Say what you will about Facebook – and I know most of what you’ll say is that’s it’s the end of civilisation – it has helped me maintain at least of semblance of interpersonal interaction over the last few years.
I’ve never been a popular person. And lots of people would say I’m not even a pleasant person. But, when the interpersonal doesn’t actually involve persons, I’ve managed to do okay.
So, you probably hate it. Most people hate it. I realise it’s bringing about the collapse of humanity. And, yes, I hate it too, but it’s also my lifeline.
As someone who spent most of her childhood looking from the outside in, I’m not particularly choosy when it comes to friend requests. I accept them all. I don’t keep them all. I unfriend almost as quickly as I friend – there’s a reason lots of people think I’m not particularly pleasant – but, sure, I’ll give anybody a chance.
So, when TheBlack Panther request came in, I clicked accept.
Then came the message. I don’t mind the requests, but the messages can send me into a tailspin. In case you haven’t discovered this yet, there are some very odd people out there. Very odd. I mean very, very odd people, who will message you very, very odd things. But, I’m curious by nature so. . . .
20 Sep 15
Just wanted to say Hey. This is Eddie Davis if you hadnt figured it out by now. Its been so long since I say you but its always good to see that person that you know doing so well and with a lovely smile on their face. I hope the family doing well. I dont be on here much so if you respond you got to give me time to get back at cha.
Not a stranger. But I hadn’t thought about Eddie Davis in years and years and years. And as the image of his face flooded my head, I felt pretty bad about that.
Eddie Davis was, for all practical purposes, my brother.
Of course, Eddie and I weren’t actually brother and sister. It didn’t even take a quick glance to figure that out. Eddie was long and lean and dark, dark, dark. I, on the other hand, had been short and squidgy and pasty white. But, we were two kids alone together.
20 Sep 15
Hey! I had no idea that was you! Thank you for letting me know — I won’t delete you now! 😉 How are you? Where are you? It’s so nice to be reconnected. Update me — tell me how the last 30 years have treated you. 🙂
It really had been thirty years. Well, maybe twenty nine years. I thought back. . .the last time I had seen Eddie was, I think, in the autumn of our tenth grade year, 1986. Funny that you could spend so much time with a person and then, well, and then, just not.
I was raised by my grandmother, Judith. People wonder why Judith raised me. They don’t really believe me when I say I don’t know.
But I don’t. I don’t know.
I guess for a long time I didn’t really think about it. Judith was Judith. She was there. I lived at her house. Eddie was usually also at his house with his grandmother, so it didn’t seem that odd to me that I would be raised by mine.
It’s probably not accurate to say that Judith raised me. Judith was my legal guardian and I was her ward. Now I think that Judith viewed me more as a possession than a child – or a grandchild. She wasn’t abusive or anything like that, she just, well, she just wasn’t really there.
LuLu was the one who was there. LuLu took care of me. LuLu made sure I was clean and that I cleaned my room. LuLu made my food for me – though it was Judith who eventually told her to make sure I ate only half of what I was served because I was too fat. LuLu was there with the band aids and the Kleenex.
And LuLu came with Eddie.
Mondays to Fridays, seven to seven, and Saturdays from eight to three, Eddie and I were LuLu’s.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not bitter about Judith. Not at all. Judith was Judith and in more ways than I can count, I respect that.
I just can’t say that who she was is the person who raised me.
I don’t remember being born, but, to misquote Booker T Washington, I suppose it must have happened. And I don’t remember coming to live with Judith. I know now that Judith was somewhere around 50 when she “took me in”. I was an infant.
I don’t know anything about my mother, of the woman who gave birth to me. In all my years of living in Judith’s house, I never managed to find a photograph of her. Though I know, that I did indeed have a mother and that that mother was indeed the product of Judith.
By the time of my arrival, Judith was twice widowed. Twice well widowed, in fact. Husband number one – the father of my mother – owned the local cotton mill. His name was Bill Roste. That’s where I get my name – Billy Roste, just like him, but, you know, for a girl. Husband number two – Mr Leevy – was the bank president.
