Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Thank You Thomas

Time have passed and I haven’t written or logged my thoughts about a lot of events that have occurred in this life I have been blessed to live, but a lost occurred yesterday and I needed to share.
As I was driving to my destination, I received a call from my better half. This isn't too unusual as she is always ensuring that I am safe and checking in to make sure that I haven’t fell in the lake while fishing or got lost on the way to work. I’ll gotten accustom to her doing this and when she don’t, I begin to wonder what is wrong, if she is o.k., or I know she is upset with me. Either way, I took the call as normal
“Hello.” I answered.
“How are you doing? She asked.
“Fine, just bored the trip is longer than I expected.” I explained.
“Sometimes they are that way.”  She continued on. “I need to tell you something. Before you hear about it or read it on Facebook, but Thomas died this morning.”
I got silent as I little a part of me begin to retreat deep within and prepare how I would handle this news.  I have suffered losses before and with each delivery, I go through this preparation.  The onslaught of emotions that I truly dislike, sadness, guilt, regret, and anger and how I will deal with them. These emotions place me in a world where control is loosely held and I must control my emotions, otherwise, I can make very bad heartbreaking decisions.  So I breathe, pause to allow processing, and then respond.
“Oh, Wow. That I knew he was ill and just spoke to Lucas and Robert (other brothers of mine) about his condition. I planned to see him this afternoon or Monday as I found out he was in the hospital.  But I had no idea he was that ill.”
 I thanked her for the information, continue the conversation about other subject matter and then ended the conversation. As I continue on, this news of his death, this loss of life coupled with plenty of time to reminisce provided the ample opportunity for my brain to wonder and my emotions to run amuck.  I begin to think about times and conversation I had with Thomas, his unique, but straight forward sense of humor and communicating.  I first met him as a young man when I dated his step daughter.  I was scared, but not terrified of dealing with him he was polite, but stern about the treatment of her.  My relationship with his step daughter like his relationship with her mother ended.  I felt this gave us something in common to talk about and it did, like the women who left many marks in our lives.  Good, we were through with them, but sad because any loss is a bad one.  Glad that they provided us with other tools to address other females, but mad because we didn't get to really close the deal like we should have.  These type of conversations occurred over the years as well as talks about other things. like similar jobs, we both worked at the local Wal-Mart as well as the social service field.  He made his share of enemies and I have been informed that there are people who don’t like me as well.

This was also a topic of conversation between Thomas and me.  He, being much older than I, retired.  This, I would have assume to be a big event for him and those who knew him, but I was surprised at the reluctance of people to celebrate the success of a fellow or ex-coworker.  They refused or stated they were too busy to attend or even send anything.  He took this in stride and moved on. He always told me that “You can’t give a damn about what others feel about your success. As long as you know that you have done your best then to Hell with them. Move forward and continue to do what is right.”

After his retirement, Thomas became my brother when I joined The Men On The Move Civic group. This was an achievement for me and I was glad to fellowship with him.  I am glad that I was given this opportunity. I truly hate that he was taken so soon and wished that there were more time to say:

Thank you for the encouragement to continue on my dreams, Thanks for the support in dealing with heartache and confusion. Thanks for the laughs and the views of women that I wouldn't have known. Thanks for the connections at my job and with yours. Thanks for the wisdom that was freely given, but most all Thanks for being there for us all. Rest in Peace Thomas Harper. And although, you are not here in flesh, you will always be here in spirit. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011


picture via http://jackieshawministries.com
Hmm.. been a wild ride these last few weeks..a long time and  a lot of thoughts I wanted to blog about. Being a four day "weekend," thanks to a furlough day and a holiday connect, I am given the opportunity to blog today. Today I'm blogging about HOPE. Why you may ask? Well through these past few weeks this is what I have noticed was my families, especially the children, form of energy.

I have noticed how HOPE have help them through these long days, nights, and weeks that they have been awaiting the return to norm or a better life. I, myself, often think this was foolish as the expectation for success for some of my families is really slim, more like finding the infamous needle in a hay stack.  Either way, these families do not give up HOPE. They look to me and the agency for HOPE and guidance to achieve their goals.  This can be very draining and I often loose HOPE myself.  I am only human, but often feel that I have to be more. I have to state that I am fortunate to have other people I can draw the energies needed to keep going.

Now as parents, we often get to the point where we are HOPELESS. Things are not going the way we planned, others are trying their best to hold us down,  and all other things seem to get in our way. But remember that there are others really depending on you, looking for you to keep the HOPE and provide for them.  Their smiles, and health is where you have to draw your HOPE from, because things are presented to us as a way to test our resolve-to ensure you are worthy to call yourself a parent, a care giver, or a protector.

