I posted the following piece three years ago, in honor of Father’s Day. I thought I would post it again. Although the dates in it are three years ago I think it works for today. Happy Father’s Day to all you dads!
It’s June 16, 2018, the day before Father’s Day. I just finished some reading, but while I was doing so, I sensed my mind wandering off into the topic of fatherhood. We all know that words have many meanings. One of the more basic meanings for the word father, I just Googled is: A man in relationship with his child or children. I was struck not only by the sheer economy of phraseology used in this definition, but also by what seemed to me the objectivity of it. There’s no qualitative measure assigned to it. It simply states a man is in relationship with his child or children. We all know something else, don’t we? There are excellent fathers, good fathers, all the way to men who one wonders why they were blessed with the ability “sire” (not father) a child?
Dictionaries commonly define micro as extremely small. When I think of micro, my mind conjures up images if things that can only be seen with an electron-microscope, too small for the eye to naturally perceive. Of course, most of us know there are social situations that are appropriately defined using the prefix micro. Of late (recent years), we hear the term micro-aggression being used to refer to the isms that plague our society. Stories where people of color are confronted with various comments, actions that pierce to the very heart of their being by someone who is troubled, it would seem, by their very existence on the planet. For example, asking an Asian American where they’re from or informing them that they speak English well, without assuming that they were born in Kansas and grew up next door to Dorothy.
Before I poor any more words unto this little blue screen, let me confess from where the prompt for this blog comes. Last evening, in our living room, my oldest child, my middle child, my better half (Chris) and I were sitting around talking. Of course, we couldn’t have done this a year ago; however, we’ve all been vaccinated (two shots) and we feel comfortable socializing as in days of old. Somehow our conversation meandered into politics, racism, and a few other topics that many families forbid being broached at the dinner table, for fear of familial civil discord. One thing we got bogged down in was whether minorities can technically be defined as racists, or would the term prejudiced be more accurate. The prevailing definition of a racist speaks to one from a socially predominate group who has power to deprive someone of another group of life, liberty, etc. because of their race, ethnicity. I’m not going to divulge the full dynamics of our lively discussion hear but let me just say I was troubled by the bridge of life experience that divides our generations.
As I think back to twelve hours ago, I can see that much of our conversation dealt with microaggression, and the degree of sensitivity each of us has to it. We even had a labored discussion about whether Black folks should speak up when uncomplimentary things are said about white folks in a conversation among Black folks. This stemmed from what is often thought to be the reluctance or uncertainty of some socially conscience white person to do the same when they find themselves having such a conversation in a group of white folks.
At almost 71 years of age, I’ve experienced a lot. I’ve gone from a time when Black folks couldn’t go to a lot of public places; to being granted entre’ to many of those places; to being granted the opportunity to pursue many of the material things that don’t define happiness well; to experiencing life in ways that my grandparents and great grandparents couldn’t even imagine. And now, it seems there are forces afoot that want to turn back the clock to a time when they thought America was great. Anger, confusion, disgust, exhaustion is but a few of the deleterious emotions that just won’t go away.
I started this piece with what I thought to be a clear direction of where I was going, but do we ever really know where we’re going when we talk of isms and micro aggressive behavior that too often accompanies them. Our conversation left more questions than answers, but that doesn’t mean it was worthless. I’ve heard many times that this conversation needs to be had in the public square. I agree. But it must be a conversation with no end. The conversation must be a part of a process that encompasses families, neighborhoods, regions, the entire country. Will we feel good, having it? No. But we can’t have gain without pain.
We live about equidistance from three Walmart stores in Little Rock. I often shop at one more than the other two; however, I do switch it up occasionally, sharing my hard-earned retirement cash with all three stores. Some time ago, I found myself in one of the stores going through checkout and realizing most of the checkout lanes, normally operated by humans had no humans stationed there. The store had installed several self-checkout lanes. More of them by the way than the ones requiring a human to operate.
When I first noticed the addition of more self-checkout lanes at Walmart, I remember thinking that one day I’ll have to check myself out. The image of me having to checkout a week’s worth of groceries and various household items myself didn’t seem very appealing. Shortly after my experience of noticing the increased number of self-checkout lanes, I placed a post on Facebook about this. Many of my Facebook friends were troubled by the idea that they would have to check themselves out some day. One of them even said, “I’ll politely leave the cart full of groceries and walk out of the store.” That seemed a bit extreme to me. I reminded them of a time when we enjoyed personal service at auto service stations. These were wonderful places where you drove up, and someone uniformed in an outfit that displayed the brand name of the oil company immediately came out smiling and asking you what they could do for you today. There was no need for you get out of the car. That unique experience faded like vapor a long time ago. We’ve been pumping our own gas and checking our tire pressure for decades. It would seem strange if someone suddenly appeared when I drove up to a gas station, asking me what’s my pleasure.