By the time she was 40, though, Judith was done with husbands. She had one child, the bank president’s house, and sole control of two substantial estates. I don’t know what she had planned for her latter years, but I’m fairly certain it didn’t involve children.
So, in fact, I think Judith was happy enough that LuLu had Eddie and that Eddie and I could be lumped together as one. I don’t know how LuLu felt about that, but I do know that LuLu never gave any indication that she viewed me and Eddie as anything other than a unit.
That’s what we were, Eddie and I. A unit.
21 Sep 15
Not so good been in and out of prison for the most part. I got a son and daughter ones 24 and the other 26 thier names are eddie and norma. LIFE is so complicated for me but i realized i made it that way and i got to be the one that change it. After my mom passed i started to care about myself because i was so gone on drugs and alcohol but i been clean for twelve years or more now. I hope to be out soon. I just had to text you to see how ou where doing when i saw you on a photo with Big Man and knowing i haven’t seen you are the family in so many years. WHATEVER you wanna know feel free to ask. I will be back on here later. PEACE BE UNTO YOU.
21 Sep 15
Hey. Thanks for the message and thanks for being so honest. You say you hope to be out soon — are you in prison now? For what it’s worth, and I don’t really tell anyone this and I don’t talk about it, I know what addiction can do to you. I went to rehab around 11 years ago, and life is much better now. It wasn’t good before that, and I didn’t really care about anything. How are your kids?
I’m really glad you’re getting better. And i’m very happy you’re finding peace. Sometimes that’s harder for some of us than it is for others but we all deserve it. You definitely deserve it.
I’m writing some now. Thinking about writing a book. Don’t know if i’ll get there or not but it’s lots of stuff about Lee. Not all good. If you want to read some of it I can send you a link.
Take care of yourself, okay. Life can be really awful sometimes — some of it we bring to ourselves and some of it just lands on us — but even after a whole lot of awful it can be really good. Trust me on that.
Tell me anything you want me to know.
I don’t really pray for people. Well, the truth is I just don’t call it praying. But I have often wondered how you were doing and hoped you were well. I will continue to do that.
“Eddie? Do you ever wonder what happened to your mom?”
“Your mom. Do you ever wonder what happened to her? Like where she is?”
Eddie looked at me like I had just bonked my head on a plank.
“What the hell are you talking about, woman?”
We were secretly watching sit-coms when LuLu was busy; hence the decision to use words that would get us a smack if we were anywhere but on our own.
“Well, I just mean, what happened to you mom? I don’t have a mom, and I don’t know what happened to her, and you don’t have a mom, and I wonder if you ever wonder what happened to her.”
“I do have a mom.”
“Well, of course you do. Obviously we both have mothers; we wouldn’t exist if we didn’t have mothers. But, you know, like Jenny and Latesha, they have moms who pick them up from school and who go to the football games. We just have LuLu and Judith. Don’t you ever wonder what happened to your mom-mom?”
“I know what happened to my mom. Nothing happened to my mom. My mama lives in Enterprise and I go spend every Saturday night with her and she brings me back to LuLu’s on Sunday when we all go to church. What you mean ‘what happened to my mom’? I have a mom. Not everybody like you, you know.”
“What you wanna know now, Billy? You wanna know why I don’t live with my mama? You wanna know why my mamma don’t pick me up at school. Why my mamma don’t go to the football games?”
“Well. I guess. Yeah.”
“Okay, Billy. This is why I don’t live with my mama. My mama has got eight kids. Eight. Eight. She works two jobs over in Enterprise. She works at the peanut plant during the day; then, at night, she goes to the Pig and she stacks shelves. I got three brothers and all of ‘em either been arrested, picked up by the police, or cut in some fight.
