The Green Book



Today we are packing up the last of our belongings.  It seems to be a 180 back to where we started, well at least where Mary started in life.  We are moving in with her parents in West Virginia.  To me it is freeing to have a place and a family to help Mary and the kids while Mary also cares for me and we all search for a cure.  It is also losing the last shred of independence left for our family.  We can no longer financially survive on my disability because of my now high cost of bad insurance.  Getting rid of most of our housing costs will help us breathe somewhat but we will not be gaining our independence again anytime soon.

There are a lot of “what ifs” that in a world that worked the way it should would have us doing fine.  If our insurance and medical costs were covered then we could have independence and not be such a drain on family and community.  But that is not the world we live in.  We live in the opposite of what should be for those in need.  And I don’t mean just the people that are in our situation with health problems but people that have had a bad turn of events in life that have no help to get them back on their feet or even a prison system that actually creates better criminals than it does help them to become better citizens.  Our world doesn’t fix the situation or try to solve the problems it just throws just enough money to those in need to keep them where they are.  Kind of like the old saying, if you give a man a fish it will feed him for a day, but if you give a man a net he can feed himself and others.  But solving the problem calls for more involvement than what most are willing to give.  It is painful to step in and help those that are always, always in need but we could not survive without them.  Just three years ago we were on the other end of giving.  Now we are 180 in the hands of friends, family and the kindness of strangers.  Cutting out our house rental was the only thing left to cut besides my health insurance and chasing down a cure.

Moving to Beckley, West Virginia reminds me of my childhood.  My uncle Walter actually lived in Beckley when I was younger and we went one winter to visit him.  I remember mostly snow and going north to go skiing for the first time.  Who would have ever thought that my future wife lived just a few miles away from where we were.  Who would have ever thought that approaching 40, Mary and I would be moving in with her parents?  I am thankful that we do have them to help us out at this point in our lives.  Any pride that I have in solely supporting my family left me ions ago.

Tomorrow the movers come and we are staying with friends for a few days.  It would be the perfect time to run off to some tropical island until our furniture arrives in West Virginia.  But alas, even if we had the money, I am not sure that I would enjoy it all that much with my limited mobility, and I love the beach.  Our friends are throwing us a going away party tomorrow night so that should be good.  It will be interesting to mix our current community and friends with some of our old friends that we haven’t seen in a while.  This year marks three years that I have been very ill.  Some of the people there tomorrow will be our daily bread.  Others will be like going through an old high school year book.  It will be hard to leave behind our lives here in Atlanta but I feel that it is in a greater plan that we go forth to West Virginia.

I usually wrap my blogs into a nice philosophical shell that helps people, makes them laugh and cry, or just gives them perspective.  Today my mind just isn’t working well.  I am exhausted from doing nothing while my body is fighting something with all its might.  So instead of deep insight I will leave you with this story that I saw on TV.  I usually seek out comedy these days to keep my spirits up.  Laughter is what I truly love and it makes me feel better even on my worst days.  But I was drawn to this one story about a book that was used in the pre-civil rights era and even a little bit after that.  This book was called “The Green Book” and it was a directory of sorts to places of safety for African-Americans to go if they were travelling.  There were gas stations, hotels and even highways listed that were safe and would not give people of color problems along the road.  The book was even so nice as to list areas, places and things to avoid as well.  The Green Book grew every year and even started adding in advertisements and prompted a chain of Esso gas stations to pop up across the country.

We take for granted how far our country has come in such a short amount of time.  We should also not be complacent in where we are because there are still so many inequalities of wealth, education and innate civil rights that we cannot turn our heads.  The world is protesting all around for the end of tyranny and oppression.  Even in America more and more people are protesting the things that they feel are inadequate or oppressive.  These things give me hope that things that were stagnant for so many years are beginning to turn and we are striving to become free from our oppressors.  I am glad to see that people are ending the terms of those that compromised the lives of so many people for wealth and power.  I encourage all of you to keep fighting for equal rights to all even if you are on the wealthy and powerful end.  After all, you could be hit with illness just like I was and lose every material thing that you have.  And after all that, if you have perspective, you will have gained so much more than you could have ever imagined.