I got out of the house early this morning and made my weekly trip to one of my Walmart stores to buy groceries. I normally do this early to beat the crowd. I often find myself navigating through stockers replenishing goods on the shelves; however, that’s okay because there’s normally not a shortage of any merchandise early in the morning. I’ve been noticing a steady, albeit small, increase in prices for many of our staples over the last few weeks. News reports have informed us that the production of many things is reduced and supply chains aren’t operating as they did pre-pandemic. I understand this, and I have adjusted, allowing us to keep our grocery bill about the same as it was a year ago.
Then it happened. As I made my way to the first checkout lane there was no human. Looking down at the other lanes, I saw no human at any of them either. All shoppers, who had finished selecting whatever they needed were lining up at self-checkout. Emotionally, I felt something that almost tempted me to do as my Facebook friend told me she would do. After spending a good forty-five minutes or so filling the cart, I couldn’t see myself leaving the store without my carefully selected goods. Don’t let anyone tell you the registers are programmed to be intuitive for all things. Everything I removed from the cart had a barcode on it except the produce. I needed some assistance from the friendly attendant, standing by with the produce. After showing me how to look up cabbage, bananas, apples, and few other things without barcodes, I think I can do it next time.
I have a confession to make. I didn’t feel good paying more for groceries this morning than this time last year, while receiving less service. I mentioned to the lady behind me that it was shameful we’re paying more but getting less service. She smiled and said that’s true, but we shouldn’t be upset with the employees, because it’s not their fault. I wouldn’t dare mistreat the employees. Most of them at Walmart are very pleasant no matter the level of service they’ve been charged with providing customers. Sooner or later more changes will come, leaving products in the cart, and walking out of the store isn’t a nice option. Some nice employee, who might be high teched out of a job soon will have to put your stuff back on the shelves.
I know we’ve all heard the saying: Time flies when you’re having fun. Time flies whether you’re having fun or not. The past year has been strange, scary, devastating, historic. I can probably think of a few other adjectives to add color to it, but I’ll leave that up to you.
Our church recently did a virtual celebration of our pastor’s 43rd anniversary. The program was shown on YouTube, Facebook, and the church’s website. As I watched with gratitude the tributes given to C. Dennis Edwards for all he’s done as leader of a grateful flock, my thought process was triggered by something his wife, Corley Edwards said as they shared a few words of gratitude. She said things have really changed during the time we’ve not been meeting in the church building. (That’s not a direct quote.) She referred to the growth some babies had experienced. We had our last physical worship service for the entire congregation on March 15, 2020. Any child born around that time was a walking toddler by the time of our pastor’s anniversary May 15, 2021. Being sequestered in our homes for the most part for the past year, we couldn’t see changes in newborns as they grew. Now we see what seems to be a young stranger in our congregation. A year always passes after our little blue ball circles around its star 365 times, but that complete revolution seems quicker when we’re not able to physically witness markers on our journey.
Our congregation is a bit old. If I were to guess an average age, it would be about 45 to 50. It’s always a traumatic experience when someone in our church passes on to meet the creator face to face; however, it’s not unusual. We all know older people have many more years behind them than in front. It gives one a sense of being detached from a family dynamic when word of church members passing is shared in email, text, and phone calls, and you’re not able to participate in the rituals surrounding the passing of someone you know. Many have passed on in our congregation during the year 2020, as well as these first few months of 2021.
When we do begin meeting together physically, we won’t be doing things the same anymore. There will be measures in place to provide a safer worship experience, even though the viral grim reaper will not be as prolific as before. Many of us will probably catch ourselves looking to the front, either side and behind for that member who is no longer there. Their absence will lessen our fellowship experience. It will take some time to make an adjustment to the imbalance.
A lot can happen in about a year and half, and it seems to happen faster, because time takes wings given a set of certain circumstances. My church, my city, my country is minus almost 600,000 souls over the last, roughly year and a half. Times flies whether you’re having fun or not.
Hey, guys! I’ve been feeling especially proud this week and determined – determined to speak up and make a difference. I recently watched the disability history documentary called Crip Camp (of which my review is coming soon!) and it reminded me of how much beauty and pride there is to be found in being disabled. I used to be ashamed of my disability, which isn’t surprising – it’s almost an inevitable feeling if you grow up alongside modern media and don’t encounter many other disabled people in your life. There are so many things society says that we should be ashamed of, including simply being who we are.
