by Gloria Dulan-Wilson
I just had the most remarkable conversation with a childhood friend. He's someone I have not seen since I graduated from high school and went on to college. I'll call him "The Kid"(I must admit that I had some not very complimentary names for him when we were teens - then he was the Brat, the Pain, you know the drift when you have a younger brother or sister and you're trying to be "cool").
His sister was my very best friend from the fifth grade through high school; however she also is someone I had not seen since graduating (I'll call her "Sis"). We used to practice the latest dances in her mom's living room; listen to all the latest records, and learn ALL the lyrics; scout boyfriends; swap gossip, participate in social events -- NAACP Youth Council, Fidi Amici Clubs, Y-Teens and other organizations. She used to cut through our yard to get to the Black owned mom and pop store that was then across the alley in the other block. She was the last one my mom would send home after we had completely exhausted every topic we could think of. She was my best friend.
Our little close knit community in Oklahoma City makes it impossible not to know each and every little secret, or scandal, that goes on; so I was peripherally aware that both The Kid and Sis had undergone some serious drug addiction challenges in their adult lives; especially after their mother, whom I affectionately called "Momma P", had passed. She was the guiding light of the family, and as special to me as she was to them.
Like most Black Oklahomans, we were Black and Indian (Cherokee). "Momma P", and the family had deep roots in a little town called Claremore, Oklahoma. Her father was first cousin on her mother's side to the great Goodwill Ambassador, Will Rogers, whose mother was Cherokee as well. I had the privilege, when I was a kid, of visiting her family on brief trips to take gifts to their maternal grandfather, Poppa Bill (who lived to be 101).
However, as adults, those ties of youth appeared to be broken forever. It was at least 17 years before I even returned home to Oklahoma City. It really was cost prohibitive, and cost nearly $1000 to fly from NYC to OKC, while I could go to the Caribbean for less than $200 - and that included hotel accommodations! So,needless to say, during that time I had traveled a great deal in and out of the country.
Over the next 20 years or so, I had been in and out of love/marriage twice; had three children, a couple of "failed" careers, and was returning to New York City forever, after a mutual agreement with the state of California that we would not bother each other any more. They could stay on the west side, and I was (and am) perfectly content to stay on the East Coast - New York City, more specifically.
I had by that time missed several high school reunions, and was not totally apprised of how dire things were with my two friends, who used to live in one of the most beautiful, custom designed homes directly across the street from me. (I mention the home because "Momma P" designed it and had it built when we were still babies. It was a gorgeous split level home with a huge living room, master quarters, children quarters, swimming pool, guest house - the works! Unique and way ahead of most designs of the day. I went to many a party there!)
But fast forward 40 years, and at our Douglass Senior High School reunion, I learn that things are truly not well with them. The Kid was in California, after having several near brushes with death; and my former best friend, "Sis", who has not been seen or heard from at all, was actually somewhere here in New York City!
But where? No one seemed to know! My classmates implored me to find her, and I pledged to do so; but haven't a clue as to where or how to start.
In the interim, we elect Barack Obama president of the USA; and like the rest of the world, I was going through the repercussions of a miscreant's (Bush) taking the economy down the toilet, literally. So my focus turns away from the search for "Sis", to the more mundane, and oh so important issues of money, food, job, place to live, health, etc. I.e. I had to go into survival mode big time, and searching for long lost friends had to wait in line behind searching for just a basic job.
But here we are now in November 2011, and I though I'm still trying to get that elusive job, I suddenly remember that my friend's birthday happens to fall on 11/11/11!! So, I again began to wonder where she is, and whether she's celebrating this awesomely unique occasion. So I put a call through to OKC to the only relative I still have communication with, her sister-in-law, "T", who was married to her elder brother (he was 20 years older than we were). She's 81 now and is just as energetic and actively involved as she was when we were kids (Aries - you just can't keep us down, you know). She stated that had not heard from my friend, but she had some startling news for me, which is why I'm writing this piece in the first place:
"The Kid" had moved back to Oklahoma City from California, and - wonder of wonders - had gotten married!
Of, course, I couldn't believe my ears, and had to have "T" repeat that a couple of times.
Me: "Wow! What happened? How did that happen? The last time we spoke, he was so glad to hear from me he cried. But he sounded like he was really not very well. What brought about the turn around?" I was totally incredulous.
T: "I'll give you his number and let him tell you himself. All I know is that this young lady went to California to see about him. They got married out there and she brought him back to Oklahoma City."
After obtaining the number, I couldn't wait to call "The Kid" and see what the story was. Mind you, not having seen him since I was a kid, and not knowing his new wife, I hesitated for a moment. This could be an imposition. What if he doesn't want to hear from me? What if she's "hostile"? Nah! This is Oklahoma City. We have a permanent open door policy for family and friends. So it is a little late, it's 11:00PM, New York Time, 10:00 Central Standard Time. But I place the call, anyway. Of course, on first try, there was no answer. So, being the New Yorker that I am, I try again. And this time I meet with success.
Me: "Hey Kid!"
The Kid: "Hi, who's this!"
Me: "It's Gloria Dulan-Wilson!"
The Kid: "Wow! Gloria! How are you? Man it's good to hear from you! Where are you, in New York?"
Me: "Yep! Still here. Just spoke with "T" and heard you had a wedding and congratulations are in order."
