Thursday, June 4, 2020

Too Much

When the gusty winds blow and shake our lives, if we know that people care about us, we may bend with the wind...but we won’t break.” - Fred Rogers

I try very hard to believe this. Some days are better than others.
 
As we have all grappled with new ways of doing things in recent months, I, too, have found some adjustments easier than others. For example, when I'm on my walk to the ditch or elsewhere, if someone is coming toward me on the sidewalk, I will happily step into the road or cross the street if they don't do it first.


It seems odd and so unfriendly, because most of the time walkers approaching head on greet each other with a "good morning!" or a smile. Now it's usually a "thanks!" said through a mask if anything is said at all. But people understand.

I was reminded of something my friend Mike Lewis said long ago, during those golden days when we worked at WKAR.


I have written about Mike here on the Marmelade Gypsy in the past. We worked together for decades until his untimely death in January 2014. He was the first to make funny birthday posters or videos for his friends. He had enormous comic book and video collections in a house that would make Marie Kondo cringe and he was a generous lending library to anyone who wanted DVDs for the weekend. No fee, no fine, and if you liked it a lot, don't worry about giving it back. He was one of the kindest people I have ever known, a gentle giant in a hard world.

One of the posters that Mike made for my retirement book.

With Mike you could talk about more than movies and media. Our conversations would often cross into heavy topics. I will always remember the conversation when Mike said, "When I walk down the street by myself in the evening, people cross to the other side."

You see, Mike was African American. He was large. And people who saw him coming their way thought he might be scary and dangerous. And yes, you get used to it. And yes, it still hurts.


I would like to believe that we have long passed the time when we must cross the road to avoid someone or something that scares us.


I would like to believe that the way someone looks should affect the impression we have of that person before we have even said hello.

I would like to believe we live in a world where battles fought centuries ago, then decades ago, aren't still being fought.


I would like to believe that all law enforcement officials don't use unnecessary force or shooting to kill unless absolutely essential and that in any case possible they will listen to those they are apprehending.

I would like to believe that we could all feel safe when we support what we believe through the freedom of speech and peaceful demonstration without fear of being brutalized by rubber bullets, tear gas and low flying helicopters.

I don't believe in looting and destroying property but I do believe in standing up and if standing up is taking a knee, then I believe in that, too.

Our country -- no, our world -- is going through tough times these days. A deadly virus may ease up but will not go away. So many are unemployed, facing challenges they never imagined. There is racism and xenophobia throughout the world. And that's when it gets tricky.


We are living with a heavy collective grief. At most, it is for the loss of someone we know and cared about who has died. At its least, it is grief for a loss of a way of life that seemed so commonplace and ordinary, and yet was so special.


I grieve for the loss of the healing power of touch and hugs.


And I grieve for our country and how it has justifiably lost respect and become the laughing stock of the rest of the world. I grieve for a world that is facing many of the same challenges that we are. Will it ever end?


And I grieve for all whose lives have been turned into a frightening daily nightmare by a systemic racism that we cannot seem to conquer.


I grieve for my friend Mike and wonder what he would have to say about all this.


I know it would be profound.

52 comments:

R's Rue said...

Thank you.

Laurie said...

oh my gosh,, my tears are falling,, such a beautiful tribute to a dear friend and to a time when we could be closer to the ones we love,, thank you for sharing this.

Mae Travels said...

Hi Jeanie,
I think we are all looking for just a ray of hope. This morning I read about a man like your friend Mike who was avoided by people on the street. This man said he was afraid to take a walk in the neighborhood where his family had lived for many years, starting long before he was born. The white people in the neighborhood kept warning each other about black men walking -- which was what he would be if he left his own porch. He put a message on a message board saying he was afraid, and a few people said they would walk with him, so he said he would be at the school yard at 6PM one evening. He found 75 white people (keeping a distance) who wanted to walk with him.

But it will take more than that.

be well... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Valerie-Jael said...

Yes, we are living in strange and hard times, and what is going on in the not so Untied States just now saddens my heart. I have many family members living over there, and hope that they are safe. It's hard having to avoid people just now, I'm trying to cope with being alone on average 99% of the time. We can just hope that someday people of all ethnic groups and colours and creeds will be able to live together in peace, and that America soon gets a strong leader who will be able to begin healing the cracks. Hugs, Valerie

Joyful said...

