My Mom and Dad raised five children in Northern Minnesota. While growing up, I heard heavy trucks 24 hours a day from the nearby iron ore mine. We lived on a hard, red clay 5 acre “farm” purchased with a VA loan. The only thing harder than the clay ground was the water we drank.
Dad died early in life. He was just worn out. He was a Korean War veteran who received a small check each month for his war injuries. We bought food with the disability check and I never had a new pair of socks until I graduated from high school. Dad worked as an independent logger. He worked all winter cutting trees for the paper mill, many days in below zero weather. In the summer he picked up odd jobs. He never owned a suit and was buried in his boots. Mom sold his logging equipment to pay for his funeral. He never paid into Social Security. When it snowed, all us kids and Mom would shovel the ¼ mile gravel driveway so we could get the family’s rusty Impala out for church. Often one of us stayed back to keep the stove going.
We kids had to work. So after high school graduation, one by one we moved 200 miles south to Minneapolis or St. Paul.
Mom was soon alone. She sought a warmer life. Mom sold the “farm” to the encroaching mining company and moved to Florida to be with her sisters and church friends.
But then the years of her Northern Minnesota struggle caught up with her. She hid her aliments from us. On our visits to Florida we never knew she was rationing her medicines. She said she was doing well. She sold the Impala… snow tires and all. That’s when we found out she was rationing her medicine. All her “farm” money went for medicine. Of course we picked up the future cost of her medicines. But it was too late for her... her drug rationing had taken its toll. We moved her back to Minnesota. She stayed with me, the oldest. She didn’t understand such things as the donut hole. She just knew medicine cost thousands of dollars that she didn’t have. She passed on not knowing anybody did anything wrong. The doctors said she would have lived much longer and healthier had she taken the doctor-prescribed drugs at the correct dosages. In other words her death was her fault.
We say the greedy pharmaceutical companies killed her.
Editor's note: The above article was written by retired union senior Bruce Yernberg from an interview with a progressive activist and close friend who wishes to remain anonymous.