Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hurricane Rita - 8 years Ago

Hurricane Rita hit 8 years ago. Me, Reggie Johnson, and Jesse Gomez rode the storm out. We watched about 130am our neighbor's houses burning to the ground - the wind was so strong the rain was laying and falling horizontally. We could hear the crashing sounds of, what we later learned was trees falling all around. The metal roof from the old Carroll Wallace Funeral Home blew our way - damaging our store, causing rain to come in and damage everything in it.  My van windows had been blown out and water was about 5" thick inside - soaking the carpeting and seats.  We had siding damages, roof damages, fences down - in the break of the dawn - I could see total devastation. I was overwhelmed. I rounded the corner of Park and Craig - I saw the American Flag still waving at the VFW hall down the street - seeing the flag - brought hope. The wind was no more.  It felt as if there wasn't an ounce of air to breathe.  Hurricane Rita had sucked it all out, it felt.  

I didn't know which foot to put in front of the other. Friends called - friends and family came bringing supplies and food. I fed 14 people in this neighborhood 3 meals a day for 10 days before Red Cross came in. I was furious that the family of a 90 year old who lived next door.  They left her here to ride out the storm, alone.  She was so afraid the next morning when she came out - her lips were white.  We took her in. Her family came back 7 days later. 
We slept on the concrete under the patio covering at night with mosquitos swarming us  - just trying to stay cool.   

I will forever be grateful to Jerry & Kathy Wolford, as well as their friend who came with a dozer and worked with us for almost a week - cleaning up,  packing up,  and trying to save what they could. Depression set in. It has taken a long time to overcome the losses - and to make repairs - and, still, not all of the repairs are made. 

I'm not alone in the "not all repairs are made" - I still hear people trying to recoup and repair. Many houses and businesses were torn down by the City after this. The City of Beaumont, does not make proper notifications when they are going to tear down your properties. I had 3 that the city tore down - without my knowledge - 2 - not a thing wrong. The City was given FEMA Grant money - but yet, wants to charge folks for the demolitions. Some of the demolitions cost more than the value of the property. Many of these homes could have been repaired. The young lady who suggests these tear downs - has no degree in architecture - but yet - it's all approved. Hurricane Rita was costly - in many ways for many people. 

Yet, we have all survived. We are alive, material things can be replaced - maybe not all of them - but we are at least alive to tell the story.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Today we are celebrating the life of my friend, Nishie Holliday Thomas.  I am not good with good-byes.  I feel the loss deep in my heart. 

Nishie has been sick for some time now.  Her death is a healing – for her.  Her life and our friendship – has been a healing for me.

When I first met Nishie – I was coming off of a really bad divorce.  I had just bought my house.  I was alone.  I didn’t feel even good about myself.

Nishie’s radiant smile warmed my heart.  And, over the years, the friendship grew.

One time I was having a FIT trying to put a block together.  I had ripped it so many times.  I finally took all the pieces to Nishie and asked for help.

She looked at the pieces, then at me and back at the pieces.  She said, “Check it out.”  I looked.  I didn’t see what she was talking about. 

Nishie said, “When the pieces are right side up, they always fit.” 

That simple line has played over in my head since Nishie died.  And, this morning it hits me – When the pieces in our lives are always right side up – God’s plan for our lives fits perfectly. 

Even in death, my friend still teaches me.  I’m so grateful she got her wings – and I hope she sang at the top of her lungs all the way to Heaven.  I’m gonna miss you, girlfriend.  And, I will never stop loving you.  


Cousins - - - -

Sometimes I think FaceBook is the best thing since Apple Pie – then there are other times I see things that brings my heart down or as I usually say "puts my smile at a slant."

This morning was one of those “slant my smile” days for a little while. 

Evidently there was a “cousins” day where all the females got together, or at least that was who was in the picture, at another cousin’s gorgeous home.  I was not invited.  I didn’t know anything about it.  I felt very detached and dejected.

I sat for a long time through tears and looked at each of their faces.  The outward beauty – and then I thought, “but I know where some of their hearts really are.”

I thought of the control a few has on others, the fear of retribution from a couple of them that a few has, should they befriend me, the honesty of many, the hardships of some – and each one – “has a story” – and I probably – no – I have several of my own.

I “told a secret” that I had no idea was a secret …..  several years ago.  That was the beginning – of being told ‘you aren’t a part of us’.   I didn’t agree with someone’s political philosophy – so I was wrong.  I didn’t agree with accepting someone who had not been a part of this “clan” with open arms after she got out of prison for murdering her husband and threatening to kill me after testifying at her trial – forgive her, I did that a long time ago – pray for her – I have done that many many times – and I wish her the best life can offer her – I just chose not to be around her or for her to know what goes on in my life.  I was accused of “tainting others to unfriend  one” – little does she know – she did that on her own – and honestly, I had no clue, at the time,  what she was talking about. 

