Outing Heartless Offspring and Heartless City Hall

Written by Bette Dewing on . Posted in Dewing Things Better, Opinion and Column, Opinion Our Town, Opinion West Side Spirit, Our Town, West Side Spirit.


Failure to protect small businesses from Second Avenue Subway construction chaos

Even though it means a lifelong worry like no other, most parents say being a parent is the best thing that ever happened to them. No regrets, even if one day they become bit players in the lives of their beloved offspring, “But that shouldn’t happen,” I tell new daddy, editor Allen Houston, recalling my own profound regret for “not being there” for my widowed dad.

I loved him dearly, but preoccupation with my children—his grandchildren—didn’t leave real time for this father and grandfather who lived 1,000 miles away.

I shall never forget seeing my dad begin to weep as my cab pulled away from his house on our annual reunion. I cried a lot on my trip back to New York, but vows to make my dad an integral part of our lives came about too late. Five months later, my 77-year-old father‘s funeral was held on my 33rd birthday.

I often write about these primal connections that, after a certain age, our society finds quite forgettable.

While it’s extremely painful for parents to learn from Facebook that an estranged son is married or an out-of-touch daughter has given birth, their poignant loss is sparking overdue social concern, as in the book When Parents Hurt and support groups for healing estranged relationships. But there’s a long way to go and, yes, opposition from family generation segregationists like radio guru Dr. Joy Bernet hadn’t been invented, the New York Times front-page story “In the Facebook Era, Reminders of Loss After Families Fracture” (June 15) shows it can bring family neglect and estrangement out of the closet.

While my behavior wasn’t heartless, it was heedless, and I needed to be told how my dad suffered from this unintended neglect. Neglect is never benign.

What if he’d not had a sudden fatal heart attack and was instead sent to a nursing home, where stories of abject abuse get minimal media coverage? I only learned of two elder men repeatedly beaten in a New Jersey nursing home from a brief WINS radio report. The story can be found by searching “N.J. nursing home abuse of two elder men.” Attention must be paid!

And surely attention must be paid to government’s relative indifference to the Second Avenue Subway construction’s deadly affect on small business, and why City Hall mamas and papas (and civic ones too) haven’t gone all-out to patronize these besieged small shops and restaurants, let alone pushed for significant tax breaks and other credits.

Now, a June 13 Times story says wannabe mayors will push for more women- and minority-run businesses, but where’s the support for, say, Eva Mahschek, the hands-on owner of the Heidelberg Restaurant on Second Avenue between 85th and 86th streets?

Mahschek desperately wants to preserve this last of Yorkville’s German restaurants, but business is down over 30 percent. She laments, “People avoid walking here, with the high construction wall blocking the street view as well as taxi and car access. Delivery service problems are tremendous, with some vendors dropping their service altogether. Our sidewalk café, for which we pay extra, is unusable.”

When these small businesses go, the community loses its neighborly character and overall quality of life. “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” Not to mention where there is no justice.

dewingbetter@aol.com

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