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Rant #251
(published November 3, 2005)
A True Rosa Parks Story, From My Mom
by Morgan Johnson
This is true.

My mom worked as a nurse for twenty years at Harper-Grace hospital in downtown Detroit. For most of those years she worked in the Hospice ward, tending to the old and infirm and terminal.

Many of her patients were religious. And many of them belonged to Rosa Parks' church. And every time one of Rosa Parks' fellow church-goers was in the hospital, she'd come and visit them. She'd come in and chat and bring flowers and just generally behave like a very, very good person.

So my mom saw her around the Hospice ward quite a lot, got used to seeing her in fact.

Harper-Grace hospital is affiliated with Wayne State University's med school. Students frequently serve their internships and residencies there.

Well one day my mom is making the rounds with a new doctor, a young guy, and they enter a room of a fairly terminal patient. There's this little old lady sitting there, chatting with the patient, too.

My mom says hi to her and the woman gets up to leave. Now my mom knows that the little old lady is Rosa Parks, and so she introduces the doctor to her figuring that it's a pretty cool thing to be able to meet Rosa Parks.

The doctor is totally floored. He stops. He gapes. His mouth opens and closes. Rosa Parks reaches out a hand for a hand shake and the doctor grips it in both of his, pumping up and down very quickly, and stammers, "I . . . I drive on your street all the time!"

Rosa Parks smiles, nods, and leaves the room.

The doctor, horrified at what he's just said, turns to my mom and says, "I mean, I live on Rosa Parks Boulevard. I . . . shit. I just really embarrassed myself, didn't I?"

And my mom just laughed and laughed, and reassured the guy that she probably took it as a sweet comment.

The world is a sadder place now without Rosa Parks in it.

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