Family Owned

Part I: A Snapshot

Open Arms|Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

“Davie Boy, pull that branch away from the main walkway, please. We don’t need anyone tripping and breaking their neck … The last thing I can stomach is a lawsuit, especially during a damn global pandemic. And while you’re at it, see if you can take a proper photo of the Jane Magnolia trees. I wanna showcase them in the new magazine for the shop.”

Starla beckoned from behind the desk of her family’s bed-and-breakfast. Davie Boy, her younger brother, helped to keep the place up and running. He was what you’d call a “handyman,” but he was more man than he was handy.

“And where is that God-forsaken niece of mine?! CHLOE! CHLOE! GET DOWN HERE, ASAP!”

The walls of the shop creaked. Starla was a loud woman. Always heard. Barely seen. She made the lives of everyone around her miserable. She now lived as a divorcée who owned two cats, a dog, and hundreds of handmaid quilts from the elder women in her family. And … part of the bed-and-breakfast. Buddy, her older brother, is the other owner.

“Starla, I don’t get paid enough for this. I threw my back out messin’ ‘round with them branches and those magnolia trees aren’t half-bloomed yet. Be a pity to waste good film on them in that state. Probably best to wait another week.”

Starla listened to the saucy words of her kid brother, knowing full well he was half-right. A lump formed in her throat. She swallowed hard.

“Whatever. Thank you.”

Buddy didn’t stick around much. The only things he had on Starla was age, favored gender by their dad, and the uncanny ability to lie in the face of danger. He could talk himself out of trouble and talk himself into bed with anyone. Starla, if she were truthful, envied him.

“I’ll just see if Buddy can do it the next time he swings by this way. He should’ve dropped the deposit off last Friday, haven’t seen the fool yet. Don’t worry about any of it, Davie Boy. It’ll get done. Can you collect your daughter and run to the store? Here’s the list.”

She handed Davie Boy the shopping list and watched as her niece came bouncing down the stairs in a revealing top and some short-shorts — Daisy Duke short.


“No, ma’am. No, ma’am! Head right on back up those stairs and put on some more clothes, young lady! What in the name … Have you lost your mind? Davie Boy, you let her dress like this? Showing her business to the world? You will march right up those stairs and find something else to wear.”

Starla rubbed her temples and sighed a great sigh. Her head throbbed. She needed a drink. Davie Boy’s voice snapped her back into focus.

“You know I can’t do anything with her, Starla. Since June died, Chloe’s been acting out — talkin’ back, breakin’ curfew, smoking weed — ”

“She’s been doing what? Aw, hell no! Leave her here with me. She can help me with the B & B and the flower shop. Don’t you fret, Davie Boy. Things’ll be back in order around here soon. Just you wait and see.”

Chloe descended the stairs just as her aunt finished her speech. This time, she had on a mini-skirt, a halter top, and some thigh-high boots.

“Davie Boy, go get me that vodka and some ibuprofen.”

Starla shook her head in disbelief, tutted the air between her teeth, and shot her niece a devil-filled stare.

“Tomorrow. I’ll deal with you tomorrow.”


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

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When the Night Barks

And love has no bite

Photo Credit: Luis Quintero via Pexels

If I had a magic wand, my life would not include me saying the following statement multiple times a week: “No, I am not taking any visitors at this time. Due to my line of work, it’s best that I do not.” For those of you who do not know, I am a Patient Access Specialist turned Screener for an imaging facility. My transitional position, due to the Coronavirus COVID-19, places me front and center in surveying patients and taking their temperatures prior to entering our waiting areas. I screen anywhere from one hundred twenty to one hundred eighty-five people per day with a low to moderate percentage of exposure to the virus.

Some family members get the importance of my refusals to their requests, others want to test the waters of me and see how far they can take their reach without me blocking it or shutting it down. I am not one who likes repeating herself but for this, I make sure I am loud and clear.

I will miss out on a few opportunities for gathering with family this summer and it is because I have to take every precaution to ensure my safety and the safety of others. My health is important. I want to be sure it remains intact for the foreseeable future.

I have brothers, cousins, uncles, and aunts who want to visit from various Coronavirus, COVID-19 hotspots across the nation and in my mind, all I can think is, “Why would you want to visit me while we’re in the middle of a global pandemic? Why do you think I want you to?” Politely declining family gatherings and visitations is becoming my forté but I have no regrets. At least, not right now.

