Monday, November 11, 2013



To many this has only one meaning but to me it has broad and eventful consequences. So many of us forget to ask, afraid of what we might hear and of course we never tell for fear of ridicule.

When was the last time you asked your wife, child, neighbor, friend or co-worker how they were and really meant it? Many of us have little or no idea what needs may be silently begged for and yet go unheard. Do we know what makes all those in and around our lives tick, smile, or fear? No, that’s the answer.

Wives become that woman who does, but inside may have a siren screaming for attention that goes unnoticed. It can be so simple, a warm meaningful hug could be all that is needed and yet missed.

Children grow up so fast, they are known to form their own ideas, most of which remain known only to them. Children fear being made fun of or laughed at. They are, after all, just children. What do they know?

Neighbors are those people who live next door or down the block. You wave or smile at neighbors but have little in common with them. Going out of your way can be painful. Can you remember the last time you asked a neighbor how they were? Have you ever asked a person living down the block if they needed anything or could use a shoulder to lean on? No, the answer is probably not.

Co-workers are people who fulfill duties, come and go and have little connection with anyone unless they get fired or their time is cut. In anger, we usually find answers to questions we didn't want to ask. For many who hope issues will just go away, their silence is not an easy way to avoid problems. Sadly, in many cases it doesn’t.

So much of our misery could be avoided if we spent a little time to explore things before we dove in and asked a few simple questions that might offend or create an argument. If we asked with sincerity, lives could change, and sad end results could be altered. We don’t ask because we don’t want to take the time required to follow through and do it in an honest and heartfelt way. We are afraid what is heard might take longer to deal with or solve or, God forbid, requires more time and we don’t want to part with our precious time, so ultimately we don’t ask.

It’s a bit scary when you wonder how many men don’t really know their wives or girlfriends. At times, men have no real idea what makes their mates inner engine purr. It takes both men and women years to realize the opposite sex is different inside and out. The discrepancy goes much deeper than sex, sports or leisure activities. The unknown in many cases is deep and even terrifying, and why few dare to explore. Sometimes its just easier to separate than deal with unknown issues that if talked out, questions asked, and secrets shared could alter both lives in unexpected and totally fulfilled ways. Few ask or tell and thats too bad.

Working with children is always a difficult task. Even when best efforts are used it can backfire and make matters worse. Without having an abundance of patience, you can expect failure to raise its ugly head. Few mothers and fathers really get to know their children. The little tykes are babies one minute and teenagers the next. They sprout unexpectedly, grow out of their clothes too fast, and before you know it they suddenly have adult type opinions of things you didn’t even think they knew about. Some children even have to audacity to explore a different faith than yours, disagree with their families in-house politics and change views on just about everything that started within the safety of their initial four walls. Kids can be difficult, moody, argumentative, and even downright ornery. They may use drugs, start smoking, or become loose with their sexuality. Many do this quietly and totally without guidance. Many parents are clueless and shocked when a discovery is made. Some parents are so afraid to hear the reasons for such rebellion they refuse to acknowledge it exists and choose to look the other way.

Have you ever asked why? The answer is basically easy, no one asks questions or listens to answers. Many parents watch from arms length while their children grew up right under their nose. No one dared to quiz or inquire about issues mostly hidden from plain sight. Things we accuse children of doing are for the most part, not in their thoughts but are, for whatever reason, in ours. Had we had enough curiosity to trust, ask important questions and know what our children thought about things it might change everything. To open dialogue is tough for many. Sometimes it takes lots of patience, something we don’t want to part with. Some actually believe it’s easier to avoid asking children uncomfortable questions, and allow things to happen as they do. Again too many wait until their children grow up and become adults. Sadly many do this and in most cases it's too late to make a difference. Kids automatically grow up believing parents are against them and everything they stand for. Some kids don’t have a clue what they stand for, so they follow others. If we expect them to tell us all about it, we’re dreaming.

When things are shared, things we don’t want to hear or deal with are uncomfortable, and become the unthinkable or the disgusting. Shoulders are turned, and ears are tuned into something else. It’s easier to avoid telling others about the feeling when a person sees reluctance in the eyes of their audience. Telling uncomfortable incidences is like sharing secrets. No one really wants to tell them that! What would they think of the teller? So don’t tell lives on. Too many hold those precious moments inside, and refuse to find room in their heads or hearts to store them. They go untold, un-whispered and unmentioned until they overflow and spill out at the most unexpected and inconvenient of times.

