From Pete Yamamoto


root - Posted on 31 December 1969

by Staff Writer

I have been going by Kaiser Hospital to see Brother Al. I've been there a few times and hung out with Al and Russell and Dru and Maxine and Cliff and Phyllis. I usually go there in the evening and stay anywhere from a half hour to two hours.

When I see Al unable to speak to me and in a paralytic state all my love goes out to him and I remember him striding along in his hiking boots, Hawaiian shirt, and fur hat. I remember him singing about the lives of the Manongs and the beauty of the young Sisters as well. I remember him active and talking about food and bringing us sweet Russian bread from the Ukrainian bakery. I look at his body now seemed so small and frail in that antiseptic hospital bed with the tubes going into him, his ventilator and his I.V.

I tell him that he'll get better and that all the people are standing by him and asking after him. I read the messages from friends and the old people at Self-Help Manilatown Brunch Program and people working in the services. I read him poetry that I have written especially for him and tell him about the time of day and what the weather was like and the people on the streets on the "outside". We play music for him on the hospital CD player: Hawaiian music, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis and Duke Ellington.

Sometimes he opens his eyes and looks at me. Recently he has started to shrug his shoulders and move his upper torso. He has a tracheotomy and so he can't talk but he moves his lips as if he is trying to speak. He can already barely nod yes or no in answer to questions. Sometimes he is very active. Sometimes he is very quiet. Since he can't talk I can't figure out whether he is saying "shut up and get me out of here!!" or not.

I tell him that he must be traveling the universe in his mind astride a celestial carabao. Dru recites poetry she makes up on the spot. Cliff massages his forearms and moves his toes and hands. Phyllis transmits energy through Reike to Al. The nurse comes in and tells him that she used to play the sax.

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