My Dad never mentioned his grandfather from his Dad’s side. It’s like my grandfather just fell onto the face of the planet with no father. Now, my research finds his Dad in a boarding house as a child. Perhaps he was an orphan or he ran away. But my Dad had an immense love and knowledge of his grandmother and her family fight for their native land in Oklahoma. Anyway, my Dad’s father was a musician. He played the trumpet. He frequented around the jazz scene in Kansas City down on 18th and Vine. He was educated. His back up plan was being an English teacher. He served in the Korean War. He fell in love with my grandmother. They married and had two sons. He loved my Dad and his brother. I suppose that is where my Dad learned that seamless love for his grandmother. Then my grandfather didn’t want to be an English teacher. He wanted to be a musician. But all his friends were in Europe playing in bands. He went to the war remember… Then he didn’t love my grandmother anymore. And he didn’t love my Dad or his brother. I remember my grandfather singing to me. He was tall and thin with a gap between his front teeth like me. I remember khaki pants and a black hat. My father remembered the police being called. He remembers slammed doors and black jack beatings. He remembers empty gin bottles and knives. He remembers kidnappings and abandonment. That’s the first chapter.
My Dad stayed away from home. He ate meals at friends homes because my grandfather cooked half raw hamburgers because the doctor said he would die if he continued to drink on an empty stomach. My Dad was teased a lot. He wore third passed down clothing and the same one pair of shoes all year. So he developed a quick wit and quicker right hand punch. And he was a gentleman because his grandmother would have it no other way. And he knew what praying with purpose meant. And his poker face earned him instant street credibility. And he was a fast runner and loyal to the game of fostering respect. He earned the friendship of my uncles and won the heart of my mother. He loved her. He said I came about after them messing around one day after school. They were 16. He got a job at Church’s chicken and bought my mother food home. Then, some say it was an attempted robbery some say it was my father being witty. But, he was shot. And paralyzed. And then he didn’t love my mother anymore and moved to another state away from me. That’s the second chapter.
He started over in a new city. And later told me stories of girlfriends with snakes and winning dance contests in his wheelchair. He had a devoted love to his mother even though she never came back for him when she moved and his father kidnapped him. He sometimes called me. He sometimes visited when he came back to visit Kansas City. That was very weird looking at somebody who had the same eyes and chin and cheekbones and smile. I would turn my head but he would stare at me. My uncles still had a sincere respect for my father. My mother was married now and I had a younger sister and brother. And my dad’s father was still mean to my father. And one day the time ticked and the gun went off. There were no prison accommodations for my father being in a wheelchair so it was self-defense with no trial no nothing. And my father never came back to Kansas City. And 26 years went by. That’s the third chapter.
After everyone had left the room, he told me he was afraid I was going to come in and slap him. He was nervous I was going to curse him out in front of everyone. Because of the 26 years. That never crossed my mind. I wanted to see if we still had the same cheekbones and smile. We did. We also discovered we prefer brown liquor and we’re not embarrassed to curse wherever. Our combined comedic timing kept the conversation easy and flowing. He wanted four things, (1) that I look him in the eye and say I forgive him (2) that I spend the night so we can talk and he can stare at me (3) we keep the television turned on with his favorite video game, “Call of Duty” on the home screen and (4) his hand held bible stay on the hospital tray. I gave him all but #2. I spent the night over my cousin’s house. My father died. That is chapter four.
He was at peace with all he had done in life. He had space in his heart to justify everything and have no regret. He told me stories upon stories that filled 26 years but in none of them did he try and justify why he wasn’t there for me. He simply thought I would be better without all he was carrying. Me forgiving him was his primary goal in January of 2009. Everyone knew my name at his funeral services. People that had gone on my website and bought my books and cd’s wanted my autograph. He was my public relations person in the Midwest and I didn’t even know. He told everyone about me. I was this mystery daughter that he described as a go-getter. They told me 26 years worth of stuff on me. Things that I didn’t even know he knew. That is chapter five.
And all these chapters have a direct impact on my mental health. My emotional capabilities as well. The chapters set the parameters of how much of a risk I’ll take in life. How much I will let one get away with before I respond. That is why this book will be written. So I can demonstrate to others that parents being there or not being there does matter and generational cycles are as real as the sun in the sky. Love and hate can easily be mixed with the same atoms. The proof is my life paralleled with the chapters of my Dad. That is chapter 6.
from the book, “yardwork”
My mother taught me how to make a living.
My father showed me how to create a life to live.
She was deemed responsible.
He was deemed selfish.
… I want to be selfishly responsible from here on out.
For the holidays my girls bought me a few things but the BEST was a coupon book they made for me.
