Friday, May 7, 2010

The Million Dollar Park

It is funny how a single object could bring back such vivid memories. I was driving home from work today and I passed "The Million Dollar Park" which is sort of like an inside joke to my family. The park is actually named Nicholas Lia Memorial Park and is located in Staten Island, NY (one of NYC's boroughs).

My brother, Gilbert Orlando Gadson II, has always been in trouble. At the age of two, he drank my hair dye. Yes, I said hair dye. At the age of five, he stole donuts from his kindergarten teacher. That is another post altogether. At the age of 14, he had been suspended from school so many times, we thought he was going to be home-schooled. Gilbert was the sort of kid that got into trouble but you just couldn't help but love him. He had such a kind heart. If anyone in the family needed him, he was there.

But I digress . . . Gilbert was about 13 or 14 years old when I lived in my aunt's house. I lived in the upstairs rooms (two bedrooms and a bathroom) and my aunt had the downstairs rooms (three bedrooms, bathroom, living room and kitchen). One week, my aunt noticed that she had twenty dollars missing. The following week, my uncle noticed that he had money missing. The third week, I was missing money. We knew that there was a thief in the house but we just didn't know who it could possibly be.

One day, shortly after I was missing money, my cousin tells my aunt that he saw Gilbert with money. My cousin asked Gilbert, "Where did you get the money?" Gilbert replied,"In the park. It was on the sidewalk near the grass." My cousin, being curious, followed Gilbert. He said that Gilbert dug up the soil near the bushes in the park and "found" several twenty dollar bills. My cousin then proceeded in telling my aunt and myself. We confronted Gilbert and with an Academy Award nomination, he cried tears and professed that he did not take our money. He adamantly stated that he found the money. This was our reply, " So what now you're finding money in million dollar parks. Where is this park? I need some money right now." Hence, the park's name.

Now that I reflect on that gut-wrenching scene, I realize that I would rather have my brother here and stealing from me than gone resting in an urn in my sister's home.

I love you, hermanito.


  1. Hi there, just dropped by to say thanks for becoming a follower and entering my giveaway! Where did you come from?? I looked at your profile and don't recognize anybody...Just curious...You look like you have an interesting life...I hope your brother is cool now...!!

  2. Chary, you always make me cry when you talke about Gilbert. Poor kid. I wish he'd been able to find his way out of it. And those million dollar parks are poignant reminders, I'm sure.

  3. Hi Chary - the tartlett sent me over and I'm glad she did. I'm sorry about Gilbert and it sounds like he filled up his short life full. You keep him sweet in your heart and that's a very good thing.

  4. Hi Chary-
    I just passed your blog and wanted to comment. This piece is very powerful. I've had similar experiences with a loved one passing away, and it's strange how different interactions, places, or things can bring you back to memories that might now have crossed your mind in a while. Looking forward to hearing more of your experiences working in the Bronx.

  5. The last time I tried to leave a comment here, I got kicked off a couple of times :-(

    But today, I will keep trying because I have something for you on my blog.

  6. @ Beatnheart1- I grew up in the Bronx (NYC) but now live on Staten Island. Unfortunately, my brother has passed away. It's been three years now but I still miss him terribly.

    @ Watery Tart- Sorry for making you cry, girl. Gilbert just always seemed to dive into trouble head first. He was one of those who didn't really think of consequences when acting. So many of my students are like that.

    @ Jan Morrison- He really did fill up his short life with so much activity. He was a performer, a hairstylist, child care provider and so much more. Sometimes I wonder, had he lived what would he have become?

    @ Priya Shankar- Yes, when passing this park, as I have done so many times on my way home from work, I really didn't expect this reaction. Some days I can cope better than others.

    @Rayna M. Iyer- I must go check out your blog then! :D

  7. Chary I don't know If you remember me but I'm Tasliym "Tassy" gils bestfriend and I'm devastated that we haven't kept in touch since his passing... You guys included me like family with his funeral appeasements & I appreciate you guys for that! I really hope you get this....mmuah love you guys ^_^

  8. Hi Tassy,

    Yes, I remember you. I will always remember you. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I know that sometimes my posts about Gilbert can be a bit sad, but they help me with his passing. Also, he had some really funny stories that I have yet to share. It's my way of always remembering him.

    <3 <3 <3 You too!