Archive for April, 2021

Flashing a peace sign only to get crushed? Of course, that lemon in your hand had to be crushed to brew your “Peace Tea” in the first place. How far out ironic and Age of Aquarius groovy is that? This old tea drinker, born in 1955, remembers my own teenage Summer of Love. Half a century later, nothing about this moment in which I write these words that might be a poem about peace both brewed and crushed, is either loving or peaceful. The pandemic is the biggest “make war not love” lemon my generation has ever been handed. There is no slow retirement sipping, no lemony silver lining. The change my generation hoped for in our youth has not aged well. Far from crushing the capitalist lemon, the pandemic has made the rich richer. Infused new grief, inequity and loss. No one should ignore that steeping. No one should ever try to make crowd calming tea out of mass death. Not while the pandemic keeps pouring people out into the trash: seniors, disabled people, health care workers, marginalized racialized delivery workers, the unhoused and unloved. Not while the pandemic tells all of us peaceful old folk tea drinkers shuffling along on walkers and canes that we are the most useless of sub-human garbage. Nothing we do or say to defend ourselves changes abled minds. Abled people don’t want to hear any old-fashioned boomer lectures about social responsibility. Don’t want to compare themselves to how we old hippies have practiced it. Like so many in my at risk communities, I’ve been sheltering at home, alone in my tiny apartment since March 8, 2020. No family, no friendly visits, no drop offs, no take-out, no sending or accepting mail, no gifts, and absolutely no internet shopping. I open my door only to groceries and my medical needs. It’s not fear, it’s well-brewed responsibility. Peace is important to this old hippy. It’s not enough to survive unless I can also say I haven’t killed anyone else, or their mother, or their grandmother. Being a peace prioritizing old tea-drinker means you make a sober, conscious, moral decision to help everyone stay home. It means you refuse to ask anyone else to go into the streets to take the risk of dying for you. I’ve done that for a full year, while abled people read my tea leaves for me, laughing at the very idea I deserve a future: “Who cares? It’s just seniors and disabled people who are going to die.” That first spring, my life was worth less than a March Break trip to Florida. At Halloween, it was just fine if I died, as long as kids got candy. Come Christmas, my life was worth less than a stocking stuffer. This winter, hospital protocols tell me, as did the Nazis, that I am “life unworthy of life.” Today, guzzling the sugary drink of vaccination, no longer in silence or in secret, abled people are energized and empowered. Secure in your personal survival, you crush my spirit and my frail body down. Seeing my life as the last dregs in a useless can, you throw me under the eugenics bus. Discarded on the green spring grass, will I even see summer, or will you simply shrug and put me under the ground?

Dorothy Ellen Palmer is a disabled senior writer, retired English/Drama teacher, improv coach and union activist. Her adoption-disability memoir, Falling for Myself, (Wolsak and Wynn, 2019), was acclaimed by The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, and Quill & Quire. Longlisted for the ReLit Award, her novel, When Fenelon Falls, (Coach House, 2010), features a disabled teen in the Woodstock-Moonwalk summer of 1969. Her fiction and nonfiction appear in Reader’s Digest, This Magazine, Canthius, Wordgathering and Nothing Without Us. She won the 2020 Helen Henderson Award for disability journalism, serves on FOLD’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, and has appeared at FOLD, GritLit, WOTS, The Next Chapter, The Eh List, and CBC Radio.