Don’t ask, don’t tell has potentially terrible consequences. Most adult problems lead back, and begin early in life. When people hide personal issues, they are usually declared as dirty laundry. Mental stress tends to disintegrate over time, and gradually forms an anxiety that will only get worse with age. It's not a good idea to push the art of asking or telling. A void is created when no one answers questions we may want to ask. It never leaves on its own, sadly it stays in mind and in some cases permeates and gets ugly.

Love is great if you know how to share and give it. Hugs are rewarding if they are meant and given with sincerity. Peace is a creation, a state of mind. We aren’t angry when we're born. We come into life with expectations, and in many cases those are slowly peeled away. Learning and listening are gifts that can be taught early if we know how to teach others how to learn, to listen and the true meaning of love and respect. Honesty and truth are also a state of mind. We watch others lie, cheat and steal and get away with it. Some even become extremely successful doing unto others what they would never do to themselves. It’s hard to turn that around and justify why a youngster should do the opposite and accomplish something right, honest and good.

One way or the other, we, all of us, need to get over it. We need to ask and tell and force others to do the right thing. It may be hard when there is a bias everywhere. People disagree. The news can be one sided. Lies can come from places we once respected. It’s hard to justify why it’s okay for a politician to lie and then later preach the complete opposite. There are laws written badly, decisions made by important people and activated because people were afraid to ask and tell their opinions. We need to stop the practice of believing everything we hear because someone said it was good or okay. We need to question, wonder and insist it be done right.

We need to ask more questions, tell more stories and reach out and seek ideas from those disagreed with. We have forgotten how to compromise, tell the truth and expect others to do the same to us, and we would do to them. We have forgotten how to reach out and help a stranger, listen to a child and hear someone from another culture, nation or ethnic background describe the differences that exist and then work together for ways to improve them. Listening is an art, and we need to learn how to master this art, improve it, and justify what is heard and taught. More importantly we need to find ways to get along, and live with one another in a very complicated world.

William Byron Hillman © 2013
Book Links:
Veronique and Murray:
Zebra’s Rock and Me
Quigley’s Christmas Adventure
In development Veronique and Murray’s Honeymoon

Rollie Kemp Books
Ghosts and Phantoms Part I:
Ghosts and Phantoms Part II:
In editorial – Prematurely Terminated

My next film:
Quigley’s Christmas Adventure

Monday, October 14, 2013



It’s fun, and a significant challenge to put a movie together. The first thing you want to do is decide what kind of movie to make. By that, I mean, an action film, comedy, family venture or violent murder mystery.

I had the pleasure of making all of the above. As a filmmaker, you want to have fun doing what you love, but realize you also have an audience to please. People love movies, kids love them almost on an equal basis, and I love to make them, view and own them.

Of all the films I’ve directed or worked on in some capacity, the most rewarding has come from making family films. I’ve enjoyed every minute on the set, in the planning and after the films were released. I love working with kids, animals and stunt performers. Oh, I like the actors too, they’re just fairly serious where kids are open to try, listen and give from the heart. For the most part, the kids behave. As for the animals, I’ve never met one I didn’t like. I’ve shot with pigs, cows, horses, miniature horses, rabbits, skunks, cats and of course dogs. Dogs are my favorite. We need to add, of course, it helps enormously if you have great trainers to come along with the animals.

As a filmmaker, we depend on receiving residuals for our work. Most of the time you make a good salary when a film is made. After the movie is completed, you wait, and hope to go back to work on another film. In-between the movie jobs, you survive on residuals. A residual is a filmmaker royalty. Honest distribution means you get residuals, and sometimes they come out of the blue. Residuals are always welcomed, and usually occur at times you really need them. Not all filmmakers managed to find steady work. Sporadic income puts importance to reliable reporting and receiving residuals. The additional income from the royalty becomes part of our lives.

A few years ago I was asked to do an independent study on how various films did. I researched my own films along with many other filmmaker projects. I looked at G to R rated motion pictures made at studios and by independents. Some were very successful and others not so. I asked a lot of questions and got a few who reluctantly shared information with me, some refused, and some got mad. The effect was independent films paid better residuals than major studios. I guess you can equate that with a major publisher who dares to take good care of their writers as opposed to self-published books where the writer gets an honest share of all his sales. I was amazed how many so-so films actually made money, returned a profit and paid residuals.

