Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Committment, Love and Loyalty

Here it is 2016 and my last public push was back in 2013.

2013 was a life changing year for me, in ways that I am still learning and growing from.

When a close loved one passes away, there’s a piece of you that goes with them.

Likewise, there’s a piece of them that will always be with you.

So this theme of love, and commitment and loyalty…isn’t new.

 But Tommy and Tameesha Curvey’s experience these last 7 years put the terms commitment and loyalty in public view for the hood to observe and there are definitely lessons to be learned.

I believe that every experience we have is part of the plan. Some situations we put ourselves in are avoidable and not God’s way, but thank God He makes a way for us even when we stray off path.
Thank God we serve a Lord who is faithful to His Word.
For we know that ALL things work together for good for those who love God; for those who are called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28

Both Curvey and I grew up in Sunnyside, where you definitely have to learn how to protect yourself. 
A lot of people assume protection is just a physical thing, but there’s an emotional side of protection as well. You can’t let everybody in on your hopes and dreams. You can’t tell everybody your business, because some folks just can’t be happy for you. You can’t trust everybody. That’s what the hood/world  teaches you.

The term ‘equally yoked’ is well known amongst the Bible believing community. You can find the phrase in 2 Corinthians 6:14.
14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
This is a command for Believers to partner spiritually with Believers.
It has nothing to do with race, nationality, wealth or education.
If Christ is the core of the Believers life, then partnering with someone who doesn’t believe in the Resurrection will cause some major issues. Maybe not immediately, but rest assured an impasse will be reached at some point. By doing so it will be impossible to do things to God’s glory.  Paul wrote this as an analogy to Deuteronomy  22:10.  The Old Testament law that forbade the yoking together of unlike livestock for work.

I’m sure a lot of people look at Curvey and Tameesha and try to figure out how a degreed, registered nurse that was Board Certified for oncology surgery ends up married to a hood barber that’s a convicted felon?
Looking on the outside, I’m sure it’s easy for people to make assumptions.
Especially considering that when they first met, he was separated from his first wife and he had a little girl from his baby mama that was only 1 years old. Not the best circumstances for a relationship to flourish.
They first met in September 2008. A day after Hurricane Ike hit the Houston area.
There was so much damage that pretty much everybody on the Southside was without lights for almost 2 weeks.
But there were other areas in the city that never lost power during the storm.

It’s a dude named Marc Malone that grew up in Sunnyside with Curvey. Very close friends.  So close that Curvey was the one to drop Marc off on the sidewalk in front of the rehab center the last time he went in.

As it happens, Marc is also Tameesha’s cousin. And after Ike hit, he brought Curvey with him out to his ‘kinfolk house’ in Katy.  This was the infamous ‘first meeting’ of Tameesha and Curvey.
It’s funny, because I heard both of them describe this first meeting exactly the same.

Curvey saw her, was digging her, talked to her for a little bit, but she kept giving him the cold shoulder.

When it was time for him to go, he went over to her and asked her for her number.

No thank you. I don’t think that would be a good idea.

Well, how about I give you my number.  So if you want to talk, or go out for a drink or get something to eat, just call me.

Ok. But I probably won’t.

She thought he was too hood, dressed in baggy jeans and a T-shirt with earrings in his ears, hanging out with her notorious cousin Marc.
He thought she was just the type of woman he liked, intelligent and witty with  ‘a lil bitty waist and a biggo booty’.

A couple of weeks went by and she never called him.

He ended up going to a party at Club 20 Grand with Marc. Turns out the party was for one of Tameesha’s sisters Coco. This time Curvey was dressed a bit more dapper. Everybody was taking pictures that night and somehow they got circulated around in the days after and Tameesha saw something different in Curvey in the pictures..and she called him.

They decided to go to Red Lobster for dinner.

In Curvey’s mind, Red Lobster is not a place where you need to get dressed up.  So he didn’t. He was casual and comfortable.

When Tameesha came out she was dressed to impress. 

But once she saw the original ‘hood’ Curvey, it was almost like her smile disappeared. The date didn’t get off to a good start. She got attitude.

After they ate dinner and was leaving the restaurant, Tameesha commented that it had gotten cool outside and she didn’t have a jacket.

Curvey didn’t have a jacket either, but trying to do the next best thing he embraced her from behind wrapping his arms around her in an effort to warm her.

