Family Roots

Dear Readers,

The late Reverend Joseph N. Floyd SR was a stone cold to the bone country boy, born off the shores of South Georgia. He is the offspring of a Cherokee mother and he described his father as a big red skin man. His height can be match to that of Mount Kilimanjaro, with a deep thunderous voice, and soft wide light green emeralds eyes. Catherine Barbara Floyd is a humble, beautiful Southern Belle, born in the Hills of Charlotte South Carolina. The union between them lasted 32 years and produced twelve children. They first crossed paths on the narrow back road of Lyons GA. My mother was visiting family in Vidalia Georgia; and at night, she and the other youngsters would sneak out when the adults were sleeping. On one such night, she found herself in the bushes at a shack called the “Jook Joint” where Joseph was the bartender. When I eighteen my father told me the story of how he felt when he saw my mother, he said, “when she walked in all eyes were on her because she was the most beautiful, long-legged, big hip gal he’d seen in them parts.” My mother’s account of the meeting was different she said that she thought that my father was “the dumbest, fouled mouth, red face creature she has ever met.” Later, she confessed that it was one of those love at first sight encounters, but it was a matter of not letting him know. They had a shotgun wedding because back in those days the rules of courtship were different from today, if a boy got the girl in the family way, they had to get married. Soon after their wedding, he enlisted in the army. In 1967, stationed at Fort Hamilton Army base in New York City, my father persuaded his beautiful and shy country bride to relocate from the country to the city.

After 32 years of marriage 12 children, 25 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren, dad was laid to rest. My parents battled through some bad storms, but they stayed together, their love and strength kept the family strong. My mother said that my father was her best friend. I admired how my mother was able to take care of her children, a husband, and all the family pets, as well as having a well-polished home, and still managed to find time to care for herself. There is no other woman in the world like her. She said looking back if she had to do it all over again, she would not change one aspect of her life.

 

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An Ode to Nephew

Dear Readers,

Wednesday October 4, 2017, I was sitting in my bedroom pouring my soul into my journal, ranting about how humanity has left me feeling abandon, unloved and an outcast, in a society where people prefer to engage in a relationship with their technical devices, instead of connecting with people. At 11:35pm, my mobile phone rings, I saw my youngest sisters’ name on the screen, I said “shit” took a deep breath and answered.

“sis.”

“Yes.”

“sis, what’s wrong?”

“Donavan committed suicide.”

Silence. Time Stopped.

My handsome 22-year-old nephew, a recent college graduate, received a new car from his proud father, and on his way to a career in law enforcement. A young man with a spotless record, choir member and church usher; felt that he no longer wanted to live. Days after this tragic event people are asking why? If I had the answer would that knowledge bring him back?

We live in a society where there is an increasing number of teens and young adults committing suicide, and the only question people are asking is why? My family has been devastated by such a sudden and violent death. When the family gathers we don’t talk much, we stare into space and go through the motions of planning his final service.

His mother, my sister asked me to write something nice for his obituary. After many tears soaked pages, I finally wrote these words.

Yesterday, the sky was a blazed with stars so bright they lead me home.

Yesterday, I saw your smiling face, happy with hope, faith, and peace.

Today, the Sun shined radiantly I saw your smile in the warmth of the rays.

Tonight, no stars, and the smiling, peaceful, hopeful, faithful face is no more.

The Sun has gone down. In his rest my beloved nephew struggles no more against the trails of life, loveless days, and the pain that he was unable to express. Yesterday, silence. Today there is Peace.

 

 

 

The American Dream

Dear readers,

Many people never imagined that it would come to this. The naysayers laughed at the announcement of the new immigration laws shaking their heads in disbelief and concluding that it is too late to do anything about the large number of undocumented “Dreamers.” “Dreamers” failed to understand that this government does not play fair. There are many reasons cited by the department of Immigration and Naturalization for taking a tough position towards Dreamers.

