“Just A Thought”

    If you are easily offended by common sense analysis Or “triggered” when you hear something you don’t like. If racism or racist is the first thing that comes out your mouth for everything. Then you might want to stop reading. I am not responsible for your melt down. For the rest of you, let’s continue…
      Stop blaming outside forces for your situation. Clear your mind and think on this… you are poor and or living where you live because of your parents. For example, you grew up the Pj’s, 

trailer park,

  the wrong side of town

, you inherited that. Your parents moved there, possibly because it was all they could afford as a young couple Or a single parent. Perhaps they had little to no education. I mean, not enough education to pull them out of their situation. Raising you would make it even harder for them to save and move out. Did they give you siblings to play with while still living “there”… well, there’s no way they were getting out…

      Did they raise you to believe other ethnicities are smarter and better than you? That the deck is stacked so don’t even try? That school is okay but you need a real job? Did you have an educational opportunity but were held back, because your parents said there was no one there that look like you? Then this, is the continuation of the cycle of poverty…

     I told my kids “you don’t have to be what you are today, you can always change” We taught our children that a better education and a good career choice is their key to moving 2 or 3 maybe even 5 steps further than we did. We stressed reading at an early age, we filled our house and surrounded them with books, opening up worlds of possibilities to tbem. We set them at tables with folks in wheelchairs and with speech impediments. Japanese, Iowans, Canadiens, Ugandans, Kenyons, pastors, missionaries, prayer warriors. Our vacations were under the open sky with trees, sands of Jamaica, quiet mountains, the Amish Country and fresh air….but we live in the south Bronx. Surrounded by trucks, buses, smog, rats, roaches, gunshots, drug dealers and only two supermarkets and one fresh vegetable stand. This is where they were raised. Following blood trails into their building on the way home from school and church. Startled awake at night because we lived above the O.K Corral. Cars screeching, Sirens blaring, helicopters circling, cops swarming… Our children inherited this world because of their parent’s and grandparent’s choices.  We chose to move there but we never lived there. One of my Mantra was “there are bars on the windows not on your mine” basically telling the children, there’s no cause to act like prisoners or fools. We didn’t have, they didn’t have everything we wanted but our needs were met… and when from time to time, our needs weren’t met, we lived. There was never a thought of doing anything criminal for a loaf of bread. At one point I took my oldest son with me to stand of a long line at a local church food pantry. We brought home a massive can of beans, rice and such. We lived! With no shame! We made it through a slim year. We trained our children to be grateful for what they had but to always strive to do better…

      So how did we get here…? Mom’s and Pop’s. Mother in law, was an immigrant to the United States her daughter was a first-generation American. She assimilated well, excelled in education and was indeed a critical thinker. But she also made poor relationship choices as did I. My mother and father were born and raised in these united states. They dealt with and lived through Northern bigotry. My mother, was on her way to become a seamstress. She went to Fashion Needle trade High School which became Fashion Industry. My father, with an engineering mind, was a U.S Air force  mechanic and a Machinist. He went to Aviation High School. I inherited their mechanical and creative skills. But I also inherited poverty. The old man move to a house in lower Westchester. Mom’s raised two kids as a single mother  in the projects of the Northeast Bronx. The 60’s didn’t allow them to move too far ahead in life. As for my mother, public housing was a necessary choice on the budget she had. She was a factory worker at one point before she landed a city job. This was my starting point in life.

     I, on the other hand,

 wasted my talent and brains on drugs and alcohol during the 80’s. It took years to erase most of the damage I’d done to myself. After being homeless for about 3 years, I landed in the south Bronx and it’s where I met my wife. Both single parents raising two children. We married and had two more. She’d just finished law school, I was makimg due on public assistance. We made a plan, gained our Independence from public assistance in about 6 years. Then lived off what we made. We agreed on me finishing my own education. So, I worked hard to get my GED, BA and MS in a straight 6 year run. The plan was to move from where we were, to somewhere less noisy and congested perhaps another state. That always proved difficult because we had 6 kids. Their needs came before our savings. We didn’t have cable or anything like that because we chose to save what little we had for a yearly vacation…

    We taught the children  the value of money and the value of saving and the value in working hard. Never did we point to race, complexion or anything else for our position in life. True, had our parents known a little more, or had it a little easier or had the foresight, things may have been better. But their generation kicked down doors. Ours just had to walk through them. The excuses were over, it was/is our job to continue forward. My children would face bigotry on their own. But we refused to raise them with that sword over their heads. They saw the examples before them, parents that did not let anything stop them from succeeding in their goals. What they do with that as adults, is up to them.  But we gave them enough tools to Forge ahead… 