Here is a list of five things I used to be ashamed of due to my disability and how I’ve learnt to be proud of them and own them instead:
Ahhh…getting old. We are all getting old and some of us faster than others…ha ha ha! Today’s little blog contains a collection of hilarious little quips/thoughts that I think all of us would enjoy as we continue our journey through this life.
Don’t be worried about your smartphone or TV spying on you. Your vacuum cleaner has been collecting dirt on you for years.
If you can’t think of a word say “I forgot the English word for it.” That way people will think you’re bilingual instead of an idiot.
I’m at a place in my life where errands are starting to count as going out.
I’m getting tired of being part of a major historical event.
I don’t always go the extra mile, but when I do it’s because I missed my exit.
Ate salad for dinner. Mostly croutons and tomatoes. Really just…
I’m not a soap opera watcher. Chris watches a couple of them, but she’s not addicted. A few minutes ago, I was sitting in the living room while a popular soap opera was being aired on TV. There was the quintessential moaning and griping about something. You know, the visual version of the blues. I kid you not, the show was on for thirty minutes, including commercials, and I didn’t see a smile on anybody’s face the whole time. I think we’re coming off one of the worst years the world has ever experienced. As of this writing, almost three and a half million people (globally) have died from the coronavirus. In the United States, people are finally beginning to see a bright shiny light at the end of a dark tunnel, which had walls lined with shards of glass. So, why in the world would anybody want to watch a soap opera?
The coronavirus has and continues to have its way with us. The situation in India is bleak. When I watch news footage of people being cremated in the open and the looks of hopelessness on the faces of the Indian people, the question at the end of the last paragraph rushes back; why in the world would anybody want to watch a soap opera?
The coronavirus has been a force that has thrown all the occupants of this tiny little blue ball for a loop; however, we seem to feel the need to help it as it grimily reaps. Instances of violence against Asians makes no sense. Cases of police officers who can’t wrap their head around the idea that their job is to serve and protect everyone continue to be on display every time an unarmed person is shot. People, mostly civilians, are losing their lives in a mini war between Israel and Hamas. While the coronavirus continues to have it way in some parts of the world, the old standby ailments: cancer diabetes, heart disease and a host of their friends continue to do as they’ve always done, claim lives indiscriminately.
I just read an article in the paper about the Texas legislature passing and forwarding to the governor a bill that would remove any requirement for licensure to own a gun in the state of Texas. Throughout the United States, state houses have been drafting legislation that restricts the opportunity for bountiful life and liberty of certain people: restrictive voting procedures; removal of certain healthcare provisions for transgender youth; limiting the numbers of people who can gather in peaceful protests. These defensive moves to combat what many little-minded people see as attacks on the culture they cherish, are really assaults on the cultural principles that should remain in place to move us forward. One major principle is live and let live. If my other brothers and sisters are pursuing life and liberty, without infringing on my opportunity to do the same, shouldn’t governmental bodies stay out of the business of trying to legislate morals? Shouldn’t they focus more on positivity, digging deep to develop ways to bring us together versus separating us into opposing camps?
No. I don’t want to watch any soap operas. I need at least 300ccs of positivity right about now. What about you?
On a recent morning, I stepped outside my garage with a cup of coffee in hand. I do this sometimes when the weather is good. It adds to my early morning ritual to start me off on a good day. My experience was ruined when I noticed a piece of trash, in the street, in front of my house. Some miscreant had deposited their McDonalds bag right in front of my house. It contained wrappings for some sort of fast-food delicacy neatly enclosed. In case you might by wondering what type of neighborhood I live in. I live in a middle-class neighborhood where folks take pride in their property. However, the location doesn’t matter. There is too much trash resting on the side of roads in my city, and as a matter of fact my state. Arkansas is known as the natural state, because of all the natural beauty it has; however, it also has too many trashy people.
Where am I going with this? No where in particular. Remember I asked you if I could vent about a few things. Any further reading will be at your own risk.
It bothers me when I see posts from atheist on social media railing against Christianity. I respect their right to say whatever they wish, but why spend so much time pointing out the gullibility of people who believe in a superior being who created all that we can and cannot see. I’ve never posted anything derogatory about atheists or agnostics.
It bothers me that politicians don’t represent all the people in their district. The game seems to be to find your base quickly and play to them, disregard everyone else.
