My Dad told me stories of his father dying when my dad was only eight years old and the things he had to do to help his mother (Big-mama) and sisters get enough food to survive. He rushed to the bakery to beat everybody to get the best pickings of day old bread and other bakery products. There were fights to get home with his findings. He had to pull his baby sister through the rows of cotton in Oklahoma as his whole family had to pick enough cotton to survive.
When I got a little older I watched my Big-mama wring a chicken’s neck and watch the headless chicken jumping and fluttering all around the yard. Then it would lay down and die. Afterward, she would put the chicken in boiling hot water and have my aunts pick (pluck) the feathers. Then she would singe (burn off) any left-over feathers still sticking out, before cleaning the insides. After cleaning the chicken, she would fry it up. Sometimes this included cooking the bony legs and feet. I also remember wooden outdoor toilets, wringer washing machines and washboards (rub boards), and clothes hanging outside on the clothesline. My how times have changed.
During this coronavirus, we have been asked to shelter in place, and keep our distance from people until mass testing comes along, or fewer cases of people are diagnosed and dying with the virus, and it’s safe to resume our normal routines. People are pulling their hair out. We’ve been asked to shelter in our homes for the last couple of weekends and people are going nuts. They want to go out to the parks, the beach, the walking trails, to church, to work, and to restaurants. Since they have to put off getting their hair done, or a hair cut, or their nails done, are the people spoiled? They can still pick up a chicken or steak to prepare or they can have it prepared and delivered to their home. I know we need to get back to work and there is not enough money pay our bills and do all the things we need to do. But we know it’s temporary, and times are gonn’a get better, soon.
Over the years I have written about starting your own business and buying your own property for the future. In times like these I think about my dad. He was frugal, cheap or just careful because he remembered the races to the bakery. Daddy would take us to the carnival or County fair but cautioned us that the carnival games were rigged for the carnival to win. He would tell us that the carnival barker wants the same thing you want, “the money in your pocket”. You can take it out of your pocket and put it in his pocket, it’s your choice. I know things are rough now, but they could be rougher. Start planning for tomorrow, so you won’t get caught without the next time times get rough. Be assured, it’s coming. We don’t know when or where.
It’s depressing but not surprising to learn that black men make up the majority of corona deaths. Life has been rough and most black men’s health is not good. There is a health disparity in this country that causes black men to have pre-existing conditions. Black men over 60 have sacrificed all of their lives, for their families, and their dignity. At least my grandfather and my uncles and my dad did, and I’m doing the same. I’ve cautioned my sons to take care of their health. It’s about family. Take care of them and things will go well for them. In making it alright for your family, you sacrifice. From my dad’s sacrifice, racing to the bakery, to buying the family home, I’ve sacrificed to live up to my dad’s teachings of passing down family lessons to live by. It’s something my sons can pass down to their sons.