Tameesha quickly stiffened and put distance between them..

Do you really think that is appropriate?

She thought he was trying to hunch her booty on the cool.

Curvey stammered and stuttered…shocked and embarrassed that she had misread him that way.
But by then, he knew that he was getting an F.
They had a couple of phone conversations a  few times after that date, and they talked cordially, but they never went out again.
They ran into each other again at a Thanksgiving party and Tameesha invited him to her house party the following week.
He was actually surprised that she invited him, but eager to see if things could develop.

At the party Tameesha was the perfect hostess. Entertaining guests, making sure everyone was comfortable and then coming back to talk to Curvey. She was giving him her special attention. So much so that as he sat on the barstool, she stood close to him between his legs talking to him.
Something happened in the party that caused a ruckus that Tameesha had to excuse herself from Curvey and go handle. It involved 2 other women (relatives of Tameesha) and when she got involved no punches were thrown, but furniture was being moved around.
The next thing Curvey knows, Tameesha turned off the music and showed her military background, ‘Everybody get the fuck out my house!!”

People started moving out the door and Curvey got in line to file out too, until Tameesha stopped him…Not you! You just sit down right over there and wait for me.

Curvey ended up staying over that night and they literally talked all night..just talked. From then on they were in daily communication with each other.

Either she’d come up to the barbershop and wait for him to get off, or he’d be at her house waiting for her to get off so that they could go get something to eat together. Every day.

He didn’t hide anything from her.

She knew he had been locked up for over 7.5 years on an attempted murder charge (firing into an occupied vehicle). She knew he was married but separated from his wife, living in his own house. She knew he had a 1 year old daughter from a woman that he was not emotionally attached to.

Tameesha wasn’t just a registered nurse, she was an assistant manager of a crew of 40 nurses in the surgical oncology department. She was also in school pursuing another degree and she sold Mary Kay.

They fulfilled parts of each other’s lives at a time when they both needed each other.

And so the romance of Tameesha and Curvey begin to grow and flourish, until their fairy tale was intruded upon by some demons from Curvey’s past that showed back up.

Curvey’s prison stint was for attempted murder. His claim was always that it was self defense..”They were trying to shoot me!!”

The twist is that when he caught the charge, he had just gotten his ankle monitor off for a dope case. Caught with a quarter ounce of hard during a traffic stop, just a few blocks from the hotel room they were trapping at.

So it wasn’t like he was an innocent square trying to defend himself when he caught his case, Curvey was a dope boy and everybody knew it.

He went into TDC September 1993 and he got out in February 2001.

Right after he got out, he got his barber’s license and he took over his grandfather’s barbershop on the corner of Scott and Reed Rd. behind T.P. Seafood.

He was doing good too, for awhile.

But once he started going through marital issues and then the surprise new baby (yes the blood test did verify his paternity) , the vise started tightening.

He needed cash, for lawyers, to help with his mother and sister, to run his shop, to take care of his daughter, he needed more money than what the barbershop was giving him.

He applied for different jobs that he could work in addition to his barbershop but  those 2 felony convictions caused many conversations to stop abruptly.

A dope case and an aggravated case? I’m sorry Mr. Curvey…

A dude from his past life selling drugs showed up  at the barbershop one day.

He had some dudes from out of town that they could hit a lick with..real and out.
He knew Curvey’s name and connections were still good on the street…we need 5 thangs.

Curvey politely refused him.

I’m not in that life no more bro.

Think about it Curvey. Or at least hook me up with your connect who got it.

Curvey knew the street code.

That song ‘No new friends’ by Drake is a dope boy favorite.

But since this was a dude Curvey had done business with several times before he got locked up, he had a different level of trust than he would have with some brand new dude.

The dude kept showing up every few weeks, constantly prodding…”You ready? Let’s make this money!”
Curvey was in a spot where you trying to keep the lights on, keep your car from getting repossessed and buying milk and diapers. Alright. I’m down. When and where?

The deal was for 2 bricks up front, get paid..then come back and get 3 more.

When he met the dude in the parking lot of Sam’s near the Astrodome, the dude got in Curvey’s truck and simply asked him, ‘Are you ready?”

Curvey nodded his head.

Next thing you know, the dude slid out of the passenger door and Curvey had under covers descend on him with guns drawn.

