My People

There Is A Heaven

There Is A Heaven
Happy Birthday Daddy
6/10/07 - My Father's Son
Photos & The Like
Maternal Tree- Sadler


By A Wing And A Prayer
written 4/3/08 after he was declared terminal
I went to the hospital this morning and spoke to my dad for about an hour... it seemed that long to me but it might not've been even thirty minutes.  I wasn't really worried about time, I was worried about him suffering and being tired. 
We were holding hands the majority of the time and as this was happening I thought to myself, back into time, THIS is the longest time I had held his hand that I could remember even though I knew that in every other sense of the words he had always been there for me and our family, holding ours.
As he lay in the bed at St. David's Hospital Room 557, he told me that he felt like he was falling and that he was spinning around and felt real dizzy.  His hand was shaking sporadically and I held it to try to steady him.  I told him that if he was falling I would try to catch him and not to worry... I was trying to get into his world, into his mind to help him.  There's nothing I wouldn't do to ease his pain, believe me.
My dad told me many years ago about having a dream where I was lost and he was looking for me and no matter where he looked he couldn't find me. To that means I say, 
"Daddy I am here, I am not lost, you can stop looking.  I am here holding your hand."

I cannot lie.  I wished, prayed and even offered to God to let ME take his place, switching with him right then and there and even now to let ME be the one who is dying from cancer attacking his body and he be the one standing over the bed being miserable, watching helplessly, remembering all the love.  You recall those movies that came out with the switching of minds?  Well I prayed to God to let it happen to me and my dad.
Celebrating Pragmatic Benevolence
Yesterday I explained to my daughter how much I appreciate and love my dad... even reminiscing back to the time when I was about 5 years old when he and my brother James Jr. used to push my sister Pat and me down the steps inside our house at 1904 College Row, riding cardboard boxes. That was fun. 
That type of entertainment was OUR Barton Springs and pony rides back then in segregated, Jim Crow Austin and we didn't get to really "go to those places" until my mother and a group of other Black mothers picketed and did sit-ins in the early 60s with the support of good White people like Councilwoman Emma Long.  I remember a lot from those days.  I was there.
Sadly the process of attaining many of the freedoms minorities take for granted today was no picnic to attain.  I know that many undeserving people have and will continue to take credit for taking the high risks that both my parents took in the civil rights movement... what else is new?  Still thankfully we were little kids and didn't know any better but still had fun at home, playing at Rosewood and later Givens Parks.
I remembered my brother, sister and own distant squeals of laughter as I kneeled to continue holding our dad's right hand at the hospital, all the while praying for his comfort on his way home to glory, whenever that moment comes. 

I have to tell you that tears welled up in my eyes a little as I remembered the good times we had shared... that he had shared with me.  I remembered going with him many times to repair people's appliances at their homes and at Huston-Tillotson too, going to auctions to buy land and  houses and moving them throughout the entire process, chopping weeds on vacant lots with a wood-handled sling sickle and hand push mower and even myself sitting on a nail once at a house he was repairing on Comal Street while he and my brother put up sheet rock.  I recalled visiting Mr. Claude Shackles at his car lot on Rosewood as they played checkers for hours, smelling the aroma of cherry pipe smoke from being around Mr. Carnegie Mims as they also played checkers, watching him play with Mr. Ernest Mooney and going to Mr. Tim's Barber Shop near 12th and Chicon.  I remember meeting many of my dad's old friends from back-in-the-day, most all of them already passed by now that I know of. Still they are alive inside of me.
My dad also instilled good values by showing me with his numerous good deeds and fellowships.  My dad didn't preach it... he lived it, helped people.  He didn't brag about what he did freely from his heart one iota.  How many people have you met that can honestly say that? 
I learned many things about business from just paying attention to the way my dad conducted his... I remembered that first car (a 1971 Orange with White Vinyl Top Cuda) he bought me in 1972 from McMorris Ford when I was about to be a Sophomore in College.  I cannot tell you how much it meant to me because it was certainly out-of-character because of the cost as well as the way he accomplished the purchase.  Smoooooooth. 
I will never forget his generosity toward me and suffice it to say that when I became able I never let my dad buy another car, always providing him with whatever type of car or truck he wanted. He could've had Cadillacs or Mercedes but he was happy in a used Ford, Chevrolet or Nissan. He was generous to people and practical for himself... selfless.
My tears, the ones I was holding in were of happiness and not so much sadness after my thoughts had come full-circle about WHO my dad was to me and the world.  I didn't want him to see me crying on the OUTSIDE so I held it INSIDE of me.  I didn't want to add to his pain or anyone else's who was there.
The thing about emotions is that IF everyone can hold it together, there will be peace but if just ONE person starts crying, it's hard to stop everyone else's dam from breaking.
My dad was kind and generous to friends and strangers alike in all of his dealings with them, repairing their radios and televisions as a second job to go along with his job as a mathematics professor at Huston-Tillotson College.  He also dabbled in land, building and buying houses to make rental income for an investment.  He was always renting houses below the fair market value to help people who could not afford to pay the going rate... before there was an Austin Housing Authority to help.  When I say THAT, just consider that the regular rent in 1972 (when I started collecting for him) might've been $150 per month and the average rent my dad charged his tenants was about $45 per month... less than three times the rate others charged.  There was one family he actually charged only $15 per month and when they didn't pay because they might not've had it, he would actually help them with making sure their heat and utilities stayed on.  He cared about people that often probably didn't REALLY appreciate him and still, undaunted, he continued to care. 
THIS sounds REALLY familiar to ME...
My dad has a soft spot in his heart for helping people and I am proud to know that this often referred to FAULT of his came directly to me thru blood.  I got it honest because I am my father's son. Halleluiah!  
That's kind of funny to me in a way because even as he was extremely generous he was also equally frugal with his money when it came to family household expenditures.  I remember that my mother liked getting the best cuts of meat for our freezer from Slaughter's (was downtown) and food from whatever the name of the store was where Hoover's Restaurant is on Manor Road now, before it was Minimax, and milk every Sunday from Old Bossy's.  I used to LOVE Old Bossy milk.  They had great egg nog and chocolate milk too.
I am without question also my mother's son because I love having the best things as well.  I suppose I am the epitome of them both... proudly.
Take all that in contrast to my dad shopping at places like Culp's in Montopolis... buying two-day old bread and no-name brand foods including pot pies and plastic bottles of milk that he would also put into the freezer for future consumption.  Of course you know that the once-frozen milk tasted like water by the time it thawed out but daddy said that it was still milk and good for us. We had to drink it, protest or not.  Maybe that's why I water down orange juice to this day... You think?
My daddy...  There's so much more to say and I am sure others will add to what I have to say at the appropriate time.  I just hope those he was kind to truly appreciated the way he treated them, family or not, and thereby learned from the example he lived as to HOW to treat others.  
And I pray that he holds on as long as he wants to
My friends Holland Wiler, Thurston Bilal and Rick Epstein comforted me by saying "My prayers and thoughts go out to you and your family.  It sounds like your dad has lived a great life and has touched so many people.  When my time comes I hope that I will have folks remembering me in the ways you portray the memories with your dad." (paraphrased)
My prayer? God, please continue to bless the world.  Amen.