Now That I Can Breathe Without Tears

This was my post on Facebook the day following the tragic and brutal assassination of five police officers just 20 miles east of me in Dallas. I thought I would share it here and then expand:

“I spent the better part of last night with my ear glued to the radio. I feel like a giant rock is on my chest, I am so heartbroken that this happened here. And I am bracing myself to hear what weak attempt to link this cowardly and brutal assassination of our police officers to either the “open carry” side or the “stricter gun restrictions” side of the argument.
Our police force is NOT a means to anyone’s political end. These were good people who were hunted by a sniper’s rifle while they protected peaceful demonstrators who were exercising their 1st Amendment rights to express their solidarity with people of the other communities who lost young black men in violent deaths at the hands of a few bad cops.
That said, I also firmly believe that every one of those black men who were killed by police officers throughout this country were also good men whose lives were taken out of the fear, prejudice, bad judgment, overzealousness, incompetence, or power-drunken arrogance of a select group of police officers. Just as black criminals do not represent the entire black population, those bad cops do not represent law enforcement as a whole.
My heart hurts today and I just do not want to deal with Trump or Clinton or anyone else’s politically motivated soundbites to further their own campaigns on the backs of Blue or Black coffins.
‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬
‪#‎BackTheBlue‬
‪#‎UnitedWeStand‬

I am still “in the feels” about all of this. I have been since Trayvon Martin was shot four years ago. I’ve watched from the sidelines and spoken my peace in support of my fellow citizens from within the African-American community. I cannot ever understand how they must feel, having to worry every time their young men step outside the safety of their own homes.

I can only imagine that it is similar to how I feel every September 11th; how I go about my day with my butt cheeks clenched and acid burning a hole in my stomach as I wait for all my children and my husband to return home at the end of that day. How every time there is a shooting, hostage situation, or explosion within our borders the first thing that pops into my mind is, “Dear God. Please don’t let it be a Muslim that is committing this terrible act.” Only this anxiety for my black friends is one that they must endure in the backs of their minds EVERY day and not just annually or during some heinous event.

I want to cry out for them and I want to hug them and I want to scream. I want to be the one who organizes some sort of training program to run through all of the law enforcement academies from coast to coast and make sure that our police officers can learn to see our human sides and not affiliate skin color with criminal capability that crosses all racial lines. How do we turn off that hate? Is there an app for THAT?

I am the person who sees the good in others. I am excited that at my children’s high school on the lower socio-economic side of town, there is a police academy training program where the local community college and police academy choose from our predominately minority population to eventually protect and serve our community. This is affecting positive change in our city. I want this for all the cities. I want to see communities working together to improve the economy; opening and supporting small businesses within the poorer neighborhoods so that money is put back into the community and helping to cut unemployment rates, increase local spending, create pride.

I am not Pollyanna. I know that these things will not solve prejudicial views of all or fear due to racial misunderstandings by law enforcement agents. I know that there is no magic wand to “fix it” in the short term. But I know that what I would like to see happen would definitely contribute to a long-term fix of what’s broke in our country. I will continue to push for education opportunities within my own community. I will continue to teach my own kids empathy, fairness, and to stand on the side of right. I know that the genuinely good people of the United States will continue to do the same. And we can support our brothers and sisters of all skin colors, backgrounds, religions, cultures, and still support our law enforcement officials. I’m going to keep doing my part.

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Fifty

He turned 50 yesterday. He was working out of town and didn’t get home until really late. The children were all asleep as they had final exams today and needed the rest. I sat with him for a little while, fighting to keep my eyelids open. Five o’clock in the morning comes so fast. I wished him a happy birthday and went to bed.

And I left to take care of paperwork in the counselor’s office at the school this morning, just after he poured his first cup of coffee. The kids got out early after exams, so the girls and I talked it over and decided that we’d have a surprise party for him tonight when he got home. The boys all agreed it was a good idea. The kids blew up over 60 balloons and hung a banner and we got him a cake. And a card. And a 5 and 0 candles so that we didn’t have to disconnect the smoke alarm before singing “Happy Birthday” to him.

