‘An Open Letter On Cinco de Mayo’ by Imani Williams

In 2005, I like many others celebrated Cinco De Mayo in Southwest Detroit. I did the street festival and ate at Armando’s. My feet were burning from wearing new sandals on hard concrete I was full and tired. I called my Cool Cat when I got home. I had no idea it would be the last time I would ever speak with my Daddy. His power was out and he’d called DTE to explain his bill was paid.

Daddy’s words, “I’m sorry for not being much of a conversationalist baby, but I’m having problems with this candle,” will forever ring in my subconscious. The phone line went dead. I called back three times and tried to lie down.

I was restless, something was wrong. I jumped up, grabbed my keys and purse and hit I-75. I made it to Southfield in 15 min. I could see and smell smoke as I drove up the I-696 service drive. Firetrucks and a Channel 2 news van took up the length of the block. I think I almost passed out from fear. After parking behind trucks, I walked up the block as six or seven firemen hoisted Daddy into an ambulance. I followed the ambulance to William Beaumont in Royal Oak, they couldn’t handle his injuries. A few hours later we were at Detroit Receiving. I waited alone for five hours to before I was called up to the burn unit.

Complications from the fire and several surgeries over three weeks took a toll. I knew when I walked into his room in the Burn Unit of Receiving Hospital at the end of May, that he’d taken a turn for the worse. The nurse shared that he was unresponsive when given a shot. I’d gotten to know the staff and this young man knew what he was talking about. The doctor confirmed a stroke and my heart dropped again.

We did hospice at Receiving and Daddy held on a couple more days as not to transition on my birthday. He passed away on June 2, the day after my 41st. I haven’t celebrated Cinco De Mayo since. Southfield Fire Dept. and the staff at William Beaumont and Receiving Hospital Burn Unit, will forever have my gratitude for being empathetic And professional. This year I stand in solidarity with my Mexican Sisters & Brothers by writing this letter. I am not here for laws that criminalize and throw people away for wanting a better life. My Cool Cat was a humanitarian with a big heart. I honor that spirit.

Copyright 2017 by Imani Williams. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

Featured Image Courtesy of the Author

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