Category Archives: Death

You’re A Person Too

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As we all know, there has been a LOT going on in the United States in the past few months and in the past couple of weeks. Before any of you start going off about how “these things happen in other countries every second of every day”, please realize that I care about all of these events. I feel for all of the people who have suffered, in all countries. However, right now, I’m focusing on the events here. I refuse to feel guilty about caring for the people in my own country.

Officers dying, innocent black people dying, protesters, mass shootings, PEOPLE dying. People. There is a rage flooding this country that has been rumbling for far too long and it’s getting out of hand. This hate needs to just stop, when will it stop? It is not enough to not be racist. That is no longer effective, action needs to be taken. Change needs to happen. I stand for every race, every ethnicity, all cultures. I don’t, however, stand for violence or ignorance or hatred. I don’t stand for the dummies that say all lives matter, we friggin’ know that all lives matter, the fact that we even need to say that out loud is sad. The thing is, people preach that all lives matter, however, not ALL LIVES ARE BEING TREATED EQUALLY. Can’t anyone understand this? Black Lives Matter’s purpose is to show this country that black lives aren’t being treated justly, they’re not being treated like “all” lives matter. That is the issue at hand. Innocent members of the black community being murdered.Not just by police officers, mind you. Then we have the audacity to be upset when there is friction, protesters, and acts of violence reciprocated.

Imagine always having to walk on eggshells because you don’t know how someone is going to react to you. Not someone, but a somewholeentirecommunityofwhitepeople. Of course, there is bad and good in all communities. The man who shot all of those police officers completely threw all and any progress of peaceful protesters to the wind. Understand this. Understand that it was a peaceful protest that some idiot with a gun decided to take into his own hands. One step forward, four steps back. Blue lives matter too, but that does not dismiss the fact that they are a representation of each other and some of them decided to MURDER innocent individuals in the name of white privilege. If you think white privilege isn’t a “thing”, please go into any Wal Mart or Target and use the self check out….Do they hover? No? Do they check your receipt? No? Hmmm….Funny. That shit is real. The problem is we want life to be so FeeFee LaLa we can’t get our heads out of our asses long enough to take a good hard look. I have good friends who are officers, and they are goodhearted  officers who do right by their community and I am so happy to be able to say that. I have good friends of color and they are goodhearted people who do right by their community and I am so happy to be able to say that. I have good friends who are white and they are goodhearted people who do right by their community and I am so happy to be able to say that. This is a small percentage of a very, very big country.

It is frightening how far backwards this country has leaped, so far backwards. It’s scary. How am I to raise a child in this? How? Should I rely on the fact that we look white? Should I bank on that? I come from immigrants. I’m not talking the regular “oh my great great great great great greeeeeat grandparents came here from England” story most people like to recount. I’m talking my mother isn’t a citizen here, legal, but not a citizen. My father became a citizen in his thirties. My second language is English. We are minorities. So the fact that there are people out there who hate anyone not “from here” scares me. It’s sheer ignorance. We can’t even call this a civilized country anymore, it’s going to shit. We don’t have the right to say that we are civilized. Animals treat each other with more respect.

I want all of you who disagree, to say this with me…Slowly now, don’t hurt yourselves…

Human 

Beings

Shouldn’t

Have

To

Fight

To

Be 

Treated

Like

Human

Beings

Actually, try that a few times.

I heard something the other day that was so true, I had to sit and think about it for a while. I had to let it sink in. “There isn’t more violence, there are just more cameras”. There isn’t more violence. There are just more cameras. People have been suffering for YEARS, undetected, unseen, unheard, out of mind. The black community is now taking a stand because enough is enough. This was bound to happen, people were bound to get fed up. It’s only going to get worse, much worse, before it ever gets better. What saddens me is that this is even still an issue. 2016…Forward thinkers….Innovators….Movers… Shakers…Yet, we still see all of this happening.

The land of the free?

Free, for who?

 

 

Avô

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You didn’t know him. In fact, if you did, you probably wouldn’t even like him. Growing up, we always heard stories about how terrible he was to his numerous children and to his wife. He was an immigrant who brought this family from the Azores to the United States to start a better life. I never understood this, in the Azores he had a good job and they did okay for themselves (from what I’m told). Everyone around us, judging him and talking about him as if we weren’t standing right there. “We” being his grandchildren, the people who saw a side of him that no one else knew or understood. Sure, we only knew him as our avô, but that’s just it…That’s what mattered to us. Yes, he was a hard man who rarely smiled and had a pretty aggressive personality, However, his grandchildren always made him laugh and smile. We were his weakness.

I remember the days when he’d watch me after school because my single mother worked all hours of the day and night to support us. He would walk to the school and we’d walk back together, hand in hand. I did most of the talking, of course, but he didn’t mind. He would listen patiently and finally ask if I’d like to help him in the backyard. He loved his garden, his pigeons and his paint. He ended up moving to a different town with my grandmother when my mom decided it’d be a good idea to move in with her boyfriend’s family. My grandparents lived in a small trailer where my avô had the freedom to plant and paint whatever he damn well pleased, and he did. I joke that the only thing keeping that trailer together, until this day, is all of the layers of paint. I spent a couple of weeks every summer at their house until I turned 18, after that, I visited at least once a week. I could sit and talk to my grandparents for hours, listening to their stories and advice.