  • The leaders of this country argue that the over flow of “illegal immigrants” are over taxing an already burdensome economy. It has been reported that there is a large number of immigrants who receive entitlements more than American born citizens.
  • American people are crying foul they say wages are down and the jobs are few. However, some argue that the culpability of a corrupt system designed to hire cheap labor, in order to keep the poor, poorer, and the rich richer.
  • Last, but not least, the New York City Housing Authority claim that there are many undocumented immigrants adding to an already crowded housing shortage.

Not so long ago when immigrants crossed the shores to come to the United States of these Americas, they pass Lady Liberty, she said, “Give us your tired, your poor….” Now the government seems to have grown tired of their poor.

What Say You?

You Said That?

Dear readers,

When you tweet a statement you cannot take it back. Nowadays the trend is to say something politically incorrect, press send, say Oops, then tweet a retraction.  An apology does not make what was said go away. The reality is your rant is a reflection of how you feel. Hiding behind phrase like, “I used the wrong words’ or “it was insensitive” and “what I said was taken out of content” does not excuse or erase the insults that targets a particular group. Not every idea or thought needs to be spoken aloud. You are entitled by the first Amendment to have your say. However, what I do not approve of is using the press or social media as a platform to disrespect, degrade, humiliate, and air personal grievance.

The bottom line think before you press SEND.

What Say You?

Ready Set Go!

Dear readers,

When arriving at a reasonable age of maturity, making a fresh start is difficult. The modern term for feeling tapped out or hitting rock bottom requires one to push the RESET button, the question is how?

I spent years working dead-end jobs, so I pushed the RESET button, and at the age of twenty-eight grindmy way through college. The payoff was an entry-level position at a Theatre Company as a junior manager. Diligently working my way up and after thirteen years, upper management said to me that I had “Hit the Glass Ceiling.”

RESET

I achieved another degree in Education and advanced from teaching in public school to the position of college adjunct lecturer. Once again I knocked on the door of the Chairperson, and was told that my years of experience and dedication to my students has not gone unnoticed, but, I need a DOCTORATE to acquire full-time status.

RESET

Years of living comfortable, independently and privately in my own space, I had to down size and relocate to a closet size apartment. There are days that all I have the energy to do is sit in my favorite chair sipping Merlot and thinking “REALLY.”

RESET

I am going to make peace with my tiny living quarters. Maybe living like a minimalist is what I need. By June 2017, I will complete my final Thesis, not for an advancement in my career, but for personal satisfaction, and I shall remain dedicated to my students. I no longer feel the need to seek approval from an Institution that bends the rules to accommodate some, but play by the book with others.

Maybe it is time to take my finger off the RESET button and press fast-forward.

What Say you?

The Truth of the Matter

Dear readers,

This is not an attempt to sound preachy nor am I speaking out against people who believe in God. I was raised in a Judo-Christine home. My father the late Rev. Joseph N. Floyd sr. taught his twelve children no matter their lot in life, be respectful, kindness and above all hold onto hope and faith.

I said that to say this….

These days people seen to be angry at God or the Devil.

People in the church seem to think that the devil is blamed for war, famine, and a failed economy. I beg to differ. This is not the work of the devil. The true evil drives from the greed of power-hungry individuals, working collectively to destroy the lives of people who they deem unworthy to live a prosperous life. Yet, these same individuals continuously quote “That all men are created equal.”

There are questions concerning the presence of God. Like, why does God let terrible things happen to good people? Why does God watch people suffer? Why won’t God answer prayers, or give people the things they need? I remember a Judy Blume book I read “Are you their God it’s me Margaret?” A story about a young girl who prayed night after night for bigger breasts and when it didn’t happen …well you can guess the outcome.

People in the religious world blames the SIINERS for creating the SINS that cause people to turn their backs on GOD. The church claims that people in the secular world belief is “In God We Trust.” The individuals in the spiritual world accuse the non-believers in trusting too much in “earthly wealth” instead of earning their place in heaven by doing honorable deeds on earth. The non-believer’s counterargument is that believers are too passive and spend too much time praying, hoping, wishing, and waiting for life to get better, instead of making it better they wait for some invisible God to do it for them.