But how will I feel when the night barks and love has no bite? What will I do when the yearning for a hug becomes the one prayer I lend to God religiously? Am I strong enough? Will my defiance of running toward “some sense of normalcy” get the best of me? Only time will tell.

Right now, I am in avoidance mode and for several reasons. I cannot, in good faith, slack off in any way on the methods of survival and remaining virus-free if I give in to the simple requests of others.

To an unbearable extent, everyone is antsy. They’re ready to experience life the way they knew it to be Pre-Coronavirus days, but I am faced with the reality of its deadliness every single day and I am in no rush to gain a life back that does not have what I mostly need from it.

I have had the ungodly task of living through sixteen days wrought with worry while a co-worker panted through the depths of Hell and came back from a rigorous bout with said virus and the last thing I want is to be in his shoes. No, thank you.

It breaks my heart to not be able to see, spend time with, and share in the love of my beautiful family, but I love them enough to know I am bad for their health and to keep myself away from them regardless of their pleas. I love them enough to want them to live through this phase of life, come out unscathed, and tell the story of it.

The night does pull at me and oftentimes, I haven’t the strength to conquer it. A few loud barks from its deep voice doesn’t scare me. I don’t even flinch.

But, I will be completely transparent, it’s the absence of the vastness of love and all versions of it I miss the most. It is the intensity of a thing I’ve forced myself to believe I want more than breathing. I want to live through this pandemic and share stories of it with the same loved ones pressing me to open up my door and let them in.

Will I lose their admiration and perhaps the closeness we’ve had over the years? It is a possibility. But, I’d rather keep the potency of love in its full form in my heart than run the risk of losing its bite.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.

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You Don’t Know. You Can’t Know.

Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska via Unsplash

No one tells you what
to feel when your co-worker
is diagnosed with a virus
that does not relent, has no remorse,
could not care less about your
family, friends, lifestyle, sexuality,
or economic status.

They don’t prepare you for
the see-sawed up and down
roller coaster ride you will experience,
constantly checking to see if he’s okay.
Your insides grow numb,
your mind loses its pistol-like
ability to adapt to anything, and you
find yourself saying . . .

“It’s okay.” “It’s okay.” “It’s okay.”

But, you don’t know.
You can’t know.
You have no earthly idea
if it’s okay.
One day, he’s breathing well
on his own, the next — oxygen levels
have tanked and ICU is clamoring
to scoop up another body and
swivel the bed up against the back wall
of a hospital room that smells more like
alcohol and potent disinfectants
than a place someone goes to
heal.

When you work in healthcare,
you grin and bear it, tuck your feelings
deep within you, move on, and
fight until your bones crack and ache
and it pains you to sit down, and you take
your ass home, shower, cook, walk your dog,
and find thirty minutes of rest before you
get up and do it all over again.

And you still wonder,
“Will he make it today”
or “Will today be the day
our higher-ups plod around with
heavy feet to tell us of his death?”
You don’t want to hear the sound
of the Grim Reaper coming with
his scythe ready to strike.

You pray for this loved one, call in
backup and ask them to send warriors
with fangs that cut through tough flesh
and hearts of pure gold.
God becomes a friend you argue with and
confess things you’ve held deep within
you for decades.

You tell him you’re tired of his bullshit —
you want him to let this one be.
Let this man live so his nine-year-old
son can see him smiling once again.
You tell him to get it together and not
make any more room for lives
senselessly lost to something we
cannot contain.

And then you cry yourself to sleep
again — just like you did
the night before. And the one before that.
And the one before that.

Then, you wake up,
put on the face they ask you
to wear to work, cover it with a mask,
and ready yourself for more
of the same.

You don’t know — you can’t know
if he’ll live.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.

“You Must Watch CNN!”

How a Racist Patient Tried to Ruin My Day and Failed.

Photo by Clay Banks via Unsplash

On Thursday, June 11, 2020, I was at my screening station doing the part of my job I have learned to love as much as I dislike it and things were going smoothly. I had only one incident of a patient who waltzed into our doors not wearing a mask and tried to quick-step past me to get into one of the waiting areas. I stopped her, advised her of the sign on the building’s doors that begins “This is a mask-requirement facility”, and offered her a mask. She declined it — stated she would not wear one. I obtained her name, the exam for which she was scheduled, and informed her she could either reschedule (by calling our scheduling department) for a later date or comply with the regulations. She chose the former.