The Kid: "No. Didn't have a wedding. I just got married last year, that's all!"
Me: "Nevertheless, congratulations are in order! Wow! That's fantastic!"
The Kid: "You know, Gloria, it's even more fantastic because my wife is a wonderful person. Not just because she married me, but because she cared about me enough to come see about me when I was at my lowest."
The Rest of This is The Kid:
"I was a basket case. I was in a nursing home. I had had two operations because of problems with my spine. They had had to go in and refuse my spine from both the back and the front. I died on the operating table twice! The first time for 31 seconds, the second time for 41 seconds. And both times God kept bringing me back. When they finished the surgery, they put me in a nursing home for 10 months.
"I had reached out to a friend of mine that I had grown up with in Oklahoma City, and was kind of telling him what I had been through. While I was talking, his sister overheard the conversation. She got on the phone and said she was sorry to hear that I had gone through so much, and that she would come out to see about me. So, I said, thanks for the concern.
"In the back of my head I was thinking, "yea right" she's just being sympathetic and polite. The next thing I knew, she was in California. The next thing was that she spent time boosting my morale. I couldn't belive it! Then she checked me out of the home. We got married and she brought me back to Oklahoma City. Now things have been wonderful between us. We don't have a lot of money, but I have someone in my life who loves and cares for me, and that has made all the difference for me. I don't know where I would be had she not cared for me.
"But what was even more important was how God just kept showing up in my life and bringing me back when I thought I was gone forever. When I thought there was no hope whatsoever. He not only brought me back, but he brought me love. I don't know how to tell you how special that is.
"I have been invited by local groups to talk about the evils of doing drugs, and what a long journey it is back to health. And I'm glad to do it. I've also decided to go back to college and finish my degree. I know that God has something for me to do, which is why I am still here, so I'm going to be about doing it. I'm just following His lead now.
As for "Sis", she's in New York. I'll give you her number. I had thought it was her calling when I saw the area code. She will be so glad to hear from you."
I had really wanted to speak with this wonderful sister, but she had already gone to bed. When you hear of a story like this, you kind of want to reach out and touch the person and have some of that miracle rub off on you. It was like watching a beautiful movie unfold. I could see the script for this one right now. And I'm such a romanticist when it comes to love stories for and about us. (We get a lot of the low life crap, you know where all they know how to do is show cleavage and knock boots. That's not love, that's just sex.)
No, this is for Black people who know and believe that we can, and do, still really have love, affection, respect, caring and tenderness for each other (despite what the world tries to do to undermine it). This is about God, love, redemption, transformation, happiness and fulfillment! And this has the makings of a true monumental, inspirational, tear jerker - at least six Kleenex - perhaps the whole box!! (Calling Tyler Perry!)
Truly, though, I was totally blown away by "The Kid's" wonderful story and had to take the time to relate it here in my blog. For those of us who believe in miracles - and I'm one of them - this is truly a monumental one! What an absolute blessing! And how really wonderful to be able to share this with you, rather than the run of statistics we usually regale each other with about how bad things are, how dire things are, who shot who, who hates who, who hit who, etc.
This is the kind of "happily ever after" I'm talking about. And "The Kid" is already paying it forward by talking to youth, adults and peers about the horrors of drugs and how they can take a chunk of living out of your life. He could be called one of the "lucky" ones. But I prefer to call him "blessed" because The Infinite, God The Living Spirit Almighty, really did reach in and pull him through to give him a fresh start and a greater understanding of Who really is in charge.
I told him to stop by and say hello to my mother, who will be so happy to see him. We still live in our same home, directly across the street from where he grew up. He was happy to learn that my mom, 88 years young, was still living, and promised to pop in on her soon.
Joel Osteen said, in one of his many inspirational sermons, when we think things are totally over, and the problems are insurmountable, when we are going around beating ourselves up over things we could, would, or should have done; or when we and the rest of the world thinks we're not worthy, God is a God of "Suddenlies," and he can (and did) suddenly turn things around and put you up on top. It's not how big our challenges or problems are, it's how big our God Is. My friend, "The Kid" has suddenly been blessed and his life has been transformed.
I'm saying this to all of us. My friend, PR Diva, Terrie Williams, wrote a book entitled "BLACK PAIN", that details how we look great on the outside, while we're dying on the inside, and some of the things we do to mask that very real angst. We think we're enduring, coping, handling it. But what we're really doing is allowing it to eat us up alive. For those of us who really do need a message of hope, of promises fulfilled, of really staying in faith - I am sharing this with you. It is definitely never too late, and things can, and do, and have turned around on a dime.
So, get your faith up, and stand for the fact that we all are deserving of God's great good, love, redemption, happiness, abundance, health and joy in our lives###
PS SOME NEWS: I am currently a part time rental agent at ALOTTA APTS in Brooklyn, if you either want to list or rent an apartment, or know someone who does, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. See my listings on CraigsList.
PPS: If you're facing Foreclosure or are behind in your mortgage, NACA is holding an exclusive 5 day nonstop workshop in New York City, beginning November 17, 2011 and running through November 21, 2011. It's free and open to the public. I will be posting the information on my next Blog, or you can log on to www.naca.com, and get the details there. Tell them you heard it from Gloria Dulan-Wilson
Stay blessed &