Being a white boy, who grew up in the sticks of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, I’ve had the privilege of kissing many a young woman, yet only three of them were black.
Althea was a childhood friend and the best friend to my first girlfriend. At fifteen, the kisses with her were on the cheek or even the lips, but always part of a dare to go there.
Michelle is my long time Trinidad friend, and any kisses between us were the brother/sister type of kiss, a natural show of affection and admiration that we grew to have for one another. To me, she’ll always be my little IBS, my ‘Illegitimate Black Sister’, as we’ve joked so many times.
And thirdly was Sylvia. She just recently passed away and I will miss her dearly. Sylvia was old, and a bit wacky in the eyes of most. But seen through the eyes of others like mine, she was one of those unique characters that you’re so fortunate to meet during the course of a lifetime. She couldn’t have cared less about your skin color or your social status or what church you went to. She was appreciative of nice people and lenient of the others. She liked talking with people and enjoyed good food and loved to sing in church. To me, she put everything into perspective. Keep it simple.
I visited Sylvia many times during her stay at Consulate Care. In the guest book, under relationship, I always wrote ‘brother’, which she would have found funny, if she’d only known. The last day that I saw her was during a religious-based music/scripture program for the residents of the home. She had me push her and her wheelchair right past the already performing guitarist and we made camp fashionably late in the middle of the cafeteria. Later on, Sylvia sent me on a wild goose chase for a bag of ice for my elbow that had just undergone surgery. When I returned to the cafeteria, the minister was blocking the entrance while giving a sermon. Being overly polite and not wanting to cause an embarrassing scene, I exited out the building, telling the receptionist along the way to give Sylvia my apologies and that I’d see her again soon. Which now I deeply regret.
Which is funny, knowing what Sylvia would have said.
“Shoot. I’d a walked right past him. He was talking too much anyways. Half these people in here weren’t paying no attention anyhow”
I always liked hanging out with Sylvia. Unlike so many people, she was down to Earth, straight to the point…honest. More than once, as I was leaving, she would hold my hand lingering, never saying thank you in words, but with a look and a grasp which delivered the message. This past Christmas morning, I skipped my family gathering for a while in order to visit Sylvia. And at the end of that visit, I got a big-old kiss right on the lips. When asked the following week by others of what Santa had brought me, I joked that I got a big kiss on the lips by an old black woman.
But it was, by far, the best gift that I received that day.
Here’s a little story about Sylvia written back in February.