And I looked at the 5 and the 0 candles and thought, “50? That’s half a century! Where did the time go?” And I looked at my “children” ages 15-20 and see exactly where the time went and how much fun it has been along the way. And I asked myself if I’ll ever willingly admit that he’s only two years older than I am and that I will soon be half a century old…..Nah.

And then I smiled. His AARP membership card should arrive any day now and just think of the discounts we’ll be eligible for not that he turned 50 yesterday!

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You’re Welcome

So the high school bus shows up today and only 2 of the 3 kids who were supposed to be on it, got down. I received a phone call from an unknown number just as the bus pulled away.

He:  Mom? It’s me.

Me: Yeah? Let me guess. You missed the bus.

He: I did. How’d you know?

Me: You not getting off of it just now with your brother and sister gave me my first clue.

He: Can you come pick me up?

Me: Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm… (read in Marge Simpson disgruntled tone.)

So, of course, Sam wants to ride back up to the school with me to get him. I know that it is not due to her being concerned for his well-being or even to keep me company. It is a means to an end. She wants fast-food.

We arrive at the first traffic light en route and we are about the 6th car back. It is odd that there is traffic at this hour; even just after school lets out. So we wait. And we wait. And we wait. We wait for 10 or 12 MINUTES. I look in the rear view mirror and notice that there is a line nearly a quarter mile long on this road that is usually not crowded at all. Finally, I turn to my daughter and say, “Hey. If you hop out of the car and run up to the corner and push the pedestrian crosswalk light button, I’ll give you a dollar.” She grabbed the dollar and took off like a bat out of hell.

The lady in the lane next to me gave me the “what gives?” look with her eyebrows. I told her that I sent her up to push the button so we could finally get a green light. She laughed.
Then the light turned green and traffic moved and my daughter had to jog alongside the open car in order to hop back in the front seat.

You’re welcome, fellow commuters.

 

The Beauty in Asking for Help

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We got off to a late start again this year. Several of us had medical issues that affected our family lives that sort of forced us to put Starry Night Prom fundraising on the back burner. But it’s become known to us as “the little Prom that could” and it can.

I started promoting our fundraising website and blogging about past Starry Night Proms that we’ve participated in. I updated the donation letter and the giving levels list and then
added a few photos from Starry Night Prom 2015 to the fundraising site. But I needed my
son to finish recovering from his surgery and get back to school so that I could sleep longer than 3 hours at a stretch and be able to focus my energy on donations and not trying not to drive my car off the road because of the twitch in my eye.

So Saturday afternoon I sat down at my computer and began to send out emails to anyone I could think of that might have an interest in getting this thing off the ground. And on a whim, I contacted a local businessman whose service my husband and I have used on several occasions since moving to Arlington. I explained that I recognized that his company is a fixture in this community and that I see his vans all over the city almost every day while I’m out running my errands. I told him how Starry Night Prom got started
nine years ago and how every expense is paid for by the generosity of others. I asked for help.

Sponsorship to an event such as Starry Night Prom looks different for every donor. Some may donate gently used prom gowns or suits. Our photographer, DJ, and dinner are all sponsored. Sometimes logo-bearing “swag” is donated that we can include in the goodie bags that each student gets to take home; things like pens, hats, cups, refrigerator magnets, lanyards, keychains, stress-squeezers, calendars, etc. Some businesses choose to donate coupons or gift cards. We’ve had restaurants donate a meal for two, a hotel donated one free double-occupancy night, and a university donated a gift basket full of logo-bearing sports gear and free tickets to events…all of these items were raffled off and the monies collected went into the Starry Night Prom fund. And of course, they can choose to make a monetary donation.

Monday morning, Mr Ernie Clevenger, owner of Ernie’s Plumbing, read my email and then clicked on the link to the online fundraiser website. He told me that he enjoyed the bright smiles on the faces of the participants that were featured on the site. He also noticed that we only had three weeks left to meet our goal and we weren’t even halfway there.

Ernie’s Plumbing made it happen and donated the remaining funds to reach our target! His only comment on the website? God is good.

And that is the beauty in asking for help. Because Ernie is right. God IS good. And when you ask for help, He will provide.

