Thursday, June 26, 2014

50 (+) Things I Learned From Daddy

June is not an easy month for me. My father’s birthday was on June 9. Father’s Day has been bittersweet for me since Daddy died on June 26 (that’s right, June again) 1990. It’s been 24 years this year since I’ve had my Daddy. He lives on in my heart, in my memories, in the wisdom he shared. I need to celebrate him so I will share some of his wit to honor him and his memory.  

He taught me:

  1. Appreciation of a good steak (and it can’t be found at Outback, sorry)
  2. The importance of staying involved (in your community, church, etc.)
  3. Children matter
  4. How to tip well (and why you always should)
  5. The beauty of the Arts (Ballet, Opera, Jazz, the Symphony)
  6. Register to vote and then DO IT!
  7. How to keep a well stocked liquor cabinet
  8. The difference between good liquor and really fine liquor
  9. The medicinal purposes of some alcohol
  10. The difference between a real football fan and a fan of a particular football team
  11. How to grocery shop and meal plan
  12. How to identify corrosion on battery cables, get rid of said corrosion and keep it at bay (not with a Coke either)
  13. How to change a tire;
  14. The value of keeping a Triple A membership
  15. How to drive a stick shift AND the purpose of each gear;
  16. When to shut up
  17. How to give someone “The Look” that will make them shut up
  18. Mystery stories (a la Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
  19. That there is more than one way to worship God; just because someone doesn’t go to the same church as you do, or share your faith doesn’t mean that they love God any less;
  20. Being impulsive and indulging whims
  21. Never forgetting a kindness
  22. There is no good reason to wait to tell someone you love them or better yet to show it
  23. POETRY! (he gave me my first book of poetry; thank you Daddy)
  24. Pastrami sandwiches (I know this may seem like a small thing, but there are few “real” Jewish delis in New Orleans)
  25. New Orleans is not the only place in the world to live nor is it the only place in the world with good food (see # 24 and the pastrami comment)
  26. There is no other place in the world quite like New Orleans and if you leave, you will always miss it (I do)
  27. Always look for a bargain
  28. Editors edit, commentators comment, and critics critique. It’s their job to do so, but that doesn’t mean that they are always right
  29. Pajamas can be the garment of choice in many situations
  30. Neither education alone, nor IQ can predict achievement; however...
  31. Education is important;
  32. Don’t be a doormat
  33. READ!
  34. PRAY…more than once a day
  35. “War is hell, and doubly so when you’re Black” (written by Daddy to me on the face sheet of Come Out Fighting, the book which chronicles the feats of his Tank Battalion, the 761st, in WWII)
  36. Family is made up of the people you love…whether or not there exist “blood ties”
  37. Don’t just learn how to cook, learn how to cook well
  38. There is a proper way to wash the dishes (glassware first!)
  39. Standards (the musical kind)
  40. To spontaneously break into song anywhere and for any reason
  41. Counting to 10 before losing it (I’m still working on this one as was Daddy before he died)
  42. A love of learning
  43. Sometimes race matters when it shouldn’t (and vice versa)
  44. That I am just as smart as anyone else
  45. It doesn’t matter what people think of you as long as YOU know what you’re doing
  46. Familiarize yourself with Public Transportation…always
  47. Your opinions are just that: YOURS. If people want to know, they’ll ask
  48. Don’t ask the hard question if you are not ready for the answer (and then don’t get angry if you ask anyway and GET the hard answer)
  49. LAUGH…a lot!
  50. Sometimes all you have to offer is a cool drink, and that will be enough
  51. You cannot buy class (although he would have used the term "deportment")
  52. Quality tobacco does not smell badly. If your cigar stinks, then it's probably a cheap one
  53. The benefit of hard work
  54. Good parents are usually the experts on their children, so don't let "experts" make recommendations for your children with which you do not agree. Be an advocate...a STRONG one

I could probably keep this list going on and on as I think about my Father and what he meant to me. Much of what am I today comes from lessons like these. It is in this that he lives on; I am comforted and I can smile.  Memories are the treasure I get to keep.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Sometimes it seems like time has taken up hyper-speed in my life with my sons. Events of many years ago evoke emotion like it was yesterday.  This is one way for me to capture lots of event in their lives like a time capsule, if you terms of "Shots"

The first ones ever
Those necessary evil needles
Piercing your skins
As your cries do likewise to the air
And my insides melt
With each yelp

My nerves are, that is
From utter exhaustion
Night feedings
Your energy as you move like a
Well…a Shot!