They’re growing into their own little people so they give me a hard time with wanting to cuddle and hug and kiss on them. With that, they made me a coupon book so I can cash in on some time and I won’t get a fight from them.
Just one of those things that warms your heart 💖💜
20 Life Lessons My Mother Taught Me
7 Ways to Remember the Hurting Mothers This Mother’s Day
I had to read various websites to ensure I was reading this clearly… Colorado, for the third time, wants to pass Amendment 67 that would ban all abortions, inclusive of rape and incest victims, and when a woman’s health is in danger. I am not sure what they didn’t understand about it not being passed the first and second time… maybe it’s all that marijuana smoking???
The government has had this fixation on controlling a woman’s body for centuries upon centuries.
Continue reading Dear Colorado: Marijuana vs Motherhood?
I remember when the Nobel Prize winning book, ‘Beloved’, was made into a movie. I was relieved I was finally going to be able to understand what the book was talking about. Like other Morrison fans, I understand that to indulge in one of her books you have to completely abandon yourself and become involved in the art. ‘Beloved’ was one of those books I had not been able to finish because I found it too complex. Or maybe it wasn’t complex at all, perhaps it was the direction that didn’t allow me to finish the book. I remember the narrative being very haunting when it spoke to me. There were times in the book when it spoke directly to me and I felt like I had to protect or defend for myself.
The other day when riding in my car, my 12 year old niece wanted desperately to listen to a hip hop radio station. Even though the language is altered to be radio ready, I cannot stomach the majority of the new hip hop music today. I agreed to let her change the channel from my jazz station and we began to listen to a song, “hit her with a left, hit her with a right, I’mma knock her out like fight night!” (those aren’t the exact words but definitely the intent and close to it). My niece knew the words and sat happy smiling and bouncing in the passenger side dancing to the song.
When we got home, I got on the internet and pulled the song up. I called my niece in my room and let her hear the real lyrics, “hit her with a left, hit her with a right, I’mma knock that p*ssy out like fight night!” The expression on my nieces’ face changed solemn. It was a mixture of embarrassment and disappointment. Needless to say, I was pleased to see that the narrative disturbed her and she didn’t want to listen to the whole song.
This is not a fairy or fable. This isn’t one of my historical reference blogs or a post to honor someone. This is non-fiction. This blog is about living the facts of raising two young black men. My nephews, who are now the ages of 20 and 16. In particular the oldest who stands a little over 6’1″ with skin stained to the hue of blackberries.
This is about his dubious eyes when I tried to explain I needed to have a conversation about his skin tone and it had nothing to do with science or medicine. No, it wasn’t me fussing because he forgot to put lotion on his elbows again. It was about politics and its’ rapacious attachment to control. The greed of it all and the pretentious stare down the broad of your nose. The side of politics that tries to keep African Americans comfortably controlled to avoid another time span of collective awareness or us developing a community of critical thinkers. This conversation was to show him how living outside of himself will keep him hungry. How, breathing below his intuition will have him comfortable with eating from a blood stained hand that has slapped him repeatedly and then make him feel actuated to say, ‘thank you.’ “I know you’d rather be downstairs playing video games, but I need you to hear me out…’
all month I have been writing prose to acknowledge women that have directly influenced my life and perception on living as an artist. this week, I have decided to let these little women that are living in my home to write and express for one another and for women that they want to share information on.
next up is the middle girl, kayla. my mini me. my virgo. my cuddler.
kayla is about patience. to love her you need it. she requires it. my sensitive, emotional little lady. she has always required attention, never the one to watch Dora the Explorer alone while you washed dishes. if you were in the kitchen, she was in the kitchen! if you were in the study room, she was in the study room! if you were in the bathroom she was waiting for you in the hallway! I usually stay up late to write and she would get up early, like most kids, so I would lock my bedroom door to get some extra sleep. this chick picked my lock one morning and got in! YES YOU HEARD ME! (haha)
I don’t recall kayla every drawing outside of the lines when she began to color. if she did color outside, it was her creating a totally different picture. she has always been meticulous. my mother hums and sings all the time and kayla has picked this up. she sings walking down the hall, in the shower, riding her bike… and she is a dancer. kayla is no doubt my artist.
she is also my follower. remember, she has never liked being by herself. God made her this way so I just have to continue to encourage her to trust her talents and what her heart is telling her. I believe she is so talented, she doubts herself just to fit in with everyone else. she is a gentle little woman, very giving and shy. not to toot my horn, but I really feel she mirrors me in a lot of ways. she is my art show award winning, talent show singing, honor roll having middle girl. not to the left, not to the right. just in between flowing to and fro, kayla.