What a beautiful an poignant commentary on the sad state of things today. Mike was a lovely person and he gave so much to the people around him. His life is still impacting today and your tribute to him was touching. May he and others of his race not have to suffer more years of racism and grief and may people use these challenging times to really check their own prejudices. I am not African American or Black person in Canada but I am a visible minority and I can tell you it is hurtful being treated differently when so much of what I am is just like the next person save for the colour of my skin. I am glad our Prime Minister acknowledged that we too in Canada have a lot of racism. I hope the acknowledgements means we can move forward as for too long things have been very much ignored.

ellen said...

I grieve for the 77 year old retired black St. Louis policeman who was gunned down by "protesters". I grieve for the black business owners who have lost everything at the hands of "protesters". I grieve for churches set on fire by the "peaceful protesters". Take a knee? You've got to be kidding. Where is your outrage for the disgusting behavior of the "protesters". Like the naked woman taking a dump on an upside down burned out police car. Such a hypocrite.

bobbie said...

What a beautiful testament to your friend ~ and wise words ~
Hugs ~

Misadventures of Widowhood said...

What a beautiful and poignant post! All of us are grieving and feeling like something important has been lost. On the other hand there is also hope that something meaningful will change after we get through the next few months.

Regina said...

I love your tribute to your friend Mike. It was very moving and I'm sure he would definitely have something thought provoking to say. Thank you Jeanie!

Sandra Cox said...

The times are dystopian dark, but I like to think the sun is shining through the darkness and we will come out on the other side.
Your friend sounds like a lovely man.
Cyber hugs

eileeninmd said...

Hello Jeanie,

Well said and I agree with you 100%. It sounds like your friend Mike was a great guy, sorry for your loss. I am all for peaceful protesting, but the violence, looting and destruction is not right. We should all stand up for our right but be kind and respect each other. Have a great day and happy weekend ahead.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Jeanie, I woke up this morning feeling down and wondering if I'd be able to maintain my usual cheerful disposition. Thank you for this lovely tribute to your friend Mike.

Bonnieellen57 said...

You have described today’s atmosphere beautifully. But the saddest part to me was what Mike had to live through.

creativeseconds.com said...

Wow ~ so well said and I love your pictures ~ stay strong & keep loving

Joanne Huffman said...

A loving tribute to your friend; and we really need love now.

Regina said...

I grieve too. And I will send you a big hug!

DUTA said...

"...the healing power of touch and hugs" . Ilike the phrase;it says so much and means so much!
Your friend Mike is probably very pleased up there by your words about him.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

I feel so much from your words about your friend - it's a striking tribute to the power of friendship which is really need at this time.

Bella Rum said...

This is beautiful, Jeanie. I'm afraid our country is hurting everywhere. I'm so sad, but hoping we will come out the other side of this better than we were before.

Karen said...

I feel like it is 1966 again. What the heck is going on in this world? I fear for my family. We are all variants of color from palest ivory to magnificent chocolate. They are my FAMILY. The shade of their skin doesn't make them who they are. LIFE does.
We are living in crazy times Jeanie. I just hope and pray all the madness passes right quick.

Lynne said...

So with you in this . . .
Who wouldn’t live that Mike face!
Today I found myself wanting to wrap up like a cocoon.
There is just so much I don’t understand.
It is the WHY of . . .
Like WHY hate . .
Like WHY NOT get along . . .
Like WHY NOT, empathy, goodness, compassion, caring, loving, peace, peacefulness.
WHY division . . .
I ACHE for us . . .
We must turn the corner, come around, lift our heads, reach out our hearts in solidarity.
I will HOPE it so . . . let’s begin today.

Pam Richardson said...

Jeanie, thank you for your lovely tribute of your friend, Mike. I have a couple of friends with similar stories as Mike. May we share love, kindness, and grace wherever we go.

Pamela said...

Well said.

Prims By The Water said...

Wish I could have met yourfriens. He sounds like an awesome man! Janice

The Joy of Home with Martha Ellen said...

Oh Jeanie, my heart is breaking with you. You have so beautifully expressed what I have not been able to write. I hate when we are on our daily walks when I have to walk in the grass to avoid a black person, not for the color of their skin, but because of Covid 19. I love hearing about your friend Mike. Blessings to you, my friend as we all try each day to love more and more.

Susan Kane said...

Such a loving tribute to a good man. He must have been a sweetheart.

Jacqueline~Cabin and Cottage said...

