Farewell and thank you, Dr. Bill – William Carroll, Ph.D., 1936-2010

THIRD & FOURTH STANZAS*

III
We would be one in sharing joy and sorrow,
Sharing those morsels that make living sweet;
Sharing our woes bitter and hard to swallow
With those in power and those out on the street.
We would be one as we greet each tomorrow
Knowing in life, that joys and sorrows meet.

IV
We sing the song all Nature sings inside us,
A song of universal harmony.
We lift our voices in the cause of freedom
And peace and love for all humanity;
With faith and hope and charity to guide us,
We seek the truth, that truth that makes us free.

2003

* Intended as third and fourth stanzas for a Presbyterian hymn by Samuel Anthony Wright entitled “We Would Be One,” based on the “Finlandia” melody by Jean Sibelius. Dedicated to Carl Hansen, Member, Senior Choir, Unitarian Church of Norfolk, Unitarian Universalist (Carl and Choral Director Dolph Hailstork had complained that the piece was too short as written in our hymnal.)


A POSSIBLE EPITAPH?

I lived my life, I had some fun;
I loved my wife, loved everyone
With deep heartfelt compassion.

I tried to dance, I sang my song;
And if perchance I did some wrong,
‘Twas not for form or fashion.

The wrongs I did were just the things
That being human sometimes brings;
I meant no serious harm.

I lasted long enough to be
A senior beneficiary;
And then I bought the farm.

May 2002

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Mendel Denise Service: Requiem for a Stranger

How is Mrs. Futrel?
I ask.
I forget we die here.
I don’t want to.
I don’t want to die here.

She died Monday, Sunday or Tuesday no one
Really knows.
This is the response
I get to my query.

The sadness falls on me.
Another stranger has died.

Three years we shared the same community.
We were separated by her fervent belief in God and Jesus
And my mission to be free of all traditional truth

I recall a stately, classy lady.

In the last two or three images she is not
Tall as she was in the beginning years.
She is no longer managing the senior dinner fundraisers.

I feel a pain in my side.
It is persistent.

I make an appointment with my doctor for the next day.
I am surrounded by the dying, the sick the infirm.

I sense the tomb of forgotten lives and people, in a
140 unit building for seniors and the disabled.
Encasing me in paranoia.

Sometimes being around so much death, dying and
Illness is too much.

I know the pain in my side and
Five straight days of vomiting
Is probably nothing.

It might be reaction to my diabetes medication
Or to the meds I take for high blood pressure.

I might have the flu or the virus
that is going around.
But as I lie in my bed,
My side aching, I am nervous.

I worry because so many of the fellow riders on
Handi Ride are going to or from dialysis.
They talk about cancer,
Losing a leg to gangrene because a doctor
Ignored them for a year and treated a foot injury
With ‘it will get better’ and it didn’t.
She said she passed out and woke up in a hospital
with her leg missing.

Sometimes I get depressed,
Then possibly overly cautious.
The doctor will probably tell me it is nothing,
But news of another death worries me.

I wonder if I will leave this
place walking out
Into a dream
or in one of the black bags
I saw so frequently the
First year I arrived.

I give this tribute to the
Stranger with the feisty spirit
And strong beliefs in her God,
To the life now a memory
To myself.

Dear stranger,
hope you are in the place you fought to get to
The place you believed existed.

I pause.

Why is your death so significant to me?
I did not know you.  We barely spoke.
I resented how you imposed your religious
beliefs on my life.
I resented how little breathing was
Possible when you and others made
Sure that every event was prayed over,
Every event was a form of your prayer.
Every event in this building was
Somehow made religious.

I did not resent you having a
Belief or a truth that carried you
But hated feeling invisible.

Perhaps, part of my true reason
For my feelings is
I sorrow most not
The fear of death
But my fear of living

Now, I want not to be so
Buried in what I perceive as safe
So that I allow my voice to be
Silenced, my existence to be hidden.
My passions dulled my life force numbed.
That path of surviving is no longer an option.
I want more.

