Dear Resident

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A Time for Everything

“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up and a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”
– Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 Holy Bible, New International Version

Dear Resident,
It is time. Just as the seasons change, so must we. “For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter.” – Ecclesiastes 8:6.

As I enter the “fall” of my life, there is much that I must do in preparation for the season yet to come. I have been blessed to grow, gather and glean many people, much love and more than I could ever deserve, which includes the pleasure and privilege of addressing you through Dear Resident for the past six years. This, however, will be the last column that I will write. It is with a heavy heart that I leave RJ.

I feel and can only hope that I have conveyed the sense of family that I feel for the men, women and children of our public housing community. I have been here my whole life. I have seen the spring of public housing with newly constructed buildings holding the promise of decent housing for Chicagos poor at long last.

And like the flowers that once grew around each building in beauty and splendor, so did the children and families of our new community grow in the 1950s.

Then Came Summer
The summer of public housing, like the summer of my life, strikes me as the longest season. Public housing began to grow and change rapidly, like crops planted in the spring. Unfortunately, once established, public housing was not given the attention it needed and was left unattended to whither and die.

From the riots of the late ‘60s to the epidemic drug use of the ‘70s, increased gang activity of the ‘80s and decline of morals in the ’90s, public housing has seen the worst of it all.

And with fall comes the “fall” of public housing. I had never realized the similarities in our lives (mine and public housing’s) until now. Like the leaves on a tree change from green to golden red, public housing is changing from high-rise ghettos to low-rise town homes and my hair from black to gray.

Fall is, or should be, a preparation period for those things to come as winter can be most devastating if we’re caught unprepared.

“The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come.”
– Ecclesiastes 9: 11-12.

What Will Winter Bring?
It’s hard to give thought to winter when spring is just outside the window, screaming, “I’m here!” While I have many plans, hopes and dreams, I don’t know that I will see the winter of my life. But obviously, public housing will pass away with its winter.

Many of us who started out together in the spring of public housing are gone and many more will go before the last building falls. And I, just as many who have gone on before me, want to leave those that I love the most important lessons that life has taught me.

There are many things that I want to say but it would take too long and they have all been said before in some shape, form or fashion in previous columns. So I will leave you with the most important: You can’t hurt anyone else without hurting yourself; Never miss an opportunity to help someone else because in some way, you will help yourself; Never let anyone abuse you and don’t abuse yourself; Do what you need to do, when you need to do it (I’m still working on this one); Get and stay physically fit because your body is a temple. It houses your heart, soul and spirit. And most importantly, during all the seasons of your life, seek God, the creator of life.

“Seek the Lord while he may still be found”
– Isaiah 55:6

Thank you all very much for the many kind words, gestures and thoughts that you have shared with me over the years. Take care.

A time to be silent

– Pat

Editor’s Note: We will continue to commission the work of Patricia Johnson-Gordon, a life-long resident of the Cabrini-Green development and author of Dear Resident since Residents’ Journal’s founding in 1996. Look for future articles under her byline as well as under the “Dear Resident” headline.

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