It's good to share my sadness and grief here. It was an emotional day. Good to hear of your lovely friend. And good to hear what Mae shared about the story she heard about a neighborhood coming together to support one frightened person. We all can do better. There is much to gain from this hard time if we will let it teach us.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Thank you, Jeannie! So beautifully expressed, so very much needed!

Iris Flavia said...

You sure aren´t chicken, LOL, great pic!!!
Mike looks very nice, friendly and funny in that pic. He reminds me of two African American Football players who worked here. Ingo hugged such a guy who was always smiles, always great with the kids, and after a little "fight" about age, I hugged the other after having stared that huge guy down ;-)

It hurts to see the pictures on TV.
I cannot believe how this goes on and on and changes, too.
Also here, in Germany.
They show white Police officers asking (asking!!) a "colored" man about taking/being on drugs... you get the picture.

I bet your Mike would call the darn virus "Corinna", I don´t even dare to think what he´d call your "orange man with the small hands"!!! No, I would like to hear it! Bet irony would strike big.
We need people like Mike, no matter which "color"....

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

What a beautiful tribute to your friend Mike. It was lovely. It may be just what we needed today, the day a man was pushed to the ground by white police showing their force.

I have a friend who is African American and he told his children that if they were ever stopped by the police to never resist, never argue, and do exactly what the police told them to do. If out walking and a policeman stopped them, they were to immediately put their arms above their heads with hands outstretched. What a way these children have to live. If white children lived that way, we might have a more caring world with a whole lot more sympathy for other races, creeds, and religions. I'm sure Mike would have something to say about the shape of the state we're in today.

Sami said...

Such a beautifully written article Jeanie. I feel sorry for what your friend Jim and people of various races have to endure. I agree that people should protest or fight for change but certainly not by looting and damaging property. I just feel like crying every time I watch the news about what is going on in the States these last few days.
So much intolerance!

My name is Erika. said...

As a teacher I have known lots of students of color and I have a friend who is a victim of the Rwandan genocide-if anyone remembers that. I like to think we live in a place that isn't predjudice, but that is not true. I think our present political situation is stirring up the hate too. I hope that changes, because that is something we have some control over. At least more than this virus. And I am sure people with more struggles and more time on their hands are ripe for this , never mind that many of them have had things building up. But I must say I just love that photo of you as Julia Child. that is a classic! So let me say happy Friday. And hope my spelling errors which show up but blogger is not letting me correct don't bother you too much. Hugs-Erika

shoreacres said...

Protest is one thing. Taking advantage of legitimate protests to begin looting, destroying, and killing is quite another. Looting, destroying, and killing in the neighborhoods of the very people who have built lives and businesses despite the racism they've confronted may be the worst.

Before the march memorializing George Floyd here in Houston, someone -- don't we wish we knew who? -- pre-positioned boxes and crates of rocks, bricks, and other such weapons along the route for easy access. That isn't protest; that's a desire to increase the chaos and fear. So far, Houston protests have been essentially peaceful, but there are voices calling for violence here on the day of Mr. Floyd's funeral. It needs to stop. How? If I could figure that one out, I'd probably be on a PBS panel, getting feted!

On the other hand, a local police officer I know told me a wonderful story of a little girl who thanked him for his service and then said, "I'm going to help you. I'm not going to do bad things so you have to come." If only we could get a few adults to take that attitude!

David M. Gascoigne, said...

I would like to have met your friend, Mike. I know I would have enjoyed Mike, and I think he might have enjoyed me too. If I may be self-indulgent for a moment (second time I have used that term today!) I think that travelling the world my whole life, frequently in remote areas, I do not "see" colour, dress, gender, belief system, food preferences, customs etc as obstacles of any kind, to the extent that it is possible for a human to do so. This is perhaps the greatest contribution that travel has made to my life. Whether your skin is black, white or yellow, whether you wear a yarmulke or a turban, whether you eat pork or refuse to do so, whether you pray or not, whether you are man or woman, young or old, fat or thin, we can be friends. Just be a good person, that's all I ask.

La Table De Nana said...

you write so perfectly!We haven’t hugged our family yet..the hugs I see here are heartwarming!And Julia ..ohmy goodness how adorb.
Beautiful man!
I cannot imagine treating a person differently.
we really are all the same.
shame on those policemen and all other racists.

Polly said...

Oh Jeanie, this is such a heartfelt post. You're not the laughing stock Jeanie, that horrible man is.

Stevenson Q said...