No matter what you may feel about the current situation your experiencing at this moment, I want you to remember this:
  1. Your children will always love you-maybe not in the form that you want but they do love you
  2. Any mistakes you make as a parent can be viewed as a lesson for your children-so if you make one. Own It. Address It. And Move On.
  3. Always love yourself so that you can love your children
  4. Remember HOPE. Helping Others Perceive Excellence-So that they an Achieve it.

So keep up the good work and don't forget HOPE 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

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Image via PicGifs.com
Today I was listening to NPR and they were talking about breakups. The story that grabbed my attention was the example given by a little girl who wanted to know why her parents were getting divorced.  She explained that the she wanted to know the real reason why and not adults told her and not the regular answer of "it will be ok answer."

While listening to the story and her want of the reconnection of her parents,  it brought back memories of my feeling when my parents separated.  I recalled that same feeling of "why" and the urge of wanting them to get back together even I knew this was not going to happen (cause my mother told me she would NEVER get back with him). I knew this and experiences the reason why my mother left my father in the first place. But this did not stop me from wanting them to be back together. That want of normalcy, that longing to be like the child in school where their father came to the school to pick them up during "parent pickup" or to go to take me fishing. I recall sitting with the friendly man (counselor) as a child and telling him I wanted my mommy and my daddy to be together. Why? I don't know I knew my daddy was really mean to my mommy and me, that he would do real bad stuff to me and cause me pain, embarrassment, and anger. But I didn't care it was this longing a deep desire.

Now why would I want to live with a guy who not only put a gun to my mother's, head pull the trigger (thank god it misfired) whiled I watched but beat me senseless on several occasions? Is it a biological longing to be with your parent you bonded with regardless of their shortcomings?

I know as a social worker, the children in care 99.9% of the time want to go home with their caregiver that caused them harm, they return home after care 99.9% of the time and will quickly turn on you if you talk bad about their caregivers.  So maybe it's a biological thing.  Don't really know.

Regardless of their reasoning, it reminds me of another one of the reasons, I try and encourages caretakers when dealing with children with missing caregivers to remembers it is very important to support the relationship in whatever form is allowed by law. As the child will seek this relationship out and draw their own conclusions about the missing caregiver. I know I did, my mother who wasn't very supportive of our relationship with my father (and she had a justifiable concern), didn't allow this. But I kept wondering if he (father) was so bad, why would my mother
          1. hook up with him
          2. marry him
          3. have several children from him over a several year period.
It didn't make sense  to me. So if I wasn't getting a answer from her I was going to get it from the source (father and his family). Well it took me several years to get this answer. And I found out that
          1. my father was not as big of a POS as my family called him and lead me to believe
          2. that my mother and father really loved each other
          3. that substance abuse is a terrible disease.
This help me deal with some of the unanswered questions and as I got older, experience life (relationships) I was able to understand the complexities of the relationship, and the hard decisions made when becoming a parent and dealing with unpleasant situations. As parents we often have to deal with these type of situations, but it makes me wonder and I ask. If (I know most never want to think this) but if you were ending your current relationship, how  would you explain this to your children? What would you say? Would you allow your emotions to cloud your judgment regarding the children? Often they are used as pawns in relationships. Would this be you? Would you tell them the truth?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

You Can't Tell Me what to Do.."Laugh Now Cry Later"

image via Photobucket
Ok, is it me or do I get told what to day ALL the time? Really I'm tired of hearing about or reading that people feel that the government is telling what to do more now.  Hmm..let me think.. We have ALWAYS been told what we can do. It's part of being in a society, family, or relationship. Someone WILL and I say WILL tell you what you CAN and CAN NOT do. And guess you don't have to do what they say, but guess what? You then will have to pay the price. Some times its a tongue lashing, sometimes its fine, some times it's your freedom and even you can pay with your life.  And in the end you didn't have to do what they told you to do (true), but you did have to suffer.."Laugh now Cry later."

I  guess this struck me as weird because of the whole health care issue. Yes things are not the best in the good old USA, but I always thought this was a place where we all were created equal..But as a child you quickly learned..you maybe created equal, but your economic standing will affect what you are allowed to have or do.  And now when we have an opportunity to treat most people fairly, why keeping people well is a problem, I don't know? Is it because we don't want to be told to do?  Is it our "we should have stuff for free?" I like free ninety nine as much as the other guy, but we have to put in the pot to get something out of it.  Its cost money to take care of everyone. Pay in so you can use when you need. Cause regardless where you want to use it or not, when  it time for it (life or death situation), you will want the same treatment as the other guy. 