Get your motherfucking hands up in the air!!

They searched his truck and found 2 bricks.

They put him in the back of the police car and started showing him pictures.

They had been following him all day.

They had pictures from when he left his house that morning, from him opening up his barbershop, of him going to the spot to pick up the 2 bricks..leaving the spot.

This dude had set him up the whole time.

You already know what we want help us and we help you. Who gave you the dope?

Mane…you know I can’t tell you that. That’s a death sentence.

This was a very tense time for Curvey and everybody who was close to him. Of course people start mumbling and whispering. The streets start talking….

Curvey snitched out err body!

He took the police back to the hood and pointed out everybody he knew that sell dope.

One thing everybody knows, is that when people snitch, somebody else goes to jail. That didn’t happen with Curvey’s case and it’s public record.

The sad part is what it did to Tameesha.

She had no idea he was back at it.

When he didn’t answer his phone all day and then she found out that his barbershop door was unlocked and nobody was in the shop, she started doing her own investigation.

She was at the police station before he even made a phone call.

When he came out to talk to her, he could tell she had been crying…

What did you do?

I got setup selling 2 bricks.

What? (she was crestfallen and confused) Why?? You were that in need of money? You didn’t even ask me to help you??

Curvey went into the whole manhood, want to take care of things for himself instead of depending on others speech, but sitting there looking at the woman he loved hurt and crying over something that he did…he felt like a complete idiot.

Tameesha just kept it 100 as she always did…

Curvey..I’ve never been in any type of situation like this before and I’m not sure what I’m even supposed to do at this point. I need some time to think.

But from that day forward, every visiting opportunity she had to see him in the county, or when they shipped him out to Beaumont, then Rosharon, then Bryan, she was always there to see him. She was committed.

Curvey was represented by Troy Pradia  of Cox and Pradia Law Firm. After the discovery of evidence and all the dealings of the un-named [Informant] was revealed, it was obvious that they weren’t even out to get Curvey, they wanted the connect that Curvey had. At the plea bargain table, there were words of entrapment sullied about, but he ended up reaching an agreement. As much as some may call Curvey a dummy for going down that dope road again, at least he was smart enough not to have a pistol on him at the time of the arrest.  And nobody from the hood went to jail after that except for Curvey and the unnamed [Informant].

Curvey told me that the first time he was locked up for over 7 years, he found the Lord. But this last bid he did, he said he realized the importance of walking with Him every day.

I got to know Tameesha a lot better when we used to ride together to go visit Curvey on weekends. I misread her initially, I knew she was smart, but I thought she was quiet.

Riding an hour and a half each way to see Curvey, Tameesha would talk nonstop the whole time. You don’t have to worry about falling asleep at the wheel with Tameesha in the passenger seat. She talked about growing up in Houston, her time in the Navy, living in California, Hawaii and Maryland.  Her time going to school at PV.  Her job.  Her family.  Mary Kay. Curvey. 

One time I made the mistake and recalled a time of going to visit Curvey with her, but it was actually a trip I had made with Curvey’s mother.

Wait…what? That wasn’t me. I didn’t go with you that time. Have you been taking some other bitch to see Curvey?? One of his groupies??

She caught me off guard. I started stuttering and stammering like I had been cheating on her.

I had to calm her down and assure her that the ONLY people I had gone to see Curvey with was her, his mother or his brother.

Tameesha was a trip.

But she tripped me out the most on one of our visits not long before Curvey got out.

We were on Highway 6 headed to Bryan to visit Curvey and she casually told me, “I’ve been diagnosed with this form of cancer that they may not be able to treat.”

The way she said it, she could have been talking about the weather or what shirt she was going to wear the next day.

I had to literally pull the car over and stop and look at her and ask her to repeat what she just said so I could make sure I was understanding the words coming out of her mouth.

Ovarian cancer.

She had already told Curvey about it.

With the grim news of the low survival rate, she even told him she understood if he broke off the relationship and found someone else.

Curvey just looked at her and said, “I’m with you because I love you. That doesn’t change no matter what any doctor says. And who knows what God’s will is? God has the final say.”

Curvey got out in October 2011 and Tameesha was the one right there waiting for him when he walked out the gate.

They picked up right where they left off and where with each other every day.