The more I looked at the picture – I realized – I don’t have to be a part of a group to know where I stand – and who I am, what my beliefs are, or what journey I am taking in life. The absence of being in this group does not make me any more nor any less of a person – none pay my bills; none knows my business; none cares whether I am well or ill.  

I hold nothing against any of them.  I pray for them all.  

 Now, when I look at the picture, I smile – and say, “that’s a beautiful bunch of ladies” and I wish ‘em all well in their life’s journey.  Life is way too short to hold any grudges or try to make someone like who you are without allowing them to dictate or control your thoughts and desires.   And, in the end, it is their heart that they will worry over – I just hope no one has regrets.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Our Client

I have a client that I think the world of.  I don't like to get "close" to a client - so when I say "I think the world of", in this case, that means I think he is getting a raw deal and has gotten a raw deal all his life.

I am in contact with family members.  They are potential witnesses.  We agreed to meet at a location that they chose and the time of their choosing.  I had reservations about the location, but thought, "What the heck.  Just meet get the information you need and keep on going."

I arrived early, so that I could eat a breakfast, say some prayers, get my thoughts in order before the meeting. The attorney arrived shortly after me.  We were prepared.  The "Auntie" phoned to ask "Have you left yet?"  I responded, "Yes ma'am I am already here waiting on ya'll."

Now keep in mind the family was demanding to talk with us.  Communication(s) is a big thing with defendants and a lot of time with their families.  Ethically, we did the right thing.

After 1.5 hours of them being late and 4 phone calls later they arrived. 

I endured 3.5 hours of 7 out of 8 of the rudest, wildest kids in a restaurant this morning - I am grateful I am not a teacher. 

 Auntie and Mama of client shows up - then cousin with EIGHT kids. Cousin, who is about 35 years old,  takes her 3 and goes to the other side of the place - where I later learn she talked some older couple into buying their breakfast - though according - they had already eaten at home. 

The other 5 children are left with us 4 adults - every time the waitresses brought food past - the kids would say "I'm hungry". 

Well the atty nor I are going to let kids be hungry. So we buy breakfast - later to find they had already eaten as well. One ate  like a dog would eat, the other sneezes snot all over the place, and the dog eater knocks off her juice to the floor acting a fool. The others were very well mannered. When the little one gets through with her 3 pancakes - she says "I want more" I said, "No, that's enough." 

We furnished pens, paper, and other things to entertain these kids while the cousin/mama is around the corner mooching off of folks. We asked the adult cousin if the kids go to a boys/girls club? She said "no they don't want to go" I said, "who is the parent you or them?" 

After a while I had endured all I could.  In the mean time - they had ordered MORE sodas and drinks and told the people to put it on my tab. I said "Oh no! You should've asked me first! I am not paying"

I finally gather kids and cousin to go outside for a group picture.  Her son, a big hulk of a lad, was ticked because I asked him to stop shouting in a restaurant.  He tried to knock my iPad and phone out of my hands.  I told him that was rude and uncalled for.  I told him, "these things cost money."  He responded, "white folks have money so it's no big deal to you."   Cousin/Mama asked him "Boy what did you do?"  He responded, "She lying on me."   

After the photo I told her,   "You take 'em to the car and don't bring them back in there."   It was mid-70's so not too hot. 

About 30 minutes after they went to the car - another waitress came and said, "that lady said to put her banana split on your tab" I said "I AM NOT paying for a grown woman's food - I did not authorize that I am not paying." Cousin heard me and skee-daddled to the car.

I understand poor. Truly I do. But I do not understand, nor accept. rude, ill-mannered and takers. 

I know that God puts us in places at times for reasons we do not understand - or in circumstances we do not understand - through all of this - the one lone kid - Lloyd - was a jewel - a real diamond in the rough - who has a God-given talent in art. He would look at a picture and draw it to perfection. Cousin kept saying, "That is a waste of his time all he wants to do is draw." 

We encouraged him. On the way home, I stopped to get art supplies to ship to him - ironically - so did the attorney - without either of us knowing what each other was doing.  Folks, if we don't teach or encourage our kids in positive ways  - whether they are ours by birth or some breeder's kids - we are losing these children to the juvenile system.  As nerve wracking and hectic and unsettling as this morning has been,  I know why these kids were there - his name was Lloyd.  It was our job to encourage Lloyd.  To let him know that what he was doing was a good thing.  And, that there are people who care.

The look on Lloyd's face when we each said we wanted a picture drawn by him  - and we wanted him to sign and date his art work - was priceless.  We couldn't have given that child anything greater.

Encourage a child.  Train up a child to be kind, honest, productive citizens - instead of takers and haters.  

Yes, there are a lot of Lloyd's in the world.  I hope our little influence will keep him on the right path.