the story of the young Jacob even more meaningful to me. ... redlighting they did when a circus worker got too old to work, or maimed or whatever. ... nursing homes and some families, not all, throwing their elderly in there the moment they may not be able to take care of themselves. ... Got any thoughts? I am curious :smileywink:




I never thought of those circumstances being very similiar. But your right! Redlighting from the circus, redlighting the elderly. Very good! :smileywink:


Didn't hit me till today listening to that old woman, then I thought AHA! lol :smileywink: thanks for the backup on that, wasn't sure I wasnt just reaching, but its what hit me.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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IBIS
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Re: Redlighting and nursing homes

POSSIBLE SPOILER

Vivian, redlighting was an illegal and unscrupulous way to get rid of circus workers who were too old, or too disabled, or inconvenient. Uncle Al in WATER FOR ELEPHANTS used this illegal method sometimes as a form of payroll control... he redlighted roustabouts who complained about having their salaries withheld for months, and who demanded to be paid for their honest work.

Uncle Al's method was illegal and immoral. He was an immoral businessman who eventually got his come-uppance when they found his murdered body rolled up in the canvas of the big top.

There are many sad and cruel stories about the elderly being institutionalized. It's sometimes a cruel way to get rid of them. And there are many reasons why people can't or won't care for their elderly relatives at home. Just as there are many overworked staffers who work in low-quality nursing homes, and who probably are temperamentally ill-suited for this sort of work.

But as far as I can see, none of those sad reasons are illegal. It's a stretch to equate Uncle Al's redlighting (or sometimes the cold-blooded murder) of the old, or the disabled, or the inconvenient roustabout and putting an elderly relative in a nursing home.

I agree that sometimes it's not an ideal or a very caring way of dealing with one's elderly relatives. And sometimes, yes, they are put in nursing homes merely to be out of the way, and they are left there to die of neglect or health reasons.

But it's not the same as redlighting our elderly. There are many comparable end-results, but that doesn't make it illegal.

IBIS
IBIS

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vivico1
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Re: Redlighting and nursing homes


IBIS wrote:
POSSIBLE SPOILER

Vivian, redlighting was an illegal and unscrupulous way to get rid of circus workers who were too old, or too disabled, or inconvenient. Uncle Al in WATER FOR ELEPHANTS used this illegal method sometimes as a form of payroll control... he redlighted roustabouts who complained about having their salaries withheld for months, and who demanded to be paid for their honest work.

But as far as I can see, none of those sad reasons are illegal. It's a stretch to equate Uncle Al's redlighting (or sometimes the cold-blooded murder) of the old, or the disabled, or the inconvenient roustabout and putting an elderly relative in a nursing home.

I agree that sometimes it's not an ideal or a very caring way of dealing with one's elderly relatives. And sometimes, yes, they are put in nursing homes merely to be out of the way, and they are left there to die of neglect or health reasons.

But it's not the same as redlighting our elderly. There are many comparable end-results, but that doesn't make it illegal.

IBIS


IBIS, I am not talking able legal issues at all here. I am talking about the aspect of redlighting as a way to get rid of the weak, the old, the unuseful anymore. Of course it was illegal lol, you cant just "throw mamma from the train" as it were. But as you just mentioned on the thread about old vs young Jacob, he had all this family and didnt seem to have a thing wrong with him other than old age, why did they put him there you wondered. I say, he was relighted for old age, put out of the way, because maybe he couldnt really take care of himself by himself, warehoused, gotten rid of, and he wasnt going to let his life be tho. This was not about the legalities at all. Surely no one thinks redlighting was legal lol, and I am not saying its the same as killing a person, to put them in a nursing home. I guess you misunderstood what I was getting at there. :smileywink:
Vivian
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IBIS
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Re: Redlighting and nursing homes

Viv, I knew exactly what you meant.

What I should have said before is that I, and I'm sure many many others, spent years worrying about institutionalizing elderly parents. It's never an easy decision to make. There were times when I would just look at her and burst into tears. My husband saw how it was tearing me apart, how it was tearing our family apart, but I couldn't make the decision to put her in a facility.

When I realized that she needed the specialized care that family couldn't provide, I bit the bullet and okay, I said, this is what's best for everyone.

I guess saying that some people institutionalize their elders is somewhat akin to Uncle Al's redlighting, maybe I found that emotionally hard to take. Maybe that was a bit offensive to me. I'm sure many of us in the "sandwich" generation get stuck with making these hard decisions, and only get grief for our troubles.

IBIS
IBIS

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vivico1
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Re: Redlighting and nursing homes


IBIS wrote:
Viv, I knew exactly what you meant.

What I should have said before is that I, and I'm sure many many others, spent years worrying about institutionalizing elderly parents. It's never an easy decision to make. There were times when I would just look at her and burst into tears. My husband saw how it was tearing me apart, how it was tearing our family apart, but I couldn't make the decision to put her in a facility.

When I realized that she needed the specialized care that family couldn't provide, I bit the bullet and okay, I said, this is what's best for everyone.