“So, when I came along, my mama didn’t want another boy going to jail or gettin’ cut up or stabbed or something. LuLu didn’t have any kids livin’ with her anymore, so she said I could stay at her house. So that is where I stay.
“LuLu isn’t my pretend mom. I got a mom. I don’t know why you gotta stay with Judith. I don’t know why you ain’t got a mom. But I got a mama and I know exactly where she is. And, not that you asked, but I got a daddy too. My daddy works all over town and he comes to LuLu’s for dinner every Tuesday and every Thursday. I know my mama and I know my daddy. I know where I came from. Ain’t my problem you don’t.”
The tears were pricking the backs of my eyes. I didn’t know what was upsetting me more – that Eddie was mad at me for asking a question I thought was fair or that I hadn’t realised that Eddie had a whole life apart from mine.
I couldn’t manage to say anything. I just sat there, pretending to watch whatever it was that was on the TV.
I think Eddie must have felt bad that I felt bad because a little while later he said “I’m going to get a coke. You want one?”
I just shook my head no.
23 Sep 15
Hey Billy I pray that God continues to bless you in your everyday walk. First I wanna say my children are fine and they are grown and have children so im a grandfather as well. Lol. But on a serious note yes im currently in prison and but I don’t use my name on Facebook to keep certain people from knowing. I dont wanna actually go into details but 2003 of april was my last and final time of using drugs or drinking but I too was really messed up for years. Needless to say I stopped using and started selling because I felt like the street owed me something but this is what I got. So now you do not ever have to wonder all you got to do is ask. Well once again I well be back on here soon and anything you wanna know feel free to ask. I love when people delve in my life because I enjoy talking to them about my past experiences. May peace and blessing be bestowed upon you.
24 Sep 15
A grandfather! We’re not old enough for that! 😉
I don’t have any kid. I was married to someone a lot older than me and kids were never on our agenda.
So, if you really don’t mind my asking questions, I’m going to. Just don’t answer anything you don’t want to, and know that I’m not asking anything to offend you or upset you. Okay? Likewise, you can ask me anything. Same rules.
Are you in now for dealing? How long for? How do you get to use Facebook? Are there library/computer hours?
Are you in touch with any of your family?
Did you move from Lee?
What will you do when you get out?
All things taken into consideration, are you okay?
Like I said, tell me what you want, but if there’s something you don’t want to talk about, don’t worry. I’m only asking because I’m curious about you — I don’t want to create stress or angst. Cool?
24 Sep 15
You never have to worry about creating any type of stress just with simple little questions as such. The facebook thing is with a phone that is illegal. But I cant use the wall phone because they are to high. Anyways I got busted in 2007 I got 35 years but I only did 3 from 07 to 2011. Got out continued to sell drugs and got caught for pos. Of pills. I go up for parole in dec and praying I make it. And no im still in lee got married once moved to Pensacola but that didnt last long so back to LEE. I plan on getting out of here and move somewhere anywhere it doesnt matter Lee is never gonna give me a fair chance so I defiantly need to move out of alabama period. Its hard but I made it that way. So I got to make things easy for me. My Mom use to tell me to trust and believe in God and He will see you through. Well that sums up all your questions I think at least I hope because I do not wanna miss nothing. Its cool to ask I dont mine at all every single thing I went through is my own fault and that I must learn from. See I to started on a book of my own but got to one place and got stuck so I put it down and never picked it up again. Anyway I told you to ask and I mean that I am not ashamed of anything i’ve done. And you married a older man well love doesn’t see age but in some cases the law does. Lol. But I grew up with older women in my life and lately that has not been my thing. Younger women is my thing and of course it seems that they are attractive to older guys anyway, I have had 26 year old tell me they had a brush on me. So I have came to a end so come on with more questions. And I know where my family at but I dont bother them at all like that.
Paul was 24 years older than me and he and I had always been quite open about the fact he was going to die before I did. It’s just that he wasn’t supposed to die this much earlier than I did.
