Mama, Did You Know?

Mama, did you know
When you held that baby
46 years ago?

You were there, Mama,
to hear him when he called.
He called you when he
was ready to be born.
He called out when
he skinned his knee.

How many times did you cry
over your black son,
knowing what his country
does to black bodies?

He called you during
times of trouble
Surely, there were cries
in the good times too–
When he was a stand out athlete.
When he got a college scholarship.
When he became a father.

Mama, did you see him
from the grave when
he had his unfinished
life snuffed out?
Did you hear his final
call on Memorial Day, 2020?

Today Jon Batiste shared a piece of music for meditation and asked us to consider how we are doing our part to “deepen our collective spiritual consciousness” and “begin to implement genuine and lasting change.” Here is Baptiste’s song “Meditations,” composed in collaboration with Cory Wong. Today is Sunday, Day 96 in Bahrain, day 61 of The Isolation Journals with Suleika Jaouad.

Letters of Love for the Elderly

You can write and send letters to elderly people. Letters of Love continues during the Covid-19 pandemic because there is no evidence that the virus is passed through the mail system. Read more about Letters of Love for the Elderly. If you share it on social media, tag @love4theelderly.

Saturday, Day 95 in Bahrain. This is Day 60 of The Isolation Journals with Suleika Jaouad.

Visiting the Grand Canyon as a Six-Year-Old

“What? We’re going out to dinner? What do you mean?” I asked, incredulously.

“Yes, you know what that means. We’re going to eat at the buffet down the street. Did you see it when we pulled into the motel? It had a giant chicken by the door,” my teenage sister kindly explained.

“What? We’re going to the chicken place? Really??” I squealed in delight.

“Yes, now hold still and let me brush your hair.”

I fumbled in my pocket for the purple and green polished agates. Each a little bigger than a quail’s egg, smooth and holding more promise for me than the real egg does  for a mother bird. I held them in my hand, the purple one a little more elongated than the green, so I was usually able to guess which was which as I massaged them in one hand. Or passed them between hands, playing a version of the walnut guessing game with myself. We had been to a souvenir shop that afternoon and I was allowed to buy these treasures. I was awestruck and thankful.

“Oops,” I said, bending down.

“Hey, hold still,” my sister held on tight and gave me a whack  on top of my head with the hair brush. It didn’t even phase me. Nothing could spoil this magical day.

“I dropped my purple rock,” I explained.

“Just wait,” she said, as she kept brushing my hair, tightening the grip on my chin.

I stretched my right wiry thin leg over toward the missing gem, stretching and reaching for it. All the while, trying to hold my head still enough to not alert my sister. Eureka! I found it. My bare toes grabbed hold of my jewel and grasped it. I bent my leg at the knee and reached down to gratefully receive it from the grip of my flexible phalanges.

I was six years old. It was my first family vacation. We went to the Grand Canyon. I remember the motel pool, the meal out, and the souvenir agates. I don’t remember the Grand Canyon.

Thursday, Day 93 in Bahrain. This is Day 58 of The Isolation Journals with Suleika Jaouad.

Human Complexity

Is there a person in your family who is the holder of human stories and conspiracy theories? I have a sister like that. Over the years, I liked to imagine that her rumors and theories were just that and not really true about the history of our family. I have always been a bit of a Pollyanna.

I prefer not to hear about the dysfunction of the humans in our family, but she seems to be a collector of these stories and is not afraid to tell them. She uses them to keep us all more honest and down-to-earth. Nothing shocks her. She has a much healthier appreciation of the complex truth of human experience than someone like me.

She is three years my senior, so I grew up with her and her stories. Most often I didn’t believe her about alcoholism, adultery, out-of-wedlock births, undisclosed gender and sexuality issues. How did she know all these things? She is a detective in her own right.

As a teen and adult, I began accepting that there were truths in her stories, and I have come to more greatly appreciate the complexity of human life.

Wednesday, Day 92 in Bahrain. This is Day 57 of The Isolation Journals with Suleika Jaouad.