Sunday, February 26, 2017

[The Life of Shaun #547] Mama Berry



Mama Berry died sometime Wednesday night into Thursday morning.  She had a heart attack in her sleep after a day of laughing and joking with Papa Berry and listening to a singer who had come to the care home to perform for the residents in the evening.  Laughing and singing were two of the things Mama Berry was best at.  All those who had Mama Berry in their lives knew her as a proud Hawaiian and a woman of love who managed to live joyously, despite enduring tragedies that had no business darkening the life of a woman of her character.

At the end of my Junior year of high school, my parents decided to leave the neon flash of the Strip for the prairie lands of their youths, where riverboat gaming was just starting up.  I moved with them, visions of Chicago and its possibilities dancing in my head.  Once I was there, the realities of the exurbs and the limited opportunities of a semi-rural high school became plain, and I wanted nothing more than to return for my senior year as a Sundevil to be with my friends, choir and band.  On one of my frequent calls with my friend and choirmate, Mike Berry (aka Kawika), he put the phone down and asked his parents if I could come live with them.  I'm sure some responsible arrangements were made between my parents and his, but I don't remember them, and a few days later, I was on a plane back to Sin City.

The Berrys' oldest son, Hoku, had just moved out, so I was put up in my own room, given use of Mama Berry's blue Honda and taken in as a member of the family.  Every morning she woke up two bleary-eyed teenage boys, and made us fried egg sandwiches while we got ready.  A lover of music and the arts, Mama Berry was heavily involved with and fully supportive of Kawika's and my participation in Dr. Jensen's choirs, my clarinetting in Mitta Fu's bands, Kawika's roles in the school theatre, and all their many, many commitments.  She never missed a performance, and she opened her arms and heart to everyone, especially the outcasts.  She was good people through and through.

Not many years after I moved out, Hoku died of a ruptured brain aneurysm at around the age of 30, leaving behind a young grandchild.  A few years later, Mama Berry had a stroke which took away her ability to speak and much of the use of the left side of her body.  It was heartbreaking to see such a big personality silenced and stilled, requiring 24/7 care rather than giving it herself.  For several years, it seemed like she had acquiesced to this lot in life, but in recent years she had become more active, going to church again and on outings with Papa Berry.  The last time I visited, when I introduced the Berrys to Sushil, we met up at a Hawaiian restaurant, and it was so good to see her out of the care home.  She looked healthier, happier and more tuned into the world around her.  Her face lit up when we were reminiscing, and I was telling the story of Sushil and me, and she gave me a long, tight bearhug when we said goodbye.

It's very sad that she's gone so soon after her life seemed to be trending up again.  But I am glad that she had happier last years with Papa Barry than could have been, and so grateful that she went in her sleep.  After all the hardships she endured, she deserved at least that.

Mama Berry loved her church and singing in its choir.  In lieu of flowers, I have chosen to make a donation in her honour.  If you would like to do the same, the address is:

St. James the Apostle Roman Catholic Church
1920 N. Martin Luther King Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89106


Thank you for letting me be part of your life and family, Mama Berry.  I love you and will miss you dearly.

Haole Boy





Shaun H. Coley ~ Shadwell ~ Tower Hamlets ~ London E1 ~ UK ~ shaunism.blogspot.co.uk

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Tuesday, February 07, 2017

[The Life of Shaun #546] Remember the Cheeto!


This is the last dying breath of the America that was.  All we have to do is sit tight, watch the show, and live through it to see the America that will be.  It's a demographic certainty.


2016 was a wrenching year.  And as the shambles of Trump's first weeks roll into the disaster of triggering Article 50 next month, my soon-to-be-demoted British (soon-to-be English?) passport cannot save me from the madness of 2017.  All I can do is hope that we, and the world, come out of the other side of these next four years more understanding and contemplative than damaged.  The well-trodden alternative is ugly.

I josh and daydream about backup Brexit plans - Dublin, Calgary, Wellington, Cape Town - but in all honesty, I don't want to leave London.  I have no desire to leave my global city, my friends and my life to rebuild again.  So I pray we find our way as a lonely, little island in a big, competitive world, that I continue to be gainfully employed and London doesn't turn into Birmingham-on-Thames.

I keep positive by thinking about the long game.  Ever since humans stopped hunter-gathering and began putting down roots, they have been on an inexorable journey towards a global world.  From small villages to towns to cities to nations to international economic and political unions, look past the wobbles and the trend is clear.

Dissect the 51.9% who voted for Brexit and see that 73% of 18-24 year-olds voted to remain.  By the time article 50 is triggered, about 300,000 leave voters will have died, replaced by about 365,000 new remainers, bringing that margin of victory down to 50.4%.  Remainers aren't going to suddenly turn xenophobic and insular.  And there's a whole slew of UK-born children of EU-immigrant parents nearing voting age; they won't be forgetting the ties that bind.




Look at the details of Trump's 2.9m vote loss to Hillary Clinton and see the crumbling white-haired, white-skinned wall that even America's rural-skewed electoral system can't hold up much longer.  Since 2015, more non-white babies have been born in America than white.  America's biggest states are already at or approaching being minority-majority, and by 2045, whites will be in the minority nationwide.  The leaders of tomorrow will have no option but to be open and inclusive if they want to have a political future.





My friend, PD, has fittingly taken to calling Trump "the Cheeto".  With every erratic, base-pleasing order coming out of the Oval Office, with each passing alternative fact, fabricated massacre and Brexit lie, I think about the generations that are just becoming politically aware.  I think about how they will look at Farage, his mechanic May, and Trump and reject them and the regressive parties they represent for years and years to come.  Like the Alamo, I hope these collective memories will outlast those who were actually around to bear witness to the disaster, and we'll long hear yelled out the (figurative, ballot-box) battle cry:

"Remember the Cheeto!"






Shaun H. Coley ~ Shadwell ~ Tower Hamlets ~ London E1 ~ UK ~ shaunism.blogspot.co.uk

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