I guess saying that some people institutionalize their elders is somewhat akin to Uncle Al's redlighting, maybe I found that emotionally hard to take. Maybe that was a bit offensive to me. I'm sure many of us in the "sandwich" generation get stuck with making these hard decisions, and only get grief for our troubles.

IBIS


IBIS,
I understand what you are saying and many of us are in that sandwich generation and facing this. I don't think it's ever easy for those who care. Like I said, I did see a comparision to basically , getting the old out of the way, that aspect of redlighting in using a nursing home setting for the vehicle of the telling of the story. And as I said, that woman I listened to at church was definitely just shoved away in two short days by one daughter and thats what hit me. I have seen it happen too.

I have no doubt you had a hard time making the decision and you do care, you and those like you, just like several people I know are not the one's I am comparing the two to. But it does go to the idea of what we do in general with our elderly but also our handicapped in America. I understand your emotional reaction to my posed question, given what you said, but IBIS, I knew this could be a touchy idea to many so I tried very hard to be considerate of that in my post if you reread it. Here are three things I said to try to make sure of that:

"Ok, I hope no one takes offense at this and understands what I mean, and may even find a few other comparisons between the two places that they would like to share here."

"Then I thought about some, not all nursing homes and some families, not all, throwing their elderly in there the moment they may not be able to take care of themselves. Some people really are quick to do so and those are usually the ones whose elderly wind up in the worst nursing homes"

and

"Everyone is right that there may come a time when we have to put a loved one in a nursing home and I am not saying thats a horrible thing to do to anyone, often it is the most needful thing, but I think we all can do our best to see that they are at least taken care of properly there. And many of us may wind up in one too."

So you see, I did not mean to offend you at all, or anyone in this situation IBIS, I was tried hard to make sure of that too. I was mearly posing what I found what is to me a real, philosophical, idea that might also be in the book.

I am sure when you wrote your post to the person in here who posed the idea that the whole story was maybe the imagination of someone with Alzheimers, that you really didnt mean to offend that writer by saying, any "intelligent reader" can see thats not so, but it very much came off as saying she was not an intelligent reader for even posing the question.

As we all know, some things we say in writing dont come off the way we mean them as we are thinking them, but we need to be careful, when I reread those posts, that stood out to me again like a sore thumb, the any intelligent reader thing and I thought, ouch, that's pretty offensive and may cut that convo off at the pass. It was that very post and seeing how that could be true, that in posing my question here that could be very emotionally charged, I, three times, made sure to state, this is NOT a bad, or horrible thing in itself and its usually a needful thing, as I posed the question about how it can happen tho by those who dont care. Its kind of like, well, look, for example, Kinko on the train, didnt want anyone in there with him at first but he helped Jacob keep Camel hidden and alive and kept him from getting redlighted, he cared! I would compare him, along these lines in this question, to those people who take their time, work out how to do it, and when it becomes needful, finds the best place for someone who can no longer take care of themselves. They just wanted to get him to his brothers, hoping he would at least be safe there and taken care of. We of our generation should be that concerned about our elderly, so thats another comparison to those two aspects of the story, how and why we put elderly in nursing homes vs how or if someone who cant take care of themself gets redlighted or saved on the train. See what I mean? And for all the people like you and others in here that do their best and it becomes a hard decision but a needful one, just like what Jacob and Kinko did with Camel, we know too that there are those out there, that will put their elderly in the first drop slot they can and maybe never come back, like the older woman's daughter here at church did, like the blackies of the circus are doing when they redlight someone.

I did not mean to offend anyone, honest, but it was a very intriguing thing I saw happening in this story to think about and so I asked.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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IBIS
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Re: Redlighting and nursing homes

[ Edited ]
Viv, I fully understand that you didn't mean the comparison to be offensive. And you didn't offend me by offering up that question. I guess any topic can be food for thought, no matter how close it comes to pushing hot buttons.

I, for one, didn't mean to offend anyone by my comment that intelligent readers can make insightful analysis of an author's intentions, whether the author intended them or not. It was actually meant as a compliment to the readers who brought their own interpretations to the table.

Anyway, this novel certainly gave rise to deeply felt issues about geriatric health care today. Its a topic whose depths we've barely begun to plumb.

IBIS

Message Edited by IBIS on 12-03-2007 10:42 PM
IBIS

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Fozzie
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Re: Redlighting and nursing homes

I think this is an interesting comparison.

In an interview, the author talks about how she compared the people in the nursing home to the circus animals. Both were fed, watered, and put on display every day.

I hadn't thought of either comparison until I heard from both of you.
Laura

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vivico1
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Re: Redlighting and nursing homes


Fozzie wrote:
I think this is an interesting comparison.

In an interview, the author talks about how she compared the people in the nursing home to the circus animals. Both were fed, watered, and put on display every day.

I hadn't thought of either comparison until I heard from both of you.


Thanks Laura, see, it does make sense. I really havent read that interview. I know about some with her but havent read or heard them all, just one.
Vivian
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IBIS
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Re: Redlighting and nursing homes

In an author's interview, Sara Gruen explained what the term "redlighting" meant...

