Sweet Reminder Of The Power Of Small Gestures

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Today is refill Friday; the day I add candy bags to the bucket on my desk for my co-workers. So, that meant I had to I get out of bed fifteen minutes early despite joint point, nausea and spotty sleep. I slicked my hair back in a ponytail (it’s shedding again due to hormonal issues) and I slid into what used to be tight Capri pants (now loose due to uncontrolled weight loss). Remarkably, the NJ Transit 8:59 train got into Penn Station on time. Then, I got cut off at the stairs from the tracks to the concourse by able bodied people who never see not care about my cane. I shot a dirty look and got in line. I limped up to the first floor then made my way over to the store. I was in and out in five minutes and got a discount.

Suddenly, I came to a dead stop. A little person was clearing a space for his double amputee wife’s wheelchair near the number one train. The crush of people barely stopped so the man began to shout. His frustration struck a chord with me so I gestured for people to stop and they did. The awkward a smiles we got because of our appearance didn’t bother me. I took my candy and went onto work.
An hour later, a co-worker delayed going home to do me a favor. I got a doctor’s appointment easily and I heard from a friend who told me the other day that if he won the lottery he’d use some of the money to help me. I didn’t think the day could get better until o was greeted with this after lunch. It’s Hi in tootsie rolls; a sweet message to remind me that the smallest gesture can add so much joy to a day. #wabc #nyc #randomactsofkindness #disability #chronicillness #chronicpain #autoimmunedisease #igg4 #njtransit #pennstation

Creature Of Habit

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I am a creature of habit. I eat the something every morning at work to take my medication. I buy it from the same coffee cart. I get one of three lunch options. Ad, I refill the candy on my desk on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. When we go out to eat, my fiancé, his son and I tend to go the same places. We notice the servers but I never thought they’d remember us. After all, they serve dozens of people a day. Okay, the fact that we are an interracial couple with a woman using a cane and taking pills for an autoimmune disease might make us stand out. But, nonetheless, they see a sea of faces.
Yet, the other day my fiancé and I went to Bertucci’s in Connecticut for lunch. Our spirits were down and neither of us were feeling particularly well. We ordered but by the time our meals came we couldn’t eat. So, I asked for carry out containers and the check. The waitress returned with the boxes but the bill wasn’t there.
“I’m sorry. We’d like the bill.”
“I got it for you. Your meals are on me. You both always come in here upbeat and seem happy together. Today I can tell something is wrong. I don’t know what it is but it will be okay.”
“No, no, please take the money.”
“No, please let me. I do hope things work out.”
All I could say then was “thank you!”

We left her a $25 tip for making our day.
#randomactsofkindness #bertuccis #ct #waitress #disability #igg4 #autoimmunedisease #chronicillness #interracialcouple

Not Enough Money To Repay My Father

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My father wasn’t my favorite person when I was a child. If I asked how to spell a word he’d say, “look it up in the dictionary or sound it out.” If I asked when or where an event occurred he’d say, “look in the encyclopedia.” If I asked how to fix something he’d say, “I’ll tell you what to do and you can do it yourself.”

If I forgot to do the dishes he’d wake me up to do them. If I came home late, my time out with friends was shorter the next day. And, if I did something wrong there was always a barrage of questions “like why did you do that?”

My father was tough on me. He made it clear he had rules and morals I was supposed to live by. At the time, It all seemed overwhelming. However, I can look back now and see my father gave me the framework for my life. He taught me to find the answers to my questions, solve my own problems and live up to my responsibilities.

I wish I could repay him. I wish I could afford to take him on trips around the world like he took me. I wish I could pay off the home that he bought that still provides a safe haven for me. But, I can’t. So, I’ll spend the rest of my life doing what I can to say thank you to him for the foundation he provided me. Thank you! Happy Father’s Day!
#blackfathers #fatherdaughter #fathersday #family

Half My Life Recording History

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“Can everyone gather in the middle of the newsroom?” My boss said. 

I cringed.

I don’t have time for this, I thought.

I was looking for new video of a stranger punching a bicyclist in the face when my boss called out. I was also waiting for the Belmar drowning package and looking at an update about the jury in Cosby Sex Assault trial. 

“Nika!”

I didn’t know who called my name but I figured I’d better take a few moments away from my desk to see what was going on.

As my boss strolled towards me, I realized all eyes were on me. 

In a panic, I turned to walk away. When I did, I hit a cup in my co-worked Bryan’s hand. Soda covered his jacket and t-shirt. I broke away from the gathering, limped over to to my desk as fast as my cane would carry me, and grabbed napkins.

“Where are you going?” 

“I don’t want to leave Bryan soggy,” I replied. 

Seconds later, I felt a hand on the small of my back.

“Nika has been at ABC 20 years,” my boss said as she extended her hand forward. It contained a pin.

Wow, I’ve come to this place for nearly half my life, I thought, as she continued speaking.

“She always comes in with a smile on her face even though she’s been through so much. She deserves to be here. She deserves to be on this Earth.”

Her words choked me up. They made me think about all I survived in my years there; it’s enough to fill a medical journal. In fact, I had one of my two mini strokes when i was sitting at my desk.

