In My Write Mind

Signed, I Miss You...

Dear Dad:

It's been a little over two months since you've been gone. I don't think I need to say it, but I will--I miss you. Well, everybody misses you.

I'm sure you know Mom is holding on, Sis and Niecey are working hard and the grandkids are growing like weeds. Kylie made honor roll again this month. She's such a gifted little girl, makes us all proud. Jay? Well, Jay's heart is in the right place...unfortunately his mind isn't. Yeah, they keep sending notes home about him acting up in class, not paying attention and talking to his neighbor instead of focusing on the teacher. They've threatened to send him home on more than one occasion. What's worrisome is that all the punishment in the world doesn't seem to faze him.

And that's why I'm writing this letter today, Dad. To ask you how. How in the world do we keep the kids' attention these days when there is so much going on around them that tells them not to listen? How do we instill good principles in them--like you did with us--if we can't even get them to respect their principals? When did school become a war zone pitting pupil against teacher?

When did it all become a joke?

The other day, Dad, when the Pacers brawled with the Piston fans, I thought of you. I saw the photos of those two little boys in the stands after the melee ended, just standing there crying and holding one another, shellshocked at such an early age by what had just taken place. That made my mind immediately race back to two different times when I was young. You remember them, don't you, Dad? My first baseball game at Yankee Stadium and the night at the gym across the street from our house when all hell broke loose.

The baseball game was great--sitting in the upper deck with a birdseye view of the whole field and the dark, clear sky above. The green grass, the hot dogs, the chance to see my hero, Willie Randolph. I will never forget the score of the game (Yankees 5, White Sox 3) or what happened in the 8th inning of that game. Yup, a brawl broke out between two men who had too much to drink, and too little sense. That was my first flash with violence (you know you sheltered us when we were little) and my heart was outside my chest when I saw the skirmish headed our way. You protected me that night, and told me that it wasn't normal for grown men to fight that way. I believed you.

I believed you a few years later, too, when we went to the gym ran by your boy Joe Davis. There I was, skinny kid with glasses, strapping on the boxing gloves and, for all intents and purposes, bouncing off the bag as I called myself punching it. It was a sight. Jumping rope, watching the amatuers during training--I loved it. Being there with you made it special.

And then--again--all hell broke loose as two wannabe pugilists took their earlier sparring match too seriously and started throwing chairs and tables at each other. I ran for cover underneath a table in a corner. And in the midst of the ruckus, I could hear you calling my name. I ran to you and we broke outta there. Once our hearts stopped racing, you again explained to me that it wasn't normal. That I shouldn't be afraid that things like that would happen all the time.

Well,, things like that are happening all the time. It's become the norm. And while I'm not scared for me, I'm definitely scared for Jay and Kylie. Scared that something like that will happen while they're on a school trip or in the school cafeteria. Scared that stepping on someone's sneaker or accidentally bumping someone might get them hurt. I'm scared that the things they see everyday, on the news, on cartoons, at school, in the streets...I'm scared they might view it all as something that should happen. As normal.

I'm scared that they might buy into that, turn into the instigators just to avoid being the victims. They're smart enough to do that, Dad, in order to survive.

Really, Dad, if we had to go through back then what Jay and Kylie have to face daily, would we have made it? Sure, I got chased home from school more than once, people made fun of my glasses and called me names like Four Eyes and Yellow Boy. But that was nothing compared to what goes on today. Weapons in schools? Cursing kindegarteners? How do I tell them how to deal with this, Dad?

I need to know the right things to say. They're 12 and 6 and have likely seen too much in their short lifetimes to disregard whatever I tell them. They probably saw the same footage I did of the fight the other night in Auburn Hills, or the one at the Vibe Awards in Santa Monica. Maybe they saw Pedro Martinez get beaned with a baseball at the Boston parade, or they see the mounting casualties from a war that shouldn't be.

So much has changed since you've been gone, Dad. You'll be happy to know that I'm taking life one day at a time without you. But one day, Dad, I'm gonna need you to tell me what the new normal is, because things that aren't supposed to happen...are happening all the time.

You told me back then that the world wasn't totally bad, that there was good in most men and that doing the right thing always paid off. Today, I believe I'm gonna need to hear that again, so I can tell that to Jay and Kylie, to those boys in the arena Friday night...and yes, Dad, to myself.

Your son,


scribbled by Will at 11/22/2004 01:40:00 PM
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Mind Droppings

I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. (Joan Didion)

The Write One

Will. Lefty. Since Summer 1971.
Over the next six months, I'll be saying some hellos, some goodbyes. Living, laughing, growing. Don't.miss.a.word.
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