Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Family Death

Forgive me readers if this essay is not filled with wit, sass, or verve. Yesterday, I and the rest of my family had to lay my nephew to rest. Last week this time my phone rang at 12:30 a.m. It was my mother. The message she shared was not good. My 25-year-old nephew had been shot. It was odd to hear because, to tell you the truth, I would have been ready to hear it was my sister or brother who had suffered a misfortune, not my nephew. With few details to share with me, I got up and went to the hospital to be with my sister and her daughter.

As I approached the hospital, a friend of my niece was coming out of the emergency doors. She stopped to tell me where everyone was and where to park my car. What she waited to tell me as a guard lead me to the elevator was, he didn’t make it. He was dead. I remember covering my mouth to keep from screaming. The guard was asking me something but I don’t remember what she was saying. Dead? How could that be?

Arriving to the fourth floor of the hospital, my sister was telling everyone I was her sister and she would take me to my nephew before he was moved to the morgue. I was stunned. Was it real? Was he really not with us anymore? It was then my sister told me how many times he had been shot and where on his body. Ten shots in a straight line down the left side of his body, two in his head. Lord, help us, is what I began to think.

I went into the room and there he laid. He had left us about an hour earlier. He had also been cleaned up. Around his head was the bandage. It was wrapped like the one you would get if you had been hit with a baseball bat. He laid there looking peaceful and asleep. I got on my knees and prayed. I told the Lord, “Thank you for taking him.” Why? Because my nephew lead the life, you know, on the streets, doing the things you hoped and prayed your child would never do. He never did fit into society the way most people do. His childhood had been helter-skelter and “the life” was all he knew. So yes, I was thankful for it all being over. We could all rest now.

The hardest hit was my sister and her daughter. The two of them ended up in emergency triage. They had collapsed when he passed. My niece was hardest hit. Because of all the two of them had been through growing up, they were very close. To them, each other was all they had. Now he was gone and she was angry with her mother. Her mother, my sister, was hurt. She clutched her daughter to her breast and tried to console her. She only wanted her grandmother. It was her grandmother whom she felt understood what she felt. Her grandmother, maternal, had been the only one she felt who truly loved them no matter what. She wanted grand-momma to hold her in her arms.

We left the hospital to go to my mother’s house. She was waiting like always. She was ready to ease the pain for all. I did what I could to help. Somebody had to stay calm. The three people I knew would suffer the most after his death would be my mother, my sister, and my niece. It’s a mother and sibling love thing. Those two ways of being connected are so powerful. They can bring either intense love, or immense pain. All at once, both were dispensed.

To make a long story short, the last week was a trying time for us all. We had to make arrangements and prepare to say a permanent good-bye. After it was all said and done yesterday, we realized how little we all knew about his life. Many people came to say good-bye and we didn’t know them. Some had printed poetry on T-shirts that they wore. Because we were not part of “the life,” it was not something we expected. It was a good day for my nephew. If he had ever wondered if someone cared for him, he knows now, they did and do.

I only hope that I never get another phone call like that one. Until my son was laid off recently, I had come to grips that it was a possibility. You see my son is a police officer. Just as I was able to rest my mind soundly while I slept, I got a call.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Spinning Flax on the Wheel

I normally attempt to stay out of conversations on politics and religion. As an old political federalist, I once advocated government regulations. Yet, the political climate in Detroit at this time has me upset to no end. I am just about ready to crucify a few people but, I am too God-fearing to do so.

First, I am not the least bit interested in who donnits. You can’t un break a broken down house or whip a dead horse back to life. With that said, it’s time to fix the house of Detroit, not throw a can of Behr paint on it and wait to see what happens. It should not be for sale.

Moving on, here’s my take on the whole blasted thing. I want solutions. I want a selection of solutions. When I ask, “What needs to be done,” I want concrete answers. My tolerance level for political dizens spinning the wheel for the flax, is below zero. I know what I want. I want options to choose from that allow me to see all the pros and cons. I have, pardon me, we have no time for standing around watching the city of Detroit fall down brick by brick. Either we, the populace including the politicians, know how to fix the problems or we need to get out of the way of those that do.

The battle of the blockheads that’s going on between mayoral candidates is driving me crazy. I don’t care who did what, when, how, and where. It’s a done deal now. The only choice we have is to find solutions to fix what is in a disarray without using what hasn’t worked in the past. Remember, we bury the dead, not argue over them. Each time the candidates throw punches back and forth, we, the people, lose time on finding resolutions to the messes. Until they can give me something to chew on, I am peeved.

If they ask what I want, I will simple state, I want them to get to work. I want them to tell me how they are going to repair the house of Detroit. I want to know what they are going to do, how they are going to do it, and why they picked what they did to do the job. If they can’t give me straight answers, I will tell them that too. My patience is wearing thin with this upcoming election. I better start hearing and seeing some real solutions with substance or I will write my own name on the ballot. I could run the house of Detroit just as well as those who say they can. Heck, it doesn’t take a college degree or experience to be a jackass.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Rescuing New Orleans After Katrina

Growing up I heard the phrase “too much, too little, too late” a lot. It was usually used to refer to a lost love affair. Funny, how it seems to fit the results of Hurricane Katrina. Naturally help can never be too much or too little. But, too late might have to be rephrased as, not fast enough.

There are displaced families, missing and dead relatives, do the results after the storm describe the aforementioned phrase? Now that a week has gone by and with receding water, docked rescue ships, and a morgue set up, what will we learn? My guess is the last eight days taught us enough to earn a college degree.

First it was 9/11 four years ago. Now it is Katrina. Both disasters happened right before our eyes. The only question between them is who started the fire? September 11 was set in motion by man and Katrina by Mother Nature, one with a forewarning and the other unexpected. The country’s political power’s reactions to the two events were different. They responded to 9/11 with anger that got the country moving. They responded to Katrina with sympathy that left us shaking our heads and crying. Why did the president take so long to go to the gulf, specifically New Orleans, to see what happened and the damage done? Did he not believe Mayor Nagie when he asked for help to come immediately and not when the president was good and ready? Did it have anything to do with the people who were affected? Wasn’t downtown New Orleans just as important as New York’s Wall Street? Both were desecrated to ground zero, nothing, nada, zilch.

The destruction on 9/11 was to only a portion of New York City and its surroundings. Katrina’s blow destroyed the entire city of New Orleans and its parishes. Help was expedient to New York. New Orleans had to wait a week. The saddest thing to all of this is, New Orleans wasn’t Katrina’s only victim. There is Biloxi and Gulfport, three times as many areas as New York City. So what excuse does the government have for the delay to rescue? Your guess is as good as mine. Discrimination, poverty stricken, or plain stupidity, it doesn’t matter. Now that help has descended on the gulf, let us pray that it won’t be “too much, too little, or not fast enough” in providing relief.