     Now, if any one of them want to use today’s pop culture lies and say its the government’s faults, minimum wage fault, it’s the color of their skin fault or anything else as a reason for not succeeding I would wholeheartedly slap them in the back of the head.  We are born where we are because of our parents. We live where we are because of our parents, we get out or gets stuck because of our parents. Their inability to move forward becomes our inability to live much less move forward. In the case of our parents and how we raised our children, it wasn’t about our inability to move forward but our ability to train and propel our children to move forward as did the generations of parents and our families did before us. It makes no sense at all and you shoot yourselves in the foot for generations to come, when you fail to push children to move forward. If you’re living in poverty, within at least one to two generations that could be done away with. You may not become filthy rich but that also depends on the educational level and the job choice of whatever family member that rises to become the first millionaire in the family. My bloodline is filled with creative types as well as Academia, so we may never be billionaires. But we’ll be professionals and small business owners and in the service industry. I have yet to see someone demonstrate my dad’s engineering skills but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist…

       All of the above can be said for the wealthy as well. Many had great ideas and created an empire. Some large enough to employ hundreds and thousands of people. Some inherited wealth because their parents bequeath them money through insurance or investments. That’s foresight by the way. What ever way the children received their wealth it was their parents that got them there. Unfortunately we have become an angry nation hating what we don’t understand and blaming others for our misfortune…. when the reasons are much closer than we think.

      I set across from my 14 year daughter  last Thursday when I thought to make this a fb post. I knew it was far too much. I started at home and finished in a hotel room. What sparked this thought???  We were sitting in IHOP when she said she wants to sell candy in school. 

Yes! I thought, I’ve been trying to get her older siblings to do it for years. Anyway, I agreed. We discussed profits and overhead cost and how to be competitive. One school mate only sells to his Mexican brethren. The other, a girl, sells a variety of candy for a buck. I said he cornered the niche market and told her how she can steal the other girls clients. “If you sell yours for 75 cents, not only would you build your business but you’ll gain her customers as well” Hey, what dad wouldn’t teach his kid that? So, since she’s not overly competitive at the moment( just give it time) we agreed on the $1 pricing. But I added that she should add something to her box that her competitor doesn’t have. We shook hands on a deal between us. I would front the cost of 2 to 3 boxes of candy, she’d pay me back at the end of the school. Plus I get a small share of the profits, 10 cents off of each bar sold…
     These principles that we teach or lack thereof, are for the future but the decisions are made now. Not everything is about somebody else doing something to us but about us making choices.

      Until next time….

“Without Her: Anger”

January 2014

I have stacks and stacks of papers and letters on my bed, desk, chair and ottoman. I now nap (I don’t really sleep) with half my bed covered in bills, letter…and newspapers. Well, the newspapers I’d fully intended on reading. But in the beginning I didn’t want to read the news. Now I don’t have time to because of the constant shifting through letters and threatening bills…

Looking at her phone of course.

The other day as I sat with a letter in my hand, a thought hit me what else am I missing. One of those letters was a bill for the three cell phone lines I’m still paying for. But I said I wouldn’t turn off my wife’s (Sharol) until I had contacted everyone and changed all the billing information into my name. So I unlocked her email to check for a bill that might have been a online/direct payment. I found two…and much more. As read a few saved emails I was instantly transported back in time and became very angry. What did I find? A few old angry emails from past arguments!! I remembered them well too. I could hear Sharol’s voice, see that annoyed look in her eyes, I could hear her yelling above me, I could smell the air of that day, I could feel my heart rate raising, my glucose level as well. I remembered the look I gave her, the thoughts I was thinking about her, how I hated her in that moment… I couldn’t believe I kissed that foul disrespectful mouth! I could feel the taxing drain of hours of combat. The dry mouth and hurting feet from standing. What was it about this time…? The kids? Something I said? Something she said? Something we did? Does it really matter?! Why keep such things! And when you die, leave it behind to be read!…

I remembered one day so clearly… we were fine, in fact it was a good year for us. But something happened, we argued, didn’t talk to each other. I believe I threatened to leave. Sharol didn’t care. I was furious, I had enough of the kids, married life and arguing. I packed a bag and walked out. I found a cheap motel up by Co-Op  City in the Bronx. I’d taken my cell phone just in case she decided she loved me enough to call.  I bumped into our oldest son on the train, he was clueless. So, I handed the guy my ID and credit card. He gave me a key…I walked in the room, turned on the TV and checked my phone…no call! As the night progressed I became more and more uncomfortable be in the motel and not at home. But I crossed a threshold, I did something I’ve never done before. I can’t turn back, I left, like many of men before me…but why didn’t I feel good about it?! I went to the bathroom…stared at the TV, then suddenly dread fell on me. What if I die here? What would the headline say? What about the kids?…but if Sharol cared she’d call…  

2014 weekend getaway. Sharol liked picture.