My avô would sit at the kitchen table every day and watch soccer or some other crappy show on the Portuguese channel and complain the entire time. I think I was the only person who didn’t mind this, it always made me laugh. I would sit and vent to him about various things and he would just laugh and tell me how dramatic I was being. My grandparents didn’t speak English, so other cousins only really came around when their parents were around. I tried to make it a point to visit as often as possible since I lived so close by and I liked to help whenever they’d allow.

When  I became pregnant, my grandfather would always say he wouldn’t be alive to meet Victoria. The joy in his eyes when that day came was something that I will never forget. He would just watch her in awe, mostly  because it had been about 10 years since anyone in our family had a baby. Once Victoria started growing, she became more active and was no stranger to getting into trouble. When I would scold her my grandfather would knock me on the head with his middle finger and tell me to leave her alone…She’s a sweet angel. I always laughed at this and I would remind him that she’d be worse once the teenage years approached…In which he would remind me that he wouldn’t be around to see that.

 And he wasn’t.

        He fell ill, recovered, and then fell ill again. His hospital visits were becoming more and more frequent until finally he had to use an oxygen tank and was too weak to stand for too long. I started visiting more frequently, much to my ex’s dismay. I tried to keep things as normal as possible by doing what we always did with each other and following the same routine. I would walk in, give my grandmother a kiss, leave Victoria in the living room with her toys, and walk straight to the backyard because I always knew he was there. It was like he was waiting for me every time. I would call him from the door and he would whistle, letting me know where he was. It was always a hassle getting to where he was sitting, in the middle of his garden. Grape vines, tall leaves of Kale and various fruit trees he invested all of his time in, covered the entire area. I would peak through the hanging leaves and he would look up at me and smile while sitting in his favorite chair. I would give him a kiss and he would say, “you get uglier and uglier each time I see you”.

         This time, it was different, he was different. The process remained but his eyes were so empty. He looked so tired, but his humor remained. Right on the other side of his trailer was a cemetery, and we could hear mourners sometimes, it would always creep me out. He would say, “look at that, all I have to do is jump the fence when I’m dead!”, and I would giggle because it was uncomfortable but funny. I would sneak him packs of cigarettes because they’re what kept him happy. He had been smoking since he was 12, so quitting would just kill him faster. He would hang the oxygen tank hose on the fence and smoke his cigarette; sharing stories with me and joking about how my grandmother would kill us if she found out he was smoking. As strange as this memory is, it always makes me smile. He was always going against the grain, thinking his own thoughts, quoting his own words. I always admired that about him, he always reminded me to be my own woman and to not let anyone call the shots. He was my male figure at the time, the man I looked up to, there to give me advice when I needed it (besides my Uncle Troy). I hadn’t spoken to my father for four years at the time and didn’t start speaking to him until I left Robert.

         Shortly after when I went over, he was sitting on the couch with a vacant expression on his face, eyes glazed over. I gave my grandmother a kiss and walked over to him and sat down. He didn’t look at me, but I started talking to him anyway. He never responded but I knew he was listening, I also knew his time was coming and that scared me. His health deteriorated so quickly, I didn’t have time to take in what was soon to come. We’re never really ready are we? I got a call the next morning…He’s passed. In my kitchen, making breakfast, I turned everything off and walked to my living room. I sat on the floor, I had no idea how to feel or how to react; I felt so empty, so confused, I couldn’t even cry. I left my daughter with my ex and drove over to where my family was, it wasn’t until later that day that it truly hit me. He was gone. Who would pick on me and call me “too skinny” now? Who would tell me that boys ain’t shit and my daughter would punish me by being just like me? Who would paint the trailer and take care of the garden? Who would twist my ear when I said something stupid? Or talk about soccer with me? Or sit in silence with me and stare out at nothing, in a garden near a cemetary?

             I didn’t know. I just wanted him back. I was asked to write a eulogy in Portuguese 30 minutes before the funeral, which I was fine with, but I was nervous and scared and sad. The last thing I wanted to do was talk, if you could believe it. The service was beautiful and so was my cousin’s eulogy. I had no one to vent to or cry to during this time since my ex kept telling me, “Oh, my dad died, you’ll be fine and get over it. It happens everyday”. Not a hug. Not an, “it’s going to be okay”, nothing. I’ve never seen my grandmother react the way she did that day, in fact, I had never even seen her shed a tear before that day. She sobbed and begged for God to bring him back. I stood up to speak at the podium and I was surprised at how many people showed up to pay their respects, he didn’t have friends and didn’t talk to his extended family. It was nice to know that there were those who actually cared enough to show up, even if it was just for my grandmother’s sake.

           Months later, my grandmother had someone gut the entire backyard. She said she just couldn’t take care of it by herself, but I think it was mostly because it hurt her to see it. I think about him a lot. I remember one day, a month or so after I left Robert, Victoria came to me in the early morning and gave me a big hug. I smelled cigarettes and Old Spice in her hair and on her clothes, it was the strangest thing. No one else was in the house, it was just us, and she smelled just like my grandfather did. I couldn’t hold back my tears,I just held her close and she started telling me about a dream she had. “Avô was there and we were at the beach!”, she exclaimed. I looked her in the face and asked if she talked to him a lot and she said, “yes mommy, all the time!”. I am Catholic, but I never believed in any of these things before she came to me that day. Every once in a while she’ll talk about him until this day, or the smell of cigarettes and Old Spice will wake me in the middle of a dead sleep.

I miss him so. He’s taking care of us, I just know it. It’s been three years this past Monday, and I can still picture his piercing blue eyes.