It bothers me that some people are quick to tell me how I should acknowledge and worship my God. The last I heard is that if one believes in God, they should try to cultivate a personal relationship. If my relationship is personal, where does anyone get off trying to tell me how it should be.
It bothers me that obsolescence is built into far too many products that we depend on to help us in our daily lives. I just installed a brand-new garbage disposal in our kitchen. I installed the last one about seven year ago. Our house is only fourteen years old.
It bothers me that some businesses don’t ensure that their employees provide good service. Not too long ago, I got an oil change on my car. A short time later, I noticed oil leaking in my driveway. I took my car to another place for service. They had to replace the oil, because the place that had done the oil change before hadn’t put the drain plug back in correctly.
It bothers me that people knock on my door around dinner time, trying to sell me things I don’t want. Our neighborhood association requests that solicitors register with them before meandering through the neighborhood peddling their snake oil. The association has been closed for well over an hour by the time these some of these folks come knocking.
It bothers me that some drivers disregard the stop sign when entering a main road, as I’m approaching the intersection on my bicycle. To keep from being maimed or killed, I must be on high alert whenever I’m riding my bicycle.
I guess I could go on; however, I’m sure you get the point. The rose garden of life is littered with bothersome pests that seemingly work overtime to interrupt all the peace and tranquility God wants you to enjoy. Through it all, I’m still blessed.
Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday, May 12. As I found myself thinking about my mother, who moved on to be with her Lord and Savior July 5 of last year, I went looking for a note I wrote to her back in May 2015. Actually, the note was more to me, since she was well on her way into the deepest, darkest room Alzheimer’s could design for her. At the time I wrote this note, I was spending some precious time with her, giving my sister, the primary caretaker a much needed break.
This note, for some reason, has much more meaning for me now than when I wrote it. I hope you can appreciate the state I was experiencing mentally and emotionally at the time. Here it is:
Momma, as I look at you, I see a foggy image of what you were. At 84, you still possess…
It’s the first Saturday in May 2021. This time last year, people were a lot more afraid than they are this year. The coronavirus had just begun to tighten its grip on the world. Everyone seemed woefully ignorant about the virus, even the scientists. Plans we had made for the year had been cancelled earlier. We were going to top everything off with a Christmas family gathering here in Little Rock. We had it in Sierra Vista, Arizona for Christmas 2019, and everyone had a grand ole time. We were quick to cancel the gathering for 2020. Convincing family to not have it wasn’t a problem.
Some promotions were started a few weeks ago about something called 501 Day in Arkansas. 501 is the aera code for central Arkansas, which includes the capital city of Little Rock, the largest city in the state. Celebrate 501 Day with events, deals in Central Arkansas (arkansasonline.com) Obviously, I didn’t pay much attention to the promotions for 501 Day, because my little drive around the downtown area of Little Rock surprised me. This little trek was impromptu. I had gone down to the church, which is located on the southern edge of downtown, to pick up elements used in observance of the Lord’s supper (Eucharist for Catholics). We observe this most sacred event every first Sunday. Since we’ve not been congregating in the church building since March 15 of last year, all of our services are held on three social media platforms: YouTube, Facebook and our church’s website. Well, we can’t get the elements for the observance virtually, thus we pick them up the Saturday before the first Sunday.
There were people around and about downtown. The River Market District was abuzz. I think the farmer’s market was a big contributing factor there. South Main Street, aka, SOMA, where regentrification to some degree has taken hold in recent years had streets occupied a little more than usual. This time last year, it seemed like a ghost town. I guess the introduction of the vaccines in the last few months and the noticeable decrease in the number of coronavirus cases have given people, what I call, a false sense of security. I didn’t take very many pictures to include in this blog, an omission I regretted later, but believe me folks were out.
As I drove through Mainstreet in Little Rock, I decided to cross the Mainstreet Bridge, which spans the Arkansas River. The river separates Little Rock from North Little Rock. North Little Rock is a separate municipality. I’ve always loved sitting on a bench or taking a stroll along the riverbank, or is it a park, in North Little Rock. You can get some beautiful views of Little Rock from vantage points on the north side. The river was flowing powerfully due to rain a few days earlier. We get flow from the west, and it had rained quite a bit in Oklahoma.
Folks on the northside were out in sizeable numbers, too. Bicyclists on the pave trail along the river in North Little were zipping by me, and they seemed to be enjoying themselves. I decided to snap a few shots of Little Rock from the north side. I’ve included them here.
I’m sorry this seems to be a bit rambling; however, I’m writing it as it came. I was rambling about on a beautiful Saturday morning, watching people getting out of the house.