Every single morning when you come into my room, I look into your face and I see my Uncle Kenny. Your little puffy eyes, so like mine, so like his, almost take me into a time warp.
The Uncle I remember was a good man. Fun. Handsome. He used to call my grandmother loudly whenever he came into the house, “Mommmmmuh!” And he had the best, mischevious twinkle to his eyes.
He was sort of, shall we say ‘naughty.’ He would get into little altercations and situations. His friends, his girlfriend, the crowd he ran with were all … shady. Gambling was considered a reasonable source of income. Everyone had guns.
Now my little Texan, I have to explain to you that I do not mean that in a Texan sort of way. Here in Texas, everyone either hunts critters or was once in the Rodeo or is waiting on the revolution or is living out their cowboy fantasy complete with a Smith & Wesson. I mean, people who have no business with a gun have guns with the serial numbers filed off.
My Uncle Kenny’s environment was one where you felt that something could pop off and you wanted to be ready. There was a certain level of danger. I don’t think he was likely to be the one that started the trouble.
But it didn’t matter. A small gambling dispute ended his life. Another man named Kenny shot and killed him. I think of how my grandmother must have been destroyed every time she imagined those eyes closing for the last time on the street in the middle of the night. Alone. Over nothing.
Whenever my mom talks about it, she shakes her head and says, “When you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.”
Meaning that THE PEOPLE YOU ASSOCIATE WITH ON A DAILY BASIS WILL SET THE PATTERN FOR YOUR LIFE.
While you are young, I am responsible for placing you in the right social groups. I want you with other children of like-minded parents.
When you get older, it is up to you to surround yourself with the right kind of people. I wrote you a post about not having losers for friends. But there are worse companions.
The kind of people that feel like life is cheap.
What got me thinking about this is that there was recently much to do about a man named Troy Davis. Troy Davis may or may not have killed a police officer. There were witnesses that said that he did. Then those same witnesses said that he didn’t – they now say that they were lying because they were afraid of the police. Many of them had legal entanglements and were worried about their own cases. Those kinds of people don’t value their lives, and they certainly do not value yours.
Troy Davis kept bad company. He laid down with dogs and flea bites can be deadly. They sent him to his death. Innocent or not.