Friday, February 19, 2016


We all originated in Africa except, perhaps, those who are descendants of Neanderthals. Most of us are both. So we are all "Black" from the start.

But after we die our bodies turn black. I know because I had the difficult experience of finding the body of a family member years ago. We had not been  in contact. He lived alone. He had been dead a long time when we found his body on the floor by his bed. 

His body was black and when I touched him, his skin was hard - like leather. It took years for me to forget what death smells like. When I remember, I weep. 

I imagine what he went through before he died. He was naked. He lay there face down. There was some kind of cloth by his head. Did he feel sick and get a cold cloth for his head? Was he in pain? Was he afraid? Why didn't he phone for help? How long was he there on the floor? I cry when I think about it. Could we have done anything to prevent this tragedy? 

He was a grandfather. He was obese. He was antisocial, as far as we knew. Did he have any friends? He never asked us for anything. He didn't talk much. He was a house painter.Very poor. But he was generous to us. 

He was self deprecating. When we asked him to paint our back porch, we intended to pay him, but he refused to take our money. While he was doing the work, I invited him to come inside for lunch. He refused and ate a lunch he had brought alone on the porch. He didn't think he was good enough to come inside!

He loved classical music on the radio, but he gave us a colour TV as a wedding gift. He was quiet and wanted to be left alone. He had a quick and menacing temper but he never directed it at us. 

He was an avid reader of books - borrowed from the Jewish Library, I believe. Could he have been more than  a house painter? Could I have helped him be more than that? I was in my early 30's. I had so much to learn. 

We brought bagels to him and found him dead and black. Too late. 

We are all black.

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