A Young Boy Visciously Taken From A Strong, Loving Mother
A Young Boy Visciously Taken
From A Strong, Loving Mother
I walked into a very small apartment on East 103rd Street on Monday unsure of how I would approach the situation. But the moment I faced Barbara Isaac, I knew I was face to face with a strong woman.
Isaac, the mother of seven children, ranging in age from 30 to 12, had just lost one of them, Jelani, who was cut down by bullets fired with no regard for life or law the day before Thanksgiving.
As we talked, our conversation being continuously interrupted with telephone calls, this woman of true grit and extraordinary faith in her God, taught me lessons in life that I could not have learned at any Ivy League university.
Her 16-year-old son went on a simple errand to pick up roasting pans to be used on Thanksgiving Day. The next time she saw her son, was to view his lifeless body at Brookdale Hospital, where a medical team tried to revive him to no avail. The doctor in the emergency area told her Jelani had bled so much from the shots that tore into his young body, that is was impossible to save him.
The distraught Isaac asked me to use this interview to thank the E.M.S. people, the medical team at Brookdale and the 69th Precinct police for their swift and efficient response in trying to save her son.
Jelani was a student at District 18’s I.S. 232 on Winthrop Street and was considered an average student trying to forge ahead in his studies, but displaying at all times the discipline and training he received at home.
At an earlier age he would watch the reports from the stock market and like most of us try to understand the figures jumping up in front of him on the T.V. screen, but was determined he wanted to be a stock broker on Wall St. As the years went by, however, this interest waned as he now wanted to be an inventor of new and more challenging video games. Jelani was always trying to better his score each time he played with his video gadgets, and could be heard echoing sounds of delight and triumph each time he got a leg up on his friends in friendly challenges from time to time.
This young man idolized former L.A. Laker basketball star Magic Johnson and coach Pat Riley was his "coach for life." Pictures with these two famous basketballers are in frames placed on a mantle, giving rightful elevation and place to his childhood heroes.
Before leaving last Wednesday evening with three friends, his mother was watching a baby for a neighbor. Young Jelani loved babies, and so he was walking around in the apartment with his cuddly charge most of the afternoon. As he put on his jacket to exit the house the baby started to cry and this kind child turned around, picked up the baby and gave comfort to the little one, giving assurance: "I will soon be back." This was his final act of love before his life was viciously snatched a few minutes after.
There is a very common saying in the Caribbean: "When God is on the vessel, you can smile upon the storm." Such is the case with Barbara Isaac, who, even in her grief and misery, had the time to say, "I am praying for the boys who took Jelani’s life, and I am praying for their parents also."
Where there should be bitterness and anger, she found the will to replace these with love.
A mother torn in pain, her world shattered by this single act of violence still had words of Thanksgiving on her life, "God gave me my son for sixteen years, and took him back from me. I thank Him for the years I had with him."
It’s very rare in this a world of anxiety and uncertainty that we will find someone of the mold of Barbara Isaac, teaching us that there is a lesson to be learned from every situation and experience we are confronted with in life; we just have to look a little bit deeper than the surface.
I close with her words taken from the Book of Psalms in the Holy Bible, "God is my refuge and my strength, a very present help in times of trouble." Truly it is her faith in her God that sustains, and should be enough to sustain us too, in times of trouble. Hats off to you Barbara, may your spirit continue to find strength, and the soul of your son find peace.