My feeling is they should treat healthcare like electric bills or any other mandated payment for service household expense. If you don't pay you don't get the services you need.  You're hurt, didn't pay..don't get to get help.  Could you imagine that? Sick people walking around spreading diseases, missing work, going to work ill, not living life to its full potential cause they have some ailment that  keep them from doing things like, babies born with medical issues that need immediate addressing or they die, things like that. Oh wait! That's how it is now. Let see how it would look, where we know we can be treated. I'm referring to emergency care. That's the critical stuff..body mangled, torn muscles, deep lacerations, broken bones, missing but found body parts that need attaching-that kinda stuff. But this isn't what we think about when we say people don't need healthcare coverage. It's the "it don't happen to me so I'm not worried about it" way of thinking. This type of thinking is the problem with our politics and our society.  This is the care we need when we want to live and if it was like other household expense. You come in..you didn't pay..you may or may not leave out, No one would  want this.  But hey! We have to pay for it. It's either "pay now or cry later."

So what do you feel? It's it society responsibility to provide for it's citizens or the citizens responsibility to provide for society? 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

You have Children? WOW!! Now that was a mistake.

Ok.. This may sound a little hypocritical coming from Me..A Social Worker who enjoys reunifying families. The hard ones that require a lot of work..like getting them to understand that children ARE people and have feelings that you have to consider 1st before yours.. But I have to say some parents..Just Don't Need Children.

I know..I know..I shouldn't think this way, but today was one of those days that re-enforced my belief. Well today I was working with a family that I know they love their child, and the child love them.  But they just don't get it. 

Parenting requires the ability to adapt. As adaptability will prevent the breakdown at Wal-Mart when your little one gets a case of volcanic diarrhea, while in the customer service line, and messes up that last diaper..and guess what? You didn't bring anymore. What to do when you have toxic green colored baby poo running down your arm?

Parenting requires that you can multitask. Because there are times in your parenting life when you are required to feed one child, while making sandwiches for the other, helping with homework, while talking on the phone with your significant about something that (important to them) but not so important to you. 

Parenting requires you to be a spy, private investigator, cop, jury, and judge all within the same conversation. How else can you bust, gather data, bring them home, allow for an explanation, and pass judgment when the child misbehaved. 

And those are just a few of the qualities you have to have. The problem is my poor parents don't have it. They just don't have the level of functioning that will allow them to be a THAT parent. They are doing their best, but I'm not sure if it 's gonna be enough. 
I am trying to provide them with assistance and requesting help from other community resources so that they can learn some of these basic skills, but they require time and practice. However, the system of foster care don't allow enough time for theses skills to be mastered. So should I give up and allow the child to remain in care? Or continue to tread along with them hoping they will get it? They really should not had a child. They were married and I know they love each dearly, but offspring was a mistake. Sometime I feel as a nation we should limit certain couples from reproducing, least until they master the required basic skills. Is that wrong? Should A Social Worker feel this way regarding problem parents? I know proper parenting is really based on who perceives the parenting and I considered this as well when working with all my families, but sometimes it just seem too much of a wish than reality. 

So tell me do you think that some people just should not have children? And If they do should we as a society remove these children and place them with more "normal" families?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I Am Gay...Can I Come Live With You?

I'm a heterosexual, African American, South Georgian male. These are just a few of the characteristics that I have chosen to share about myself today. And I choose theses three because I feel these are three I could not change no matter how hard I may try (not that I'm trying). I could experiment with the same sex (nope not interest in it); pretend to be another race (but my best attempts always can be seen as fake); and even move to other part of Georgia or the United States (have done that, but as soon as I speak, people ask/think "hmm your not from around here are you?").

So I have come to feel that this IS me and no way to change it. I was born this way and HEY either I embrace it or struggle to change it. 

I was blessed to be born in a family that accept me for my black male tomfoolery, "playa playa pimp pimp" mentality growing up. I was given (butt still sore) morals and taught right from wrong, attended church every Sunday (Even when on Christmas "yep" but that's another story), and studied hard in school passed and went to college.  But this was a good thing right? I was allowed (sorta) to become who I am.. to be a positive asset to my community, valued for my opinions (I do have a lot of those too), advice, and thoughts. And this was a good thing right? Well my first answer was "Yes." But then I presented this question by one of my children a while ago.

Question: "Well Mr. James, what if YOU had to tell your family whom hated you..that you were gay? Would you want to tell them this?"