And it all felt so stupid and so wrong. Really, really unfair. I’m guessing most of the ‘bereaved’ say this about loss. It’s stupid. It’s unfair. It shouldn’t have happened when it did.
We hadn’t been in Wales that long, only a couple of years. He loved it. I mean he really, really glowed. I was struggling a bit. I tried to keep that back from him a bit. It wasn’t fair for me to bring him down. I missed London. I missed work. I loved the beauty and the ruggedness and in a weird way even the rain. But it wasn’t London. London had been like a security blanket for me and Wales definitely was not.
But he loved it. He felt like he had ‘come home’ he always said.
And, in truth, he lived it up. Mountain walks, hill walks, field walks. Chats with the farmers. He even helped with the sheering when he could talk his way in – and he could talk his way into most things. And he was so fit. 67. I’d say no one believed that, but the farmers around us were all ridiculously fit too and they all seemed to work forever. But for normal, soft, city-folk, Paul was fit and young.
So when he was gone a bit longer on his morning walk, I didn’t think anything of it. He did that all the time. Tell me he was headed out and then decide to follow this route or that and wind up out for 3 hours instead of 1. I wasn’t even particularly worried when he got back and was covered in mud. He’d fallen. It happened to both us all the time. Mountains, rocks, uneven ground, rain, wind – they all combined to make every walk an adventure course.
A little while later, though, he said he had a headache and was going to lie down for a while.
By the time I checked on him an hour or so later, he was dead.
They said he must have hit his head when he fell. Epidural hematoma. Apparently it’s ‘not a bad way to go’. I think that was supposed to give me some relief. It did not.
My world had stopped.
I’m sure I handled it all very, very badly.
I know that people did not appreciate the way I communicated the news. I know that people did not appreciate the way I selfishly kept his cremation to myself. I know that people did not approve of my decision to savour these only things I had left of him and of us. I know they thought I was selfish, thoughtless.
Perhaps that’s true.
As for what I thought. Well, now, I can’t remember thinking much. In fact, what I remember is trying not to think, knowing that if I thought I could not go on. Would not go on. I reverted to my checklists, my to-do lists, the rigidity of the days when I first left rehab. Rule number one: do not use. Rule number two: shower, brush your teeth, put on clean clothes. Rule number three: move every hour.
There were a lot of rules.
I followed the rules.
I also, rashly I think now, decided to sell the house in Wales.
Paul didn’t believe in souls. He was a devout atheist. Not an evangelical atheist like some of his friends, thanks be to something he didn’t believe in and I don’t know if I believe in. But a devout, dedicated atheist who thought the concept of a soul was downright silly. Deep down, I reckon he was probably right, but, still, I worry that what if he did have a soul, what if his soul is wandering, what if his soul goes back to Wales to find me and I’m not there.
God, I would have quite willingly walked off a cliff rather than have faced life without him. And I can’t say with any degree of certainty that I wasn’t planning to do just that.
27 Sep 15
Hey! Thanks for answering my questions. 🙂 I really don’t want to do anything that would get you in trouble or create problems for you, so if you shouldn’t use the phone, it’s okay if you pick this conversation up, hopefully, in December. I agree it’s good to get out of Lee. There’s not much on offer there, and it’s hard to change your future if you’re with the same people, etc. You deserve more than that. 🙂 Take care. Good luck with the parole. I’ll be thinking of you.
Contact me when it’s right for you.
27 Sep 15
Judith died in October.
It was neither a surprise nor unexpected. She was over 90 and meanness could keep you alive for only so long, I figured.
After college, I considered myself to be more or less completely done with Lee. And, to be fair to Judith, she didn’t pressure me to be anything else. She had never considered me her child, and I always knew she wasn’t my mother. I appreciated the life she had provided for me, but we both knew that playing happy families would be a rather sad charade. I visited her once a year and we spoke on the phone every couple of months. She wasn’t ill. She lived at home until the end, when she died of old age, in her sleep, as most of hope to go.
I spent October and November in Lee.