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Red Ribbon Day
Author: velveeta jones    Date: 11/30/2008 14:57:40


People my age, and especially those in the arts, remember what it was like in the 80's and early 90's.

Going to the almost weekly funerals, learning which of your friend's got it, reading the obits - even though you're only in your 20's....... crying a lot.

I remember a frantic phone call I got one day. My friend Bill called - he couldn't wake his friend and co-worker up to go to work. I rushed over to find Bill a total mess, and David laying on the couch. He looked like he died peacefully.

I calmed Bill down and shut him in his bedroom, picked up the bong and any other paraphernalia I found, then called the police and EMS.

A year or so later, I would lay down with Bill in his bed and try to get him to eat. I'd rub his feet for him (they were always cold and he complained that he couldn't feel them) and I'd help him to the bathroom; even when it got so bad that he had to wear a diaper and he was so embarrassed. I would buy pot for him with money he would give me, through a network that was set up to sell pot to AIDS patients at cost. The pot relieved his pain and would encourage him to eat.

His parents came from California the week that he died. They thanked me and his other friends that helped him. They gave me some pieces of his artwork that he left me, along with a very high tech VHS player (not so high tech anymore and long since gone).

Yesterday I visited some sections of the AIDS Quilt that is on display in our town. I wondered if anyone made a panel for Bill. Or David. Or any of the many other friends that I lost. And I decided I would make a panel for him if there's not. (Aunt Azalea will help and wants to make one for another of our friends).

Mostly I was grateful for my many friends that were NOT on the quilt; who amazingly, are still alive today; lived through this horrible epidemic of my generation.

But I am still shocked at how long it took to get to this point. Why did we have to fight; to march in the streets, to get our goverment to focus on the crisis? Why did we have a president who ignored the problem? (Reagan would not mention AIDS in public).

Today, while patients no longer die at the rate they did during the 80's and 90's, that doesn't mean that AIDS is no longer a struggle.

Tomorrow is World AIDS day. Is the Quilt anywhere near you? Check here if you'd like to view sections of it - it is sadly, now to large to display all at once. Estimates to view each panel would take you 33 days!

Fact sheet on AIDS in the US

11 comments (Latest Comment: 12/01/2008 05:01:26 by livingonli)
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Comment by Raine on 11/30/2008 16:10:16
Good Morning.

Thank you for a sober reminder of our not too distant past, Velveeta. The 80's were indeed a sad and turbulent time.

We have come far, and yes, we still have far to go.

Comment by livingonli on 11/30/2008 16:27:27
Second what Raine said.

Comment by Mondobubba on 11/30/2008 17:02:59
Thanks for the wonderful post VJ. You done made me cry. I remember when Mrs Mondo and visited the Quilt on the Ellipse. It was the last year the whole thing was on display. It was so...quiet. There were hundreds of people there none of them speaking. After viewing a panel for a small kid I started crying. As if by magic one of the volunteers was at my elbow with tissues and hug. It was a powerful and moving experience.

Comment by trojanrabbit on 11/30/2008 17:57:21
I shouldn't have read VJ's wonderful post while I was "working", the tears are interfering.

I have two more parts to replace before I can button up the old radio and let 'er run for a while. It's obvious someone's been in here before me, found some parts left dangling by one wire and its replacement tacked on nearby. Now I don't feel so bad that I ripped out the wiring for the record player, I'm never going to use it and it gets in the way, more things to go bad.

Comment by BobR on 11/30/2008 19:24:20
I saw the AIDS quilt a couple years ago when it was in Atlanta. It was a sobering experience. Thankfully, I don't know of anyone that has died of AIDS.

Comment by livingonli on 11/30/2008 20:11:05
I better get going to the salt mine. It will take longer to drive out in the rain.

Comment by trojanrabbit on 11/30/2008 21:31:01
Quote by livingonli:

I better get going to the salt mine. It will take longer to drive out in the rain.

Have fun, it's assorted sleet, rain with a little snow mixed in crap here.

Comment by livingonli on 11/30/2008 23:07:58
Another reminder why I hate winter.

Comment by AuntAzalea on 11/30/2008 23:23:24
Thanks VJ, it was a powerful post. Many many years ago I saw the Quilt laid out in Central Park but You know I was surprised at just how much it still affects me so deeply. It just always brings up such loss.

I have had countless friends die from Aids, it decimated the dance world - including Nureyev and Alvin Ailey. I was diagnosed positive many years ago but I have been one of the blessed ones now in the negative column.

So I do hope they eradicate this horrible disease soon and on a brighter side I hope everyone had a good thanksgiving.

Comment by Mondobubba on 12/01/2008 01:06:24
a Mapple store. Satire away Simpsons! :rofl:

Comment by livingonli on 12/01/2008 05:01:26
I've got a headache.