The invisible woman walked into the fast food restaurant. She walked slow. She walked with a cane. She wore a scarf to protect her scarred head from the rain.
She walked in Wednesday at the same time there was talk at a campaign event – just days before Saturday’s Democratic primary. The talk was from Bernie Sanders, and about Hillary Clinton, concerning what both have done, or not, about the poor, and the black. And how too many of those people are “powerless” and “invisible.”
One of those invisible powerless people is real. She came to the restaurant in Rock Hill from another night of sleeping in a chair at a relative’s house. Her 12-year-old son slept in another chair. They have slept in those chairs for months. Their belongings sit in bags next to the chairs.
“I used to have a car, my own home, a life,” said Na’Tarsha Parks, 44. “I worked all my life.”
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She had already raised four kids, and her youngest, Je’Charian, 12, was still at home. She had spent a decade managing a McDonald’s, and doing other jobs, including up to late last year on an assembly line at a Fort Mill packaging plant. She stood there at the end of a long shift processing magazines at the Fort Mill warehouse and fell down in a heap. She was rushed to a hospital.
A bump growing on her head was a tumor underneath the skull, in her brain. The back of her head held an aneurysm. Surgeries and weeks of radiation saved her life, but the price tag even with Medicaid is $70,000 and growing.
“I lost my house; I gave the car back because I knew I couldn’t pay for it,” Parks said. “My son has had to go through this and go to school in the sixth grade and it has hurt. Both of us.”
Before her hospital stay, Parks said she was generous with others, helped people. But now that she has nothing, nothing to offer, Parks said that life of being on the giving end is long gone.
She can’t stand and work. She has applied for disability but hasn’t been approved. She has continued medical treatment and medicine costs and more, and every day Na’Tarsha Parks cries and says: “Why me? I tried my best all my life.”
Na’Tarsha Parks is no political ploy. No candidate of any party has ever met her or asked to meet her. No rich or powerful person knows her name.
Yet as Democratic politicians talk – and last week, Republican politicians rarely if ever mentioned the powerless and the invisible as they railed on about such things as gay marriage, protecting gun rights and making America great again – Parks is a real, live invisible, powerless person.
Her tears are real. A son who makes As and Bs after sleeping in a chair or on the floor is real.
Na’Tarsha Parks takes off her scarf. The scars are a river on her scalp. She could have died – her tumor was so deep, the aneurysm so devastating. But she did not.
Now life seems even worse.
A longtime friend, Sherleen Stewart, has helped all she can while handling her own family and working third shift herself.
“We never thought that Na’Tarsha’s journey after this surgery, after she almost died, that the journey would be so hard, it would take so long,” Stewart said.
A relative set up a GoFundMe page for Parks called “Hope for Natarsha.” Several people have helped her with rides, but she knows staying with good-hearted and generous relatives has to end, and soon. Parks is grateful to all those people who have been good to her and her son and so far kept them from living in the streets.
“My son and I have nowhere to go,” Parks said. “We might end up homeless. It’s like we don’t matter.”
Then Na’Tarsha Parks wrapped her head again in the scarf. She got up and walked slowly out of the restaurant. She had a doctor’s appointment.
Nobody noticed her – a real-life invisible and powerless black person.
Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065
Want to help?
A GoFundMe account called ‘Hope for Natarsha’ has been set up to help Na’Tarsha Parks, who is recovering from a brain tumor and aneurysm. Visit https://www.gofundme.com/gdcqkcte.