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#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #2

I really do believe you did the best you could with what you had; nevertheless, I have so many questions.

First, thank you for serving our country. I appreciate you for signing up during a time when Black men were still seen as inferior in many places. You volunteered to serve anyway and I will never forget that.

I see similarities in us and wonder if we would have been a winning team. Your laugh, according to others, was bright. I don’t know what it sounds like but I do remember your smile. I remember your embrace in the two memories I can recall. You seemed like the life of the party. I found out that you were so musically-minded that you scratched records like a disk jockey just for fun.

You wrote poetry. The only one I remember had a line about a tree in it. Grandma had it framed and it sat on the coffee table well after you were gone. The syntax was too complicated for my pre-school-aged mind even though I had written my first short story in Kindergarten and it won a place in a state competition. I was so proud of that —- that I could write just like you— and I wanted to tell you, but I couldn’t. I had grown accustomed to your absence.

It’s easy to create an alternate ending to our story without the dark fibers woven in between. I can’t paint you as a villain because again, I believe you did the best you could with what you had. You were dealing with a lot. Processing a lot without allowing it to digest through your soul.

What I do appreciate is the way you would bring me chocolate cupcakes when you came to visit. It let me know that you thought of me while you were gone. Your nickname for me always made me smile too. Your skin was chocolate… like mine. I wanted to touch your face many times just to test the smoothness of your cheeks and the roundness of your nose.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

The genetic material that makes up half of my existence is filled with parts of you. Your passion for life. Your spontaneity. Your friendliness. Your lightheartedness. Your poetic pen. I believe I get that from you. Some days, I wish I could go deep sea diving into your psyche… to see your heart space through these adult goggles of mine and find where my spot was located in the darkness. Since you left Earth early, I’ll never know except what others tell me and that will have to be enough. It has served me with rich information so far yet left me yearning to fill the canyon of emptiness.

God knew what He was doing. That’s how I have to think about it. God knew there was trouble ahead and that Mommy could handle it. I have to admit — it was weird grieving over someone I barely knew. I remember going back into my grandmother’s living room to watch television after she and my mother broke the news. I could hear them talking in the kitchen, but it faded into a muffle behind Nick At Nite. I didn’t know what to feel, so I felt nothing. I remember my mind going blank as the black-and-white images flickered on the screen.

When I returned to school, a teacher passed out an information sheet for us to complete. I raised my hand when I got to the line that said “father” because I didn’t know what to write. I was only in 2nd or 3rd grade. I learned that day to write the word “deceased” whenever I saw “father” on documents. It was an odd revelation for a kid. I knew the meaning of the word “cease” from the soulful Douglas Miller tune My Soul Has Been Anchored In The Lord, but de-ceased made no sense to me. The prefix was supposed to cancel out the root word, so I thought. Confused, I wrote it anyway because that’s what I was told was proper. That was one of the distinct moments I realized you were gone forever, and a part of me that I would never know went with you.

All in all, I know you would be proud of the woman I have become. I know you would be reading every word I write and we would talk about it over the phone. We would probably laugh a bit too. You just seemed to be that type of guy. I don’t know if we would have seen each other often, but I’m certain we would have talked. I believe you would have tried to make every graduation and tried to call for birthdays. I believe you would have done the best you could. I’ll hold on to that. Forever until.

I love you and thank you for what you’ve given me.

Sincerely,

CJW

Wednesday Wind Down: I Feel You

Hello, Sweethearts! I hope you’ve had good days between last Wednesday and this one.

My late father’s birthday was this week and instead of writing a lamenting post, I want to share three lessons Pop taught me in word and in deed.

– LESSON #1 –
You are not responsible for how people treat you,

but you are responsible for how you treat them.

cast iron skillet on table with species
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

My father was a pastor and before that, he was a deacon. For the majority of his life, he was in a position of servitude. I watched him load his pickup truck with lawn tools to cut the grass of those who couldn’t do it themselves. I heard him pray for people who cursed him. I saw him use kind words as weapons. He would share vegetables from his garden. He would always tell me “You don’t have to give an account for how folks treat you. You got to give an account of how you treat them.” And you know what? He was so right. Every time I wanted to say something hurtful to someone that hurt me, I remembered Pop’s words. To this day, his voice resides in my ears and acts as a stop sign. A gentle reminder that I am only responsible for myself. Someone can treat me horribly, but I don’t have to accept her/his behavior on my plate. I do, however, have to take responsibility for how I respond. That is the only thing that will require an answer from my Creator. (Sidebar: Pop loved to cook and was excellent at it.)

– LESSON #2 –
Say what you mean; mean what you say.

When he married my mother and we became a blended family, he made a point to show me that he was trustworthy. This meant having my mother’s meal ready when she came home for lunch. He also picked me up from school when I was on the floor debilitated from extreme menstrual cramps. With a limp from a stroke, he still rushed to the door of restaurants to open it for me. When my mother and I were mistreated, he was our defender. Immorality was not his cup of tea and spoke up when necessary. Pop’s lesson took root into my spirit because his word was everything. Whatever he said was authentic and solid whether it was encouraging or corrective. The more birthdays I have, the more I absorb this quality.