Mega churches are being built, but who are they helping? Politicians make promise of making life better for the less fortunate during an election year, only to get into office then cut programs for the same people who BELIEVED they would make a difference.  PASTORS of these mega churches are preaching a message of better days and a better life and all people must do is believe?

The finger pointing can go on and on between the believers and the non-believers the real question is, how can we come together and make this world a better place regardless of our own personal beliefs?

What say you?

 

 

 

A Different Flavor of Love

Desiree Hancock is born during the worst snowstorm New York City has seen in decades. Her entrance into the world takes place on the living room floor of the Marlboro Houses in Coney Island. Her mother Olivia barely survives on public assistance, bringing home any man who is willing to buy food and stay for the night. Desiree only hears rumors about her supposed father, Luis Figueroa, a low-level gang-banger and drug dealer. He never officially claims Desiree as his child because he knows that Olivia is in the habit of having more than one sexual partner. As Desiree matures, he sees some resemblance to his grandmother; this softens his heart enough for him to give Olivia money when she claims to need things for his daughter.

Growing up, Desiree becomes used to Olivia’s staying out all night and seeing a new man sitting at the breakfast table in each morning. She struggles with issues children her age should not have to. One of her biggest problems was staying in school. She is absent whenever Olivia stays out and doesn’t come home the next day.

At school, the other kids wear nice clothes and shoes. Desiree’s clothes are worn thin and sometimes dirty. Despite not wearing the best of clothes, the happiest hours of her day are at school. There she can be a child, and eat lunch without having to share with her sister. At home, there is always the baby to feed, clothes to wash, and a mother who glares at her with hatred.

Desiree makes a few friends at school: her best friend is Sophia Evans, who lives a few buildings away from her. Sophia’s apartment is different from Desiree’s; they have nice furniture and their apartment always smells nice. Sophia has two parents who work. Mrs. Evans works part-time in the school cafeteria, and her father is a security guard. Wallace is Sophia’s older brother, a senior in high school. After graduation, he plans to go into the army, getting out of the projects. As often as Desiree can, she sneaks over to Sophia’s, claiming that she needs help with her homework.

Desiree barely makes it to the eighth grade; she is struggling to keep up with the rest of her peers. The school administrator threatens Olivia if she does not take responsibility for sending Desiree to school on a regular basis. If she fails to comply, the school will recommend a home visit from Child Protective Services. For a short period, things improve, but not much.  Olivia stops talking to Desiree, and when she does speak, she yells orders at her.

Olivia is pregnant, giving Desiree a reprieve from her mother’s meanness. Desiree takes this opportunity to spend time visiting Sophia. Wallace notices that Desiree is developing physically, so he hangs around the house during her visits. When it is time for her to go home, Wallace offers to walk with her.  He is seventeen and she is fifteen. Wallace is horny and Desiree is primary bait.

Desiree is excited because her sixteenth birthday is approaching. For days, she begs and almost gets on her knees asking Olivia to have a party. A week before her birthday, her mother gives in on the condition that she does all the work. Desiree turns to the only people she knows will help her. On the day of the party, Mrs. Evans makes fried chicken and potato salad, to go with Desiree’s BBQ chicken, rice and string beans. Wallace brings the cake, Sophia uses her allowance to buy the decorations, and she gives Desiree a blue dress to wear.

Olivia leaves to stay at a friend’s house, claiming that she cannot be around the noise. Desiree is not disappointed; secretly, she does not want her mother there.  At 4 o’clock, Sophia arrives to help decorate and to style Desiree’s hair. By the time they are done, it is 7pm. Wallace, the DJ, his friend, and Mrs. Evans come to set up the food and the music. At 7:30, Luis (Desiree’s father) shows up, after hearing about the party from Olivia. He asks Desiree if she needs anything, and gives him a list of things that will help to make the party better. Half an hour later, Luis comes back with three girls about Desiree’s age; he introduces them as family members. He brings the items that were on the list.  Slowly, the other guests arrive, and by 8:30pm there are fifteen teenagers at the party, Desiree is hoping more will show up. Despite the low turnout, she is having a good time.

