Tonight, well, this morning since I couldn’t sleep, I thought I might as well get out of bed for the second time and write a column about what I’m thinking about.
I started thinking about my dad.
I remember the first time I really felt like I had disappointed him.
It was when I was restricted to my glasses when driving.
I mean it’s not like I could help it, I was born that way for Pete’s sake.
But he, well, he was never restricted to his glasses and could read just fine without them. Some of my memories are of him looking over the top of them to read or do some intricate work.
I learned a lot from him.
He definitely could see real clearly.
That triggered me to think of a lot of other people in my world.
One very dear person is Yolanda. I was going to say her son Pierre, but well, then I thought about the rest of the family. There’s Doreen, Dominique, Betty and Phillippe and then there’s Pascale and her hubby Alcinto who fixed our computer long distance before, well way back in the last century, and he was halfway across the country, then there is their daughter Melissa and her twins.
Anyway, Yolanda, I swear I could have adopted that lady for a mom, I loved that lady. I remember one time I had to bring her from Cedar Rapids to Independence and we talked nonstop. It was one of those trips that I hated to see end.
Then there’s her son Pierre. Now I’ve known this family for probably pretty close to 30 years. Pierre is one of these guys that, yes, you guessed it comes from a french family. He lost his dad when he was young but his mom worked her tail off as a nurse to raise her 5 kids. And she did, and she did an awesome job.
Pierre is one of these guys that has learned to appreciate my sarcasm, and I think, I’m not sure, but he’s gotten a bit of his own over the years. And over the years our kids have grown to love him. He’s played countless hours of board games with our family over the years. He’s been one of those guys that has learned from his mom to work and take care of his family.
His sister is in the Army, and I think she’s probably as close to the top as she can get in her rankings. She has a heart of gold. I hadn’t seen her in decades and I just happened to be pulling up at Pierre’s house at the same time she pulled up. I recognized her right away, and I’m really not much of a hugger, but I didn’t have a choice. “Valerie!” she yelled and hopped out of her car and came over and gave me the biggest and tightest hug. It made my week. I quickly dropped off whatever it was I had come for and left, because I knew that Pierre and Pascale had a lot of catching up to do.
Then after working on my family tree tonight I ran across a name that made me think of Collette. This is one classy lady too. She’s a nurse and author, and she married a funny guy named Ron. Ttogether they have raised a beautiful family. This is one of my favorite military couples, as well.
Then I thought about her momma too, who I absolutely love. She is a quiet sort, but I always loved to see her.
I haven’t had much of a chance to talk to Ron and Collette for years, but fortunately we have Facebook and get to visit.
Let’s see then there is Lisa, my roommate from college who was from Aruba. I haven’t talked to her for years, but she has a wicked sense of humor too. I remember some of the deep conversations we’d have about all kinds of things. At the time I was facinated about her and her country. She was also into martial arts so was a bit intimidating until I got to know her.
Then there was also Rhoda who for some reason seemed to gravitate to our circle of friends. She was a sweetheart. She had a husband and a couple children at the time, so we didn’t get to spend a lot of time together, she’d come to classes then go home at the end of the day, but we did get to visit her home and she cooked us a meal like we’d never had before.
Then there was Roy. Our jobs at college put us in the kitchen together so I got to spend a lot of hours with him. He’s now a pastor in Pennsylvania and has been doing a lot of good in his community.
Then there’s Jean Jaques, another French guy that we know, I’m not sure where he’s at.
Then Isaac Arku who got to take a ride from Pennsylvania to Iowa in my ’79 Plymouth Valiant, in a rain storm, in the back seat. Bless his heart, he sat there for a long time before telling me that there was about 3 inches of water on the floor. Apparently salt and cars are not a good combination. Being my father’s daughter, I handed handed him a cup and told him to start baling. We had a lot of laughs over that. He’s also a pastor now.
Then there’s Willie and Billy both police officers. Stephen and Tina another pastor and wife. And then there is Pearl, I have no idea where she’s at, but we were pretty good friends when I was in high school. Let me see. Oh there is also Laverne and Linda, she was such a blast to hang around with. Then there was a gal who I didn’t really know, but I know she made me laugh because of her last name, it was Sparks and she introduced herself with a big motion with her hands when she said her last name.
But anyway, back to my dad.
I’m not sure what his thoughts were on a lot of these people, well, unfortunately I do.
Because, well, he wasn’t blind like I was.
See, if you asked me if I even KNOW any black people in the climate of the world today, I’d say, uh, um, well, hmm, let me think.
And I’ll bet I know more than the people I just mentioned above.
Oh yeah, they are just a few of the black people that I know.
Now, I WON’T say they are African-American because as my brother-in-law would point out, he’s french, NOT from Africa.
But when I look at him, I never think, he’s black. As a matter of fact, if we were in the same room and someone asked if any black people were in the room I’d probably look right at him and say, “No…”
I made the mistake of mentioning to Roy back in college, that he was neither black nor white, when the subject came up.
That didn’t sit well with him. But in my clunky way, I was saying what I just said, I didn’t see him as black and as me being white.
He was Roy and I was me.
The climate today has us tearing down statues hoping that somehow that will erase the era of slavery and that it will change the way that blacks looked at white people.
Did I say that backwards?
Is that racist?
Or is it so that it will change the way whites will look at blacks?
It won’t matter.
If you have eyesight like my dad did, you’ll see every white person in the room.
Or maybe you’ll see every black person in the room.
I was reminded when I was doing geneaology research tonight and the census report asked for how many slaves and how many free whites were in the house.
I made a note how many men and women were in the house and as I was transposing some notes that someone else had written, it didn’t even registered that again my eyesight had missed the “free white” words.
I was just counting heads to make sure I had the right number of kids of the right sex.
Tonight there was more news on about how they are taking down civil war statues, taking windows out of churches because they aren’t meeting someone’s approval, they’ve even taken the plate off of the pew that George Washington sat in at his church, because, well, we’re trying to do our own cleansing.
Unfortunately, it seems that we are handing out glasses so everyone can focus better on what makes us different.
As I said before, our family went and fought to end slavery, and the cost wasn’t small change.
I like to think that those guys were as blind as I am when it come to identifying whether someone is black or white.
They had to be. Who would go and get shot at if you’re afraid of someone that doesn’t look like you.
We had the privilege of visiting Gettysburg, and it was a solemn trip as we toured the battlegrounds.
The thought that kept coming back to me was the utter devastation our country was willing to put itself through to make everyone blind.
Even when the war was over, it lasted another hundred years.
Then it seemed to get really good.
Sure, there were a few knuckleheads here and there.
Now we have people handing out glasses and saying, “See? We are different. Soooo very different.You, me, we look NOTHING alike, so let’s have a street fight!”
A long time ago some guys from the north went down to the south to knock some sense into the heads in the south and won.
Recently someone started telling people, “You can’t see. Have some glasses. See?”
My answer was again, “No, we aren’t. And my eye sight is just fine thank you, maybe you need to take yours off…”