Shortly after the blessing of the balls and Martin’s mother’s funeral, he showed up and started working off the money I’d given him by mowing my grass that he’d been neglecting. Being the resourceful chap that he was, he also started using my lawnmower to cut other yards up and down the street. A few days after starting his new business, he even asked me if it was OK that he was using my lawn equipment. Even though it was a little out of sequence, I had no problem with the deal. I figured it was a way that I could help him out without it costing me more than a gallon of gas every so often.
Over the next few days, Martin’s attitude seemed to improve in spite of his mother’s death, and we assumed that someone must have put up the money to get his mother’s body released to the funeral home. He didn`t come by to attempt to chip away at the pile of work we`d paid him to do that he hadn’t done, but he called regularly to give us updates of his whereabouts and daily activities. However, we didn’t mind his scarcity because a tornado of restless energy tagged along with him whenever he came around, and I think we were exhausted just from his awareness that we were alive.
After a few weeks, I was running short on extra cash to help Martin secure food, a place to stay, or crack. So, I told him I couldn’t give him any more money, but I would help him get in touch with some agencies who could possibly give him assistance to secure a job and a place to live. Since I was under the impression he was a medically discharged veteran, I contacted a few organizations that could be of assistance to him, told them his story as I understood it, and they all sounded very willing to help him. He just needed to contact them and give them a copy of his DD214 discharge paper to get the process started.
Over the next few days, Martin’s work product decreased as his personal problems increased. He showed up daily asking for advanced payments for work he promised to complete the next day. He told my wife and me stories of his hardships and we both felt really bad for him.
That Sunday morning, I was sitting at the kitchen counter grazing while watching American Ninja Warrior and critiquing the performances of the losers. I paid little attention to the knock at the front door until one of the kids called my name and told me there was somebody there to see me. As I passed him on the way to the door he whispered there was a short black guy on the front porch, and I couldn’t imagine who it could be. Continue reading “Martin returns”
One night in late spring 2015, my buddy John and I were sitting on my front porch talking while the womenfolk were inside probably swapping recipes and churning butter or drinking wine. Who knows… Anyway, John and I were solving some social injustice or reliving his glory days on the gridiron as we were prone to do when he and his sweeter than sorghum wife Robyn came for a visit. Then, a man who would greatly affect my outlook on charity emerged from the darkness.
I opened my computer and saw where we’ve lost one of the great minds of all times. Stephen Hawking passed away at 76. Not only was he remarkable because of his intellect, but he was able to fight off ALS for 55 years after being diagnosed with the disease which usually proves fatal within 2 years of being diagnosed. Maybe he just outsmarted it.
My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physically. -Stephen Hawking
Last week was exhausting mentally, physically, and spiritually, and I’ll bet I lost 5 lbs. through my tear ducts and another 55 lbs. from exercising my smile muscles. If you saw me, however, you wouldn’t be able to tell because of all the good food I ate which had been prepared by neighbors, good Southern Baptist women, and The Lake (the restaurant at the local resort, Lake Tiak O’khata).
Continue reading “Memories, Bedlam, A Victory Lap, and Closure”
They’re hugging each other again tonight.
That doesn’t make it hurt less, though.
On most Sunday nights, my neighbor from across the street rides to church with me in Jackson where our small Episcopal mission meets in a space sectioned off from an old furniture warehouse a few blocks from the Old Capitol Museum. Most nights it’s just us, her son whom she drops off earlier in the afternoon for the youth meeting, and Father Chuck, our vicar. After finishing a six-month-long study of the book of Mark, we spent the last few weeks just talking about whatever was on our minds. The lack of direction tended to lead to rambling, but I really enjoyed listening to the other three debate whatever topic because their combined intelligence is through the roof. I feel like a complete dunderpate while listening to them.
Today is the day our country remembers Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s life, his accomplishments, and what he strived for but wasn’t allowed to live to see come to fruition. It’s an opportunity to examine our country, our states, and also our own pasts relative to how we’ve acted to make things better or worse for all people. Continue reading “It’s a hard thing”