What I saw in you was someone who
Did not quiver, quake or doubt her life
By hiding what was right for her.
You knew your values.
You honored them.
You lived an honored life.

I, too, can do that.
I, too can live
Before dying

Blessings
Dear stranger
Peace.

© 2010 Mendel Denise Service. All Rights Reserved. www.createwithus.com

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Aaron Hegele: The Marsh

The marsh sighted from the
Ship’s hangar bay is an unlikely
Landmark. We seem so close
We could grasp what is there.
I wish I could mark this passage
For a long time in my mind.
Soundless and rich as her voice
My memory echoes. As rich
As her voice is the sight.

Here there is a promise of a
Particular feeling.

Waterway and calm ocean
Intertwine.
Her body and mine were once
One in my dreams.
Her life and mine were bound
Together and still are, until we,
Our dreams gone different
Directions, slowly lose sight
Of one another.

Sky blue and waterway azure
A spongy land alternately or
Partially covered with water.

My mind rushes ahead to liberty,
When we’re back in port,
When I can feel the wind in
My hair as I ride in my car.

I ride on the highway,
And the right rock song is
Playing on my stereo.

So the words, music and the
Night air remind me not
Of the promise of tonight’s
New adventure, or of the marsh,
But of her.

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lib rosenzweig: 6,000,000? What is it? Remembrance!

Who can say and feel and see?
What is 6 million?
Who can fathom it?

What is 1 million?
It’s 10 x 100,000.

What is 100,000?
It’s 10 x 10,000.

What is 10,000?
It’s 10 x 1,000.

And so it goes…
1,000 made up of
10 x 100
and
10 x 10
and
10 x 1 … one, ah

It’s one, living and breathing
laughing and weeping
longing and yearning
hurting and helping
individual – one breathing,
in the end, it’s One
created in God’s image
in His image He created it, One!

Can you fathom it?
Now you know what 6,000,000 are made of:
It’s one, 6 million times – it was.
Now can you see?
Now you know?
Now you know!
One living, breathing – not any more.

Holocaust Remembrance, April 30, 1987

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David A. Green: Out of the Yoke of Bondage

David A. Green is the author of The Beginning of Sorrows, Tonya Baldwin, Predetermined Legacy, The Young and the Foolish, and Out of the Yoke of Bondage. He served as assistant pastor and radio evangelist for the Gospel Spreading Church of God for several years. He now lives in Hampton, where he continues to write for pleasure and encouragement.

Donald and Mickey were standing on the corner of Queen Street and Back River Road when the white utility van pulled up to them. The back doors flung open and the Satan Warriors that were in it saw the two standing there. Brandon was in the van, and when he saw Donald he said, “Who are you?”

“I’m Donald King, aka the Pharmacist,” he said. Everyone in the van looked at him with amazement.

Brandon could not believe it. “Get in! Both of you!” The two climbed up and closed the doors.  When they were seated on the floor the van took off.

Donald looked around the van to see that it contained eight members of the gang. To his comfort, Crack was not present. He then asked, “Who is the leader?”

“I’m Brandon, and this is King. You talk to us,” he said as King nodded.

“I’ve heard a lot about you, Pharmacist! One of my lieutenants wants to kill you!” said King.

Donald was slow to speak. “I came here today to make a deal with you.”

Brandon and King looked at each other. “Speak!” said King.

“Mickey Burns is not gang material,” said Donald. “His cousin got killed in an ambush over in Norfolk and he wanted to get even. He did not think, and before he knew it he had joined the Warriors. He has since realized that he has made a mistake, gang banging is not for him, and he wants out.”

Brandon looked at Mickey. “Why should the Warriors let him go?”

“Because Jesus Christ has claimed him as his own. He surrendered his life to the Savior earlier today, and he is determined to walk with the Lord, and obey his words.”

