April 16, 1989 Lynn, Massachusetts
Greater Lynn Mental Health had a unique support program for a small group of developmentally disabled young adults who were living in a nursing home. I frequently picked up weekend shifts there, as several of my friends worked there.
In the spring of 1989 I became friends with a woman who worked as a nursing aide there. Her name was Madeline, the same as my late godmother. She was from Liberia but had grown up in Newark, New Jersey. When we met she was impressed that I knew… where Liberia was. I told her I had learned about the country’s origins in Professor Doyle’s African-American History class when I was in college, and had kept up to date on events there from reading Africa News, a journal from Durham, North Carolina. She was proud of her country but very much an All American Girl. When her younger brothers came up from Newark to visit, she called me & we drove to Salisbury Beach where we hit the arcades and spent a fierce hour riding bumper cars.
We discovered we were birthday twins, two crazy Aries from different continents. She asked me to teach her to drive. That did not go well, but we remained friends. Madeline warned me when I started dating Youngor that “Her tribe is crazy” I laughed, but a few weeks later it began to make sense. Madeline eventually moved to Staten Island and married a minister. I got a very sad phone call from her a few months later; apparently the minister was a player & she wasn’t happy. I encouraged her to return to Lynn, but I guess she felt trapped there.