Whitney, Brother And Deliverance...

[From New York Newsday]

Whitney, Brother and deliverance - Kati Gray, Columnist

With the episode firmly in the past, Pier Glover Crenshaw can share the story of how her then-cocaine-crazed fiance once tried to squeeze a console television into a taxi.

Item by item, Perry Crenshaw had been pawning what he could of the couple's household goods for drug money and was sweating profusely as he tussled with that 1970s console. A bewildered, polite cabdriver looked on for as long as it took Perry to realize the futility of his effort. When Perry gave up, the cabby drove off, shaking his head.

"Looking back, I can laugh about it. Perry was working hard to get that big old TV inside that cab. It was the wildest thing you ever wanted to see," said Pier, who had returned from work to find Perry, the console and cab in the parking lot of their apartment complex. Drugs had reduced him to a thief and a liar devoted only to feeding his addiction. She left Perry then for the safety of her mother's house, hoping he would hit a wall and turn his situation around.

Gradually, Perry also began to hold out hope for himself. He entered rehab, but his first stint there was money down the drain. Soon after leaving, Perry wound his way back to the cocaine that Pier once described as her man's "Lady Love." For the second stint, Perry's pastor and a few other men friends wrestled him into submission, threw him into the back of a church van and deposited him at a lockdown rehab facility. They believed Perry would be delivered.

When he did break from that hell, he made the former Pier Glover his wife, returned to the university to finish his bachelor's degree, then headed to seminary for a master's. Perry was ordained and tends now to a Methodist flock in South Dallas. The cocaine tales are a testimony Pier and Perry offer for public consumption, sharing them when the moment and listener are right.

From all appearances, mega- talent Whitney Houston has squandered portions of her riches on getting high and - as Perry had in that parking lot - making herself look foolish.

"First of all, crack is cheap. I make too much money to smoke crack," a defiant Whitney told Diane Sawyer on "PrimeTime," and some of us laughed at how silly she sounded. "Crack is wack," Whitney declared during that December 2002 interview.

Insisting that she no longer was a user, Whitney seemed to be in a drug-induced haze even as the cameras rolled. Whitney stuck her head into the lion's mouth of prime-time TV, showing viewers that the rumors likely were true.

With word that she has checked into a rehab center for a second time, our Miss Houston is again in the headlines. TV shows have replayed tapes of her acting like an addict: talking to herself in the courtroom when husband Bobby Brown was on trial; singing "You make me feel like a natural woman" during one of his releases from jail.

As for me, I am a sold-out fan of Whitney Houston's music, hoping this current stab at rehab will be a charm. I have missed her music-making. And I see what her addiction symbolizes for every family, including my own, that counts an addict. Two days before Whitney checked herself in for treatment, my brother broke into my sis- ter's house, battering her back door open with a brick.

"It will cost me four or five hundred dollars to get the frame fixed," Chrystal said. "He can never come here again."

"You should have him arrested," I said. "Maybe that will shake him up."

Justice should be served but, more so, I fear he will be harmed by a person less forgiving than she. Robert - we call him Brother - has been an addict for about 35 years, beginning when he was a teen and marijuana was his drug of choice. He graduated to cocaine, then crack cocaine, with the latter blamed for the stroke he suffered in September 2002. The body can endure but so much assault, the doctors said, giving Brother up for dead at the start of his 36 days in the hospital.

He did learn to walk again, slowly and, at times, teetering. His right leg retains some paralysis and the flaccid right arm is pretty useless. Brother is alive, back on drugs and seemingly determined to good-time himself into the grave.

Because I have not been in a drug addict's shoes, I cannot fathom what Perry has said is the vise-grip of addiction. But I do hear the other, hopeful words Perry continues to speak: "There is deliverance for anybody and everybody who really wants it and is willing to go and get it."



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