King said, “You came here to make a deal?”

Donald paused then spoke. “My life for his and his family.” Gang members looked at each other and laughed.

“Quiet!” said King as the van became silent. He then pulled a switchblade from his pocket, and springing the blade from the handle, he jumped at Donald, who did not move. Grabbing him by the collar and laying him on the floor, he placed the point against his throat. “You are crazy to come up in this van! I could kill you both and toss you over the James River Bridge! You took a chance!” Mickey was shaking horribly, but Donald did not flinch. King noticed that he was not afraid, and after a moment, he released him and let him up. “You not afraid of me?”

Donald said, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Rising up off the floor, he said. “I came here to die, and I was expecting nothing less. I know Crack wants me dead and I am willing to make that sacrifice. But this young boy deserves a better chance than what you can give him. Jesus Christ took my place on the cross, and he died in my stead. Now I want to do the same for Mickey and his family. If you kill me, I will have lost nothing, because I have Jesus. But if you die in your sins, you will be lost through eternity. I want to take Mickey’s place. Do with me whatever you see fit, but let him and his family live.”

King listened to his words before he spoke. “I remember when I was little, my mother used to tell me about a man that could take away sin. She said he could exchange his good life for my bad life and I could be free. She was talking about Jesus.” He then looked at Mickey, who was still shaking, and said, “I wish I could be free, but I’ve done too much. But Mickey, he has done nothing. I say we let them both go, and his family not be harmed.” Brandon nodded, and so did the other gang members.

Just then, the driver’s cell phone rang. Answering it, he said, “Yo, King!”

King took the phone. “Yeah.” After listening a few moments, he said, “Keep him cornered and don’t let him get away! We’ll be right there!” Folding up the cell phone, he said to Donald, “You don’t have to worry about Crack anymore. He’s no longer a Warrior. My boys have cornered him down in Norfolk, and we are going to deal with him right now. You two can get out here.”

The van pulled over to the Hampton Public Library. As Donald and Mickey jumped out of the van, King said, “Crack should have left you alone! The Warriors have nothing against you, and because Crack disobeyed me, I am going to take him down.” The doors closed up and the van sped off towards the interstate.

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Alan Fletcher – Sioux Me: Stories from the Reservation

Alan Fletcher was a Family Doctor/Surgeon on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana from 1962 to 1966. Sioux Me is a collection of stories about his experiences during that time, mainly with the Sioux Indians.

One day at the end of morning rounds, Betty asked me to check on an old Indian lady in the nursing home.

“What’s wrong with her?” I asked.

“Oh, you go in there and she’ll tell you.” Betty said with a straight face.

So I breezed into the room, putting on my best cheerful and professional manner and said, “Well now, old friend, what seems to be the problem?”

She looked at me carefully for a long time, as if deciding whether or not to talk to this condescending youngster, and then answered slowly, in a firm clear voice, “I’m going to die tonight.”

That was the last thing I expected to hear, and it rocked me back on my heels for a moment.

“Why do you say that?” I asked in a less breezy tone. She answered deliberately, as if talking kindly to a child, “Because the three people in white came to see me last night, and they said I must go with them tonight, so I have time to say goodbye to my friends today. “

She did not seem agitated or disturbed, just calmly resigned and matter of fact.

I turned to Betty, who seemed as undisturbed as the old lady, and said “Old people often get confused at night, especially if they are not in their own homes. I expect it was some nurse in white who was checking her during the night. “

“I expect that’s what it was, doctor.” she agreed without much conviction.

In any case, I was sufficiently rattled that I gave the old lady a thorough examination including an E.K.G which was normal except for a mild bundle branch block, not an unusual tracing for her age.

“Just a bad dream, Grandma,” I said.

She looked at me and said nothing, but simply smiled at me with an endearing lack of teeth. In the middle of the night, I received a phone call. The old lady had died peacefully in her sleep. Next morning, when I saw Betty, she smiled knowingly at me.

