I HAD a dream. Forgive me, it is Martin Luther King Day.
I dreamt that Michelle Obama’s father, Frasier Robinson, diagnosed at age 30 with multiple sclerosis, was alive (he died at age 50) and moving into the White House with his wife to help take care of their granddaughters.
Okay — it was a “day dream”. But, have you noticed that the media has discovered that grandparents are helping raise grandchildren? It’s a hot topic. Well, I’d like to see the challenges of living with chronic illness get this kind of press.
Can you see it, now?
- CNN interviews the First Lady’s father, Frasier Robinson, a city water plant employee ( Holding Down the Family Fort), about what it was like to lose mobility after once being a professional boxer.
- An msnc.com reporter, doing a feature on city workers, asks Robinson how he was able to keep working at such a physical job when he had trouble walking and Robinson described how he was lucky because he was able to get different work at the same pay (or maybe they had to sell their house and move into an apartment?)
- The View interviews Frasier’s wife, Marian, about what it was like to hold down a demanding full time secretarial job, bring up two children who were 18 months apart and have a disabled husband who was unable to do much at home because MS left him so tired.
I could go on. The Robinson family (including Michelle and her brother) lived in an apartment in Chicago. Did they ever worry that they could lose their home if Dad had to stop working? Did their health insurance cover everything he needed?
In this daydream, the First Lady’s parents would share with reporters what it was like to live on a modest, two-wage earner income when one of the earners has debilitating chronic illness. They speak up because they know how important it is bring attention to these issues.
But, wait. There’s more.
This information makes its way to federal policy makers as they craft a more inclusive health care policy. It makes its way to the general public and, particularly employers, so they understand what people with chronic illness (45% of adult Americans) live with and they craft policies that make it easier for them to continue to work.
Too bad — my daydream relies on the voice of someone who is no longer here. I can only hope that there are other voices who will speak up and be heard.