Dear 80s baby: a letter to my younger self

Born on the heels of the Baby Boomers, the 80s baby was introduced to society around the time of the drug boom, during the birth of the neon fashion craze and big, wild hair. We were the rockers, the hip hoppers, the techies. Oh, how I wish I had a crystal ball, a genie in a bottle or superpowers so that I could freeze time or take a walkabout into the future. If I could talk to my younger self, I’d give the greatest pep talk of the 20th century.

Dear 80s baby,

Enjoy life…period. Make more memories during elementary school recess, snap up more polaroids with the family and knock on just one more neighbor’s door, run like hell so you can laugh about it later. 80s baby, you may not understand it now but relish in the creature comforts of blissful youth because what’s in store for you later will make you cringe at humankind.

You think curfews are bad now? Just wait until the two-thousand-teens when you’re afraid to venture outdoors.

Imagine police in riot gear in your neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon, reckless and rebellious youth, mother nature wreaking havoc on far reaches of the globe, gunmen shooting down innocent bystanders, our country’s wayward justice system, historic and unprecedented elections and men dying helplessly in the street while their suspects go free. I’m merely touching the surface. This is your life, 80s baby.

Mama will never tell you that there would be days like this. She will; however, tell you that history repeats itself but you are the captain of your destiny. YOU are at the helm of your life.

You’ll experience tragedies – lose family and friends and become overwhelmed by personal struggles. But, you’ll also observe many triumphs. It may be that you have to work twice as hard or that you may be passed up for some advancements, but not to count you out, in the end, you will make it and celebrate in your victories.

You’ll be in the class of firsts, you’ll witness history in technology, social media will be the bridge to reuniting families and friends and developments in medicines will allow many patients to live longer.

80s baby, we still have a long way to go; you were born to be resilient. Your grandparents fought the race, your parents carried the baton and now it’s up to you to finish it. You’re just getting started. You see, there are decades to follow, and you’ll have lots of time to put your stamp on it. And, by the time you peer into the 20-teens, you’ll know that 30 years earlier, wasn’t just a walk in the park, it was training day. #ibedamned.

Sincerely,

Your future self

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A Blessing in Sisco’s Scars

Around the Thanksgiving holiday, many of us are scrambling to grocery stores gathering our goods for a holiday meal or packing our bags to hit the highway for a family getaway. For me, both options were up for grabs and I was more than ready for my one-day hiatus from work. But, before the festivities could occur, I was to volunteer and donate a free Thanksgiving meal to a deserving family. The mission: ask online subscribers to submit a story of a family in need; a family who could use an extra hand financially this holiday season. The submissions poured in and the recipient was subsequently chosen. Easy enough and worth every minute. But, the lesson wasn’t in the gift giving. The lesson was in what I would learn from the family that so graciously shared their heartwarming story. Break out the tissues because this one is a tearjerker.

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Courtesy: Facebook

Meet Francisco, affectionately known as Sisco. I had heard about Francisco as I was one of many news reporters who had followed his story which later had gone viral. He was a promising high school student-athlete who was injured in a near-fatal crash. And, he was clinging to life after the vehicle he was an occupant in was t-boned on the passenger side. He was a straight ‘A’ student, a football player and a role model to his two brothers as well as to his peers.

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As a result of the crash, his skull was fractured, his spleen broken, his brain swollen and his lungs were filled with blood. From the pictures, it was a miracle that anyone walked away alive. His family was informed that he would have a long road to recovery. That was April 8th, 2016.

Eight months later, November 21st, 2016, on a surprise visit to share our Thanksgiving bundle, my friends and I walked into the home Sisco shared with his grandparents. We distributed a free turkey, ham, sides, pies and all the fixings befitting of a glorious meal.

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Hoodstock Founder, Courtney ‘Schola’ Long pictured with Sisco

And in walked Francisco with bright eyes and a smile – a remarkable transformation from the images I had seen months earlier. He walked into the living room with a natural pace accompanied with a slight limp wearing a shirt adorned with Superman’s emblem.

He appeared to have a glowing silhouette that brightened the already well-lit room. He hugged each of us thus melting our hearts. It was our hope that we would bring cheer to the family (which I believe we accomplished), but we were on the receiving end overwhelmed with an abundance of joy and still in awe-struck by a person we believed was still bedridden from life-threatening injuries.

I think it’s safe to say that we all fought back tears as he told us that he held no malice for the driver responsible, he talked about his desire to seek employment or enroll in college and even joked about his scars.

 

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Courtesy: Shea Drake

Sisco hugged us once more and thanked us for our generosity. Before meeting him, my only concern was picking up last-minute groceries, sifting through my closet for my Thanksgiving outfit and reminding myself of how delicious Thanksgiving meal was going to taste. But, as I headed out of Francisco’s home, I was reminded of the truest spirit of Thanksgiving. Not even the donations could make me feel better than knowing that despite his previous health condition; he had lain in a coma and unable to walk, Sisco was truly a shining example of a higher power at work. He remained humble, uplifted and thankful. We were the financial donors, but #ibedamned, what he gave us, money can’t buy.

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