Memory Lane

Dear Son,

I hope you enjoyed the beach as much as your parents. How are you doing out there on the West Coast? You’ve asked some interesting questions so this letter might be longer than usual. Oakland is full of history but to answer your question, I can say that those times were scary and uncertain. The Panthers had good intentions and when they arrived, the government did not know what to do with them. They struck fear in people and gave blacks a source of pride. They were also extreme at times and that helped lead to their downfall. Life for Black Americans was hard, but things have changed and today, young people have more opportunities than our generation. And you also have freedoms that did not exist many years ago. But that does not mean everything is perfect, it never is. Your mother and I have had a long journey together, but we had our obstacles. In fact, at the time we met, it was still taboo for us to be together. We stood out easily due to my afro and your mother’s red hair. And we sacrificed a great deal personally to be together. And on more than one occasion I thought a physical altercation might take place because of our union. There were places in America we could not travel through. But your mother stood by me, and I stood by her, and that is what matters Son.  In the film South Central from 1992 there’s a scene in the movie where Ali explains to Bobby how to stop his cycle of hate. Ali tells him that “hate is broken by giving and I give my love to you”. Son, always give your love to people and never hate them. Today your mother and I are grateful to each other for never giving up and we raised three kids together. I couldn’t ask for more. 

Running is great exercise and I loved running track in my younger days. I admit I’m not as fast today but never underestimate your old man; I can still leave you in the dust! Your mother is pleased to hear that you’re finding your way around the kitchen. Of course, she also thinks a woman’s presence is needed but I’ll hold her off. You keep doing what you’re doing.  But I am curious, what have you made in the kitchen? 

Son, cars have changed so much. You were young but there was a time when I would work on cars myself. The Buick I had was so easy to fix, I could take the car apart and put it back together again right outside the house. There’s no way I could do that today. A mechanic is a must have. Electric vehicles are all over the news, but I still don’t understand how everyone will charge their car should everyone purchase one. You still have some time before the laws change with good planning, you’ll have a place to charge it. But for now, I think a combustion engine will suffice. If your sister goes to California that state will never be the same again. She is your mother’s child.

I agree about cats, the one we have established himself as emperor on day one. The other morning, he woke up the entire house and once we did get up, he disappeared for a nap! Dogs are called man’s best friend for a reason and are amazing companions. But did you know that doctors have found that having a cat or dog can lower your risk of heart disease?

The human need for conflict is a tough issue. A.J. Muste once said that there is no way to peace; peace is the way. Humans have the amazing ability to create and destroy. These two opposite actions are always at odds within us. Sadly, the need to destroy is sometimes more seductive than the desire to create. Some of us need conflict to feel important. Those at peace have no use for conflict because they are happy within. Most people are simple and good souls but there are those of us who embrace the darkest elements of human nature. To reduce conflict, we must place a higher value on life. If you look at all the dictators in history, not one of them retired peacefully. All the negative energy and dark deeds came full circle in the end. I would say conflict is not something humans need but some of us cannot live without it.

A left-handed store? I would have never guessed. Well, if you get a chance, pick up something for your old man. I don’t want to sound like your mother, but have you met any young ladies yet? If not, don’t rush Son, take your time and work on yourself as needed. Life is a marathon and not a sprint. Well, I’ll stop here as there’s a documentary on the Vietnam War with my name on it.

Stay safe Son and write soon,

Love, Pop.

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