A CHILD LEFT BEHIND
An individual’s emotional strength is as unique as DNA. It is a gift from God. Parental commitment to introduce personal, emotional, spiritual strength begins at birth; between the ages two to twelve are still reachable. If you do, you’ll bring up emotionally ready and able offspring. If you don’t, you’ll rear a monster. Repercussion from a parent’s life may be unfair for a kid to get through but life is as life is; tolerable.
At 17, Lyle Jr. faces his inner strength head on. He stands steadfast on emotional inheritance, capable of coping, of understanding and loving Lyle Sr., 34, realizing why ‘whats’ happen. What a reassuring relief on a parent’s deathbed. Father has been feeling extremely exhausted over the passed couple months, as his ex– masculine physique falls apart long with is weakening immune system. He decides to make his HIV/AIDS plight plain to his junior; seeing he’ll grow up with out him as a father.
“Come over here and have a sit down with your old man” Sr. smiles, patting the arm of the brown leather recliner next to him. “Not a problem young man; taking my ham sandwich, Doritos and Pepsi with me. You needin’ a sandwich; got Miracle Whip on it.” “Naw, I’m good.” “Jr. I’m not going to beat around the bush on this one. I’m infected with HIV/AIDS, he begins, followed by a heavy swallow of air, just saying the words. My eyes widen from an alert I was not ready to bear. So it’s only fair that this conversation take place now while I’m still lucid enough to make some sense, he jokes. I’ve known for some time I was positive, over 14 years but these last three have been the most difficult, physically excruciating. My immune system was very strong for a long time. I felt well. I even looked well until I started digesting all sorts of hold-on medication. AZT with apple juice, he chuckles, and you know I hate me some apple juice. That concoction stopped working so I started on the AIDS cocktail, seven to twelve pills twice a day. The cocktail soon became the only thing in my life. It seemed the emptier I got, the emptier family and friends got” he admits solemnly. Catching my breath, “Wow dad, that’s a lot for a man to have on his plate. Does mother know? How’s she handling this” smashing Doritos between the two slices of ham. “Well the truth is HIV caused our divorce. She was beside herself and it wasn’t her emotional or physical battle.
She contacted a lawyer and counted me dead from the time we found out the result of my test. Why I took her with me, must have had something to do with loving her or them narcotics were working over-time, he laughs out loud. She was more evil than usual from that point on as if I intentionally did something to her. I didn’t need her searing tongue in my ear, just understanding and unconditional love, something she didn’t know anything about. We fought it out in court for years and I won sole custody of you because her motives were wrong. The judge saw straight through her fake tears, her dramatic reactions. Your mother got the house, the car and the dog, he laughs again; thumbing back a single tear from his left eye. I fought hard to keep you with me. It wasn’t to hurt your mother it was simply to surround myself with the kind of unconditional love I’d need to get me through this for as long as God planned for me to be on His earth, to be able to show you what kind of man I am instead of letting your mother’s angry remembrances paint pictures.” “I ain’t mat at you dad, I smile to encourage, patting my father’s knee. The back-n-forths have been good; just like this sandwich” laughing. “Is HIV the reason? No. Is it a factor? Absolutely, she’d lie. Don’t infect my boy, she’d remind me in a fit of rage or not, in public or private. Only by God’s grace she’s till testing negative. I’m always so careful around you, disposing of my razors in plastic bags, washing your clothes separate from mine; just having monk fever. They both laugh out loud as Sr. extends his hand to give Jr. five. “Dad let me tell you about the debate we had in Social Studies, while we’re on this subject. The topic was HIV/AIDS infected students attending public schools.” “What became of it” pouring Disarrona, which he keeps in the side pouch of his recliner, over six cubes of ice so the thick brown liquor can coat his insides with warmth. “More than half the students raised their hands to vote that it shouldn’t be allowed; that they should somehow be segregated or even have a school or section of their own built. Can you believe it; segregation, in the twentyten.. I was barely able to contain myself by mid debate. I marched around the class trying to open up closed minds. That if they segregate this then they’ll surely segregate that.
That HIV/AIDS can’t be spread through casual contact, that protection is the greatest defense but abstinence is a surefire; wrap it up I proclaimed. I was begging to differ that it is not solely a personal problem it’s a problem for humanity. A cultural experience or extinction. This thing is bigger that intended. That this is a burden we all carry. Accidents happen and mistakes are made. I was serious in my debate dad. I was professional, adjusting my imaginary tie, don’t worry.” “I’m listening” taking a sip. “People are fired and made outcast no matter their career or social status, except in athletics; majority. I even brought up the movie Philadelphia versus Magic Johnson; reverse‘ism’ I believe. They lose their residences, families and even times receive inadequate health care if the m-o-n-e-y ain’t r-i-g-h-t. There are violations of privacy, deprivation of parental rights, workplace discrimination and so much more. I believe there is a cure reserved for the wealthy, and infamous; swoosh” imitating shooting a hoop. “Keep going son, because you’re r-i-g-h-t on the m-o-n-e-y.” “I was trying to tell them knuckleheads that it isn’t a dirty people’s disease. That folks don’t go out and ask for it; ‘Hey can I get a large cup of AIDS to go please.’ Lyle Sr. laughs out loud at his son’s resurfacing frustration. I had a few supporters on my side though. I’ll only worry that people who don’t know you, me, us and our accomplishments, intentions and all the other great things we’re about, will discriminate. What if they think I have it too? I’ll never get a girl” bending over in laughter, not truly caring about that nonsense. “You must have taken your wisdom from me ‘cause your mom couldn’t possibly have instilled that in your soul son. You are an amazingly genuine son and I love you Jr. Sr. shares. When you decide to ‘get grown’ you keep yourself protected understand son. That was my fatal mistake, trusting a beautiful face and thick hips over my common sense. You can’t imagine leaving someone you love behind. Son I don’t want to define your life, but my AIDS stigma won’t be easy to shake, especially amongst your immediate social circle.” “Old man, I can handle anything they throw at me. You taught me how to be firm while be compassionate.
