Dear Readers

I smiled sheepishly and told her not to point, it was not good manners. I saw the lady across from me give me the “wow, you are such a good mom” nod of approval….

The plane ride to Atlanta was uneventful. Anissa fell asleep after asking 500 hundred questions about the “your seat cushion maybe used as a floatation device” portion of the ride.

She was tired and she had her blankie wrapped around her face. She was snoring softly. I love it when she sleeps.

Anissa woke up about 20 minutes prior to landing. She put a sticker of flight wings on her shirt and told the stewardess that the other one was for her little brother.

While getting off the plane she asked to take a picture with the pilot and we bid him goodbye.

It was early when we got to Atlanta and we had a little bit of a layover. Anissa dragged her blanket behind her and said hi to everyone. It was funny.

She would blurt out, “Hi… Umm. I said hi. It is only nice to say hi back.”

Most people smiled at her. Other people just stared.

On our way to New York we had problems with cabin pressure. I gave Anissa a piece of gum and she started screaming, “The gum, the gum, the gum is hurting my ears.” I mean she was really wailing. I was at a loss. There was a lady in front of me who pulled out a can of Sprite and told her to drink it down.

As we passed New Jersey, I felt my accent welling up in throat. I missed home. I missed the loud laughing. I missed people who had a respect for church and religion. I missed people who were honest enough to tell you they did not like you but they did not try to hurt you because of it.

I was missing so many things that I missed that there were tears rolling down my cheeks.

Anissa stared at me and said, “You really miss home.”

I truly believe that she meant New York and I validated her comment by nodding.

For some reason, I know that my voice would have started cracking.

I love my friends from New York who live in Lansing. They keep me sane. Do not get me wrong. I love my city. I live here. I pay taxes and it belongs to me and the thousands of other people who reside in it with me.

There is just something though about seeing the ocean frothing below you.

I love the ocean. I am afraid of the ocean but I respect it immensely. Growing up 5 minutes from the ocean gives you a different perspective.

I dried my tears and braced myself for the landing. Anissa did very well for her first flight. Waiting for our ride was not one of the high points but when Paul arrived, one of my first stops was at the pizza parlor.

Paul and I have been friends since high school. We were both social outcasts but we had dreams. He is now a very successful businessman and teaches at the local community college.

He was late because he was playing basketball. I should have guess it. He also heads several Police Athletic League (PAL) basketball teams.

I indulged in my slice of pizza at Gino’s, while listening to the Italian customers talk about issues of today in broken English. (How can it be fair to mandate that English is the official language spoke everywhere if we are a country built on immigrants?)

I was really enjoying it besides I was trying to do everything in my power to avoid going to see my father. I will honest, I was an overwhelming feeling of dread.

I finally did make it home. The next morning my father went back to the hospital. He will be there for quite sometime while he considers the fate of his other leg. I say he because he does not want to let it go. We will let him make a decision regarding his leg. He is still of sound mind.

I was there to make my sister’s life easier. Kendra worked hard to accommodate me and Anissa for the first day, while tending to my father’s daily needs.

He has dietary restrictions and is bedridden. She has been his nursing aide for the last couple of years.

I told her to relax and that everything was going to be all right.

I think that her face held a look of disbelief. I told her to sit down and talk to me and tell me what needs to be done.

I did everything that she needed for me to do. I was at her service. That is what she needed, she did not need a relative to come in and feel sorry for her. She needed someone to be stronger than she was and she needed someone to do the small things that somehow seem to pile up.

I cleaned, cooked, helped with financial chores and with my niece and nephew. It was a constant job trying to just get my sister to relax.

Every five minutes she would say, “You don’t have to do that.” Or she would say, “I’ll get that in one minute.”

Sometimes when you work so hard by yourself, responses that you give seem to say , “Oh, I don’t need any help. I am handling this on my own.”

I am here to tell you that the person looking in from the outside who can actually see that person is struggling needs to step up. Even if you are far away that doesn’t mean that you cannot send a gift card for a grocery store or if you are close, visit more and help out. Take the children out, offer to do yard work, go to the post office or drop off items that have been sitting around to Goodwill for that person.

Do something. My father really enjoyed having the children visit him in the hospital. I went and visited him sometimes twice a day. I did not want him to feel as though he was alone.

I waited for the doctor to visit with him so I could see his other foot myself. Indeed, it was not a pretty sight. But I had to see it for myself. My sister took the children out of the room.

When they came back, Anissa asked about his other leg, where it was and could she touch his knee.

My father’s eyes welled with tears and he said yes. Anissa continued to talk to him and told him not to be sad and everything would be all right.

I knew if I took her she would be the stabilizer. Imagine a five year old child who has the ability to soothe adults.

It was the right decision taking Anissa. My sister and I got a lot done. I am taking all of the other children to see him next month.

It made him so happy to see Anissa, so I am sure that he will be thrilled to see them.

Since he does not want to have his other leg amputated he will be on antibiotics intravenously for four weeks. He will be in the hospital.

I tell you my story because I want you to take better care of yourself. I want you to eat better. I want you to lose the weight. I want you to get your mental together. We have to do it for our children and their children if not for anyone else.

I hope Anissa is right and that my father will be all right.


Rina N. Risper