Sunday, March 24, 2019

Going Home

I started this blog by writing about my big brother, Mike. It felt like a safer way in, a side door to return to the past. 

He was the brave one, the one who never backed down, always laughing and so full of life. My two younger brothers and I looked up to him. He was bigger than life to me. I felt like he would never die. 
Searching for Mike's grave.

Michael Ramsey Rice (aka Mike Osteen) was born on July 27, 1955, four days after our mama's 17th birthday.  I think he was born ready to fight and defend himself from the people who called him a bastard and Mama a whore. Even when he was beaten, he still won because he wouldn't quit. He got that from Mama.

I left home and tried to leave the past behind me. Mike stayed behind and died. 

On the run from prison, he fought his last fight on March 17, 1977.  He was 21 years-old.

I blamed the mountains of North Carolina for his death, especially Madison County and the red clay holler that led to our house. Sitting at the helm of our little kingdom at the end of that holler, was our mama, and I blamed her the most.

Over the next seven years I had four children. I became obsessed with making sure they didn't die on drugs or go to prison. 

When I found myself back in Madison County I realized I hadn't left anything behind. I'm thankful for my journey home because it was then that I learned  "I come from a people, not just a circumstance." 
The Boy The Brave Girls by Gary Phillips.















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