When that cold wind blows, I stand still and I stand strong, as I gaze upon my trees and those of my neighbors. Speaking any words only leads to loss of needed heat to endure the season. So, silence becomes my trusted confidant. Vigilant, my eyes remain on the branches, praying that we lose not another between now and Spring.
My ears tune intently to the mourning of a neighbor, whose house was jolted by the falling of a major limb. Suddenly, I hear a crack above my head. As if in slow motion, I watch as one of mine falls. I tremble as I fight back the tears that will only become ice if I allow them freedom. The wailing in my chest presses toward my vocals. Then, that cold wind blows again, seeming to zero in on my right cheek. My eyes close, and I'm reminded of the cold noses of my babies when they were babies, mashing into my cheek as they delivered the sweetest sugar a father can know.
My eyes open to see several saplings surrounding the bases of the older trees. From the same roots they are born; they grow and are made strong. In this transition of focus, I'm advised of the roots, the Source of the life found in both, the young and old. We may lose limbs or maybe even and entire trunk, but recognizing, tending, and nurturing the roots will always bring forth life. The family will never die. Our roots run deep and will Forever inhabit the Earth.
We are and abide by Spirit.
Those who have ears, let them hear.......
This morning, I was delivered the news that Uncle Earnest passed away. Such, no one wants to hear on a day like today, or any Holiday. Immediately the memories began to roll through. From fishing in Arkansas to his visit to South Alabama for my mother's graduation for the University of South Alabama, along with Uncle Ike Lee. He had a video camera in the early 80's, which to us meant big time. It was the coolest thing having him film us as we climbed trees, swung from ropes, and giving tours of our makeshift tree house. I remember the name my eldest daughter game him, when she was three; "Unka Earnie."
As my heart continues down these memories to missed opportunities to visit and get together, regret tries to creep into my mind. Suddenly, my heart speaks up and says, "Cut it out!!" I think about the times I talked to Uncle Earnest about getting together and going fishing etc, and he'd be traveling or tied up with other things. When I look over his actions and his living, I see no regrets. Uncle Earnest lived with no regrets, and I'm sure he'd slap me upside the head if he heard I had regrets about not seeing him as often as I could have. He was living his life and I'm sure he is content knowing I am living mine as best as can, taking care of my family.
If you knew Uncle Earnest's full story, you might find yourself amazed at all he experienced in his life. Knowing only some of his story, leaves me with the message dropped upon my heart, in his passing; NO REGRETS ALLOWED!! LIVE YOUR LIFE TO THE FULLEST!! BE FRIGGIN HAPPY!!
At my grandfather's funeral in 2012 and our family reunion in 2014, I looked at all the lives touched by Uncle Earnest. All is see is joy and admiration in all who know him. To see lives and hearts touched the way that only he could touch them, encourages me to keep on living and doing right by others, seeking no selfish gain. When I say I love you, it's because it's genuinely in my heart to do so, and I seek nothing in return. Uncle Earnest loved his family, plain and simple and he gave as much as he could to as many as he could. How can you have regrets when you've given nothing but love to all who you've come across along your path of this thing called life?
DAMN!! We weren't ready Uncle Earnest, but it ain't about us!! You've graduated and gained your reward of eternal life and peace, away from this Earth where you've left a huge and deep imprint. I miss you dude!!
Today is a day of thanks. We all get together with family and friends, in fellowship and in love. This day; this morning I write in honor and in memory of Ms. Jeanette Monique Sylvester, another mother of mine. Ms. Sylvester was no joke. She was tough, brutally honest, yet full of love. She was also an educator, so she was always teaching or providing instruction, even when you didn't ask for it. I remember hanging out as a teenager with Domanique at their house. Ms. Sylvester would always ask questions about my abilities. "Bryan, you know how to cut grass?" "Can you change a tire?" "Do you know how to wash a car?" Yes, yes, and yes, Ms. Sylvester! Then, she'd say "Show/Tell me how!" Needless to say, one could not be a punk of a man around her without her indirectly, intelligently, and sweetly letting you know that you were a punk. I feel the things she stressed and demanded of young men helped me to understand more of the quality I possessed and needed to possess to be considered a good man.
As I think back on my times spent at the Sylvester house, in Eight Mile, AL, I find myself grateful. I am grateful for the laughs, the conversations, and lessons learned there. I am certainly grateful for the many plates of hot dogs and french fries, fried chicken, and whatever else was being cooked on any given night. I am so grateful that "Mommy" was able to hold my kids as little babies. I am certainly grateful for the lesson learned in the following conversation from my days as a 17 year old:
This was the day she asked me about my ability to wash a car. She had just finished soaping up her black Geo Prizm (I think it was a Prizm). She told me to rinse it off. So, I grabbed the hose and went to spraying. After a brief time, she took the hose from me and simply held it over the top of the car and washed the soap off from top to bottom. What lesson could be learned from this moment? Why has this memory stuck with me for 24 years? Why? I'll tell you why. God plants seeds in us by means of good, honest, and loving people in our lives. Imagine rinsing the sides of the car first, only to rinse the top last. The soap will likely run down the sides, leaving a bit of residue. What life lesson does this bring, at the behest of an elementary school teacher, while simply washing her car in the driveway?
Top to bottom, is the lesson. When you want to clean up, make better of yourself, or create positive change in your life, it starts from the top. What's at the top? Your head; your mind. When making a better life; a better way for yourself, washing your hands first helps you none. The change must begin in your mind. En Vogue said, "Free your mind, and the rest will follow." Think about it. When you see victory for yourself in your mind, you play harder, better, and smarter. THANK YOU MS. SYLVESTER for always planting the seeds of "good man" in my mind!! I know my mother is grateful as well, for you being one to ALWAYS hold me accountable when I was out and about and away from home!!
THANK YOU MAMA SYLVESTER FOR WHO YOU WERE TO ME, TO YOUR FAMILY, AND TO ALL WHO HAVE BEEN BLESSED TO KNOW YOU!! YOU WERE ALWAYS ONE OF THE STRONGEST WOMEN I'VE EVER KNOWN!! I'M CERTAIN GOD HAS FOUND GREAT VALUE IN YOU, AS YOU ARE NOW KEEPING ALL OTHER ANGELS IN LINE AND IN ORDER, LETTING THEM FALL SHORT OF NOTHING!! WE LOVE YOU!! WE MISS YOU!!
Bryan Hollomon Williams