****Further donations of goodie bag items for 300+ prom participants are still being accepted for receipt before April 28, 2016.  All donations are appreciated and tax deductible. Please contact me via email at: StarryNightProm@outlook.com  I will gladly provide you with any further information within 24 of receipt of your email. Thank you.

 

 

Starry Night Prom 2016

Randa SNP2015
It’s that time of year again! That’s right. It’s Prom Season. And the Starry Night Prom 2016 is coming up on us….fast!

“What’s the Starry Night Prom?” you ask. Let me tell you by including part of our Starry Night Prom donations request letter:

“The Starry Night Prom started in 2008 with a vision to create a once-in-a-lifetime prom experience for Arlington ISD high school students with significant disabilities.

Taking the vision from AISD special education teacher, Sara Mayo, Chase Christensen developed his Eagle Scout project around creating the Starry Night Prom, along with Boy Scout Troop #396 and the Arlington Elks Lodge #2114. Now an annual event, the Starry Night Prom is heading into its NINTH year of throwing an all-inclusive prom! Students with significant disabilities and their chaperones are treated to beautiful invitations to attend prom, a sit down dinner, professional photography, corsages and boutonnieres, dessert fountain, a prom king and queen, goodie bags, and, of course, a huge dance floor with a DJ, all at no cost to the student or their chaperone.”

randa-and-hamo-prom-2014

You see at an average prom, there is little in the way of accommodations for those students who have significant disabilities. Some of these students cannot eat without assistance or the use of a feeding tube. Some need assistance in using the restroom or cannot swallow and must use a suction machine. Then there are those who have dietary restrictions or sensory issues that must be taken into consideration. Add into the mix the peer pressure and “everyone is looking at me” feelings that most high school students are experiencing at this time of their lives, and you have kids with disabilities bowing out and missing out on one of the most memorable nights of their school years.

The Starry Night Prom helps make this night special for these kids. My daughter is a junior this year. She is severely autistic and has sensory issues, mostly related to noise. She wears noise canceling headphones that block 21 of every 23 Db of sound. This is because she has incredibly sensitive hearing and too much sound or too loud sound can cause her head to ache and this hurts and frightens her. So to see my daughter in a formal gown with her bling and sequins veil in a pair of pink headphones is just the norm at Starry Night Prom. The DJ takes these types of sensory issues into consideration of our Prom participants, and never blasts the music too loudly and never uses strobe lights.

Shelby and Randa dancing SNP 2014

Starry Night Prom is a recognized 501-C3 Non Profit Organization and all donations are tax-deductible. Would  you consider donating to the Starry Night Prom 2016, being held Saturday, April 30, 2016? Over 300 people attended Starry Night Prom 2015. In kind donations are needed in every area, from items for our prom “goodie bags” to food to serve 300 guests. Financial donations of any amount are also needed, as 100% of all financial donations go to purchasing items for the Starry Night Prom. A tax deductible receipt will follow your donations, as will a public thank you letter supplied to all prom attendees and donors.

This is a program that I believe with all my heart. I never thought that my daughter would be able to participate in her prom. But Starry Night Prom leveled the playing field and, as you can see from the photos shown here, she just sparkles like a princess and thoroughly enjoys herself in a social setting that she would otherwise have to skip.

Please consider donating to the Starry Night Prom 2016. You may click here to be directed to our fundraiser website—–> STARRY NIGHT PROM 2016 DONATIONS

If you would care to contribute to goodie bag items, please contact us via email:
StarryNightProm@outlook.com or like us on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/starrynightprom .

**All photographs are property of Nikki Mohamed-Fawzy and Sara Mayo and are used with permission.**

 

 

 

 

 

Nurses Need Superhero Capes

My son had surgery to repair a deviated septum and some sinus issues and for good measure, the ENT decided to yank out those pesky tonsils along as he was under general anesthesia. When they brought me back to the step-down recovery area, I giggled a little. Yeah, I’m a jerk. But it was kind of amusing to see 3 little tiny under 6 year old kids who’d had tonsillectomies or dental surgeries performed and then this 6’3″ fifteen-year old with his feet hanging off the end of the gurney because they don’t usually operate on kids his size in the Pediatrics wing. But then the amusement left as I saw my (not-so) little baby with blankets wrapped around his head and shoulders because he’d been shivering so in the operating room. He’s always cold. And then when he started to come to and he was hurting and couldn’t focus his eyes, struggling to say “water” and whimpering when he swallowed.  I just wanted to climb up next to him and hold him.