“You’ve seen this before, haven’t you?” I asked her.

She acknowledged that she had.

“Why didn’t you tell me about it then?” I asked.

“Because I knew you would laugh at me, until you saw it for yourself” she said.

Over the following years, I had almost identical experiences which involved the people in white appearing to Indian patients

I am not a skeptic anymore.

See it at Amazon.com

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Elaine T. Jones turns memories into fiction

Elaine T. Jones is a retired educator who continues to be active in her community. Elaine holds a Bachelor’s degree from Drexel University in Philadelphia. PA. She did her Master’s studies at Temple University. She is the mother of four, grandmother of five, and great grandmother of one… After retirement, Elaine began to write; Price Road is her first novel.

Price Road is the story of a White postman, Ed O’Reilly, who delivered mail on Price Road, a primarily Black community in North Carolina, in the 1940s and 50s – when Jim Crow Laws were in effect below the Mason Dixon Line. The place is real; the history is factual; the characters are composites of people Elaine recalls from her youth when she visited her grandparents, who lived on Price Road.

A large white delivery truck came down Price Road – fast – just as a car turned onto Shady Grove Road; the truck couldn’t stop fast enough, and the car was pushed into a tree on the church grounds. The car was crushed like an accordion.

Although Ed had only been on the job for a few months when the car accident happened, he was already friendly with the people on his route; therefore, he knew who was in the mangled car. Every cell in Ed’s entire body recalled the same pain, anxiety, fear, and sorrow that he felt that on that dreadful day. It was hard for Ed to look at that tree – it still smacked of tragedy, yet he couldn’t stop himself from looking every time he drove by. Someone planted a beautiful white rose bush at the base of the tree where the crushed car had been; the magnificent flowers shared the space with the large roots of the elderly tree and defiantly reappeared every year. Larger.

The accident occurred on a Wednesday afternoon; Ed was driving back down Price Road, on his return trip to the post office. It was Ed who instinctively drove as fast as he could to tell Big Mom what happened. He took Big Mom and Perry to the scene; they never stopped thanking him for that even though Ed told them that he didn’t think he had done anything extraordinary. Ed remembered how he instinctively removed the mailbag from the passenger seat to let Big Mom sit in the front of the car because it was the right thing to do. Still, Ed remembered the sense of relief he felt when he saw that there were no other White people around; thank God, he didn’t have to explain his actions to anyone.

As Ed looked back on that day, he wondered why such thoughts even entered his mind. As he relived his thinking at the time, Ed recalled the feeling of an internal conflict. That was the day when he first became aware of the fighting going on in his head between the Inside Ed and the Outside Ed. It was as if he were two beings rolled into one. His mind was as much a battlefield as Gettysburg. The Inside Ed felt stifled, and struggled with the fear of being discovered in his hiding place because if he was recognized he might be required to lead or act in some way – like John Brown. Ed knew the song about John Brown lying in the grave. John Brown was executed, and Inside Ed did not want to be placed in the position of opposing the majority; he was not a John Brown. The Inside Ed was concerned with what other people saw in him every time he emerged; therefore, he spent most of his time imprisoned deep in the dungeon of denial. Still on occasion, Inside Ed found the nerve to escape from his hiding place to do something he felt was right, albeit only covertly, as he did on the day of the accident.

The Outside Ed fought for the dominance of Ed O’Reilly’s mind; he was the smiling, happy go lucky, carefree personality that enjoyed being accepted by his friends and relatives. Outside Ed did not think his own thoughts; he always chose the path of least resistance. As long as he wasn’t the instigator, his position regarding racial and social issues was – ‘It’s not my responsibility.’ It was fear that controlled both Inside Ed and Outside Ed for different reasons; a fear that was hidden under the skin, but a fear nonetheless. Neither of these personalities was free, and their fight for the control of Ed O’Reilly’s mind felt like pure pandemonium under his skull.

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