TALK TO THE DADDY

Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Crazy Black Woman--Part II

"I think black women have learned, more successfully than black men, to absorb the pain of their predicament and to keep on stepping."

--Michael Eric Dyson, scholar and writer

"...I am a black woman
tall as a cypress
strong
beyond all definition still
defying place
and time
and circumstance
assailed
impervious
indestructible
Look
on me and be
renewed"
--Mari Evans, poet

In the hospital

In late November of 2004, the daddy fell gravely ill, went to emergency, where he was told he had an intestinal blockage and needed to be operated on immediately. The operation was successful, but recovery took a while. He was in the hospital for two weeks.

While in recovery, lots of people came to see him. Now, because he’s worked at a number of black non-profit agencies in the city, many of the visiting well-wishers were black; And, to speed his recovery, they brought him all kinds of comfort food: Red beans and rice, gumbo (spicy version), pound cake, chocolate cake, peach cobbler.

The mother of a former co-worker presented him with a “mess” of chitlins and shook her finger in front of his eyes, saying, "Don't eat it all at once. It's a delicacy!" Uh huh. And when she took the top off the container, let's just say the "delicacy" gave the entire room a "distinctive" aroma.

Another co-worker’s mother brought him pickled pig feet and sat it on the window ledge. It was in a Mason jar, and the daddy could look out the window and, at the same time, see a pig’s foot swimming in liquid. When a nurse reminded them that it was just his second day of recovery from a major operation, that he was on a liquid diet and that, in any case, the food was inappropriate, they insisted that the food was better for him than hospital food and that the daddy would eat it when he was ready.

"kind of different"

Besides the visitors with all the “goodies,” a black woman nurse told him that he had also received another visitor later that night. “You probably don’t remember, but your friends who brought all that food tired you out, and we had to get them to leave. Plus, you were in pain. So we gave you some pain pills and something to make you sleep.”

“No, I don't remember. But you said I had a visitor.”

“You sure did. She showed up and showed out. She came three hours after visiting hours were over and demanded to see you. She even wanted to see your medical chart. Your nurse-- he's the black male nurse-- told her that you were sleeping and on medication, but she started talking loud. Because she had a nursing uniform on, he thought she would understand, but she got louder and louder." She sighed.

"She got her way…She’s kind of different.” Kind of different…Where have I heard that before, I asked myself. Tameka?

“Yes, that was her name. Your nurse said she sat on your bed, eating your food and watching tv. And she left you a note. But he put it in the drawer. He thought it was too… a little too personal to leave out...”

As the nurse smiled broadly, his fingers raced to the top drawer by his bed, retrieved the note quickly but began reading slowly to himself, all the time hoping it wouldn't blow up in his face:

“DON’T GET FRESH BECAUSE I’M SITTING ON THIS BED. I KNOW HOW YOU BLACK MEN ARE.”

He stared at the note and slowly began to smile. He smiled at the nurse (obviously, the night nurse had told her about the note), and she smiled back at him; and for a few seconds, there was a shared moment of cultural understanding between black man and a black woman, between patient and nurse.

Moving to the door, still smiling but reclaiming her role as professional nurse, said, "Mr. Walton, you sure have some funny friends."

Okay, she was still crazy, but it wasn't the first time she made him smile. He smiled when she phoned periodically to update him on her life: when she was readmitted into a nursing program; when she did well on a school exam; when—and this was more often-- she vented about a particular instructor (“I told that old bitch, ‘I don’t believe you!”); when she graduated from nursing school and got a job at a local hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. But here’s what really made the daddy smile.

Before graduating from the drug program, the one where she consistently gave him a hard time, Tameka wrote a letter to the agency, thanking them for hiring him, saying he was a counselor who wasn’t afraid of them, who knew how to work with people from the streets, who made them think. This letter, and subsequent conversations about how he was able to reach Tameka when no one else could, gave him, for the first time, ultimate legitimacy as a drug counselor. You see, the daddy had taken courses in drug counseling but had no drug counseling degree; and the truth is that he was hired for his knowledge of violence and his work with gangs and violent men. Tameka, more than anyone, made him a good drug counselor in their eyes.

Still crazy but…

She made the daddy smile and laugh out loud too. At one visit evening hospital visit, she advised him that he should be careful about that liquid diet the hospital was giving him. Why? Because the hospital might put some kind of “serum” in it to keep him from having children. “You know some of these white folks in Minnesota think there’s too many blacks and Latinos here already.”

On another visit, she told him that, if she were his nurse and he wasn’t “behaving,” she would give him an overdose. “Honey, I would have you drugged up and on the floor like them prisoners at Abu Ghraib. One minute, you’d be walking through the woods singing tip toe through the tulips; and the next, you’d playing air guitar to purple haze.”

Yeah, she’s crazy alright, but she’s made great strides, all while maintaining a level of self-respect that kept her from going completely insane. By keeping her self-respect, she was able to garner the energy and wherewithal to demand—and get—respect in turn. Yes, she’s crazy, but she made him laugh out loud, smile knowingly, and be a better counselor too.

It was all good while it lasted, but Tameka moved back to Jackson, Mississippi to be with her mother, whose house was flooded by Katrina. She works at one of the hospitals there.

Dear Tameka:

You say that you and your sister are going to visit me in Minnesota this summer, that we’re going to spend the entire afternoon together, eating, talking, laughing, and joking about old times. I don’t believe you! I don’t miss you that much. In fact (smiling), I don’t care if I ever see you again!

9 comments:

sdg1844 said...

That was wonderful! You are a great storyteller. She sounds like a piece of work, but a good one.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes you have to act crazy to survive.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

HA! That makes me really happy.
Once-in-a-while, every now and then, very infrequently, somebody makes it.
When that happens, it aint nuthin but a miracle.
If I wasn't such a toughassed ClintEastwood don't-give-a-shit mutherfuker I might get all misty eyed reading something like that.
Hope all is well with you Daddy.
Sagacious(makinit)Hillbilly

rainywalker said...

Loved it! By the way crazy or normal is over rated. I'm to the point and age in life where the PTSD will get me out in six months.

Anonymous said...

Hey McD

Hope you're having a great birthday!

(I won't embarass you and call you what I did this morning :)

your favorit anon

MacDaddy said...

sdg: A piece of work is a good way to put it. She's a character, and, although I wasn't thinking it at the time, I kind of lean toward people that are a little different.
sagacious: She is a success. Her sister told me that she was promoted to a nursing supervisor. She's special.
rainywalker: Yeah, what is crazy? They said Einstein was weird and not that smart. I don't think he graduated from high school. Now, people are still trying to figure out his equations.
anon: It's a great day; and I feel ever grateful to see it. Thanks for your support.

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hey MacDaddy!

That was hilarious! I have met a few Tamekas in my excursions...

@ Anon 4:14PM

You know that's the truth!

{chuckles}
Lisa

MacDaddy said...

Lisa: They're unforgettable aren't they?...
I'm coming to see you over at blackwomenblowthetrumpet!

Nun in the Hood said...

Hi, MacDaddy....I was out of town for a few, so I missed reading your blog....no internet where I was.....TAMEKA sounds like one beautiful human being....There's nothing like HUMOR to touch one's soul and that of another! What a gift she is to you and you to her....I HOPE you see her this summer...Life's too short to pass up these opportunities..
Thanks for reminding me of Tameka...I remember meeting her in your book...and...HAPPY BIRTHDAY!