There were 2 methods how Uncle Al's people threw you off the train... if they liked you, they threw you off near a train station that had blinking red lights visible (stop lights at the tracks). It meant that the train had slowed down somewhat, so you wouldn't be thrown off a speeding train. And the train station was near a town, so you could find your way into town.

If they didn't like you very much, they'd throw you off ANYWHERE at fast speeds in the middle of the night. All you saw were the red lights from the back of the train speeding away in the darkness. Eventually, once the train disappeared down the tracks, you were pretty much abandoned in the dark ... no town, no train station... nothing around. You were pretty much on your own.

IBIS
IBIS

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vivico1
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Re: Redlighting and nursing homes


IBIS wrote:
In an author's interview, Sara Gruen explained what the term "redlighting" meant...

There were 2 methods how Uncle Al's people threw you off the train... if they liked you, they threw you off near a train station that had blinking red lights visible (stop lights at the tracks). It meant that the train had slowed down somewhat, so you wouldn't be thrown off a speeding train. And the train station was near a town, so you could find your way into town.

If they didn't like you very much, they'd throw you off ANYWHERE at fast speeds in the middle of the night. All you saw were the red lights from the back of the train speeding away in the darkness. Eventually, once the train disappeared down the tracks, you were pretty much abandoned in the dark ... no town, no train station... nothing around. You were pretty much on your own.

IBIS


Kind of similar to how you may wind up in a nursing home and what kind of nursing home too isnt it? :smileywink:
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Wrighty
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Redlighting

[ Edited ]
I found a passage on pgs 26-27. It didn't mean much the first time but it's so ironic now.
Jacob has just jumped onto the circus train and met the men on the car. Blackie was trying to throw him off until Camel stops him.

'Don't be sore kid," says the old man. "Throwing people off the train is one of the perks of Blackie's job, and he ain't got to do it in a while. Here," he says, patting the floor with the flat of his hand."Come on over here."
I shoot another glance at Blackie.
"Come on now", says the old man. "Don't be shy. Blackie's gonna behave now, ain't you, Blackie?"
Blackie grunts and takes a swig.


I guess we all know how that turns out. Blackie does get to throw someone off after all. I hope it bothered him at least a little. :smileysad:

Message Edited by Wrighty on 12-16-2007 12:59 AM
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kiakar
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Re: Redlighting



Wrighty wrote:
I found a passage on pgs 26-27. It didn't mean much the first time but it's so ironic now.
Jacob has just jumped onto the circus train and met the men on the car. Blackie was trying to throw him off until Camel stops him.

'Don't be sore kid," says the old man. "Throwing people off the train is one of the perks of Blackie's job, and he ain't got to do it in a while. Here," he says, patting the floor with the flat of his hand."Come on over here."
I shoot another glance at Blackie.
"Come on now", says the old man. "Don't be shy. Blackie's gonna behave now, ain't you, Blackie?"
Blackie grunts and takes a swig.


I guess we all know how that turns out. Blackie does get to throw someone off after all. I hope it bothered him at least a little. :smileysad:

Message Edited by Wrighty on 12-16-2007 12:59 AM





You are really observant Mrs. Wrighty. Picking through all those things that are evil. And Blackie was right along with August and the Circus leader.
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CrystalVan
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Re: Redlighting and nursing homes

I think you made a profound connection about redlighting and nursing homes. I hadn't looked at it in that way until I read your post. It comes to a complete circle with his return to the circus at the end of his life.

As I was reading early in the book about his experience with the walker and being able to see only his feet and move only a tile at a time, I was reminded of my 87-year-old aunt who is in a nursing home in another state. I call her at least once a week, and I waslaughing so hard at Jacob's description, I had to read it to her over the phone. My aunt is still able to read although she not mobile and is often quite confused, but she is going to request the book from the library.
Crystal V.
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kiakar
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Re: Redlighting and nursing homes



CrystalVan wrote:
I think you made a profound connection about redlighting and nursing homes. I hadn't looked at it in that way until I read your post. It comes to a complete circle with his return to the circus at the end of his life.

As I was reading early in the book about his experience with the walker and being able to see only his feet and move only a tile at a time, I was reminded of my 87-year-old aunt who is in a nursing home in another state. I call her at least once a week, and I waslaughing so hard at Jacob's description, I had to read it to her over the phone. My aunt is still able to read although she not mobile and is often quite confused, but she is going to request the book from the library.




That is great CrystalVan! That makes me smile!
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shaninge
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Re: Redlighting and nursing homes

So this might make Jacob and Rosemarie parallel characters. They both had compassion for the ones who, to others were only the fulfillment of their job.
I don't usually enjoy a story that goes back and forth in time, but this author pulled it off very, very well, I think.
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meeawice
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Re: Redlighting and nursing homes

The comparison doesn't have to be exact to be valid.  Because redlighting was illegal and immoral doesn't mean that it isn't a parallel to nursing home care in some ways.  Jacob had been redlighted not just because he had been relegated to a nursing home but because the staff didn't listen to him or regard him as a person with real feelings.  Only Rosemary made an attempt to do that and she was leaving.  Even Jacob's family, who obviously honored their moral obligation to him, no longer had a real connection to him.  Essentially, Jacob was again in danger of being "redlighted."   
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