Thursday, June 28, 2012

Not My Enemy


[en-uh-mee]   noun, plural en·e·mies, adjective noun
1. a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against another; an adversary or opponent.
According to this definition of "enemy," I can't think of someone I consider an enemy.  I don't hate anyone or foster harmful designs against another.  Oh, in my younger days I admit I spent a lot of time thinking about people I couldn't stand.  As I get older, I realize if I couldn't stand someone it was usually after they hurt me.  My reaction to the hurt was to find everything about them that I couldn't stand and revel in it. I would take the energy of hurt and turn it in to anger.   
Don't get me wrong, there are definitely people who rub me the wrong way.  Or people who I choose to let go of because the relationship is not a healthy one.  But hate?  Nope.  Wish ill will?  Never.  Just staying on my side of the sidewalk.  Not looking for trouble.  Being kind to one another.

I guess I could have those who think of me as their enemy but again, not intentional on my part. 
A couple of things happened this past week that got me thinking about "enemies."  The first incident happened while watching an Oprah interview of Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom.  Their answer to a question got me thinking.  Khloe and Lamar were telling Oprah that they pray together every day...usually in the evening.  They told her they prayed for their enemies.  Oprah asked Lamar if he had enemies....his response was guarded and slow...."I have nay sayers...."
And don't we all have nay sayers?  People who don't like us.  People who don't understand us.  People who we have hurt without intention.   People who have hurt us, so we turn from them?
The second thing that happened this week that got me thinking about "enemies" was the passing of my Uncle Berry.  Berry was married to my father's sister.  They married at a very young age and had 3 sons...7 years between the first and second, and 7 years between the second and third.  The third son was my beloved cousin Paul.  Berry and my aunt were later divorced and Berry remarried.  For the majority of my adult life, I lost touch with Berry. 

Berry and his family lived with my father's mother, my grandmother.  Childhood visits to my grandmother were visits to see Paul.  The house was full of cousins and aunts and uncles during these visits and I remember Uncle Berry sitting in his chair, smoking a cigar...always smoking a cigar...and being funny.  Usually the black and white television was on in the background and his commentary would make me laugh.  It was the 60's, I was a child.  He seemed bigger than life. And we had a common love....Paul. 

From the moment my family arrived at my grandmother's house, Paul and I would play non-stop.  Usually cops and robbers.  He was the cop.  I was the secretary...who typed up the reports. 
As an adult, I learned the pain that Berry had caused my aunt....things that later resulted in a divorce.  The aunts and uncles and their spouses...knew of these hurts and as families do, took sides...against Berry.  But not me.  I didn't know about the hurts. I was just a child.  And Berry had never been anything but good to me.

This is my father's side of the family.
I'm the 4th child from the left...holding my shoe.  Paul is in my grandmother's lap. 
They were his nay sayers.  I wasn't.
And haven't you had that, too?  You like someone that another friend of yours doesn't?  You've been hurt by a relative that hasn't hurt another relative?
Back to Berry...
Berry's youngest son, my cousin Paul, was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in the fall of 2004.  He came to Houston for diagnosis and treatment at M.D. Anderson.  He was 45, I was 45.  He loved me, I loved him.  He was scared, I tried my best to be brave for him. I gave my time to Paul that fall. Berry, Paul's father, came often to see him and in the last two months of Paul's life, we took him back to his one bedroom apartment in Dallas.  Hospice came everyday.  I was there for most of those last 2 months.  And Berry was there bringing a fresh box of Krispie Kreme donuts to Paul every morning.  Just there...being present.  A sad man watching his son die in front of him. 
This is the Berry I remember.  This is the person I know. 
He has nay sayers.  But I'm not one of them.

In the years since Paul's death, Berry has called me  2 or 3 times a year.  He liked to talk about Paul. Our conversations would always end with him in tears telling me he had to hang up now.  I would like to believe he has been reunited with Paul in a place where there are no nay sayers.


  1. Sorry to hear about Berry... I know you had grown closer with him since Paul died.

    On another note... the kid to the bottom left of your grandmother... is that Richard? Looks a lot like Jack.

  2. I'm certain Berry is in that special place... such a sweet and thoughtful post.

  3. Beautiful post, Julia...there are so many "nay sayers", and good for you for never picking a side. I'm so sorry to hear of your losses.