Later on in the day, an elderly patient came for a procedure but brought her slightly older husband with her. We are currently on a “No visitor rule” of which many of our patients are made aware prior to scheduling and entering the building, however, some people forget or just want to test the waters. This patient knew the regulations but had her husband drive her. She said to me, “Baby, I know y’all ain’t letting anyone else in the building, but please, can my husband sit in here until I am done?” Now, I was raised to respect, love, and take care of my elders. Of course, I was not going to let an eighty-eight-year-old man sit in his car on one of the hottest days in June so far, while his wife had services rendered.

I obtained one of the chairs from our waiting area, sat it about ten feet from the entrance, and made sure he was comfortable. I screened both him and his wife and he sat with me in the foyer while I continued to do my job. While screening another patient, I could see a White, heavy-set, angry-looking male approaching our doors. He did not have on a mask. He would enter the building without one. I asked my patient to give me just a moment, put on some gloves, and met this young man at the door, greeted him, and gave him a mask and asked him to please put it on. He did not. Instantly, in my head, I said, “Oh, this is going to be interesting.”

I finished with my patient, asked the young man to please approach me, but put on his mask first. This is what followed:

Patient: “I would rather not.”

Me: “Okay, sir. It’s totally up to you what you would like to do, however, this is a mask-required facility, so no mask, no service.”

Patient. “You must watch CNN.”

Me: “I watch whatever is going to make me knowledgable about the events around me, sir. Now, we are going to begin your screening process. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”

Patient: “Everything is NO NO NO NO & NO!”

Me: “I will log it in my memory bank that your answers will be no, sir, but I still have to ask the questions.”

I proceeded to ask him the screening questions, each of them already previously responded to, so I moved through them hastily. It was when I got to the last question that his entire demeanor shifted and his anger became even more concerning.

Me: “Thank you. Do you mind if I take your temperature?”

Patient: “Yes!”

Me: “Sir, are you refusing to have your temperature taken?”

Patient: “Yes, I am!”

Me: “Okay, sir. You will turn around and exit the building for not cooperating with the screening process. We will call you at a later time to get you rescheduled. Please have a great day.”

This guy rips off his face mask, kicks our doors open, and starts shouting expletives as he’s leaving — loud enough for everyone in the foyer and our two waiting areas to hear him. One of the sentences being, “Ain’t no fucking Coronavirus, this is fucking ridiculous!” Now, bear in mind, I still had the eighty-eight-year-old man waiting in the foyer with me and by this time, two more women were waiting to be screened as well. One lady witnessed the entire exchange, the other came in on the tail-end of it. The lady who witnessed everything; White, heavy-set, and peaceful-looking, was next and I called her up to begin the screening process.

Me: “How are you doing today, ma’am?”

Nice Patient: “I am doing good, baby. I can tell this ain’t your first rodeo and I want to tell you that you handled that very well. Some people are just ignorant.”

Me: “Thank you, ma’am. I appreciate that. Do you mind if I ask you a few screening questions?”

Nice Patient: “You go on ahead and do what you need to do.”

I completed the screening process with her and apologized to her for witnessing what transpired and she quickly informed me I had no need to apologize but she thanked me just the same. I made her aware I would have to contact my center manager to explain the situation and asked if it would be okay to give her name just in case they want to contact her. She assured me she would be helpful in any way she could and agreed to me giving her information to our center manager. I walked over to the elderly man waiting and made sure he was okay. I apologized to him for having to witness the debacle and he said “You don’t need to apologize to me for a thing. I knew he was going to be trouble when I saw him walking towards the building.”


Photo by Clay Banks via Unsplash

With everyone safe, screened, and sent to their respective waiting areas, I began to contact two of the modalities and my center manager. I keep my cell phone in the foyer with me as I have the direct phone numbers for each modality so we can communicate quickly and effectively about our patients. I contacted our Open MRI modality as the angry patient was scheduled for their scanner, explained the situation, and informed them our front desk was asked to please cancel the patient’s appointment for “Failure to comply with screening protocol.” I contacted the Mammogram department as their waiting area is the same as our Open MRI, so they could be aware — this is a person who could have potentially been waiting with others for their exams.