They got married in March 2012. I was the best man at their wedding.
I knew this one was different than his first, because the first time he got married, we went out partying every night for a whole week. It culminated with Curvey being surrounded by a stage full of strippers smiling like a Cheshire cat. I’d show pictures if there were any…NO PICTURES that week.
But when he told me that him and Tameesha were getting married, I asked him if he wanted to round up the crew and go out. He just smiled and said, “Naw, I’m cool.”
When they exchanged their vows at Blueridge Baptist Church, you could tell they were both happy.
Nothing elaborate, just a short sweet ceremony with close family and friends officiated by Rev. Mary Paige.

He was getting back on his feet with his barber business, she was full steam ahead in her nursing career, school and Mary Kay business. They were very happy together and good friends with each other.

But then Tameesha started having to have surgeries and treatments for her condition. And there were times she would get better and blood count numbers would look good. But then there were times when she would tire easily and just have to lie down. But through it all she kept on working.
Even after she had to get the colonoscopy bag, she kept on working.

Until January 2015 when her oncologist told her that they had done everything they could for her but the cancer was still there. There was nothing else they could do. They sent her home on hospice care with an estimated 3 months left.

This is really the time when I got to know more about Tameesha’s family.

Tameesha’s birthday is in February and they threw her one of the biggest house parties I’ve ever seen.
Cars were lined up on both sides of the street around the corner.
The house was full, the garage was full and most of the driveway was full of people.
People who loved Tameesha Curvey coming to celebrate her birthday.
You never know what to say to someone who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
On one hand, we’re all technically ‘terminal’..we’re all going to die one day.
But having a time frame put on you…that’s a whole different animal.
And the way Tameesha carried herself is a testament to her strong spirit.
There was a time when I came to see her and she told me that she was having trouble sleeping. She’d sleep for a few minutes then wake back up because as she told me, ‘I started thinking I might not wake up.”

I prayed for Tameesha to be completely healed as well, but as God’s will unveiled, I also made sure to pray that God grant Tameesha the ‘peace that passes all understanding.” Philippians 4:7

People who are close to Curvey know that he may have a learning deficiency, but he is in no way form or fashion Biblical ignorant. He may not be able to recite every chapter and verse, but from Creation to God’s plan of Salvation, I’ve seen Curvey open that Book up to many dudes in the hood.

From the time Tameesha was first diagnosed I knew Curvey was praying for her. Praying for her to be healed, praying for her to not be in pain. There’s a lot of commitment required to taking care of someone who is terminally ill. But as a Believer, we learn that our will and God’s will is not always the same thing.

Tameesha was blessed to have a family structure to help support her during this time. Her mother, her father, her sisters, aunts, cousins, brothers, nieces, everybody chipped in helping with her care.

But on his off days and everyday when he got off of work, it was Tameesha and Curvey.

She’d come out to the garage and sit down next to Curvey if we were out there playing dominoes or just talking. Sometimes they’d both be bundled up on the couch watching TV touching toes together. In the last days she had grown so weak that she had to have someone help her eat in the bed.

He’d administer her medicine, change her bag, keep her clean, feed her, talk to her, sleep next to her and all the while getting up going to work every day. And at work, if you didn’t know his situation, you would have no idea what was going on at his home with the one person closest to his heart.

The peace that passes all understanding.

Tameesha passed away on Valentine’s day officially, but Curvey knew something different was happening 2 days before. She was saying things that didn’t make any sense, which is very unlike the woman her brother refers to as ‘The Brain’.

In the last days, Tameesha told her mother that she wasn’t afraid..but she was kind of nervous. 


But of all the questions of the afterlife and what must one do to be saved, she had shared something with me almost a year earlier.

D…I’ve been sleeping a lot better now. I’ve finally got it.

Got what?

Faith. It’s all about faith in the Lord.

Tears started welling up in my eyes.

Before she passed Tameesha made Curvey promise her 2 things.

Not to get into any more trouble.

And to take care of their daughter.

“I know those groupies are going to be after him when I’m gone, I just hope he handles himself appropriately.”

42 years isn’t a long time, but it’s longer than some others have on this Earth. In high school one of my English teachers made us read this book called, ‘Death Be Not Proud’. It was about a young boy dealing with brain cancer. He never gave up. The cancer took his life but it did not take his spirit. That’s how I will always remember Tameesha, the cancer may have taken her body, but it could never fade her spirit.

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