My phone didn’t have reception…

After a sleepless and restless night I swiftly left the motel. It hit me that I had to drop the kids off to school. I didn’t know how Sharol would feel, would she answer the phone? etc. I called and said I would be there…Sharol told the kids, one of them ask where I was, that I was probably at store and would be there soon…

After the kids were gone I walked into the bedroom. No words said…we set on the edge of bed beside each other. Then she started crying, I did too…we talked about where I’d been, my horrible night and how she couldn’t sleep. We apologized to each other. Then Sharol did a strange thing. Strange because there are many “strong woman” that don’t or at least act like they don’t, need or want men in their lives. She asked me with tears streaming, not to do that again, not to leave her. I didn’t. She told me, but I could truly feel it at that moment..”I love you”

About a month or so later Sharol heard this word in church Akrogoniaios “Jesus the Cornerstone”  after the service she told me the Lord spoke to her heart. And said she was with me to help me become the man God wanted me to be. Of course I was skeptical, we’d just had major marriage crisis. But there was a paradigm shift in our relationship from that time forward. Mostly because our dependency was focused on Christ.

I have been wearing a wedding ring for 19 years, there have been times when I took it off because I didn’t want to be reminded that I was married. A few days a week I’ve gone without it (feels very odd), because eventually, now that I’m a widower, they (She gave me one an anniversary gift, I wear both) will come off. The first day I went without it, I was reminded of a horrible day. Words were said, she and I were mad…Sharol through her rings, it went out the window! Apparently,I followed with you don’t deserve to have/where them!(I didn’t remember saying that,until she mentioned it about a year ago) Later that day Sharol searched the grass and street like the woman in the Bible looking for her lost coin. She vowed never to take them off again. She didn’t. My words cut her deeply…and taking off my ring now, has been incredibly hard. Not to mention the guilt and sadness over how simple minded I had been in the past.

My dear reader, I don’t know why we humans keep such heartbreaking things. The Bible does say that Love doesn’t keep a record of right and wrong. I can see why. Things like our angry word emails can last a long time. So can the effects of them. The day I read said emails, about a week ago, I spent the entire morning bitterly crying over the loss of my Abby. I didn’t go into work because I didn’t have the mental or physical strength to get up. Then came the reading of the emails, the anger, the rage and the questioning of Sharol’s love for me. A hellish pit a woe!!…

A few days later I was reminded of Lots’s wife who was warned to flee and “not look back”, she did. She died. She turned into a “pillar of salt”. This is what happens to many of us, we get stuck in a horrible loop of grief. Unable to move forward, backwards or any direction. And our love ones suffer for it too. Some of us need help dealing with our loss. My boss/friend suggested that I go to a grief counseling service for city workers. Her assessment of me was, I haven’t had a proper time to grieve because of all the things I’ve been taking care of. I chose to make the appointment. You know, not too long ago I was talking to my sister. She was telling me story about being around a group of mostly young people. They were talking about marriage, the usual  whining and complaining. Someone posed the question “What’s the absolute worst part of marriage?”  My sister said “One of you will have to die”  She is absolutely right!!  That’s why I’ve always hated standing around a group of guys whining about their wives and it never failed, someone would turn to me and say “You know how they are,right?  My response was always the same “No I don’t, I actually love my wife”  You could usually hear a leaf drop after that…  

2015 summer vacation in Atlantic City. Picture taken at the aquarium

  I also chose to remember something very important…Sharol told me she loved me! And I have proof of that love. And it’s not in some old, out dated angry letter!! It was said to me daily and most recently in a Love letter. 

A letter from Sharol written May 20, 2016 I didn’t find it until a week after her death.

2014 Father’s Day

these are the things, dear reader, that we need and should hold on to. Be careful not to step in to the trap/pit that I did. Yeah I know, some of you have already done it…well, learn from my mistake. Don’t look back into the past, it could paralyze you. Rendering you powerless and incapable of healing and moving on.

Until next time…