So now that I’m home and setting alarms to dispense meds every three hours and halfway between each of those scheduled alarms I’m answering his pages (he bangs on the wall in his room to alert me to his needs) to clean the drainage out of his nose. Poor baby. He’s got plastic splints up in his nose and he can’t breathe through it and is bored out of his skull.
(I MIGHT let back on the computer for about half an hour of gaming…but only if he can get some of his assignments done for school first.)

So I was thinking about this today as my body called me all kinds of 4-letter words for not allowing it to sleep. I have NO bedside manner at all. I hate whining on all levels and I feel like pain is something you should push through if you can. Nursing is a calling: One that skipped MY number on the phone tree. Pffft. I’ll hold your hair if you need to vomit and maybe feed you or listen (briefly) to your list of aches but bedpans? NO effin’ way. And mucous? Just no. I’m forcing myself with my son because I have to. It’s part of the mom gig and they make you sign contracts and shit that you’ll take care of them. Plus I don’t want to risk that badass trophy when I win Mother of the Year.  So I will take one for the team and clean out his blood and ooze with a cotton swab….but if some stranger fires a snot rocket on the black top in a supermarket parking lot, I’m going to totally gag.
THAT kind of commitment takes far more than just a paycheck. It takes true generosity of spirit and far more nurturing than your average person.

That said, I’m calling all Nurses exactly what they are: Superheroes.  Much respect, ladies and gentlemen. You all deserve capes.

 

Heartstrings

The last thing thing he said to me was, “Don’t forget to get that bill in the mailbox before the mailman shows up.” I nodded my head and locked the door behind him. I came into my room and turned on the computer while grabbing my purse so that I could write the check out. Then I heard the brakes squeal on the mailman’s jeep in front of our mailbox at the street. The road to hell………

Anyway, so I knew there was no chance I could find the bill and scrawl out a check and, for the love of peanut butter, find the stamps in 30 seconds before he drove down to the next driveway. So I threw on a jacket and moseyed out to the mail box to see what additional bills had shown up. If I’m gonna be writing checks out, I may as well do them all at once. Right?

And so I pulled out the personalized coupons from my favorite grocery store and the usual bills and reminders about upcoming dental appointments…and then I saw the lovely word AIRMAIL scrawled out in my favorite Scottish chicken-scratch!

Of course, I immediately recognized my friend’s handwriting even though I haven’t seen it in probably 20 years! But the return stamp from Glasgow Mail Center proved my memory true and I ripped open the envelope. Apparently, Paula has taken up card-making. THIS was what she’d made for me, with love and sent from across the ocean:

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Naturally, the colors are far lovelier in reality as I snapped this in front of the window in my room with my camera phone. But it’s a beautiful card and I loved reading all her news. And my day is just a little cheerier on this cold but sunny day.

And Now What You’ve All Been Waiting For…..

I know I promised full disclosure as to the details of our trip from Egypt to the U.S.   And yeah, it’s been three weeks since we got back so I can’t blame jet-lag any longer.  The truth is, nothing really happened.  I know, right?  Who the hell’s life am I living and when will the chaos begin again?!

Okay, so back in late April or early May, I contacted my travel agent and tried to book us on Lufthansa to Dallas because there would only be one layover and the Germans are usually extremely efficient and keep to schedules. Also, because I avoid New York like the friggin’ plague because I think it’s stupid that all international flights are IN to JFK and then we have to claim all our luggage and go through customs and all that noise just to find a cab (yeah, right!) who can haul all five of us and our 10 suitcases 5 carry-on bags and whatever crap we purchased at Duty-Free all the way over to LaGuardia in Queens and then have to check in again and wait for a flight (that isn’t free, by the way) to Dallas. NO THANKS. It’s hard enough to travel with kids internationally. I don’t want to have to do the whole intracontinental thing, too.

So my travel agent told me that she could book me on Lufthansa for 30, 800 EGP but that Emirates Air had a better price. So I rolled my eyes and asked how many layovers that one had. She said just one but it’s in
Dubai. I asked what the price was and she said, “20,000 EGP.”

