Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Oliver's Death, Voorhies' Illness Remind Us: We Are All Human--But Don't Let That Stop You!

(Both Photos Taken Saturday, Feb. 13 by Wilson Allen at the Democratic Slating Convention)

If you need proof the most indomitable spirits can be laid low in one blow, look no further than these last two months as two modern local labor icons, Lettie Oliver and Bob Voorhies, have been stricken by major health issues.

Oliver was rushed to the hospital last week only to pass away on Monday morning at about 8:00 a.m. Voorhies continues to fight Stage 4 Lung Cancer and, according to all indications, thankfully seems to be responding well to treatment.

With Lettie gone and Bob (mostly) sidelined, it brings life so clearly into focus. This really is something that is precious and that we only get one shot at. Both Bob and Lettie have lived and lived a lot of life. They took on many battles and have given the weak a strong voice. The strongest, however, are no match for the frailty of the human body.

It's a pesky thing...this very thing that we live in everyday. This very thing that allows me to type out this blog on this human-created computer of mine. This very thing that allows you to read this so humanly frail. By the time you read this blog, I may or may not be here. Don't worry, I'm not planning on going anywhere, but then again, I may not have any control over that. The human body is susceptible to disease to accident and to itself. No matter how powerful or rich or guaranteed anything but this very moment.

In this moment, politicos and non-politicos of all stripes continue to hope and pray for Bob's recovery. I'm told he gave a rousing nomination speech at the Democratic Slating Convention and has said that he will violate his doctor's orders and go door to door to elect Democrats. For his sake, I hope he's kidding. We need Bob around for many elections to come.

For Lettie, the journey on this Earth ended on Monday, and I hear the many expressions out there of grief. They have come from Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and everyone in between. Even though I didn't know Lettie that well, I can say that I am getting to know her now. I think I would be safe to say that there is nor was anyone like her.

Thus, there are no people to replace either one of these icons of the local labor movement. Thank God we still have one, but Lettie is gone forever although we know she's watching us now with others like Julia Carson waiting for us to act and keep moving. That said, it's just so important each day to take a moment to thank your friends and...yes...even smile at your enemies once in a while.

Health has not politics, and neither does death. It's the friends that we have and the family we keep close that make those truths tolerable. At times like this, we don't ask why; we know why. Because it is so. Whatever your beliefs may be. Nothing we can do changes the past. We live in the present to shape the future.

Even in our grief for Lettie, and our hope for Bob, let's stay together and dedicate new efforts to make this world an even better place. Let's lift Lettie's indomitable spirit and do Bob's tireless work. As Wilson Allen put it on his Facebook Sunday night when it was initially thought Lettie had passed away, "Don't Mourn-Organize."

While we are not invincible, let's carry ourselves as if we are and move forward from here--honoring the work of our friends like Lettie and Bob by shaping the future!

"When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion"
--Ethiopian Proverb

1 comment:

Brett said...

Great post Jon!!!!!