Monday, June 22, 2020

Rest Easy Black Cat

They said my brother and I looked just like him. They called us his "twins"; although he has a twin. My dad was waaaaaaaaaaay FAR from a perfect man or a good father but he was my only point of reckoning or understanding for so much of my formative years. His childhood lessons mostly out of madness became part of my adulthood methodology.

My dad was brilliant and equally mad .... he was a mad scientist; an evil genius. A lot of the things he taught my siblings and I were waaaaaaay before their prominent time. Way before Vegan fads were trendy he was showing how to use vegetable products to eat to live. He always told us never live to eat but eat to live. He was a HUGE fan, belief, and avid user of marijuana. He would always say it had medicinal powers and healing agents. He believed in the power of connecting with the earth. He taught us so many VALUABLE LESSONS that have become INVALUABLE MANTRAS.

As a kid you don't know the whole history of your parents parenting skills or parenting lenses. All you know is you either LIKE THEM or DISLIKE THEM! My dad suffered with so much internally and his GREATNESS was lost on his MADNESS!

But despite all of his-STORY he was my DAD and I love him. In my youth I would watch this six foot five inch well chiseled frame of man walk in a room and the women just start swooning over him. His smile drew them in. His hair, his skin, and of course his smell was all part of his allure. With each step he took you could hear the drums of my ancestors playing. In any room or any space he entered he entered as Royalty! He never held his head down. He spoke with strength of many KINGS! My dad was NO soft MAN!

He knew how to party. There was always a REASON to pop fireworks. HIS favorite fireworks were them Blackcats. One time my dad was celebrating and he took my grandma Nannie Bell’s tin tub to turn over them to make the sound louder. He would take them carefully out of the plastic wrapping and string the packs together. Then take a sparkler (my favorite) and light them toppling the tub over them. Once they would start to pop it sounded like any war or shoot out scene from the TV or movies. AND As scared as I, my siblings, and my cousins were from the ELEVATED noise I thought he was so cool to be able to do that! My grandma Nannie Bell didn't and would chase him out her back yard with a frying pan for messing up her tub.

In my dad's latter days ... his chiseled frame could not handle the debilitating effects from his Multiple Sclerosis. He was bed ridden in a nursing home. You would think a giant of man whose walk and talk was a part of his alluring infamy would just wither up and die quietly once bed ridden. NOPE not my dad! Until his death HE WAS STILL IBN. He was STILL JOHN James' twin! He was still just as DEFIANT and BRILLANT!

His defiant brilliance would land him in a hospital bed many times over his latter days in this world. But his last stay at the hospital was not one of them. He was lying in the bed and giving the healthcare staff the blues. I walked in his room and asked everyone to leave out so we could have a very private but very necessary conversation. In our "little" talk we discussed the value of being kind even though he was dying before our eyes. We also discussed his desires for his legacy. My dad was tired; his choices, his illness, and the results of them both collectively had made his life unbearable to live any longer.

In his last breathes on this rock I saw my dad light up to flirt with the hospice staff and smile as he had last "parade" surrounded by a whole female staff and his daughters. His last parade was from one side of the hospice to the other because my dad's legs were to long for the regular hospice beds so the only oversized bed available was on the other side of the hospice. You would have thought he'd been a member of a championship team the way he was smiling. Once in the oversized bed it swallowed him. His frail frame was no match for that ginormous bed but his legs and feet weren't hanging off it like in the other bed.

Once his parade was over and he was now in his "ROOM" he smiled, refused to eat, or drink, and left this world on his own terms. Till his death he was AUTHENTICALLY him! My dad didn’t go lightly or quietly into the night. He left like he came being HIM and being HE who HE was AUTHENTICALLY!  Prepping to send him home in fashion equal to his life proved to be very hard. I drew upon the strengths from the childhood he had given me by going to sit with the elders of my youth Faith families. Although no child is ready to bury or eulogize their parents I was now prepared to do so. As I was standing behind the book board giving his eulogy I looked out over all in attendance and smiled through my tears knowing he was now in a better place.  

The title of his eulogy was “What Will They Think If I Just Lay Here?” My dad never just laid or sat anywhere. He was methodical, he was brilliant, he was mad, and he was HIM! I miss my dad. Today is his Heavenly birthday! I wished my children could have gotten to know my dad and many others of my family that are now resting in glory. However that’s not the hand they were dealt.  But as the chips have fell and seeds spread out I stand tall in the legacy of the good seeds my dad planted. He, his twin my Uncle James, my Uncle Cleveland, and my Uncle Larry all share the same the birthday and they are all in Heaven. We will see them again but until I walk in the legacy and heritage of them all. Rest in loving power daddy and my uncles!


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