Just think about all of the events that had to come together to make A President Obama possible. First, the DNA of an African boy in Kenya had to be mixed with a young White girl in Kansas, the heartland of America. And he chose well, because Barack’s mother had to have the insight, determination, and knowledge to wake her young Black son every morning at 4 a.m. to prepare him, and lay a foundation to ensure that he had a fighting chance in a world that she knew wouldn’t cut him a bit of slack.
I have no way of proving this, but I think some things are just meant to happen–like the day I walked into my mother’s office as a 16-year old gangster and high school dropout. It was my intent to get money to buy drugs. But my mother was a step ahead of me, so I didn’t get the money, but I did meet a 14-year old ghetto girl who was destined to change my life.
When I walked through that door I had the very worst intentions, but little did I know that once I crossed that threshold, my life would change forever. I only wish that I could have somehow known what was about to take place, and had been given the opportunity to appreciate the importance of that moment–the moment when I literally stumbled way from the very gates of Hell, right into the arms of one of God’s most precious angles; an angel who was undoubtedly sent to Earth for the expressed purpose of saving my reckless young soul.
The moment I met her I knew there was something special about her. She was like no one I had ever met–no games, no hidden agendas. But she knew she didn’t have to hide her agenda, because she had the confidence to know that once she decided upon a goal, there was no one who could stop her from reaching. What I didn’t know, however, was how I had become so lucky. It was like hitting the lottery, the moment she first looked at me I could see her eyes light up, and that light never flickered once until her job was done. And let me remind you, she was only 14, going on 15 years old.
Her name was Valdie, and I had no idea at the time, that she would become my wife of 33 years, and would give birth to my daughter, Kai, and son, Eric Jr–who would later present me with five beautiful grandchildren.
When Val and I married at 19 and 21 years old, everybody predicted that it would never last. They said that we were too young, and I was too reckless. But things seem to come together to mold our bond, and allowed us to live a near-perfect life. I still can’t figure it out. By the time my daughter was born a year later, we moved from the inner-city to the Baldwin Hills area of Los Angeles. I moved us there with the first and last month’s rent, and no idea how I was going to scrape up the second. I have no idea what caused me to do such a thing. All I can say is it was instinctive, like birds flying South for the Winter.
And besides, when you’re young and in love, a month seemed like a lifetime, and as it turned out, we had no need to worry, because for the next 33 years, we never wanted for a thing. It was like an invisible hand was in control of our lives. We could do no wrong, and on the rare occasions when we did hit a stumbling block, it only lasted long enough to be instructive, then seemed to magically correct itself, within days.
We lived better than our parents. Partly because our neighbors were all professionals–lawyers, pharmacists, radio personalities, and such, and Val had the kind of personality where our home became where everybody loved to congregate. And they saw us as struggling young kids, so they would discretely, while careful not to insult our pride, do little things that helped us to keep our heads above water. A prime example of that was the policeman’s wife who insisted on keeping our kids after my son was born. That alone saved us over $400 a month–and that was during a time when I was only making $150 a week, so that was like having a third income coming in.
Again, it seemed that we just couldn’t do anything that turned out badly. Even when I lost my job, one of my neighbors came to me the guy who owned the liquor store asked that I come see him–he had something for me. Losing my job also led to my being “forced” to go back to school to take advantage of my veteran’s benefits, just to bring money into the house. And less than a month later my old boss realized that he needed me, because I had memorized what they found they needed a catalog to try to keep up with. But by that time I had been influenced by my fast-stepping neighbors, and had started to recognize the possibilities that came with the degree I obtained shortly thereafter.
From the very beginning, Val always seemed to have more faith in me than I had in myself, and she was always able to see what I couldn’t. Just looking at myself reflected through her eyes, gave me a sense of identity. But even after we became more established, she continued to push, until she finally got me to write a book, and after it was published, she threw a party so she could brag to her friends.
Then on the night of April 28, 2005, after a very pleasant night of sitting around home and watching movies, she went to bed, and her life came to an end. She never got to see the book in print, but God doesn’t work like that–her job was done.