The hold-my-breath
Hope he makes it into the basket kind
Or into the net
Standing around pool tables
With little to offer
In the way of skill
Though a wealth of stadium cheers
Well inside me
Whether victory or defeat
Cheering cheering cheering you on

The low blow kind
Wasted words on me
Whose love cannot be
With wanton ways
Slanderous sayings
Who’ll by no means be
Rejected, ejected
From you three

Fired at a local high school
How is it that I remained standing
When I lost my legs
That day
And couldn't answer your,
“Mom, what happened?”
And did not exhale until
We sat in Asian Bistro
With your appetite intact
Intellect intact
Bright, brilliant, brown eyes
Making fun of the kid
Who peed out the window

The Rite of Passage
Alcohol kind
Downed in haste
With no thought
Of disgrace
Landing flat on your ass
Falling flat on your face

Wow’ed by your talent
Your inspired eye

Facing the future
Dauntlessly dancing
From constraint
From complacency
From expectation
I sit in the stands
Clapping madly
Though the finish line
Is nowhere in sight

Thursday, June 19, 2014

In the Absence of Chaos

In those moments of quietude In the early darkness before sunrise when the world is at rest I gather the bits of silence about myself like frayed colored ribbons torn loose from some fabric only to weave them into a mantle I drape over my shoulders and sometimes my head. Then the real work begins... to excavate the secrets of my soul. For it is only in stillness can we abide at the crossroads of Why and Now. And without haste make a choice to venture one way or the other. Or to even turn around and face the Sun. Naked we stand in a world without sound for it is then we feel a touch from God; Hush lest you miss the voice of the Almighty

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Last Friday the 13th there was an astronomical rarity with the appearance of a
Full "Honey Moon".  From the stories that circulated about this occurrence, a full moon falling on a Friday the 13th in June hadn't been seen since June 13, 1919.  The next one will be June 13, 2098.  It was bright. It was beautiful. It really was honey colored. And it inspired the following.

I saw the Honey Moon
Hanging there so brilliantly
And when its light shone in my eyes
It brought to mind my own Honey

Wondering if that Honey Moon 
Was shining somewhere on my sweet Honey
Since that Honey of mine
Wasn't lying next to me

They say that eyes 
hadn't seen the Honey Moon
For almost 100 years
Please tell me why then Honey Moon
Does your honey light only bring me tears

My sweet honey's far away from me
Your honey light makes that so clear
Go away now honey moon
Go and cast your light elsewhere

My honey's gone
There's only darkness
Guess that's the end 
Of this honeyed affair

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Forever Loved and Accepted

My current Bible Study (Limitless Life by Derwin Grey) is focused on breaking through labels and tearing them off so that we are not bound by unrealistic and untrue identities. This morning, in my conversation with God I struggled with my self-imposed label of “Not Good Enough”.  The following poem is a small reflection of that conversation, and a glimpse of how He sees me…how he sees all of us: Forever Loved and Accepted.  Just fill in your name where I have written “Patrice”!

Today I am okay
Better than okay, really
Not just in the make-shift, make-over, make-do
Kind of way
Worthy and Worthwhile and Wanted
I said in my heart,
“I wish I could love you like she does”
“Worship you like her”
And my heaven sent response?
I want you to love me like Patrice does
Love me with poetry
With thoughtful musings on my ways
Worship me with words
In your awestruck wonder at the beauty of my creation
Laud me with language
For those who have no voice
Worship me with loving-kindness shown to
The unlovable
The unseen
The untouchable
This is how you love me
This is what I want