Nikki Giovanni comments on Condolezza Rice at Rosa Parks’ funeral. Play special attention to what Giovanni says happened when Condi made a gesture toward the coffin.
My friend Margo hoped to start a dialogue with the community of BadGirl chats with her story of her friend Phyllis. How she found out that she had pancreatic cancer and at the same time found a family. Please share your stories with us.
A mutual connection called me about our friend Phyllis. She was worried because Phyllis was acting strange: laughing a lot and making jokes. Why? We both knew Phyllis was having some mysterious medical problems, so why was she acting so silly? A few days later we learned that Phyllis was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. That was terrible news, but she was still making jokes; how come?
Phyllis decided to come to the Cancer Support Group I had been attending since my own breast cancer diagnosis, years before. She informed the group that she wouldn’t be at the meeting the following week because she had decided to travel to Toronto so she could get in a good visit with her brother before the Cancer treatment stuff started up.
The other day I drove Phyllis to her first meeting with the Oncologist to hear her treatment options. There aren’t any. It’s chemo – either a 2-medication cocktail every 3 weeks, or, if that doesn’t work, the big gun, a 4-medication combo every 2 weeks. The doctor told us that without chemo she was looking at 3 to 8 months of life. With chemotherapy she has a 50/50 chance of gaining years. No agonizing decision to make. The only question was how soon could she get in for the first infusion.. She made a few jokes to the doctor!
Phyllis showed up the next day at the Support Group and gave her report on the cancer. When she was asked about her trip to Toronto, she said, “I’ll tell you but I have to tell Margo first.” How come? I wondered. When she called, I said I would go to her house the next morning. My anxiety clicked right in: I thought she was moving to Oregon so she could take her life. Nicole broke in at this point as I was telling her the story and guessed Phyllis was going to meet an old lover.
When I got to Phyllis’s, she sat me down with a cup of tea and cookies, and without a word, placed an envelope before me. It was addressed to her, handwritten, and on the reverse a handwritten return address in Toronto. Open it, she said. I read: My name is _____ and I was born in a small town, _______, Ontario on a specific date in 1963. The letter continued explaining that the writer had tried to get in touch a few times but the email address had failed, so she was trying a real letter in hopes that her birth mother would get in touch with her!!!! Is it true, I asked, stunned. Yes, said she.
Turns out that when she was 20, she fell madly in love with a boy at her college in Canada, and although he wouldn’t marry her, he paid for her to stay in a Maternity House in the area. She gave birth to a baby girl and gave her up for adoption.
Five years ago, Canada opened its adoption records, and Phyllis sent in her then current information. She heard nothing for all this time. Not a word until one day in October when the letter arrived. Her previous email address had been hacked a few years before so she changed servers, but had not thought to update Canada.
No longer a child, the woman working with only a maiden name, did a number of Internet searches and further detective work, found a likely possibility. She wrote the crucial letter. Of course Phyllis had to go to Toronto! And there she found a lovely fifty-year old woman, her terrific husband, their daughter and son. She met the adoptive mother and everyone met Phyllis’s brother and wife and nephews. The two families got along wonderfully well, really liked each other immediately and immensely. Phyllis suddenly had another family, including grandchildren. Her new-found Toronto family even has a dog that closely resembles Phyllis’s dog in California.
Phyllis has been walking on air ever since. That’s how come she was joking and laughing all this time. Cancer be damned; full steam ahead for life.
Update: As though the above story was not wonderful enough, Phyllis just learned that her new-found daughter made contact with her birth father, and that he was thrilled to hear from her. He lives nearby but will be away for the holidays so he will only meet her in the new year. That should insure a happy new year! Having seen her photograph, I am sure of it. She has gained three (3) new terrific half brothers; everyone in turn will have to be thrilled to find new family.
This is a true Christmas or Chanukah Miracle Story. Phyllis’s treatment for the pancreatic cancer is making it hard for her. The almost daily email exchanges with her daughter lights up her life.
My friend Christina send me this link to the Sam Cooke song: “It’s been a long time coming.”
Beginning with Ferguson, and institutions such as Columbia University and UVA, it seems that a change is coming. People are marching, joining together to protest the way they are treated by police, by large institutions.
Here’s a quote I pulled from the New York Times:
The administration has drawn fire for its unsteady response to the issue and the report, published last week by Rolling Stone, most recently for a video of a dean acknowledging weeks before the article that even students who had admitted to sexual assault had invariably escaped expulsion — and that, in fact, no one had been expelled for sexual assault in at least seven years.
The women who came forward to accuse Bill Cosby have been silent for years. They were sure no one would believe them. If the society feels that rape is not a violation, do women internalize this image of themselves?
Do we start thinking that rape is not a violation? That it is normal? The young women on campus are responding angrily. More and more incidents of young black men being killed by police have been exposed. That anger and that collective response has been a long time coming. Will it last? Will it be sustained?