Lawrence Jackson gripped the hand that reached down to help him from the car. It was a frigid winter day, and the three shiny rings encircling Lawrence’s wrinkled fingers were as cold as ice. He was a tall and broad black man in his early sixties, resembling a man once strong and powerful, but now seemed withered and pained in his old age. Lawrence looked up at the great expanse before him, the place he once called home. The same hand gave him his weathered wooden can with the words, “Old School” inscribed below the curved handle. Heavily supported by his can, he hobbles into the great structure accompanied by the man who helped him from the car. As he walks through the great hallways leading to his destination, he can hear the rumbling from above, energy vibrating through the walls. Lawrence passes all sorts of people as he walks, many wearing jackets and toting equipment, all greeting him with eyes of awe and respect. As he rounds the corner, the light at the end of the tunnel suddenly becomes visible. Lawrence sighs as he comes to the end of the tunnel, taking in the familiar sight of the green grass, the painted crowd, the blue sky. He hears his name on a microphone from out on the field, followed by thundering cheers from 100,000 voices. Lawrence starts toward the green, but pauses, looking down at his cane. He turns to the man next to him, giving him a soft nod as he hands him the cane. Forward he walks, standing tall with his full 6’2 frame, masking the pain he felt in every step. He was once again roaming his territory, the place he had experienced so much glory. Eventually, he reached the podium with the microphone, surrounded by thousands, all chanting his name. For the first time in quite awhile, he smiled, his white teeth gleaming brighter than his rings. He stepped up to the podium, placed his hands on the smooth wood, and began to speak.
October 20, 2010