After Val’s death, we found that she must have known it was coming, because she had written her own obituary (with a note to me, not to change a thing), and she had the dress that she wanted to be buried in draped in plastic in the back of the closet. And in her Obituary she went back through our lives from the moment we met, to just months before her death.
The point of her obituary was gripping and profound. Just hearing her words, and the way she phrased them, made it seem like she was right there hovering among us. All of the weeping and moaning in the mortuary bled to complete silence during the reading. You could hear a pin drop as she pointed out that certain things in life are just meant to be. She said that sometimes there’s a confluence of forces that come together in the universe that makes it impossible for certain events not to happen. Her words continued to come to mind, as I watch the rise of Barack Obama.
Just think about all of the events that had to come together to make A President Obama possible.
First, the DNA of an African boy in Kenya had to be mixed with a young White girl in Kansas, the heartland of America. That entailed the African boy traveling all the way to the United States, then of all the women in America, he had to find just that one who, combined with him, would produce the qualities of Barack Obama. Once that was done, Barack’s father had fulfilled his task. So shortly thereafter, and after a brief bonding with his son, he passed on.
And he chose well, because Barack’s mother had to have the insight, determination, and knowledge to wake her young Black son every morning at 4 a.m. to prepare him, and lay a foundation to ensure that he had a fighting chance in a world that she knew wouldn’t cut him a bit of slack.
She then traveled, with her son in tow, exposing him to a knowledge of different cultures–including the Muslim culture, a knowledge that would prove invaluable to his future task. Then once her task was done, she suffered a lingering death–and even her death served a purpose. It exposed her son to the suffering of the middle class and poor who became ill without the resources to sustain themselves.
Barack was also exposed to the lifestyle and attitudes of his White middle class grandparents, giving him a specialized knowledge of White cultural mores in the heartland of America. They could have very easily chosen not to deal with the pressures and stigma of raising a Black child in their lily White world. But they turned out to be people of very strong character, and their love for their grandson completely overwhelmed any adversities that they would have to face. So through the devotion and struggles of his grandparents, Barack learned that people are people, and that we all love and suffer, in the very same way.
Once his grandparents’ task was done, they too died–first his grandfather, and finally, his grandmother–but not before she delivered her grandson to the very threshold of greatness. Ms. Madelyn Dunham died just one day before her grandson would be elected President of the United States of America.
It’s almost enough to make one feel sorry for Sen. McCain, because as Val would say, he never had a chance. The confluence of events made his task insurmountable: Katrina, Republican scandals, the collapse of the Bush administration, the financial crisis, and a very formidable Barack Obama, a man who had groomed by God himself, to lead America through these very trying times. It had all been written in the wind.
I know, it sounds ridiculous, but certainly no more ridiculous than if I had told you that on the forty-fifth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s prophecy that “I Have a Dream,” a young Black man with the Muslim name of Barack Hussein Obama would accept the Democratic nomination for President of the United States to cheering crowds all over the world. And while it might sound ridiculous, it’s no more ridiculous than if I had told you that a conservative preacher would suggest that all Republicans pray that it rained on Obama’s acceptance speech, only to have the ill wind and rain of a mighty hurricane, disrupt the Republican National Convention, blowing in the controversy of Sarah Palin and “Troopergate,” making it all but impossible for the Republicans to win. And while it may sound ridiculous, surely no more ridiculous than if I’d told you that former officials of the Bush administration, a member of the Eisenhower family, and the son of William F. Buckley himself, would cross party lines to support this young Black man. So, Ridiculous? I don’t think so.
But some might say, if this is truly an act of God, why would he be so cruel as to allow the untimely death of Barack’s grandmother just one day before the proudest day of her life? In response, and as a person who’s not even particularly religious, it says to me that there must be something beyond this life. Thus, I don’t think taking Barack’s grandmother away was a cruel act of God at all–on the contrary. It was a blessing.
What the world may see as an untimely death, was actually a reward from God for a job well done. He rewarded that grand lady with the best seat in the house–free of suffering, free of the ravages of age and physical pain–sitting right along beside her husband and daughter, to witness the wondrous moment, that their love, selfless sacrifice, and dedication hath wrought.
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!
Martin Luther King, Jr.
To read more of Black Star News Eric Wattree’s commentary please visit http://wattree.blogspot.com/
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