When I separated the superstars from the rest of the crowd, it became an exciting study. You are not part of the majority if you are well paid up front. Most independent filmmakers get by with a very thin wallet, get paid little during production, and then wait for the residuals. Few own a piece of the film and an even fewer number actually make money from their ownership.

I am among many who have received a residual check for one cent. Yes, you read it correctly, $.01, and sadly its happened on more than one occasion. All of these tiny checks came from a major studio and/or network projects. The independent companies I have worked for paid more often, paid better, and thus it became obvious for the reasons most stayed in business. If they treated the filmmaker fairly, he’d most likely bring them another project. If they were cheated or felt they got the short end f the stick, they took their next movie projects elsewhere.

Checking over the rest of a fairly large pool of filmmakers, it became apparent what made money and what didn’t. What films had the longest shelf life and what kind of films disappeared after a few months of their release.

As for long shelf life, the most rewarding films were all family films. Without a doubt, family films were the core breadwinners at the box office. More importantly, nearly all had a G or PG rating. Many of these family films had been around for twenty or thirty years and in some cases much longer than that.

I realized I had the same results when I took a look at all my films. While I have produced and directed R rated projects that did exceedingly well at the box office and later on home video, all have disappeared from distribution after a few years and you can’t find a copy to rent anywhere. People have to search to find older PG-13 or R rated films. The most popular sites to find older films are either eBay or Amazon, and you have to buy them. They were long out of the rental boxes. The G and PG films, on the other hand, are still available at Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, K-Mart, Sears and many other retail outlets.

The G rated films I have produced and directed are still in distribution, and all of them have returned more in residuals than all the other projects I have done combined.

The bottom line when making a movie, think about the audience, your long-term goal, and the story content. Think about what pushes your hot button as the excitement you have in your heart bleeds comfortably into the movie you create. If you’re the writer, your story sparkles when touched by your heartstrings and this can be a thriller, comedy or action adventure.

My passion is not your passion. A movie is not a novel. You don’t have the opportunity to go into detailed development with character or location. You have to get to the point and in most cases do it quickly. The scenes need to flow seamlessly. The characters need to be multidimensional, exciting and alive. They need to feel, hurt and share emotions. The beginning, as one of my mentors preached to me over and over, was to begin with a bang. That’s not to say you need an explosion, a murder or accident. It says the story must have legs the moment it opens. A love story requires feelings, an action piece some excitement, and those who dare to make an adventure should start with one.

Making a movie has many moving parts. It all starts with a script. The story needs to grab the reader and suck him or her into the page and keep them there. You can have rises and tumbles, but you can’t leave the basic story for a second. You have no time for that. It’s a movie, and that means the story moves with lightening speed from one minute to the next. In the end, you want the audience to feel out of breath, as though they had just run a 10K. You want them to bounce from the theatre wanting more. If they question the plot, is it in a good way? If they missed something, will they come back for a second look?

Once the script is so tight it squeaks, you move on to casting and fund raising. Then comes the crew, special effects, locations and who plans to do what. When that’s over, you look to the editor to save you and use every piece you shot to protect the film and the gaps that suddenly raise their ugly head unexpectedly. You add the magic of sound, mix it together with the dialogue and then create a music score that blows you away. That doesn’t mean loud obnoxious music – it means to piece a score together that makes every scene in your film dance.

In the end, you screen your masterpiece and hope the audience loves it. Right after the screen opens you’ll know from their reaction. You might hear an “Awe” or a “gasp”. People breathe, take deep breaths or move closer to the screen. It’s a great experience to sit in the back of the theatre and watch reactions.

There is nothing that can duplicate the feeling of watching your movie come to life in front of an audience that loves what they see. There is madness to making a movie, loving the process and enjoying the outcome. Thus, the reason I make movies. I enjoy writing the script, arguing over words, scenes and characters. I thrill with producing and bringing all the moving parts together, and lastly I thoroughly become engrossed in directing and bringing all the selected pieces into one finely tuned event – a movie.