With those two modalities informed, I began to send my center manager a Microsoft Teams message. I explained the entire situation in full detail — making her aware the patient was far away from the facility and everyone who needed to be contacted had been so. Her response was, “Are you okay? Is everyone safe? Is anyone hurt?” I informed her I was fine, a bit shaken up, but otherwise okay and no one was hurt. She began her research on the patient and informed me she would speak with our Chief Tech in the morning who had taken the day off.

There was no, “Let me take a moment to collect myself” or “I am scared as hell, but I won’t let him see it.” I had to keep things moving regardless of what happened because other patients are a priority and their care is my concern. My team’s safety is my concern. This is simply another incident occurring living while Black and I am used to maneuvering through life simply for survival’s sake. I operate in peace on most days, however, I am stern in my explanations of our process while being tactful. I have a cheerful disposition, but please do not mistake this for weakness. If provoked — as in, if you lay your hands on me, I am not a stranger in having to cold punch you in your throat. I will do so if I have to. I do not want to.

Word traveled quickly throughout our facility and soon, my coworkers came out, one by one (up to six of them), to tell me how much they love me and are happy I am there doing what I do. One said, “I want to hug you so badly right now and I know I can’t.” I knew I needed that hug and I welcomed it. She held me and I could feel the tears starting to form in my eyes and I quickly gathered them and said to her, “I want to cry, but I am not going to. I cannot do anything about racists and their behavior. I can only do something about my reaction and he will not steal my joy, but I don’t want to die here.” She squeezed me and said, “I love you. We all love you. We have your back. You aren’t going to die here.”

At work, I am called, “The Sheriff,” “Top Flight Security,” “Drill Seargeant,” and “The Bouncer.” These are all names my coworkers have given me as they state I am meticulous in how I run our foyer, our waiting areas, as well as how I interact with my team. Plainly put, I get things done. Many of them, on various occasions, say “I don’t worry about a thing if you are out there screening our patients.” Regardless of what I encounter on a daily basis, I can look to the people I share the facility with for eight to ten hours a day and know they will come to my aid.

The next morning, Friday, June 12, 2020, the Chief Tech came to my station and said, “Tre, I want you to know I have called the referring physician’s office, spoken with his office manager, and gave her the details of the incident from yesterday. They were informed that we do not tolerate that type of behavior here and he will not be able to have his scans done in the future. I am sorry you had to experience that. I really am.”

I thanked her. I am grateful for people who are actually standing on their word. You can tell me what you are going to do or how you are going to do things, but I will tell you right now, loose lips do not provide me any service. You have to show me where you stand in order for me to believe you. Our staff has shown me, is showing me, and this, during a time of great turmoil, is a blessing.

As the day came to an end, my center manager checked on me once again. She made sure I had everything I needed and informed anyone with free time to relieve me whenever I needed to step away. She said something I truly do not want anyone to ever feel they have to say to me: “I wish I could be in your shoes for just one day, so I can know what this feels like.” I stopped her. It wasn’t her first time saying it and I know it’s a way of wanting to know — wanting to feel what I feel — I told her once again . . . “You do not want these shoes. I am Black every single day. I know how to carry what I carry. Everyone isn’t equipped to deal with this.” Her eyes teared up as did mine and I thanked her once again for allowing me room to vent and standing alongside me.

Knowing what I know at my place of work, I feel less alone, but I still am.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.

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I do not want to forget . . .

LightScripture
Courtesy of YouVersion

I don’t want to forget I am called to be a light in this world. I am called to move others in any way I can and at the highest level of my ability. I am called to gift people with love. I am called to uplift others when they are down. I am called to converse with, build with, grow with, and understand others. I am called to put in the work of opening my arms when my arms need to be opened. I am called to lend a shoulder when a shoulder is needed.

But, I am not called to endure empty rhetoric, words filled with hate, and people who do not wish to understand what they do not understand and be open-minded regarding the plight of others. I am not called to stand for what I do not believe in or to respect actions deeply rooted in harming other human beings. I am not called to profess anything that doesn’t shift or change one fiber of your being. I am not called to hate. I am not called to harm. I am not called to be an enemy.

I will be what I am called to be and I will not allow you to steer me in a direction in which I am not called to go. I am not led by your hand. I am not led by your heart.


“You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.”
Matthew 5:14 GNT