|Your Success Newsletter - July - August, 2008 - Published Bi-Monthly
"Where there is no vision, the people perish" - Proverbs 29:18
|Obama, Basketball and Other Blessings
Experiencing life from the West Coast
By Jean L. Ford
As I write these few words, we are still basking in the glow of the past few weeks.
As the years have flown by, we have truly learned to appreciate each and every
day God sends and yet, even with a constant attitude of gratitude, some moments
stand apart from others.
The first of two such moments came for my husband, Emmanuel Lawrence, and me
when on the beautiful spring afternoon of May 28 we had the once-in-a-lifetime
honor and privilege to attend a luncheon in Pasadena, California where Michelle
Obama was the guest speaker. In the expansive back yard of a private home, we
were among a warm, wonderful, well-behaved and well-dressed (!) crowd of some
400+ supporters gathered to hear Mrs. Obama on one of her three Southern
California stops on that day. It was truly a “Who’s Who” of Pasadena and Los
Angeles area politicians, civic and business leaders, educators and others,
including actors C.C.H. Pounder and Dorian Harewood. It was Black folks, white
folks, Hispanics and Asians. It was men and women. It was young and old. It was
upper class and middle class and those like us who slipped away from work to be
present for this historic occasion. It was Democrats and Independents and, no
doubt, Republicans too. It was those who had made up their minds about Barack’s
candidacy and those who had not. And it was FABULOUS!
We were filled with pride to see Mrs. Obama afforded the same dignitary status and
watchful Secret Service protection as the spouse of any other candidate for our
nation’s highest office.
Under a red, white and blue banner boasting “Obama IS America,” she took the
stage with grace, elegance, confidence and poise. She smiled broadly and warmly
thanked the program’s organizers and supporters. She was comfortably dressed
and her manner was easy. She didn’t speak from a prepared speech, nor did she
appear to have any notes. Instead she spoke from her heart, with a sincerity that
drew in the crowd as if we were listening to her in the comfort of our own living
She spoke of how politics “had not changed the man [she] married,” and the
importance she and her husband place on having their two daughters experience a
“normal” upbringing with sleepovers and birthday parties. She described the Iowa
primary as the turning point in the race toward the Democratic nomination and
expressed that a long primary season brings out the candidates’ true selves. She
suggested that enough time had been wasted talking about the various candidates’
“crazy pastors” and that now was the time to talk about the serious issues facing us
all. She spoke lovingly of Barack’s charisma, his ability to engage people, and the
time he has taken to shake every hand, listen earnestly to every concern, and
meet every challenge with a positive spirit. She talked about how people who up
until now had felt disenfranchised from our country’s political process were voting
for the first time, and making campaign contributions for the first time. She
described elderly women who, after hearing him speak, had, as they took her hand,
placed in it a rolled up ten- or twenty-dollar bill and said “Good luck, baby.” She
knew, she said, that for these and other donors, the amount of money they
entrusted in him represented not only a significant portion of their budget, but their
investment in and their hope for a better future for their children, for their
grandchildren, and for our country.
Yes, this was an unforgettable afternoon. As I sometimes sat and sometimes stood
in the bright California sunshine that afternoon, my husband by my side, I couldn’t
help but wonder how God placed me, placed us, there. I thought of my father, a
laborer, my mother, who left school early to go to work, and their many sacrifices
and God’s grace that made this moment—experiencing this dynamic woman we
hope and pray will be America’s next first lady, OUR first lady.
Now as if that weren’t enough…
The NBA basketball playoffs dragged on through quarter finals and semi-finals, our
wistful hopes for the Cleveland Cavaliers and other teams finally giving way to the
finals which would pit the Boston Celtics against the Los Angeles Lakers. Yes, we
live in Los Angeles, but our allegiance doesn’t. So give this match-up the big “Who
cares,” right? Not!
Flashback to 1960 when, as a 12-year old, I was blessed to form a friendship with a
tall, lanky, rather shy boy who lived one street over from us in my hometown of
Cleveland. Known to us all as simply “Posey,” he could handle a ball and proved
it regularly as all the neighborhood kids would regularly gather in our driveway for a
spirited game we called “four corners.” Posey (first name James) and I remained
friends for many years, until time and geography put us out of touch. In a
“coincidence,” also known as a miracle in which God chooses to remain
anonymous, my brother Henry ran into James and the relationship between our two
families was instantly reborn. Naturally, much had happened in both our lives, and
it was exciting to learn that Posey had a son, James Jr., who had been an all-Ohio
basketball star at Twinsburg (Ohio) High School who had gone on to play college
ball for Xavier of Ohio.
Before long he was drafted by the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and I was watching him
play against the Lakers and the Clippers at L.A.’s Staples Center. That was eight
years ago. Two years ago we cheered him on to his first NBA championship with
the Miami Heat.
Last week, we shared James Sr.’s joy as he traveled here to see his son play in
games three, four and five of this year’s finals. We joined him at game three,
enjoying the raucous crowd and enduring the good-natured taunts of rival Lakers
fans. For daring to be Celtics fans in Lakers’ territory, we were photographed by
local news crews and by the Boston Herald. We enjoyed dinner in Staples Center’s
Arena Club and used our binoculars to spot crowd pleasers like Magic Johnson,
Eddie Murphy, Sly Stallone, David Beckham, Jack Nicholson, Dyan Cannon, and
Hugh Hefner. It’s Hollywood, after all!
We were thrilled that the finals schedule allowed us to spend time with James (and
his cousins, Norman and Flossie Hobson) and enjoy some local favorites including
City Club on Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles, a Father’s Day church service,
the WAVE radio station live-broadcast Sunday brunch at I Cugini restaurant on the
ocean in Santa Monica, and Hollywood’s legendary Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles.
We were equally thrilled that on June 17, the Boston Celtics went on to soundly
defeat the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of the finals to win the 2008 NBA Finals,
giving that city its first basketball championship since 1986. Congratulations to
James Jr., his teammates, and his family. We also add our heartfelt get well wishes
to Posey’s sister, Eurcelle Berry of Cleveland, as we keep her in thought and
We are forever grateful for the gifts of opportunity, the bonds of friendship, and all
our many blessings, and we look forward to sharing more of our stories with
Visions’ loyal readers.
|Preparing to watch the Celtics "beat up" on the
Lakers, Left to Right: James Posey, Sr.
(father of Boston Celtics Star James Posey, Jr.),
Jean and husband Emmanuel.