– LESSON #3 –
Preserve your name.

animal dog pet sad
Photo by Creative Vix on Pexels.com

I have a fond memory of Pop sending me to the local feed store to pick up food for the 20+ hunting beagles in our backyard. I didn’t need money. I didn’t need a note. I just needed his name. My dad had a tab that he settled every month with the owner. They had an understanding that only worked because Pop displayed good character. How simple, yet priceless that is. He was that way about everything though. If something did not align with his moral compass, he did not engage in it for the sake of his reputation. If he was wrong, he admitted it and asked for forgiveness. I try my best to maintain the same decorum. He taught me that your name is the only thing you truly own. Everything attached to it determines your altitude, connectivity, and longevity. I can only hope that when I die, my name is preserved in the heart of those I served just like Pop.

Sweethearts, I pray that you are hugged by loving memories if you’re missing someone right now. I want to also give you permission to miss her voice, his smile, her laugh, his snore… everything. It doesn’t mean you’re weak in your spiritual beliefs; it means you’re a spiritual being in a human body that longs for another spiritual being outside of her/his earthly frame. That’s all. This week, I heard my dad’s chuckle and felt his love all around. I cried a little and let myself marinate in his sweetness. It was a beautifully intimate moment. So, the next time you’re experiencing a memory of your loved one or you miss them so much that your heart aches, just close your eyes and say “I feel you.” Once for your loved one and once for the God who allowed you two to merge moments in time.

Peace & Thanks for listening! I love you all!

Wednesday Wind Down: …and a Day

Hello Sweethearts. How’s your wind down going?

I am so grateful that last week’s post reached your heart. You told me in person, on Facebook, and through direct message how much it helped you and that you are keeping me and my family in your prayers. You are why I take the time to write each week. (((HUGS))) to all of you and thank you again for your support.  

Below is a post I wrote in August 2017 and I’m ready to share it. Oddly enough, these lessons still apply. Hope it helps. If it does, let me know.  – CJW


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My Pop – Rev. Dallas Day, Jr.

It seems like life slowed down a lot after my father passed away. I’ve been on auto-pilot, getting things done on the list, but vitality is a visitor. And no, this isn’t a sad soliloquy about how much I’ve lamented over the last three weeks. This post is actually a summary of how much I have learned experienced in the month of August and some of the lessons completely surprised me.

  1. I listened to a few friends who felt like they have lost themselves in their parental and marital roles. I realized I don’t know how to do that. I think no matter what I do, how full my schedule may be, I always have a sense of self. I may not like her sometimes, but I always know who she is. That may repel some and draw others, and I am at peace with that.
  2. When someone loves you, s/he will show it. Maybe not the way you want them to, but they’ll respect you enough to try. I am so grateful for people that do. I get distracted by those that don’t, but I’m working on shutting those blinds and pulling those curtains for good.
  3. Pull people closer if they are worth the intimacy and don’t be afraid to say how you feel.  If you’re hurt, say it. If you’re happy, say that too. Don’t just welp when you’re wounded. Say something when your soul is happy.
  4. Allow friends to “see” you… in all of your messy glory. The best friendships I have are because of this rule. They’re the grittiest, most beautiful kaleidoscope of experiences I could never describe with justice. I share moments with people. That’s my gift and my desire. But, some moments multiply exponentially into priceless relationships. Keep watering those and they will refresh you too.
  5. No matter what you do, someone’s lie will always be the truth to her/him. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Save your energy. Literally and spiritually. Let them live with the lie.
  6. Honor is an big word. You have to open your heart wide to do it. Some flies get it in, but that’s part of the price.  To honor is to open yourself and be humble toward someone’s esteem. And it doesn’t end after death.
  7. Family is anywhere Love lives. What a sweet feeling to be counted as a family member by the blood of Love alone. You are born into one, and there’s something special about being adopted into another.
  8. Legacy is everything and we are building it everyday… good and bad. My sisterfriend shared the legacy of her family and I was excited to see the fruit of her family’s labor. What a beautiful aftermath bore in the midst of segregation, heartbreak, economic development, and old-fashioned hard work. What legacy are we leaving? Bullet holes? Student loans? Shattered hearts?
  9. Seek your insecurities and stare them down. Talk directly to them and don’t let them wiggle out of your sight. Don’t let them shade the truth with a different color.
  10. God knows where you live. You don’t have to hide in your dark hours. You have a Father that knows your name and each star in the sky and each animal on the planet. You don’t have to fear your humanity; just know that you are clothed in divinity through the blood of Jesus and He gets it.
  11. It’s OK to retreat. You need to refuel and recharge sometime, just like a car and a cell phone. No one has the right to make you feel guilty about doing so. Instead of fighting from fumes, choose to regroup so you can live more efficiently. Now, don’t randomly disappear where your loved ones think you’re unsafe. You are loved and will be missed, OK? OK. So, at least tell one person that you’re taking some time.

 

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts. Keep shining, keep breathing, and wind down safely. I’m praying for you!

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