Say Uncle

So many thoughts I’m trying to reconcile right now…so, bear with me…
Firstly, isn’t it amazing how one thing leads to another? The WAY they lead to one another?
I went to Facebook and saw that a friend had joined (RED) so of course, I joined too. Decided to go to Twitter…well, of course they’re making Twitter red today…so I joined in. I then tweeted a shout out to my uncle, who is living with HIV/AIDS and quite sick…as well as my sister’s deceased father, who died of AIDS in 2003. My uncle has been battling the disease for over a decade now. Tough cookie he is, so I decided to call him. Now, I don’t call him often. Condemn and judge if you choose…but, it’s hard. Right now, I’m damming tears after speaking to him. He said, “Kali…I’ve been sick for 11 years. I’m tired. I lost my car, my job, my health…”  *pause* His voice is so frail. In between telling me how pretty my mother, sister and I have always been {remembering to tell me how crazy about my mom, my dad was and how broken up he was when she left…hmph! lol} …and asking me if I had a boyfriend, to which I said no, because I don’t have the energy to explain how I love a dude several states away. *oy vey* He was saying how now that his only child has moved to NC…he wont be seeing his 5yr old grandson much. He sounded so sad.
*sigh* This is my uncle. My father’s younger brother. My grandmother’s baby…lawd, this is her BABY! Anyway…I have so many memories of this cat. He had a pimp swagger. He was the kinda dude that would spend his spare time in this house wearing a stocking cap to preserve his waves. Tall and thin, light-skinned and slick…he was the type of dude that had mack vibes. He had a few girlfriends at a time…but, one, Denise…was the one he brought home to my grandmother. Mind you…his daughter’s mom is “a Denise” as well…but this wasn’t her. THIS Denise brought with her 3 little girls who became something like cousins throughout their relationship. At one time, they all moved in with us and it was like one big slumber party every single day. I don’t know why I mentioned that…but, anyway…he couldn’t wait to move her out of our apartment and back into one of her own. He had to be able to come home and be AWAY from her sometimes…I guess to catch his breath. When he came home, which wasn’t often…we’d watch movies together. He was real easy. He even taught me how to iron…no double creases. Perfectly starched shirts and straight cuffs.
It wasn’t all sweet…not by a little bit. He, my father and grandmother argued a lot. Things got difficult at times to have him around, because he demanded attention…even if it was negative. He was the baby for goodness sakes. He refused to be ignored and at times would “start” with my father. My father AND uncle are indeed recovering addicts…so there’s nothing more I need to say on that account. They fought a lot and that’s that.
My uncle lucked up on finding a woman who in spite of potentially knowing his activities of that time, loved him, married him, and has dedicated her life with him to caring for him. They were married in 2001 and he’s had peaks and valleys of being well and then sick again. God bless his soldier spirit…remaining feisty along the way. Yes, he’s still here.
My sister’s father lost his battle in 2003. No, I retract that…he didn’t lose it. He beat it with the victorious transitioning from this plane to the next. In a room, barely breathing with no one there with him except my mother, sister and I…he said sayonara. I still remember. My mom praying for his ease, him breathing his last breath, us on the way out…when my sister realized he wasn’t breathing anymore. My heart almost stopped with his. I could sense it. I was rushing to go…I didn’t want to be present when death came. Plans foiled, huh? Yea, of all the folks in the world he had with him there to breath in his spirit as he left…it was us three. A woman he loved dearly, his daughter…and me. Rest in Peace, Richard.
World AIDS Day…I’m so aware.

Blessings…

AIDS and Loss


My contribution to the day’s strives for awareness…I NEEDED to come out of my self imposed hiatus for this cause, for I am too close to it not too.

AIDS…I remember when it was first televised nationally. I was 12 I believe. I remember the new epidemic known only by 4 single letters. There was no real information out about it…just ignorance rampantly being passed like the disease itself. Fear and pandemonium about getting “the sickness” and it being known as the “gay man’s disease”.

Well 23 years later…it is even more so widespread. A national day dedicated to it’s awareness and endless charities for disease management and a search for a cure has not slowed down the spread of a disease which has taken the wheel. I’ve known several people infected. The first I remember being the upstairs neighbor of my grandmother. He, his wife and their two children were like family. He was in my dad’s generation…the generation of drug use in the 60’s and 70’s. He fell victim, but I’m not sure how it is he got it. All I know is he died and I knew what had taken his life. The next 2-3 deaths were male members of a church I once belonged to. There was a young guy a couple of years older than me whom was CLEARLY flaming gay…and had been allowed to stay with my family. His “sponsor” was our pastor and had asked my mother for the favor. Jason was allowed to stay with us and worked directly across the street at…ironically enough…the neighborhood health center. He would go out and meet guys, party and drink. He’d tell me (I was then 17 or 18) about his escapades and how he “took it”. He died a few years later after having moved out. The next to die was our pastor. He died and it hurt a lot. He was so talented musically and had convinced me to be a soloist in the choir when I was too shy to open my mouth to sing a note.

I heard of a few people dying of the disease after that, but the worst to date was my sister’s father. Not to mention…he died in front of us. He breathed his last breath after my mother prayed for his transcendence. That was 5 years ago, and it still makes me sad. For him, the source was drugs…as was the source for my uncle. My Uncle Larry is my father’s baby brother. They both did drugs, but it was my uncle who contracted the virus that led to AIDS. I found out about 6yrs ago…and though he’s suffered from encephalitis and other sickness that eventually led to his inability to walk…he’s still fighting for his life today. He’s a shell of his former self, but he is here.

I get checked as often as possible. I don’t have a partner and I’m not rushing to get one. The man who comes into my life will be checked alongside of me. There still is no guarantee that it will be 100% preventive…but it is responsible. I just wanted to share that story.

God Bless

**addendum**

As I was re-reading this blog, I spotted the time, which was the exact date that my cousin died last year. They say it was kidney failure, but I found out later from a family member that it was AIDS. I cannot believe that the DAY I found out about his being sick, was the same day he died. I didn’t even get to say goodbye…RIP, Tim. I love you!