I love music! I love soul music! I love old skool music! Because music makes me happy and I am really taking the time to make this dissertation writing process one that I survive in a healthy and holistic way, I have decided to make a point to discover and sometimes rediscover the music that moves me. I'll add a song every week with some of my musings. Hope you enjoy and respond.
My Uncle, James Carraway Jr. passed away early Monday morning (yesterday). We knew he was sick, but we didn't know how sick. I am happy to have had the opportunity to visit him while I was home in the East Bay over the winter holiday. I visited him with three of my aunts and as soon as we walked in the room we started singing, trying to find our parts, the right key... We were all happy and together. If you don't know anything else about you, you have to know how much I love my family and how important family is to me. I am blessed to have such a close family that is held together by God's greatest gift, love.
My grandparents had 8 children together. They moved to Oakland California from Paris, Texas way back in the day and raised an AMAZING tribe, "The Carraways." The stories I have heard over the years about their upbringing always make me smile. These stories have come to feel like stories of Superheroes--Black Superheroes and that's where I come from.
I am so saddened by the loss of one of my Superheros today, but I know Uncle Junior will live on in our hearts and in our stories. I offer this short piece from some of the stories I have heard over the years and I reprint it today in honor of my uncle, Junior.
a child I remember sitting around dining room tables, sometimes on couches and
floors, cuddle up with cousins, siblings, aunts, and my mom. We’d all drink
strong coffee with creamer, but my mom and Uncle Steve always liked it black.
Sometimes we’d play spades, dominos, taboo, or another game someone had picked
up along the way and brought back home to share. There would always come a
point late in the night, eyes heavy, red and tired, but not yet ready to say
good night. Someone would recall that one time when…
one time when cousin J found and brought the man who robbed G (his mother, my
aunt) back to the house all tied up in the back of a car…J was proud of what he
had done, but G was afraid and told her son to untie that man and let him go.
We all laughed.
one time my mom recalls taking care of her little sister, L and giving her a
spanking. L put some kind of curse (she had gotten into witchcraft) on my
mom and her chair broke. My mom was afraid and L got another spanking. L
was thought to be strange and a little bit crazy for her interest in witchcraft
in such a Christian and God fearing home.
listen to these stories and I try to remember them all. I like how I can hear
the story about my mom getting into a fight in kindergarten. She was trying to
help her older brother JR. fight “these white boys”. The boys were all in
middle school. JR gave my mom his belt and she was holding her own until
someone knocked off her glasses or maybe she just got pushed down. She was
kicked repeatedly in her eyes and when JR. saw that, my mom said he just went
off. And at some point the fight ended. When they got ready to walk back home
my mom couldn’t see a thing. She was blind. I can’t remember how long she says
it lasted, but it was more than a day. I remember her saying that she had to
stay and fight with and for her brother because granddaddy would really give you a spanking if ever you
left any of your family to fight alone.
matter what, family comes first and we fight for and sometimes with one
another. And sometimes we end up being blind. And those pains and scars
translated years down become stories retold that inspire me to fight. And when
I fight I know I have the strength of the little girl that was my mom. Taking
comfort in the fact that even though she went blind for a moment she still had
her brother with her to carry her home.
time I hear one of these stories I feel like I’m being carried home—home to a
place that I have never actually touched nor smelled nor heard. But I can still
feel it and I know it—someplace that always escapes me yet remains centrally
grounded within me.
things are just in my blood--some pains and some joys they travel in and
through me. Some memories of sadness and hope I feel but I can’t always really
touch them. You know the feeling when you just can’t quite put your finger on a
thing. Some memories so deep have been transported from generations and people
and places I have never seen with my own eyes— though I sometimes get glimpses
in my dreams.
wonder if one day I’ll meet those folk whose bloodlines flow and grow in me
biologically and spiritually. I wonder if I’ll recognize them and if they’ll
recognize me. Is that what flying home yields? I imagine a return to the future
whereby I become whole because we all recognize and see each other here and
now—beautifully (be)coming together.