I though about this for a while and then I stated "Yes I would tell them. I would tell them because your sexual orientation is just one of your characteristics. I know in a normal situation you would be with your parents whom have reared you since you were born, provided you with some sense of stability, and wanted the best for you. They would want you to be happy and address your "coming out" as a loving family would. But your not in this situation. Your sexual orientation maybe an issue with the family your trying to go with. They may have great issues about this and feel so uncomfortable in their own sexuality, have religious convictions, or just plain phobias that they may say subtle things that discriminate, be just plan out right mean, or try and "fix" you which I don't consider anything wrong with you and really isn't their place to address."

The child looked at me and stated, " I hear ya, Mr. James. But it's not fair. You didn't have to tell your family that you like girls did you? "

I responded, " No, I didn't"

He followed, "Then why does it matter who I like. So what if their uncomfortable, they should love me for who I am not who I love. My family state they are Christians and all that stuff. That they would love me regardless. But when It comes to me living with them..It's NO."  

By then the child have become to shed tears and shake.

I know, I responded, " It's really unfair to ask you to share such a personal part of your life to them. But we have to remember, who you like is a part of you just like your skin color. You can't change it and it be a natural part of you. You can't be honest with who you are unless you can be WHO you are. And where you are living effects how easily you can be who you are."

After a few minutes, the child stopped crying and looked away gazing out the car window as I drove towards our destination.

Now today when I think back to our conversation, I wonder how much WHO I am is based on my rearing. Is it really fair to say that I'm heterosexual by choice or by birth. Would I be any different If was reared by a non traditional family (male/male, female/female or even single parent)? I believe that true sexual orientation is biological. And it's really unfortunate that at this point in our country it's just a big of a debate as the right for women to choose what to do with their bodies. It's used as platform for votes, to deny citizens rights, and even to deny potential families from rearing children.  

When I think about the child I was talking with, I can't help and think how much easier placements would be if the child's orientation was considered the norm. How unwanted behaviors wouldn't be blamed on orientation. How the poor child wouldn't be considered a "threat to society, family or little children."  How this is so unfair, but hey that's a choice that is made by the child and with choices comes consequences right?  

So today my questions are who is responsible for the orientation for the child? If only heterosexuals can make babies and more heterosexuals rear children than homosexuals, so where is the "unwanted" orientation coming from?

Friday, July 1, 2011

"Yes Dear..Wait what did you Just Say?.."

Sometimes the best ideas come from you better half..And mine gave me a topic for today to blog about.. "Thanks baby..I'll pay You back later.." She found a quick quiz you can take that will find your language of love. The quiz was developed by Dr  Gary Chapman  and is a easy test. Just select your profile take the quiz and compare/discuss your results.   

My results were:

Love Language Scores:
7 Words of Affirmation
7 Quality Time
2 Receiving Gifts
11 Acts of Service
3 Physical Touch
Interpreting and Using Your Profile Score: 
The highest score indicates your primary love language (the highest score is 12). It's not uncommon to have two high scores, although one language does have a slight edge for most people. That just means two languages are important to you. The lower scores indicate those languages you seldom use to communicate love and which probably don't affect you very much on an emotional level.

Acts of Service
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an "Acts of Service" person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: "Let me do that for you." Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don't matter.

And I noticed that my language have changed over the years of being married. This also explains why I react to certain things when presented not only by my family but at work as well. I'm an Action person and I really do believe actions speak louder than words.

Often we wonder why our love ones don't feel truly loved and appreciated when we are expressing ourselves to them. And this is another tool to help us speak their language. 

       Why is it important to speak their language? Because effective communication is a key part of remaining within a healthy relationship for a starter.

I often talk to my parents about speaking their significant language. I refer to it as (person's name + ese) for an example my language is Jamesese (James-ease) my wife's is Sharonese (Shah-ron-ease). note: It have taken me years to learn this language, (it took a lot of late nights, tears, "I'm sorries" and gifts) I'm not fluent but darn near close..love you baby.

And it's important to learn their language so that when they say " Ok, I'll do it" you know they really mean " Ok , it will get done after I finish this show and the children are gone to bed, because I can't complete the task with the little ones running around begging and getting in the way." Or the answer is given " I'll be back in a minute." You know what is meant " I'll be back in a hour or so."

Learning your significant language not only cuts down on communication time (not that we need to talk to each other less) but it also expresses your love, dedication to the relationship, and makes it a whole lot easier to sleep at night.   So what do you think?.. Take the test (link below) , post your results if you like, and answer these questions: Do you feel the test was correct? Do you feel your significant speaks your language? Is it important to speak the correct language and why?  Do you speak your children language?

Look forward in discussion..Until next time