Making a movie is like the construction business only ten times more thrilling. If you buy a lot and build a building – that’s it. You can rent it, occupy it or sell it. In the end, it’s just a building.  When you make a movie, it breathes, moves, lives and lasts a lifetime. The backer feels a pulse, an accomplishment not felt in any other business. The audience, the press and the thrill of seeing his name on the film reward the backer. If it’s a great film, it will live the way beyond your wildest dreams. It will be talked about, written about, reviewed, screened and travel the world.  A building sits and gets old and out of date, but a movie lives on and a great film can survive in perpetuity.

William Byron Hillman © 2013
Book Links:
Veronique and Murray:
Zebra’s Rock and Me
Quigley’s Christmas Adventure

Rollie Kemp Books
Ghosts and Phantoms Part I:
Ghosts and Phantoms Part II:
My next film:
Quigley’s Christmas Adventure
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Wednesday, August 21, 2013



On my tenth birthday, I stood five feet two inches. I was short, and some called me a runt. Over the summer, I began to sprout. I grew out of everything so fast my parents thought I might be an anomaly. I was taken to several doctors, but they found nothing wrong.
My feet stopped growing first. Size eleven and a half. I hated looking down and thought I was wearing violin cases instead of shoes. My schoolmates made fun of my big feet, and I didn’t want to go back to school.
When my eleventh birthday rolled around, my foot size was no longer an issue. I had grown into a human tree. I stood six feet five inches in my bare feet. I towered over everyone in my family. At school, I was the tallest person in the building. No teacher, student or janitorial personnel measured in over six feet. Only the strongest of friends hung out with me as everyone else got out of my way when I came close. It was as though I had a disease, something catching and dastardly that would surely kill anyone who dared rub up against me or touch something I had already touched.
Then, as miraculously as it had started, it all stopped. My shoe size was twelve, and my height was six feet five inches. I was skinny, awkward, clumsy, and never met an object I couldn’t avoid bashing into. I didn’t know what dexterity meant, but I didn’t have any.
I was the epitome of a geek. It wasn’t that I was a nerd because I didn’t even fit in with that crowd. I was just that big guy. I was too tall to be anything, and that became lonely.
For over a year, I tried to be shorter. I bent over, walked weirdly and tried to be small and unnoticed. Nothing worked.
It was a Saturday morning when my grandpa walked into the backyard. The kid down the block had made fun of me, and I chose to feel sorry about everything. The wrath of life had fallen upon my twelve year old shoulders. Grandpa sat next to me. He said nothing, so I remained quiet.
“So?” I’ll never forget the touch of sarcasm he had in his voice.
“So what?”
“Yeah, why are you pouting like a baby?” Grandpa had a way with words.
“Awful big baby,” I mumbled.
“You’re right, you are unbelievably large. So why is the giant baby pouting?”
“I’m not.” I was equally bullheaded and stubborn.
“So why are you pouting?”
“I’m the tallest person in my school. Everybody makes fun of me.” Grandpa didn’t mind if I shed a tear like my dad did, but I had to have a sound reason to spill tears. I fought the tears back.
“You’re a freak, so get over it.” He wasn’t even looking at me when those words came from his mouth. He watched an old truck drive down the alley. “It’s too bad. Actually your getting so tall is downright sad. I don’t know what you can do with your life now that it’s over.”
“What am I going to do?” It was pathetic how sorry I suddenly felt about being as tall as I was.
Grandpa stood up so abruptly it startled me. “You’re going to come with me right now.”
I stood quite reluctantly as he grabbed under my arm and pulled me to follow. We were suddenly in a big hurry and grandpa was much stronger than I thought. I was on my way to something terrible, and he was dragging me to hurry and stay with him. “Where are we going?”
We took a bus ride to downtown Denver and got off on 16th Street, right in front of Daniels and Fisher department store. I had been to the building many times to see the Christmas decorations in their window displays, and to roam with gramps through the tallest building in Denver. This day, however, wasn’t a holiday or special occasion. Every time I looked up at the clock tower 20 stories up, it made me dizzy.
“C’mon,” my grandpa said and pulled me into the building. We walked down a hallway where a room had been cleared out. A small sign was posted on a pole. When we got close enough to read it, I wanted to run off. The sign stated: “TALL MAN’S CONTEST.”
“I’m not going in there.” I nearly shouted, causing others to look at me. I tried to shrink down and pretend I was shorter.
“Yes you are,” grandpa said firmly. He grabbed my arm and tugged me into the room. “Let’s see what kind of a freak you really are.”
“No!” I was near tears being humiliated by the man I loved. He was about to embarrass me in the worse way possible.
“There is no way out now, bucko.” He was very strong and with little effort dragged me into the room.
A woman stopped our momentum. “Has he been measured?” She said in a kindly voice.
“No,” my grandpa answered. “He’s probably too tall. He thinks he’s a freak. Will the measurement really embarrass him?”