Say WHAT?! “What’s the catch?” I asked.

“Well, the transit is in Dubai. So you would have to fly 5 hours from Cairo to Dubai and then you have a 3 hour layover and fly directly from Dubai to DFW. The flight time would be 15 hours from Dubai instead of only 9 hours from Frankfurt to Dallas.”

“Girl, we’ve GOT time. It’s money that we seem to always be short on.  Book the Emirates flight.”

So that is how we got to fly over Iraq and Russia and the North Pole and Canada and Minneapolis and all the way over Oklahoma and land in Dallas. Yeah, really. I’ve flown over the North Pole.

I have flown my entire life….and NO, I’m not embellishing.  My dad was military and we traveled back and forth from Europe my entire life. I flew a lot in the US to visit family and then started traveling overseas for my job. I am just as comfortable in the air as I am on a road trip. Maybe more so. I’ve never endorsed an
airline before.  But I will right now.

EMIRATES AIR RULES!

From the time that we checked in at the desk in Cairo, we were whisked away on a bus by ourselves just as soon as I notified the attendant that we had a special needs child and explained that Autism can sometimes cause my daughter to become overwhelmed and freak out a little but that I can get her to calm down again provided the flight attendants do not try to restrain her. (That happened on the Lufthansa flight last time we traveled to the US and I was nearly at the point of knocking out the woman who was attempting to force Randa into her seat while yelling in her face to keep  calm.) They boarded us in the back of the plane at the same time the first and business class passengers were boarding int he front.

This is a great spot as far as I’m concerned. We’re close to the back where the drink carts are stored. We’re close to the restrooms. AND most importantly, we’re located close to the jet engines where argumentative teenagers and their noise gets drowned out. YES.  The flight attendants were SO very nice to us.  Honestly, they were nice to everyone.

When we arrived in Dubai, the kids were a little hungry and Mohamed had asked me to buy cigarettes at the duty-free store. So, we bought the cigarettes and then wandered to a food court and I decided that it was just too damn expensive. But I did buy them each a coke and got myself a Snapple and we wandered back over to our gate and sat and snarfed down all the cookies and chips and snacks that their uncles had purchased for their backpacks before we left Egypt.

We still had another hour before we were supposed to leave which meant another half hour before boarding started and Randa started to have a meltdown. She was bored and tired and hadn’t had her internet fix in more than a day. A gate attendant called Ismail over and asked if we would be able to control her on the flight and Ismail said yes and tried to explain what autism is to him. Finally, he decided that the guy was kind of a rock and called me over to explain. I could barely understand his broken English so I spoke to him in Arabic and explained that my daughter is just extremely tired and bored and that once we were on the plane I could settle her down.  He recognized my dialect as Egyptian. Turns out, HE was Egyptian.

So, what does one Egyptian do for another Egyptian? They “hook a sister up”and he called some Scottish dude who was in charge of security and told him to board us early. He didn’t want to but the Egyptian dude told him, “Special needs child” and the Scottish dude asked me what was up and I explained that Randa is Autistic and gets overwhelmed when she is overstimulated and can freak out a bit. He said, “My niece is autistic. I know how that goes.”

The Scottish dude said, “Follow me.” So we did. And he introduced us to Faris who was the head porter on our flight. Faris introduced us to Mario aka Mex (which apparently was short for Mexican) and they shook hands with Randa and were very polite and asked if she would like anything.

Randa said, “Chocolate.” And then she laughed. So they laughed.

Damn if they didn’t bring her a mini-Toblerone and a Mars bar just for her from first class. And they sent a color book and a fake Etch-A-Sketch thing. She was just stoked that they had Toy Story 3 on the in-flight movie and they’re all high-tech so you can even rewind over and over again like she enjoys doing on the touch screen that was on the back of the head rest in front of her seat.

The only “incident”so to speak, was about 9 hours into the flight when Randa started shouting, “Butt hurts! Back hurts! Go faster. FLY FASTER!” The whole time she was pretending to row (yeah like in a boat) as if air- rowing was going to get us there quicker. They were handing out drinks at the time and the flight attendant sort of giggled but then told Randa, “I will tell the pilot to fly faster, dear.”

