By Ernie McCray
Someone mentioned on facebook the other day that we forget to count our blessings. I thought about that for a few moments and then whatever I was thinking just floated away and then I noticed that my daughter, Tawny, had posted a picture of her mother on her timeline and that really got my thoughts about blessings underway.
And, in the spirit of such thinking, with family on my mind, I could hear my daughter, Nyla, saying to Phill, her husband-to be, a little while back, in their wedding ceremony: “It is so special for me to be marrying you on this day in the house that I was raised in. My parents had such a strong and beautiful relationship and I was lucky to grow up with that around me.”
Oh, that, to me, was about as precious a blessing as there could be, hearing my daughter express that she was blessed to be raised by her mother and me. Brought tears of glee to my eyes. And speaking of blessings what a boon to our lives that beautiful young woman has been from the moment she and her twin sister arrived.
But, hey, I’ve been blessed all my life, starting when a cigar chewing piano playing man took a woman who also could tickle the ivories as his wife, a woman who is one of the brightest and most amazing human beings I have ever known in my life. I don’t know how he pulled that off but it didn’t last long, and regardless of their relationship they both loved me unconditionally, a blessing I needed as a growing black boy to navigate a world of second-class citizenry, and that I was able to do it without shuffling or kow-towing or yassa-ing – well, that is a blessing I can’t begin to describe, an accomplishment of mine in which I take the deepest pride.
Whew, but what a ride. And, I’ve come to realize that we don’t make it on the planet very well without blessings or some facsimile thereof giving us a little boost every now and then and sometimes that good fortune shows up right in the nick of time, those times when you’re about to momentarily go out of your mind. Like when you’re about to cold-cock some racist yokel who won’t sell you a hamburger when you’re hungry and no other place is open – and a voice (a blessing if there ever was one) inside you says “Hey, man we don’t need another brother in the lockup, especially over no sandwich. You understand what I’m saying? Un-ball your fist and get the hell out of this raggedy ass cafe, okay? Tell your mama I said hello, by the way.”
So many blessings in my life when I look at the overall scheme of things. I was blessed to go to an all-black school at a time in my culture when nobody said you’re “trying to act white” because you were getting good grades. We were told to “Reach for the stars and we might touch the moon.” I believed in that kind of rap. Still do.
And I was sure blessed to have met friends for life in those days, so many beautiful people in so many beautiful ways, models for the future friends in my life.
I was blessed, among other things, as my self-esteem took shape over time, to rise overnight from second string on the THS basketball team to All-City to All-State to All-Star to All-Border Conference at Arizona to a Cincinnati Royals draftee, with a bachelor of science and a masters degree – while somewhere in there I became a teenage father of one, then two, then three in my early twenties, working more odd jobs than In Living Color’s Jamaican family, active in my community as a member of Students for Equality (SFE), being gaveled down before the Tucson City Council because one of our members was a member of the Communist Party, as though that diminished her as a human being who was willing to work so that I and people like me could be free. It’s a blessing to learn to get by the distracting nomenclatures and appreciate all of humanity. Especially in a world that’s definitely not all peaches and cream.
And sometimes our life crumbles before our very eyes and we lose focus of our dreams which happened to me as my marriage, after teetering and tottering for a number of rounds, went down like Smokin’ Joe Frazier after George Foreman’s fist found his chin again and again. Blessings seem so faraway in times like these when you’re at your wit’s end.
I, however, gave marriage a second-try and life looked up, hopeful, pleasant but something was missing, something in life I had yet to find and then she came on the scene, a blessing that was so fine and supreme, the woman of my dreams. The woman who fulfilled the wish I had for someone with which I could raise children from their birth until I did part, a relationship that wouldn’t ever burst at the seams.
Time goes on, then one day I walk my daughter to her man on my backyard deck and she blows me away with her words of praise on this special day, the 35th Anniversary of when her mother and I wed. Talking ’bout my girl. My girl.
When that soul-mate of mine passed away I felt, in my sorrow, that my having a blissful life with a fabulous woman had seen its day but now I have someone who makes my days feel sunny and breezy, somebody with whom I can kick back and take it
easy. I have a boo like Nancy would want me to.
Life seems so fresh and my soul sings: Oh, have I ever been blessed.
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