Mrs. Evans stays to help serve the food; Luis makes himself useful by setting up an area to serve the soda and water. By 9:00, the party is going full blast; Desiree is asked to dance twice, once by Wallace and then by his friend the DJ. At 10pm, the music stops, so they can sing happy birthday to Desiree. She blows out all the sixteen candles on her cake, and wishes for a better life.  A few people give her gifts; Mrs. Evans gives her a card with sixteen one-dollar bills, and Sophia, a pair of blue earrings, her favorite color.  Finally, Luis gives her an envelope and whispers in her ear not to open it until she is alone.

Desiree is overwhelmed with emotions, and does not know how to process her feelings. Never in her sixteen years has anybody done so much for her as the people standing in that room. To break the awkwardness of the moment, Mrs. Evans steps forward and gives her a hug. The DJ starts the music and the party continues with everyone eating cake and dancing. At 11:30 pm, Olivia comes back and the party is over. A few people stay to help Desiree clean up, while Olivia sits at the table eating. Mrs. Evans, Wallace, and Sophia are the last to leave. Before they go, Desiree gives Sophia her birthday money to hold for safekeeping, because she knows that Olivia will search her room and take the money.

When Desiree returns to the apartment, Olivia rolls her eyes at her and says, “I guess you consider yourself a woman now that you’re old enough to spread your legs.” Desiree goes to her room and cries herself to sleep. The next day, while taking a shower, she gets her first period. She does not tell her mother; she dresses and goes to Sophia’s. She spends the entire Sunday with Sophia, who teaches her how to take care of herself, because Sophia had gotten her period last year. First, they go to the store to buy feminine products. Sophia warned Desiree not to tell anyone at school when she had her “friend.”

“Friend, what friend are you talking about?”

“That’s what my mother calls having your period.”

Sophia also tells her to wear pants, take two Tylenols, and drink hot tea if she has stomach pain. Desiree goes home after eating Sunday dinner with the Evanses.

She is happy that Olivia is asleep. She goes to her room and finds a good hiding place for her feminine products and the extra cash she has acquired as birthday money. Enjoying the quietness of the apartment, Desiree falls asleep, and is awakened by her mother’s screaming for her to get up and cook.

It is the end of June. School is out; Olivia gives birth to a girl and the baby’s daddy moves into their already crowded two-bedroom apartment. His name is Baron, an unemployed hustler. Despite not having a job, Baron helps around the apartment, and he seems to be happy being a father, maybe because this is his first child. Desiree is lucky to get a summer job as a counselor at a day camp. However, she dislikes Olivia for demanding that she give her fifty dollars from each paycheck, claiming to need the money to buy Pampers. The truth is the money is for Baron.

Sophia goes to her grandparents’ house in Florida. She does not get a summer job, and her parents do not want her hanging around the projects. Wallace’s father gets him hired as security guard at his agency. Desiree is free to spend time with Wallace. He finds a secret place for them to meet, a small room in the basement of the building he lives in. He spreads a blanket on the floor; there is no light, so they use candles. They spend time there eating food that Desiree buys with the money she earns from her summer job. Wallace introduces her to wine, and she discovers that she likes it.

One day before they meet Wallace has another surprise for her; he leads her to the room with a blindfold. When he removes the blindfold, Desiree opens her eyes to see that he has set up a twin mattress, pillows, and a crate with candles and a small radio. Desiree feels special, and she becomes eager to meet Wallace at their special place.  Wallace takes an old cooler from his house to keep the wine, beer and water cold. They talk about the future: he tells her about his plans to join the army. Each time they meet, Wallace gets Desiree more comfortable with his touching her. He knows Desiree is a virgin; he likes the fact that no one has touched her, unlike the other girls he has known. It is not too long before Desiree experiences her first time. He makes sure that she drinks a good amount of wine and he gives her a massage, helping her to relax. When she questions him about using a condom, he tells her she is safe, that he will pull out when the time comes. Desiree does not know any better, so she goes along with him…….

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Thank you for stopping by.

J. R.