Once we were over Oklahoma, we hit every air pocket that we DIDN’T hit flying all over the rest of the globe. All I could think of was TORNADOES. But thankfully, we weren’t in any tornadoes. But the air pockets DEFINITELY did a number on my stomach, as well as Randa’s. Because then she decided that she didn’t want him to fly faster any more. And she started to stomp on her imaginary air brakes and shouted, “Slow down. Fly slower.” This of course, delighted the two men sitting on the other side of her and they tried to hide their amusement but failed miserably.

Good thing she doesn’t give a shit what other people think.

Anyway, a few hours later we landed and even though it took us about 2 hours to get through immigration and customs, we did it fairly quickly and uneventfully. It was awesome. Boring and uneventful almost NEVER happens to us. So this was amazing to me and my family.

I cannot emphasize enough how awesome Emirates Air was on both legs of the trip and at all three airports and if you ever have a need to fly anywhere in the world that they service, TAKE THEM. It is an awesome experience.

Also….it was amazing to see my husband, my son, my mom and my sisters and their kids waiting for us at the  airport. These are my favorite people in the world. (My brother, too, of course but he had to work that day and he lives in Austin.) And here’s a photo of Randa hugging her grandmother at the airport upon our arrival while her father looks on:

Consideration of Others IS Consideration of Self

RESPECT – an act of giving particular attention: Consideration

Respect is a vital ingredient to any relationship. It is needed for a healthy relationship with self, partner, parent, spouse, child, neighbor, competitor, stranger, boss, employee and even enemy. (Yes. There are enemies who hate one another but still respect one another.)

I have encountered more disrespect in the past twenty hours than I think I am able to handle. I’ve had a lit cigarette flicked at me while the cigarette-flicker looked right at me, been lied to by a woman who “desperately needed to buy this stuff” so she could get back to her baby that she had locked in the house by himself….only to find that 2 boxes of green tea, some toy soldiers and a  punch balloon were her emergency AND she had her 4 yr old boy in tow (I told her, “May God forgive you for lying to get ahead in life and setting a bad example for your son) and then when I went to buy a new coffee mug at a different store, the two employees there were more interested in  playing Romeo to teenage girl Juliets that they volleyed back and forth as to who was going to help me and neither did. I complained LOUDLY to the owner and reminded him that if it weren’t for the customers that his employees refused to help they wouldn’t be needed to work there and that I would never shop there again.

My son “borrowed” my mp3  player without permission and took it into the bathroom to listen to it while he did his business…only somehow my mp3 player fell into his “business” before he flushed and now it and more than 140 songs I’d purchased are covered in poo and the circuits inside are fried because he “rinsed it off.”

I’ve been called upon to lift furniture and clean up a nasty dirty apartment by a woman who claims that she is my friend without warning and treated with disdain when I apologized and stated that I was not at home but in fact visiting a friend on the other side of town. I suppose she expected us to get up from the dinner table and run to her aid even though her own sisters, brother, mother and children refused to help her and she didn’t say a word to them.

People! Respect is key. The base of my marriage is respect. The reason that my husband and I have been happily married for 18+ years is because we respect each other and TREAT each other with respect. We do not call names in arguments and have never raised a hand one to another. EVER. My friends can attest to the fact that I treat them with respect 100% and that even if we are arguing, I respect secrets told to me and still don’t repeat them, even if the friendship ends. If I am wrong, I respect myself and friends enough to ADMIT IT and apologize.

Today, I feel that respect is something that I give to everyone right out of the gate and that I get very little to none in return. I am not a happy camper and due to the disrespect of my wishes and property by my son, I can’t even plug in my headphones and sing away my blues. Instead I’m hoping to “blog it out.” *sigh*

Go out of your way to treat others with respect today (and everyday.) It is a reflection of the respect you have for yourself as well as for others who share your planet.