You taught me how to include exclusions. You taught me how to accept the ‘ism’ of others without being conquered. You taught me how to whup some butt if necessary; shall I go on.” They share hearty laughter, a hug and Jr’s split in half ham sandwich.
Eight emotion-wrenching months pass. At Memorial Lyle Jr. leans over Lyle Sr.’s frail, lifeless body as the monitors quietly beep and buzz to keep him temporarily with life, releasing the overflow of tears that have welled in his eyes; watching and listening for the angels sent to retrieve his father. Fifteen minutes later the beeps and buzzes quiet to a single flat line; there here. Lyle Jr. receives the last strength his father has to give, from a weak squeeze from his trembling hand as his last breath escapes. I vow, “I’m ready. I knew this time would get here. It’s time for you to go on dad. Don’t worry yourself as you wait to go to heaven because I’m going to get a great job in medicine and earn a great and emotionally stable wife that’ll always have my back. I’ll make you proud dad, I promise. Keep looking in on me if you can and you’ll see; I promise.” His father succumbs to his fate sixteen days before his son’s 18th birthday.
The atmosphere in the auditorium of the University is perfect for graduation ceremonies. The air is healthy. Family and friends are in full attendance. Carlyle Bankston Jr., class president, stands at the podium in his starched cap and gown. His mother along with rest of his 40plus member family, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents on both sides, sit proudly awaiting his words. “Six years ago my father died of HIV/AIDS; I had become a child left behind. I was barely 18, fresh out of high school and it was, at the time, the most devastating thing I could have faced, probably ever will. This issue is partly the reason I decided to aggressively study medicine which will enable me to research, find and provide a cure for this devastating ravager called HIV/AIDS, to save millions of lives that are wasted per it. I managed with the good graces of aunts and uncles to reach this point in my manhood.
Dr. Clark shows that it is mainly toxins depressing production of white blood cells in the bone marrow and thymus gland, or directly killing white blood cells which are responsible for AIDS. The best proof for Dr. Clark’s theories are the facts that she reports recoveries of even the most advanced AIDS patients at her clinic. She also achieved a number of close to 20 consecutive HIV positives become HIV negatives as confirmed by the lab. I have plans to secure an internship with her researchers. And in conclusion, I have no problem being among the statistics of being ‘A child left behind’; pausing. Thank you.”
Not one day has gone by that I don’t think about a cure or my father; how he mentally prepared me to deal in life’s inevitable situations and circumstances. How to exact my emotional, physical, spiritual strengths, pausing to wipe back a single tear about to fall, from his left eye. I love you dad; remembering that last tear his father shed came from his left eye. I dedicate my manhood, my graduation and my life’s work to my father, Dr. Carlyle Bankston the first also known as Lyle Sr.; a strong nurturing man that at nineteen and in the heat of the moment made a conscience decision not to protect his self for one night and paid for it with our lives. Before the ooohs and aaahs begin, this unconscious act is done all the time by you and yours, because we rush. The mood is right and the girl is really all that and four bags of chips. As my father would say, ‘a pretty face can leave a bad taste.’ I’m not blaming women and neither did he, I’m putting responsibly where half of it belongs, on us men. I know that a good majority of you trust that the rich and famous aren’t having sex with unattractive women and vice versa. Note that I’m keeping this in the United States and I’ll deal with Africa and wherever else when the time gets here. You just never know what you’re getting yourself into usually until it’s too late. My father told me that I’d be stereo-typed if I ever decided to announce this sacred secret to anyone but I assured him that if it keeps folks back then they should stay back, way back. This world is too big and there’s too many beautiful places on God’s green earth to live and still cure what I have to cure. As a successful self-made business man he valued self-esteem and integrity. Everybody that truly knows him, loves him. We all miss him dearly, for one reason or another; I express. Here’s something to chase ignorance with. Dr. Hilda Clark is an avid researcher in the field of Alternative Medicine. She’s published five books on HIV/AIDS. Dr. Clark’s work is based on biofeedback testing, the Syncrometer, which she determines the actual causes of HIV/AIDS and other health conditions. Knowing the cause will open the door to prevention and treatment.
OOWEE- Kim Wilson