I dare you to stop for a moment and consider the following: an old frail man, originally from Dominica; a father, a friend, a husband—a man in the early stage of dementia, trapped in his own mind and deceived by his own thoughts. Now, I beg you to consider that this very same man, who used to be quite physically strapping, was a provider and a meticulous and hard worker. This man immigrated to the United States, full of hope for a better life, destined to attain the fabled American dream. Instead, what awaits him is the same story that is lived by many immigrant men in the United States. He works diligently. Although he does not have a strong educational foundation, his drive and motivation pushes him forward. However, he indulges his more carnal desires with many women, wasting valuable resources in the process chasing after one orgasm and then the other. Like a child in a candy store, he tastes one piece of candy after another, tossing the leftovers aside, completely oblivious to their cost.
But now he is vulnerable. The lines that decorate his face tell his age. They are coupled with the onset of memory lapses. He often forgets his friends and even the Good Samaritan who has reached out to him over the years. He cannot get by on his social security checks, but he is a man of will. My friends, here is where the story gets interesting; please allow me to set the scene. It is late winter, the heavy rain does not seem to cease this day, and the clouds are as dark as the depth of the man’s memory lapses. Yet, in the torrential rain, this poor man collects cans along a busy highway with the intention to redeem them for cash. Even in his vulnerable and weakened state, he still recognizes the need for survival and is driven by his sheer desire to provide, to earn his bread through his own sweat.
My friend’s heart aches to see this man, a man who is certainly not a stranger but is today something quite different. Something spoke to the core of his spirit, something urged him to see this man as a brother, a father, and possibly a mirror image of himself, a story that reflects the possible outcome of all of our stories. Then he probes himself, asking questions such as where are his children, where is his family, where is the spirit that bonds us together as strong Caribbean people driven by a passion for family?
We beg the following questions: Why have our hearts hardened to the point that we filter out our families? What does it take for us to remove the plaque of self-centeredness that has clogged our hearts and spirit? What about the lessons preached and taught by our forefathers on the value of family that were supposed to awaken a deeper and more sensitive spirit in our generation and were supposed to set us apart as a people? Where is the spirit of humility, the cry from our souls that screams, “I am your brother?” How is it possible that we can hoard so many material possessions and yet find it difficult to break a loaf with our brother?
As my friend stopped and aided the old man into his truck to drive him home, he emptied his wallet of its possessions, realizing that this man’s story could be his own. He realizes that his story is narrated all over the United States and beyond. It is a story of a vulnerable immigrant with very few options. Wisdom forces him to realize how quickly we age, how unpredictable our own circumstances are, how important it is to bond as a family and a community, and how love indeed prevailed throughout this encounter. The undying love of God that emulates from the depth of our being and blossoms out from a willing heart, a heart set on doing the right thing.
Truly, my friends, what are we becoming as a people, what are the lessons we are teaching our children? Can we do better for a family that may need us; do we pretend not to see our neighbor’s empty plate? Has the bright lights, tall buildings, and fast-pace life in the big cities cast a dark shadow on own our realities as a common people. Or could it be sheer greed, our lust to achieve yet another dollar to boast about to the world that truly, “I have arrived” that motivates us to do things that are against the norm. Let us all reflect!!!
I share this story on my caregiver’s blog because so many caregivers are immigrants who can identify with this story. Waiting to hear your thoughts.