Respect for Elders

Elderly Hands Pictures, Images and Photos
So, yesterday was another scorcher and I opted to send two of my kids down to the corner store to pick up a bunch of stuff we were missing. They spent about 35 Pounds buying me groceries and complained that the owner was really crabby.  I blew it off and went about making breakfast (it’s Ramadan and we’re fasting until sunset) when I realized that I forgot to have the kids buy salt. I sent Ismail back down to the corner store to get me a bag of salt. He came home really angry but not raging (which is good for a 13 yr old boy who is learning to control his emotions.) He said that the dude gave him a bag of salt and he paid and then asked for a plastic sack to put it in. The owner of the store yelled at him, “It comes in a bag!” Ismail thought he was just clowning with him and said, “No, really. I want a bag.”  The owner yelled at him again and got in his face this time, “I TOLD YOU IT COMES IN A BAG!”  So Ismail handed the salt back to him and said, “Then I don’t want anything from you. I would like my money back.” So the guy jerks the salt out of his hand and stuffs the money into it and says, “That’s even better. Now get out!” (And here’s where I got pissed.) He shoved him toward the door.

Ismail went to his biggest competitor across the street and bought the salt there. When he came home he told me that he was so mad and he wanted to hit him but he didn’t. And he insisted that I go downstairs immediately and tell him what’s what. I told him I’d do it later but that I needed to make fitar (breakfast) first and that I would handle it later that night or the next day. Ismail wanted to come along and I told him I didn’t think it was a good idea. He was livid. He swore he’d never buy anything from that big jerk ever again. I told him that we’re not going to call names because it’s haram (forbidden) and this is a guy who is in his late 50’s or early 60’s. We need to calm down. I got him busy making juice and talking about other things and so it went. I didn’t go talk to the man last night. I waited until today.

I decided to take Ismail with me. As we were walking, we passed the masjid on our street where many people were praying the Taraweeh prayers (extra prayers said each night during Ramadan) and we noticed that the store owner was praying from a seated position near the door. He usually stands and bows and kneels with the younger men in the masjid. We kept walking and I told Ismail that maybe it would be best if we just go to the store and talk to the owner’s brother who also works there. That way he can act as an intermediary and present the issue to his brother with our concerns voiced but without the older man feeling as though he is being attacked. But his brother was not there. His son was. I spoke calmly and explained to the young man what had happened and he apologized for his father. I explained that I understand that the weather is so very hot and that the temperature inside the store is hotter than in the street. This combined with fasting can make for short tempers. However, as sassy and rotten as my kids are to me and each other at home, I know without a doubt that they do not get sassy and rude with elders. I have been complimented on this fact many times, even by the store owner. And if my son was out of line in any way, I will address the issue with him. But under no circumstances was the owner right in shoving him or touching him in any way.

The young man kissed Ismail on his forehead and apologized for his father’s behavior. “Tont (Aunt), I am so sorry. But my father is under great stress right now. You see, he took my uncle and niece and grandmother to a cousin’s wedding on the first of this month. I stayed here and ran the store overnight. They were in an accident on the way home and my father rolled the car 3 times. I left straight from here to the hospital and he didn’t even know that my grandmother, Allah bestow her His mercy, didn’t make it. I had to tell him when I arrived. My father has permanent damage to his spine and has broken ribs. My uncle broke his shoulder and my niece was cut across her lip and chin. My father went straight back to work and refuses to take any time off and if I suggest it, he yells at me or slaps me. But what can I do? He is my father. But if you would just forgive him. He is very angry and hurt and his nerves are not the same. And all that I can do is ask that Allah forgive him and give me patience to wait until my father is able to deal with this grief. You know that I love Ismail like my little brother and all of your children are always very respectful in this store. I’m so sorry.”

I told him that I understand and said “May Allah bless him with patience” and then bought a few cookies and things that we really didn’t need but as a gesture that we understand and are not taking our business elsewhere.  When we left the store, I asked Ismail if he understood what all was happening in the store owner’s world.  He said, “Wow. He has had a lot to deal with in just a few weeks. I wonder if he has cried yet.” I told him probably not or he wouldn’t be so angry and grouchy. We talked about PTSD and grief and rage and how sometimes people blame themselves for things that were destined to happen. I asked Ismail if he was upset that I didn’t go in yelling and screaming and that I bought from them. He said no. And that he understood that the best way to handle the situation was as I had done because it showed respect for everyone involved.

Thank God. I am doing something right.