Thursday, 23 August 2012

Bonsoir, Petit Garcon...

Patric Michael

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” 
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

No long posts today. No points to be made.   I just want to take a moment to say goodnight---no, not goodbye, as this person was just too vital to ever admit he's really just...gone---to a precious friend who lost his long battle with cancer on Tuesday.  

Patric Michael. 

 Petit Garcon? Somewhere, in the course of conversations, I addressed him as Petit Garcon (little boy) and it became my name for him. And, good friend that he was, he let me call him that.  

Patric was a beautiful man. An author, an artist. One of the most brilliant minds I've ever known.  

He was a mentor to so many authors, this gal included. 

What touched me most about Patric was the journey through his illness. Watching a man reconcile himself to the inevitable, witnessing his growth as he faced the challenge, and admiring his peace about what he knew was going to come. If Patric was afraid, he never let on.  

There will be many tributes to him, so I'll not elaborate on my own.   What I want to do, though, is leave you with a glimpse of HIM. Something to share, something that paints a better portrait of him that my words ever could.  

Once, he and I discussed fireflies. Yes, fireflies. He'd authored a story in an anthology in which fireflies were a horrific entity (it was a horror anthology, after   But, on the subject of fireflies---to show the tender, sensitive side of himself---he sent me this little snippet once. And I don't figure he'd mind my sharing it. my bidding goodnight to my Petit Garcon, my dear friend, let me share this beautiful insight into his mind....  
  When he was a kid, he and his friends spend endless summer nights lurking beneath these same trees playing tag and munching fruit, spitting seeds at each other and laughing. His real father had been alive then. Alive long enough to teach him how to catch and hold the fireflies that even now glittered amidst the tall grass and dark red leaves.

He snatched one out of the air, almost without thought and stared at it cupped between his shaking hands.

“Don’t squeeze too hard, Danny. Cup your hands, like this.” Raymond Ellison demonstrated, allowing his son to peer at the softly glowing insect trapped within the cage of his hands. Faint green light spilled between his fingers. “You try it.”

Danny swept his hands through the tall grass and giggled as his efforts produced not one but two ‘lightning bugs’.

“I got two!” He crowed, holding up his prize.

“You sure did.” His father said, approving. “Look at them for a while, then let them go, Ok?”

“Why?” Danny asked, his small round face clouding with confusion. “Why can’t I keep them?”

“Because they will die if you do.” Raymond said, opening his own hands. The firefly flexed its wings experimentally. “They can’t live in captivity.” He said as the inset flew away, stitching indignant green fire into the warm summer night. He pulled his son onto his lap.

“There are some things in this world that cannot be caged.” Raymond said as he looked at the green light flickering in Danny’s hands. “See how they flash on and off like that? It means they are afraid.”

Danny studied his lightning bugs for a moment, then looked up into the trees. Lazy green light flickered in long, sweeping strokes. He looked at his bugs again, watching the stuttered, abortive light and thought he understood.

“If they are afraid for too long, their own fear will kill them, son. You don’t want that, do you?”

Danny hesitated. He opened his hands doubtfully and watched as the flickers lengthened and brightened. He tossed his bugs into the air and turned to his father. His doubt vanished in the bright gleam of his father’s smile.

“Good boy!” Raymond said and Danny grinned, glowing like a firefly himself in the light of his father’s pride.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Gospel According To...

If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. (1 John 4:20)

Remember these guys?

I remember, as a young girl in Pasadena, Texas, an incident that didn't didn't make sense to me at the time. I was too young for it to have any mental impact one me.

A neighbor, just a couple of doors down, employed a Negro housekeeper. The friendly local order of the Klan----whose regional headquarters was only a few miles away on Red Bluff Road---paid a visit to our neighbor and gifted her with a burning cross in her front yard.

So young, this meant nothing to me outside the sensationalism of the FBI questioning the neighborhood and the community buzz of the incident.

But I did sense enough to be haunted by it. I'd never been raised to see anyone as anything but human. I'm grateful to my parents for that. Yet only when I grew into adulthood did I actually grasp the meaning of those events---HATE.

I had intended to post a vintage photograph of a Negro lynching from days gone by. But do you know what? They were too violent, they were so heart breaking I couldn't use them. It caused great pain to even glance at them. Bodies---young, old---hanging from trees, charred to cinders from stakes. The horrible denominator most of them had was crowds of gleeful spectators.

One photograph even showed a man, handcuffed and hanging from a tree branch, with a young girl staring up at his body as though she was in front row seats at Ringling Brothers. The photo was taken around 1914, and I wonder---hauntingly wonder---if that child ever, EVER had trouble sleeping at night.

Damn, as a kid, I could hardly sleep after an episode of Twilight Zone. And THAT was fiction, make-believe. This child watched a man hang by his neck until he was dead---and God only knows how horrific that must have been---in real life. And she smiled.

Most of us today are abhorred by this hatred. Churches preach against it. No hate, no hate, love thy brother, love thy brother. Love one another. Love thy brother as thyself.

And yet...and yet...communities band together to do just the opposite. To hate their brothers and sisters.

If you think crimes such as took place with the lynchings were a thing of the past, think again.

If you're like me, your mind quickly makes a path to young Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in a vicious hate crime on October 12, 1998. Tied up, beaten, and left to die.

He was only one of so very many.

The thing that torments me about this hate? So much of is, just like the KKK, based ridiculously on scripture. Multitudes of people have taken something, some out-of-context reference, to justify their HATRED. And it is just that...HATRED.

The sad thing? The person who they so erroneously use as their champion for this hatred---Jesus Christ---was himself a victim of intolerance. He died at the hands of arrogance and hatred. The 'church', the elite religious ones, scorned him, hated him from the moment they heard his voice and his far-fetched, crazy ramblings against arrogance and self-righteousness. His adult life was a constant run from those who willed him dead. For what? For being different.

What the sanctimonious voices who promote hatred do not realize is that, if Jesus walked among them today, they would be protesting him just as their kind did during his lifetime.

For every religious pharisee who condemns the gay community is one who would have barred Jesus from the very church he founded. He would not, today, probably have been welcome in many religious establishments. He would have been just too damn radical for them. He would have suggested they allow gay men and women into their sanctuaries. For that, he would have not been welcome.

Don't kid yourselves, oh pious ones. Jesus never said a lot of things you give him credit for---things you've taken out of context in order to support your bigotry and hatred---but he DID say that to shun those among you was to shun HIM.

So you, the chicken place who pays millions to promote discrimination? Trust me. Jesus, whose name you commit your hateful acts under, is surely not smiling upon you.

And, in closing. I believe in angels. And I believe those lovely stories about how they walk among us. And I believe, with everything in me, that----by shunning those whose gender you cannot tolerate---you are very surely shutting the door on many of those angels who tread among us.