We constantly hear “Life is short,” but what does that really mean in true essence? For me it has a deeper meaning beyond the scratch of the surface that I wasn’t sure I would fully grasp until recently. This article will get a little dark, complex and quite frankly a little sad but I promise there is a rainbow lit up in GOLD at the end.
It all begins with my parents whom were born and raised during the God-awful Jim Crow era (which I cannot fathom and never would want to). My father, a severe Diabetic, was a Vietnam war vet who came back to America after fighting for “his” country with an honorable discharge, only to be shunned continually to whom didn’t accept him as human to his lighter counterparts. Can you imagine the anger you would have….to be drafted off to a foreign country, forced to fight on the forefront of war, only to return and STILL see your loved ones be killed SIMPLY because they were a couple of shades darker? He had every right to be angry, bitter and the ended up a severe alcoholic to cope.
My mother on the other hand is extremely light skinned and was afforded the luxury of not dealing with racism in the South. She was able to get good jobs, bought herself new cars when she wanted to and eventually moved away to NY only to land a career at Rockland Psychiatric Center as an Alcoholic and Drug Abuse Counselor.
Fast forward 20 years to her meeting my Father after he had a necessary run in with the police for drunk driving. They took him into the ward where she aided in his rehabilitation. He eventually beat his addiction and even got a job at the very same hospital. During the 70’s and 80’s my sister and I were born in New York an amazing childhood until his prior addiction caught up to him. After being sober for 25 years, in 1994 he had had a T.I.A stroke which sealed his fate….he slipped into an early state of Alzheimer’s when I was just 9 years old. When we went to see the neurologist, they showed me a photo of his brain and where his brain stem SHOULD have been was a void. He had drank so much in his earlier life that it eviscerated his brain stem into vapor….nothing. Just…gone. He was essentially a walking vegetable.
The next 6 years were a haze of medicine, adult diapers, teenage aggression and pure chaos. I threw myself into school completely, involving myself in 5 different sports and getting good grades all in an effort to deal with the stress of being a caretaker to my Dad along with my sweet Mother. I believe in honor thy Father….he brought be into this world, didn’t I owe it to him take care of him in his time of need?
I know….where the HELL is the moral in this depravity is probably what you are thinking. On November 26th, 2001, after years of sickness, calling me every other name than my own, my Dad called out my nickname Charly Butt which I hadn’t heard in over 7 years. He was completely lucid in that moment and asked me to sit on his lap. I was so scared at first….but then I remember a calm wave coming over me as he hugged me for the first time in years. I carry his words with me every…single…day. He said, and I quote;
“Charmae, I want you to know how proud I am of you. You go to school and get good grades, you treat your Mother with the upmost respect and you have helped take care of me for all these years. I want you to fight for every dream you have…not just one path. You have one life to live baby girl and if you want to do it all….then PLEASE do it all. If you want to be the first Female Black President to change the tides, do it. If you want to sing and do Broadway, you audition until you land that role…and God willing, if you want to go to school to find the cure for Alzheimer’s, then DO. IT. ALL. Kid….I let life GET to me…but I watch you deal with stressors in stride and with pride. For that…I will be forever grateful. I love you so much”
I got a call 3 hours later at school saying my Father had complications with Diabetes and was in the hospital. When I got home, I found out he had passed about 3 hours earlier from a heart attack. I was wrecked and devastated but man…what a beautiful goodbye it was and I carry his words with me every single day. You have one life to live the way YOU see fit. Don’t let others tell you no….its a deceitful word only to banish you to a life of misery. I been there….and refuse to do so anymore. I only started this blog a couple of months ago and it had opened so many doors for me as I have found my true calling. Please do not allow your happiness to be dependent upon anyone but YOU. Grind hard, pray and be forever grateful to what blessings may come your way. God speed and blessings to all that read.