“Well,” the woman said as she studied me from head to toe, “it probably will.”
“Then we can leave, right grandpa?”
“No, I think you should be measured. Tall freaks like you need to know the truth.”
“Why are you doing this to me?” I asked.
Grandpa turned back to the woman and smiled. She nodded as if she knew what he was asking without asking it.
“What is your name?” She asked me in that kind voice of hers.
“Billy,” I answered
“Come, Billy.” She took my hand. “Let’s see if you will qualify.”
Qualify? I wanted to shout, but it was too late. She led me into this small entryway where two poles were attached to a third forming an archway.
“What do you want me to do?” I asked.
“Let’s see if you can walk beneath the bar without hitting your head.”
I froze, and then grandpa pushed me. I moved forward, and my forehead touched the bar. I missed going under it by only an inch.
“You see?” I shouted angrily. “I’m too tall.”
The kindly woman laughed. I was humiliated. “No, you passed.” She looked at grandpa, and her smile actually grew. “You were right,” she said to him.
“I knew it,” grandpa said while looking at me.
“What’s all the shouting about, Mrs. Walker?” A powerful, deep male voice said from behind us. I was the first one to turn around and found I was looking into a man’s chest. My eyes drifted up as though I was peering up at the clock tower outside. The man was the biggest, tallest human being I had ever seen.
“This is Billy. I’m afraid he thinks he has grown to tall and has become a freak.”
“Really?” The tall man said. “Can he walk beneath the bar?”
“No,” the woman answered while still smiling. “His forehead touched the bar.”
“That’s excellent,” the tall man said loudly. He held out his hand to me. “My name is George, Billy, and before your arrival I was the shortest man in the room.”
“Shortest?” I repeated.
“Come with me,” George said and led grandpa and me into the huge room full of people, men and women. They were all taller than George and towered over me. I suddenly became the shortest person in the room. It was an amazing nanosecond to have the fear and anxiety lifted from my shoulders. Free from the weight of being intimidated, and then a feeling of safety engulfed me, and it was unbelievable to experience such relief. I found my body stretching taller, my neck straightening and the curve in my back disappearing. It was exhilarating. There were lots of people taller than I was.
While the experience was fantastic and what grandpa did was beyond anything I could have ever asked him to do, it didn’t totally cure the gawking I continued to receive over the following years. What it did do was give me a sense of pride, and I no longer felt inferior or out of place. As an adult, whenever my wife and I went out, people continued to stare.
Over the years, going here and there I would see another tall person. We always seemed to recognize our predicament being members in good standing, in the “tall club,” and did so with a look or nod. We were different, and most were proud of it.
In 1970, we planned a trip to Las Vegas. We attended the usual shows, played a few games, and then ended up in a place I always tried to avoid – a club with a dance floor. My wife loved to dance and back home we went out often. I always tried to pick clubs where I wouldn’t know anyone. In Denver that was hard to do, but in Los Angeles it was easy.
We sat and watched people dance. My wife wanted to join in, but once again that ugly old Mr. Embarrassment raised his head.
“I’m too tall, honey,” I said. “My head will stick out like a sore thumb.”
“If you go, I’ll go.” The man’s voice came from the table behind us.
We both turned and found Wilt Chamberlain, the basketball super star, and his pretty date sitting at the table behind us. The pretty date also wanted to dance, but Wilt didn’t.
“You feel as I do on the dance floor?” I asked.
“Worse. Listen, if you’re game enough to go down to the dance floor and wiggle your body, I’ll be right next to you.”
We introduced ourselves, chatted a few minutes and then got out on the dance floor. It was amazing. The feeling of standing out in a crowd disappeared. We stayed out on the dance floor, and side by side with, Wilt Chamberlain we danced half the night away.
Whenever we attended a Los Angeles Laker game, I always said hello to my Las Vegas dance partner. It always created a laugh and another shared story with one of his teammates.
Looking back, regardless of the type of person you are or where you’re from there are always little minions who dance and play with our brains. Everyone has little fears and most are able to hide them from others. On occasion, these little episodes expose the vulnerability we all have or the weakness we believe we possess. It only takes one great moment to put it all behind you. As Wilt and I discussed, it was silly to allow the kind of dance embarrassment we both felt when the chance of ever seeing anyone from that club again in our lifetime was minuscule. That alone gave us both a good laugh. We knew it was true, just hard to get over.
Since that night, my height has never been an issue or embarrassment. It was a little cure of something I grew up with, a form of being bullied for something totally out of my control. It was a nice weight to have been lifted from my shoulders. I wish everyone could be freed from the inhibitions that hound us all, and live freely without humiliation or being intimidated.

