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Raised To Be A Racist, Medicine in Memphis and New Orleans: 1954-1964

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The day before Easter 2007, I baked our well washed bed linens in the Florida sun. Essence of orange blossom infused the fibers by the wind that blew off the lake, all day long. The unseasonably mild and cool conditions the past few days, put me in a Christmassy mood, but what I craved was a kitty.

Johnny; my husband of seventeen years told me, "No way! Two in the house and three dogs outside is enough. When you take off, I get stuck with all the maintenance. I am 68 year old physician and this is my life? You take off for occupied territory every few months hoping to save the world and I have to feed dogs and clean litter boxes. It's not a good deal."

I retorted, "Gandhi said something about peace being a birthing process, I am but one little mid-wife doing what I am called to do. We the people in America know nothing at all about so much we should and too much about what doesn't matter at all. I am doing that to which I am called, but I am craving a kitty. Just one little kitty is all." 

 For seven hours on Easter day, Johnny smoked the twelve pound turkey he had dispatched [a clinical euphemism for shooting and swiftly killing a wild animal that will be consumed] upon a 1,000 acre mitigated parcel of property ten minutes from home.

A few weeks later our 22 year old daughter phoned to say that a teacher friend had found a box of abandoned kittens and our daughter, KA took one in. Two days later KA phoned that her roommate was allergic to cats, and Katherine, known as Kat moved in with Oreo and Tobee.Tobee is KA's old tom that was too spoiled to leave home and Oreo, is a long haired black and white with yellow green eyes. She is also neurotically over dependent upon me for she was abandoned at three days old and required me to bottle feed her at hourly intervals around the clock for many weeks. She follows me around the house, but if any company shows up she hides and will not show for a few hours after company moves on.

When Oreo gets upset-and it doesn't take much-she pukes. This really ticks Johnny off when I am not around to clean it up and he has to. My most vivid memory of a glimpse of what life was going to be like with Johnny, was circa 1989, before we were married.

We attended Johnny's folk's 60th anniversary, a major social event in Memphis. Frances was in the kitchen and Johnny's father Jake and I were in the parlor chatting. Dr. Jake as he was called- not for being one himself-but for siring four sons who did; a cancer specialist, a plastic surgeon ophthalmologist, a nuclear radiologist and Johnny, an Internist and now Geriatrician, known as the black sheep of the family for leaving Memphis for good in 1966, more so that, than for his two divorces and three marriages.

Dr. Jake was interrogating me about my parenting skills-or rather lack of, for he pointed out my impending failure for not explicitly telling my daughter exactly what she should be when she grows up. I laughed it off then, but now I wonder if he didn't have a point, as KA is 24, works as a waitress and wants to be the next American Idol. I have never even seen a show, but in a few weeks, I will be accompanying KA to Miami Beach for try outs. 

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Eileen Fleming,is a Citizen of CONSCIENCE for US House of Representatives 2012 Founder of Staff Member of, A Feature Correspondent for Producer "30 Minutes with Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu" (more...)
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