I prefer to spend what might be defined as spare time doing interesting things. Or, perhaps being an interesting fellow. I’ll allow for history to determine if any part of it qualifies as “chinese interesting”.
I like to sing badly (interpret that as you will). So, I do it a lot. I deeply (I prefer that word over really) enjoy music, and various interpretations of art, as well. I’ll admit, here, the music I like only need move me.
That aside, I’m working through a lot of Hootie and the Blowfish. I’ll add Darius Ruckers: History In The Making. I’m enjoying that with gusto, and to the mild amusement of my family, and the odd friend that happens to drop by.
In any event, I found myself thinking about my friend Earnesto. You might as well face it now, there’s a story around this; and, it’s just below!
The thought was triggered by the tune: I Want To Know What Love Is, as performed by Down Low & Friends Best & More (and, the Scream Factory) for Rappers Against Racism (that event was a lot of fun). You can find it on iTunes. And, you can also view it here:
I think the visuals off the video somewhat detract from the impact of the actual message. But, there you have it nonetheless.
Lift it UP! I may not be a Christian… But, this is my religion.
In any event, I first met Earnesto in the city of Sarajevo in early 1989. He was an artist of some repute. My team needed to escort a veritable troupe out of the city, and harms way. I was not surprised to learn that Earnesto knew Father Jim, my Catholic mentor (he would never approve of Christian). And, this was before Father Jim disappeared. Earnesto looked a lot older than his fifty-one years. Born in El Salvador, he had lost one young family in a FARC guerilla cross-fire. He literally painted his way to Yugoslavia where he earned citizenship largely on the grounds of his artistic genius (I had found myself standing mesmerized before a bullet-riddled mural painted by his hand on the south wall of a quaint little restaurant off Titova street [aka: Street of Marshal Tito]). He was still dazed and ruined from losing another wife (this one a Muslim) and young daughter.
Years later I was pleasantly surprised to find Earnesto, oddly no older in appearance, but clearly bent by life, standing amidst a group of hapless workers, right here in Alpharetta. He needed to work. I had that around my yard. I made sure he had hot thick coffee and cheese sandwiches. In a strange way I felt as though he was both grateful for me, and accusing of me. More importantly, in the scheme of things, I sorted out that he was gravely ill. In less than three months he was too weak to work. I found him an apartment, discreetly covered the rent, and made sure there was a bag of groceries on the kitchen counter each Sunday afternoon. In some fanciful way I’m sure I was hoping he would do something charming – like paint the walls with some brilliant story. But, that never happened. The magic was gone from his heart, hand and eyes. His english was broken, but his hearing was good. I found myself telling him stories about my own life, with a focus on Grandad, my girls, soccer and theories about politics.
In the last week he could not rise from his bed and his complete care was left to me. I thought he smelled good. Rather like cinnamon. But, I also recognized the scent of death with the hollowness of his cheeks. As the darkness closed around him, and he fiercely gripped my numbing hand, he hoarsely whispered that he was not alone, and grateful. He seemingly had no fear; perhaps only resignation, if not relief. His only request: “you no forget me”.
By the way… That mural in Sarajevo is gone. But, it was an image of men of many faiths and color standing on a hillside on the outskirts of the city with their faces raised up to the sun.
I can’t and won’t forget that. It was a gift from Earnesto. And, it’s another lesson for me. As I remember the face of my father, Earnesto’s suffering, the bounty of my life’s experience – and, the potential that I have yet unrealized to make a greater difference in this life, I will continue to find more ways to learn what love is.
Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
Brian Patrick Cork