William Byron Hillman © 2013
Book Links:
Veronique and Murray:
Zebra’s Rock and Me
Quigley’s Christmas Adventure

Rollie Kemp Books
Ghosts and Phantoms Part I:
Ghosts and Phantoms Part II:
Bad Rap:

Sunday, July 14, 2013



A few years back, more than I want to remember, I was born and grew up on the South side of Chicago. It was an interesting neighborhood as people came from all over the world and settled here because they couldn’t afford something better.
My childhood best friend was Georgie, my next-door neighbor. We did everything together and equally got in trouble on the same equal basis. We were kids. Boys like to play in mud and coal, not to mention the fun it is to walk in the rain. Everyone knew Georgie, and I were boys just like all the other boys in the neighborhood. We never thought about getting dirty or watching the horrified looks of our parents when they barely could see the white in our eyes or the teeth when we smiled. We talked about our getting spanked and how our parents or grandparents were so serious about everything. Like I said, we were kids.
My aunt Minnie was a cook. She was very good but didn’t make much money. Rich people had Minnie cook special dinners for them, and she always brought home the leftovers for us to feast on. Georgie’s grandma and my aunt were best friends, so Aunt Minnie always made sure there was enough leftover food to share. When we had these special meals, Georgie family had what we had. It was just the natural thing to do. Sometimes we would all talk and eat together. Those were cool times. Georgie’s mom and dad worked all the time like my dad, so there were times it was just my grandpa, Aunt Minnie, Georgie’s grandma and us kids. Sometimes, when it was possible for my mom, she would join us. It was fun how we all laughed and had so much fun.
A man who lived down the street was a junk man. I’m not sure what he did, but he sure had a lot of junk that he collected from people who didn’t want it anymore. One day he gave Georgie and me pup tents. We each got one because we liked to help him carry stuff into his house and he couldn’t pay us, so the tents were like getting paid. We put the tents in the backyard, took turns sleeping in each other’s backyard and loved to watch the stars and the strange formations of the night clouds when they drifted above us.
I remember asking Georgie why his skin was so different from mine. He told me he didn’t know that God probably made us different so he could tell the difference between us. Georgie’s skin was like chocolate and mine like milk. I never heard anyone say why there was a difference in our skin. Georgie and I wondered why we weren't told us about skin colors or why they didn’t match. We assumed it didn't make any difference. He was Georgie, and I was Billy, and we were best friends. His mom and dad were like my mom and dad. His grandpa and mine were best friends too, and seemed to talk and laugh about the dumbest things.
Those were some of the best times in my life.
When Georgie’s grandfather fell down, we thought he’d just get back up. He didn’t get back up. In fact, he never got up at all. I was young and didn’t know about people dying or what it meant. They brought Georgie’s grandpa home and put the casket in their living room. Neighbors came to pay their respects. Georgie and I kept thinking everything would be okay. We watched to see if his grandpa would get up, and crawl out of the box he was in.  We didn’t understand why his grandma and all the other people in the house were crying so much.
The Minister came to the house and said some prayers. Everyone was sad.
Georgie’s grandma reached out with her soft callused had and whispered to me. “Billy, hold my hand.” At the time, her hand was much larger than mine, but it was so warm and comforting I didn’t want to let go. We all gathered around the casket, heads bowed and the Minister starting talking about Georgie’s grandpa. He talked about how hard he worked, and badly he would be missed. When he finished, Georgie’s grandma continued to hold our hands. She led us to the couch where we sat. She wrapped her arms around both Georgie and me and after a while asked if we wanted to say goodbye to his grandpa.
I remember asking, “Where is he going?”
With tears streaming down her cheeks, she answered in the softest of voices, “To Heaven.”
“Is it a long trip?” I asked.
“No,” she whispered, “but he won’t be coming back. He’ll be with God.”
I looked at Georgie and he started crying, so I cried along with him. I looked back at his grandma and wiped the tears away with the back of my hand. “I think we should say goodbye.”
Georgie’s grandma stood and reached out with both hands. “Come, hold my hand boys and we’ll all go and say goodbye.”
