Free at Last! Free at Last! – A Dad’s Reflections of a Life That Was Enough

by on July 30, 2018 · 0 comments

in From the Soul

Guy Ernest McCray, my oldest son,
has passed away
and needless to say
that saddens me in
the deepest way.

Yet, at the same time,
knowing the grind
he had in life,
I find myself whispering to the wind
that he is now:
“Free at Last! Free at Last!”

Oh, the man had a past
as deep emotional pain
dogged him along his life’s path,
one that began
at St. Mary’s Hospital,
in Tucson on August 31, 1958,
where waiting for him to be born was
me, the local hoops star,
and Lena, my high school sweetheart,
barely out of childhood ourselves,
having given birth
to a boy
who even back then
seemed to feel more sadness
than joy.

And I loved that little boy,
emotional pain and all,
and I wish I had
been able to provide
what he needed
to feel secure inside,
what he needed
to be happy;
to make it in school;
to just have fun;
to take life and run.

Oh, I remember a Pop Warner Game
and Guy was like Junior Seau,
knocking people down,
stopping the pass and the run…
And we parents were hooting
and rooting
for such stellar play
and after the hoopla was done,
he shut down in future games,
as though, in fear
that what he had done
couldn’t be re-done.

“You can do it, son!”
he just couldn’t hear,
as he was overcome by his fears,
seeing life
as too tough,
too rough,
too much
like trying to body surf
against a relentless rip current.

And we had our moments
in that turbulence,
turning over and over,
flipping and flapping,
being carried away from the shore
day after day
and one day
driving him home
after he had been kicked
out of junior high,
I, frighteningly bewildered and shaken,
feeling, as was he, for certain,
stopped the car
and just cried
like an inconsolable
sick and colic ridden child
and said, when I could speak:
“Guy, I love you,
but I don’t know how to help you,
and I’m afraid that you’re going
to end up in jail
and I’m going to be sad,
but I’ll have to carry on,
to take care of myself
and your sisters.
I’ll forever be here for you
but in a lot of ways
you’re on your own.”

But life has twists and turns
and my son,
after making himself well known
at a couple of other institutions
of learning,
ended up at an alternative school
where I was the principal
and we became, then,
as close as we’ve ever been,
combining our arts,
his guitar and my rhymes,
just having a good time
leading to one
of the most memorable moments
of my time on earth,
Guy accompanying me
as I sang as part of my speech
to his graduating class:

“Sometimes in life
there’s ups and downs.
Sometimes the ups seem down
and the downs seem up,
it all depends,
depends a lot on you
and what you do.
You can strive to stay up
when the downs
pull down on you…

And as time went by
Guy, in declining health,
and spirit
moved in with his mother
who took care of him lovingly and faithfully
for the rest of his life,
and he began looking back over his life,
wishing that he had led a different life,
feeling crippling regrets
near his journey’s end,
coming to light in
reflections in his conversations
about what he could have done,
about what he could have been,
expressing in a song
about Cindy, his dearly departed wife,
with whom he had a stormy life:

“I keep wishing, I keep wishing
that I knew what to do…”
“When my heart thinks back to your love
my mind just wears me down,
just wears me down…”
“You’re my shining star,
I just want to be there where you are…”

Regarding life, in general, he sang:

“We all need to right our wrongs,
look up to heaven and sing that song…”
“Four children and five grandchildren
that I love,
just a big old
touch from above…”

What an outpouring of love,
and I hope he knew
that those beautiful people
loved him dearly, too,
each and everyone:
those two daughters and two sons,
Toya, Kinya, Little Guy, and Brandon.
And Toya’s son, A.J.
And Kinya’s two daughters
and two sons,
Kiara and Kalaina,
And Kameron and Keilan.
Some of the most precious people
under the sun.

It was heartwarming,
sitting with his two daughters
and Denisha, his niece,
the day he died,
listening to them testify
to their love for him,
remembering him,
like Toya,
writing poetically:
“They scorned you
for not fitting society’s norms
but your willingness
to accept a person for who
God chose them to be
was enough.
You were enough.
They bellowed at you,
burnt you,
but you held on to
humility and integrity.
You were enough.
The love that flowed through your existence
was exhaled by all those
who stood near you…
My father, my best friend,
I will always
cherish you
because you
were enough.”

And being thought of as enough
by a man’s progeny
in a man’s eulogy
should, I’d like to think,
allow that man
to, at the end of his life’s rocky journey,
truly rest in peace.

We, his friends and his family,
his mom, Lena, and me,
his sister, Teresa
and half sisters, Tawny and Nyla,
and half brother, Carlos,
will miss his smile
and his laugh,
and take heart in knowing that
he is:

Free at Last!
Free at Last!


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