Jeanie this is a very beautiful and I must say truly powerful tribute for Mike. I don't really understand why the color of the skin has been a constant issue for some people especially on these modern times. Even from the very first photo, I think Mike looks like a very friendly and easy-going person and I am very sure he is because he is your friend. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with all of us Jeanie. And I pray for Mike, for your country and its people who have been fighting just to have that equal treatment. I have experiences of such things myself to be treated differently because I am not a "white" person on a few of my travels. It's just very sad to be in such an 'ignorant' situation and I feel very sorry for people who actually lives on that situation and is their constant and their normal which absolutely should not be.

Victoria Zigler said...

Beautifully written post. Though I wish it wasn't necessary.

Sending you virtual hugs, because at least that kind of hug can happen even with social distancing.

Sandra at Maison De Jardin said...

Jeanie, your writing is beautiful and so from your heart. Such a wonderful tribute to your friend, Mike. I worry for all of us and wonder where it will all end - if it ever does. Like you, Jeanie, my heart is broken for our country and our fellow man. Know I share your thoughts and thank you for this moving post.

Lynda said...

Thank you! Well said!

Pam said...

Not all use force, not all are crooked, evil or bad, but in this world its a given to accuse them all when you are trying to accuse one. It is a given that I have seen people up in the cops face and yelling at them. It is a given that we are all not the same. I am not made of that sort of stuff and I know a lot of our cops are also not made of the stuff those four there that took George Floyds life.

Pam said...

Hit enter before I said....great post. This world can be a great place, but then it can be bad too.

R's Rue said...

Have a great weekend.

Judy at GoldCountryCottage said...

Jeanie, I admire and love your thoughts and feelings about your friend Mike. We should all have a friend like him, maybe then the world would be a better place. I grew up next door to a black family. A family who cared about my family and who drove my mom to town because she didn't drive. We, my mom, sister and brother, were crammed into a little car with their family of 4 kids because they were thoughtful enough to help a neighbor. We had such fun. So many are now saying, "All lives matter". They seem to think that we are all Americans and each of our lives matter. Don't they stop to think of all the years that have come and gone, when black lives were stomped on and stripped bare of their rights, and white people were the ones doing it? That only shows that our lives have always mattered, but the African-Americans have suffered throughout the ages because of the color of their skin, nothing more. To blame the rioting and looting on the protestors is just pure stupidity. There are outside influences that use the despair of most people to their unlawful advantage. We have a president (I hate to call him that) who fans those advantages and adds fuel to the fire. It is beginning to sound cliché but we are better than this. To hear him say that George Floyd would be happy to hear the growing job reports, is so wrong. He is a man without a heart and, unfortunately, there are other Americans who agree with him..Thank you for this post and for most of the people that seem to understand the problem. It is making it a little easier to speak out and those voices are needed right now. Take care, my friend, and stay well..xxoJudy

Anca said...

It is strange to avoid people on the street, seems unsocial, but, at the same time, it is most socially responsible thing we can do. I did not notice that now we are saying a "thank you" instead of "hi".
It's sad what happened to Mike, people avoiding him due to the colour of his skin.
Stay safe xx

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Beautiful reflection on such a sad time in our country. My company hosted a call about how we need to ‘be the change’. They had numerous POC, including our CEO, share their experiences of racism. Several of the men were brought to tears when talking about how they’ve been feared and judged based on the color of their skin. We have so much work to do. It feels daunting and overwhelming, and I am not the one at risk if things don’t change. So I can’t imagine how POC feel. I hope the uproar we’ve seen recently results in true change.

Miss Val's Creations said...

So much going on right now is incredibly tragic. I have watched a number of movies and documentaries lately demonstrating beautiful moments in our history when the barriers of racism seemingly came down. But then they just come back. It really baffles and saddens me.

Lowcarb team member said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

All the best Jan

Marilyn Miller said...

Your post brings tears to my eyes. Yes, we grieve of so much right now.

Amy at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes said...

Beautiful post, Jeanie. I share your grief. It's sad that the looting by some bad actors who are not associated with the peaceful rallies, has overshadowed the message of the protesters. I know we've been through this before as a nation, and that we've not made enough progress, but I feel like this time, just maybe it's going to be different. Praying for peace and positive change. May your friend Mike's memory always be a blessing.

Sketchbook Wandering said...

Grieving with you, Dear Jeanie. The virus is one thing, but the brutality and violence, the injustice, I have a hard time accepting that part of humanity...

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Mike was a wonderful man and you have done his memory proud by this post, Jeanie. Thanks for sharing with us.

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