Family Feud

“The Marathon Continues.” - Nipsey Hussle

Alvin walked into the kitchen to speak to his distressed young wife. His head was achy and his mouth was dry. He had the odor of men that have a hard time handling their liquor. “Listen, I know I messed up Ellie.” His wife’s name is actually Dorothy, but he preferred to call her by her middle name, Ellie. She had become accustomed to being called by her middle name, she’d also become accustomed to him apologizing for his shortcomings.

“Listen Alvin, I don’t know what your problem is, but I know this. I know you better fix it!” She was fed up. She had spent so many years dealing with this drama. Her stomach got tight and her head sunk into her hands on the kitchen table. She started to cry silently, upset for letting the tears show. The years of his gambling and drinking at the Monte Carlo. The years of his promises to do better. The years of seeing him walk into the kitchen to apologize. She blamed herself, and she’d become accustomed to that as well.

He stood there watching his wife cry and wanted to make it better. He walked over to embrace her. “DON”T YOU TOUCH ME ALVIN! You stink! You smell like outside and the alley cat!” she screamed at the top of her lungs. Off in the distance they heard the baby crying, it was their youngest daughter, Susan. The yelling had woken her up.

Dorothy started to get up to make her way to the baby but Alvin insisted that he take care of it. She recommended in the way that only black women can that he take care of himself instead. She knew that tone felt like hits below the belt to him. She was too mad to care. She also was happy the baby started crying. She couldn’t stand the sight of him.

The relationship wasn’t like this when they first met at Commerce High School on Van Ness Street back in 1946. Back then, Alvin had just moved to San Francisco from a place in Texas he never wanted to remember. He was 6’3”, movie star handsome and had a natural way with women. So much so his friends called him “Nature Boy.” Dorothy was the most attractive girl in school, but not all that popular. All she wanted to do was talk about Jesus and she could never hang out because, as the oldest of six, she had to take care of her younger siblings.

She saw adventure in him, he saw security in her. They connected over a shared desire of a challenge. They naively believed they could make the other more like themselves. Her tool was the bible, his was the bottle. They both failed at changing the other, but they did learn how to let the other person be themselves.

That understanding often meant there would be mornings like this one. Hard moments when they both questioned if it was worth it and the next day, they both would say yes. They said yes everyday for 60 years until Alvin died at the age of 85 in February of 2016.

Dorothy and Alvin had five children, including a son named Michael. Michael grew up and married Rosalyn. They had two kids named Irene and Stevon.

To Be Continued...

Book Recommendations: The Four Agreements, Purple Cow

Music Recommendation: Crenshaw

Stevon Cook