Hold her hand we did. We said goodbye to Georgie’s grandpa and she let me touch his cheek. When I was younger I used to touch his cheek when I sat on his lap. He always laughed when I touched his cheeks, and I wanted him to laugh again, but he didn’t. When I whispered goodbye it felt strange, and for the first time in my life I understood what death meant I would never see him again. It broke my heart like it did Georgie’s and his grandma. We all cried together.
Not long after that everything changed in my life. We moved away from Chicago and although Georgie, and I promised we would never lose touch, we did. It was out of our hands, and we were too young to be able to honor the commitment. His family also moved, and we had no idea where they went. My family settled in Denver Colorado and soon after that I learned quite a lot about how different everyone thought about each other.
Throughout my adulthood, I have honored the life I have been given and treated it as a gift. I come from that old school my grandpa taught me. He said it over and over if you reach out others would do the same back to you.  One helping hand can change a life, an attitude and the workplace.
In a way, the life of an innocent child had it right. Georgie wasn’t the black boy who lived next door; he was Georgie my best friend. Today I have neighbors with different colored skin, and they all have names. The color of their skin means nothing, and if any of us need help the whole neighborhood would be there to help.
Too many years have gone by to remember their last names, but Georgie’s grandma taught me a lesson I have never forgotten. Hold My Hand and I will show you the way. Hold my hand for there is a better way and I’d like to show it to you.
We have a strange hate in the world, in our country and sadly in many neighborhoods. We have become a country divided and yet we’re all the same inside. Our skin color may be different, but our minds are equal in every way possible. He all hurt, feel pain, understand loss, and cry when things get out of hand or become an overwhelming burden to the body.
Many of my personal friends have been people of color, and each and every one of them had or has names just like I do. I am Bill, and they are Charles, Jim, Nan, Minnie, John and Pam. They are and have been welcomed in my home, my car and at my table. If given the chance, we laugh about the same things, shop on equal terms and even enjoy entertainment on the same level albeit auto racing, football, basketball, baseball, skiing, swimming and on and on.
So what happened? Why hasn't such an ugly division been done away with a long time ago? We can look back in history, but history has created enemies everywhere and most of the time color had nothing to do with it. Yes, slavery makes me sick to my stomach just knowing it happened. Thankfully it was a long time ago, and most have moved on. Many have not, and that’s their problem, and it needs to be dealt with. If we look at history, we’ve had wars, bad things have been happening for centuries and yet we have managed to move society into the 21st century. It’s time to move on, to put all the ugly where it belongs, in the past. May it be buried once and forever?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. When a child is born, he or she comes into the world a bundle of joy. All babies are happy, content and know nothing of hate or anger.
Traits are taught and learned. If you live with kindness in your heart, everyone around you will grow and feel the same. There will always be danger and evil regardless of how we prepare for it, bad does happen. I look at it the other way. Good happens to. For every rotten apple, there are thousands of good ones. If we teach to love, honor and respect one another regardless of how people look, or the variations some have with their bodies, love will prevail. Love is a powerful thing. Georgie’s grandma taught me how to hug and hold hands, and I will always be grateful for the love she shared with a little boy named Billy.
It’s time to hold my hand and the hand of others. It’s time to feel the warmth of a friendly hand and pay forward not look in the rearview mirror. We can always find a reason to be angry, to start a fight, to use a weapon, to speak hateful things, but if and when we all stop and take a good look at the options, they look pretty good. We can do this thing called life and do it well. God is among us all, and if we move together instead of apart we can change things, and make our world a place of joy and happiness. As I often tell my friends, a smile goes a long way. Tell a stranger to hold your hand and then help when assistance is needed. There is nothing like helping a stranger feel welcomed.

William Byron Hillman © 2013
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Quigley’s Christmas Adventure

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