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Quiet times Quiet mind

Two men over a feast of food.

Where do you do your best thinking?  Do you prefer coffee shops, libraries, or private offices?  Perhaps you're not pinned to any environment.


I think and write best in silence.  Location is secondary to the noise level.


Quiet moments are rare when you have three energetic children at home.  They thrive on activity.  Serenity is the running joke when they're around.


You can wake up early or stay up late to minimize distractions.  But, when your wife travels, and rest is critical to fulfilling both roles, what can you do?  You surrender in their presence and maximize the quiet times.


If I haven’t convinced you, one week without help will teach you the truth about quiet times to help calm the mind.


In last weekend’s bursts of peace, I wrote to process grief.  I lost someone who encouraged me to marry the woman who became my wife.  My father-in-law passed away.


I told myself...


Why are you surprised?  All of us die.  It's a matter of when.  


Ernie was ill, but still.


News of his death hit me in the gut.  The loss stayed with me between my children’s frantic requests for football games in the front yard and video games in the living room.


Ernie is gone.  

I remember when we met.  It happened after Gabi performed in Ntozake Shange’s musical, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf.


He handed her flowers after she stepped down from the stage.  Like always, Ernie surprised Gabi and her mom, Nowanna, with a random visit at a meaningful moment.  


After the handoff of flowers, he walked towards me with Gabi by his side, a warm smile, and a wooden cane suitable for a West African griot or Rafiki from The Lion King.  I admired his long black dreads sprinkled with streaks of gray. 


With my shoulder-length dreadlocks, I resembled the cub Simba.  Our paws didn't touch.  We fist-bumped and talked for a few minutes.  


I asked about Mexico.  He replied in a soft-spoken tone with firm descriptions of a life well-lived.  I listened in awe.


Ernie and I clicked immediately, and the conversation convinced me of the special relationship I shared with his daughter.  After he left the theater with Gabi and Nowanna, I sat and talked with a friend.  A few minutes passed, and Gabi returned, grinning. 


 "My dad likes you.  He said something about your shoes."


"He's cool," I replied and glanced at my shoes.  


 “Will I see you later?” Gabi asked and continued to smile.  Before I responded, she kissed me softly on the cheek.


Nonchalantly, I nodded and agreed to meet her later that evening.  She walked away, and my heart skipped a beat to the tune of fresh romance.  


 “You better marry that girl,” my friend turned to me and said after Gabi left again.


My friend’s comments and meeting Ernie planted marriage seeds inside my psyche.  Seeing how my future wife loved her dreadlocked Black father, who lived outside the US, watered me.  Her affection conveyed acceptance of men with unconventional lifestyles.  


Ernie was born in Baltimore and moved to Mexico after a tragic accident.  He fell down an elevator shaft and left the US to start over after a partial recovery.  


When we met, I didn’t have plans to marry his daughter, father three children, and move abroad.  That came later.  Ernie's life exposed me to the possibilities beyond the border.

He learned Spanish and opened an antique shop in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico.  Around the corner from his store, he rented an old warehouse/museum and converted the space into his home.  Ernie embodied creative living.


It’s hard to understand this.  I write for glimpses of insights from his death.


Ernie’s mind is quiet now.  Dementia has stopped haunting his memories.


When I learned of his death, I went down a loophole on my YouTube channel and revisited videos of our time in Mazatlán.


We attended his joint birthday party with baby Delnoy at the Puerto Azul restaurant on the Malecon.  He turned 74 but said, “It’s my 21st birthday.  Never been taken!" The day filled us with more jokes, plenty of seafood, and a few songs in his honor.


It was the perfect way to celebrate his life.


 “I will be walking when you see me again.” He told me in another video, taken at the airport on the day we left for Antigua.

I believed him, but it never happened. Gabi returned to Mexico a year later, but Ernie remained in the wheelchair or bed for most of her visit.  Dementia and other physical ailments restricted his ability to move and communicate.


Last Saturday, Gabi traveled to say goodbye, but his body transitioned before she arrived.


I wish I had more time with Ernie.  Perhaps we would have hunted for antiques at the Juarez Street flea market on Sunday morning before taking the family to the Isla de la Piedra in the afternoon.  It wasn’t in the cards.


Well, at least not in this life.


Now, he is with The Creator.  Rest in Peace, Ernie "Ernesto" Overton.

If you're reading this sentence, appreciate the gift of life today. Let's savor the quiet, loud, and every moment in between.

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