Charles Senteio

Friday, August 25, 2006

Miss Rae's Goodbye

Last nite I saw Miss Rae for the last time. Everyone said she looked peaceful in the casket and I guess I’d agree, I’ve never really seen a dead person that didn’t look ‘peaceful’. Anyway, Miss Rae wanted to be cremated so there was no trip to a cemetery, just a good ole Baptist celebration of life. I had a great time there.
My moms sat on my right and my cousin Stevie on my left, Stevie taught me to tie my shoes and ride a bike. I also ran into Clary and Norman Rhone, these guys along with my dad taught me how to work on cars. I also ran into Freddie Morris and his moms Rhoda. I grew up with “Butchie” and hadn’t seen him since a University of Hartford party around 1990. We’re gonna keep in touch.
I also ran into many of my dad’s friends, Gene Greene, Limpy, Mr. Gordy, etc. This doesn’t include the many folks I got to know through Miss Rae, I have many fond memories of going to 34 Granby Street in Hartford, there was always a consistent presence of love there.
It was appropriate we didn’t go to a graveyard, this was a celebration of a wonderful life. The preacher, Rev. David L. Massey, did a great job of articulating that this was indeed a celebration. He referenced the “Upper Room” scriptures in John (13-15) and really summarized well what we were there for. Miss Rae lived her life by consistently feeling and showing love, firmness, a wonderful spirit, and perhaps most important authenticity.
I went to Miss Rae for everything, we talked about school, girls, jobs, girls, family, and girls. She was a wonderful resource for me to understand some of life’s perplexing issues as a teenage boy as well as a 37 year old man. She was my Aunt and my friend, she was that older trusted female confidant that I could share stuff with that I couldn’t talk about with my moms…. Ya know.
Over the past 7 years she was one of four people on the planet I made a point to talk to every week, my grandmother, moms, and pops are the other three. Our final conversation was last Sunday, she was sick as she had been for many months but was more alert than she had been in previous weeks. She was always positive and, even as I write this now, I’m still amazed at how she NEVER complained about her health. She was a wonderful spirit and the packed church last nite seemed to support this. As we were leaving my moms turned to me and commented that at least half of Hartford was there. She touched many lives and will be missed….

Here’s a link to her Obit, which I’m including here:

HALL, Ruth: Ruth Hall, 74, of Granby St., Hartford, passed away on (August 19, 2006) at St. Francis Hospital. She was born in Baskerville, VA on July 19, 1932 to John and Susie Edmonds. She leaves to mourn her memory a son, Clarence King Jr. of Hartford; two daughters, Debra Cummings of Hartford and Michele Grant of Omaha, NE; a brother, John Edmonds of Hamden; two sisters, Sally Watson of Manchester and Shirley Johnson of Fort Washington, MD and a special nephew, Harry Scott of Highland Village, TX. She also leaves four grandsons, Wallace Cummings, Jr., Tyjuan Butler, Brandon and Bryan Grant; a great granddaughter, Octavia Butler and a special godchild Karen Donar and many other relatives and many many friends. She was predeceased by her husband, Melvin Hall; her brother, Charles Edmonds and sisters, Anna Hatchett, Bernice Shannon and Isabell Miller. Ruth helped to implement the "Project Concern" program which motivated her to become a teacher. She graduated from the University of Hartford and taught in the Hartford Public School System for 30 years before her retirement. After retirement she continued her profession by teaching homebound students. Some of her other accomplishments included Board of Director/CRT, VP of the Hartford Board of Education, Commissioner of Parks and Recreation in Hartford, member of the Usher ministry, President of the Church Aide ministry, and Chairperson of the Education Department at Hopewell Baptist Church, member of the Hartford/Springfield CB'ers. She was also listed in Who's Who of America. She participated in many community and civic activities in the City of Hartford and was very passionate about all her endeavors. She loved everyone and was loved by all who knew her, especially the young people of the community. A celebration of her life will be held Thursday, August 24, at 7 p.m. at Hopewell Baptist Church, 280 Windsor Avenue, Windsor. Friends may call at the church on Thursday from 6-7 p.m. Burial will be private. Howard K. Hill Funeral Services, 1287 Chapel Street, New Haven, is in charge of arrangements. Online sympathy messages available at

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A new angle on the Curve

The more I hang around afflicted folk the less inclined I am to judge them or their condition. This doesn’t mean I’ve left my accountability bag at the door.
I am still very much steeped in the notion that we are responsible for our behavior, despite our afflictions. However the more I learn an individual’s story, the less inclined I am to judge them.

Dr. Walton and I visited a familiar patient yesterday, let's call her "Rosa". Rosa is a 22 year old Latina mother of a wonderful 2 year old girl. Yesterday was the first opportunity I had to meet Rosa's daughter as she’s been in San Antonio, where Rosa is from, with her aunt. Rosa is a quadriplegic. Her recent car accident left her with permanent damage to the degree that she can only slightly move her legs. She will never walk again. She does have pretty good use of her arms though. However this may be the least of her problems right now.

She is a Heroin addict.

She’s on lots of meds and we think she is not using now. However that is not really any of our business and not why we’re there. Her child is wonderful, she was engaging and got the biggest kick out of playing with my blood pressure cuff. I like to let kids play with stuff, I think it may encourage them to explore and actually try stuff. I know it worked for me.
Anyway, Rosa and her daughter have a tough life ahead of them. They live in a ‘house’ that is about as worse I’d seen. While reasonably clean it isn’t somewhere I’d like to hang. Just above the baby's bed was an open fusebox that had wires hanging out of it. She wasn't tall enough to reach them yet... but man. Anyway, as we drove away I wondered what the next 15 years of that little girl’s life would be like? If she dropped out of school, became an addict, had a kid, where would my personal responsibility mantra kick in?

I recently read an article on the New York Times site, After the Bell Curve, about the linkage between environment and IQ. Geneticists and social scientists are nibbling around the notion that growing up in poverty, and all the complications that go along with it, may actually impact IQ.

Apparently Poverty may stunt intellectual capacity.

Traditional thinking suggests that genes rule in the intellect game, only when children spend their early years in the most difficult of circumstances does environment make a notable difference. That may not apply to poor children. In fact they found that the IQ’s of identical twins, who share the same genes, can vary as much as the I.Q.’s of fraternal twins. The impact of growing up impoverished overwhelms the kid’s genetic capacities. They found that home life is crucial factor for kids at the bottom of the economic scale.
One researcher explains,

If you have a chaotic environment, kids’ genetic potential doesn’t have a chance to be expressed. Well-off families can provide the mental stimulation needed for genes to build the brain circuitry for intelligence.

Yet another datapoint I’ll try to consider as I evaluate the circumstances for others while maintaining that whole personal accountability thang. I do know that research and exploration, with an open mind and heart, can only build insight and potentially get me closer to what the heck to do about some of society's more difficult issues.