Despite my health battles, I showed up to give a voice to other people’s pain, as well as the struggles and triumphs of the world. 

Through my medical strife, my job was a refuge. For eight or nine hours a day, I didn’t fret about the tests, the pain, the pills, the surgeries or the bills. I didn’t worry about my mortality. 

As I made my way back to my desk, there were hugs and shouts of congratulations. Sometimes I said thank you. Other times, I said, “is this really good news? I still have another two decades to retirement.”

I was uncomfortable with the attention. But, I was glad anyone cared that I reached a milestone that I wasn’t sure I’d live to see 20 years ago. 

Guilty or Innocent, Cosby Has Proved He’s Not “America’s Dad”

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Bill Cosby has entered the courtroom with his head held high nearly every day. But, the truth is Mr. Cosby is the loser no matter what the verdict. 

When allegations began to resurface about Cosby drugging and sexually assaulting women, America was shocked. Why? He’d already publicly battled allegations of infidelity. Yet, I concede that cheating on your wife is far different than raping a woman.

Nearly five dozen women came forward and I still wondered, “Where’s the proof?” I know that there’s not always physical evidence in sexual assault cases. It often comes down to a case of her word versus his. But, in this case, I began to look at the details a group of women revealed that showed a dubious pattern of behavior.

America was expected to believe Cosby because he was “Cliff Huxtable.” And, he was the man who made us laugh for decades, was married for more than 50 years and lectured black America to look in the mirror and take responsibility for their woes.   If we were to believe Cosby did these awful things we’d have to see pass his image to the man. Cosby’s wife Camille urged us not to. She even issued a statement that said in part, “He is the man you thought you knew.”

Of course, I could fathom that “Cliff Huxtable” would cheat on “Claire, let alone drug women in the office in the Huxtable home while his wife slept. Nor could I conceive that the man who sold me pudding in commercials during cartoons in my youth would put Quaaludes in anything I ate or drank. However, I quickly realized that I wasn’t thinking of Cosby. I was focus on the character he played, the personality he displayed in public and not the one that may exist behind closed doors.

The problem is most Americans never knew Cosby because we’d never met the man in private. The women who did claimed he was a predator who used his money, power, influence and reputation to hide his crimes.

I, like everyone else didn’t know what to believe. Then, I read the excerpts from his depositions. He admitted to cheating on his wife for decades, buying Quaaludes for sex with a host of women, and to switching the drug he told Constand he was giving her. He also apologized to Constand’s mother then claims that was a lied because he didn’t want to be thought of a dirty old man. He then told her he’d send her the drug he gave her daughter but never did.  At the end of reading Cosby’s words I knew one thing for sure. He wasn’t my dad or any dad I wanted as an example; he wasn’t “America’s dad” or even a decent man.

Originally published in the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/59441cd5e4b0d188d027fdf0

Redefining Family

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I’m not a mother in the traditional sense but I was in the audience to watch a young man I’ve watch grow since he was four years old graduate from elementary school. I felt much like I did eight years ago when my “baby brother” graduated from Drexel University and I did a lot of the same things. I scoured the crowd looking for him and cheered when he received his certificate/diploma.

I sat with family. Yes, family. For the first time since I’ve known my “stepson” his father and I sat beside his mom, stepdad and maternal grandparents. His maternal grandmother gave me a magnet that said inspire. She said my battles with chronic illness are inspiration to her. Then, we walked out to the garden together. His stepfather made sure To push the door so it didn’t strike my cane. And, we talked and even took a group photo. It occurred to me that all is have grown over the years too; allowing our love for that child to let us put our differences aside for a few hours to give him the family he’s always wanted.

The woman I call my sister-in-law did the same thing for my family eight years ago when she let my nephew stand with us when his uncle graduated. I guess I was just paying it forward. Thank God for progress!

 

#family #graduation #blendedfamily #disability #autoimmunedisease #chronicillness #payitforward

Battling Back From The Brink

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Nothing makes you question how you can go on more than the threat of losing a parent. And, last year my father, the towering figure who saved me more times than I can count, was battling for his survival.

Every time I saw my mother’s cell phone number on my phone my hands would shake, my anxiety would rise and my heart would race. I feared she might say he was gone.

Each seizure damaged his brilliant mind and stole some of his memory. He wasted away slowly; losing weight at a frightening pace because he couldn’t eat. We were helpless. The worst part is that doctors initially couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Luckily, I’d learned from my battle to find the correct diagnosis for the autoimmune disease that plagues me, that you never surrender and never stop looking for answers. So, we didn’t.

My father got a stent to remove a blood clot in his heart, fixed an aneurysm, and lives with heart arrhythmia and persistent clots that saps his energy and make it hard for him to walk.

Still, my father has battled back and he’s still here. He keeps moving even if it’s with a cane or a wheelchair. He takes his medication and he keeps following up with doctors. My father keeps striving to add more years to the 50 he’s already spent with his wife, my mother.

I realize no matter how old I get I still want my daddy around. I know some day he will leave but I pray it’s not anytime soon.

Happy Birthday, dad! I love you! #chronicpain #chronicillness #disability #family #happybirthday #father #autoimmunedisease #aneurysm #bloodclot #misdiagnosis #lossofaparent #seizure