My Son’s Music Plays On in My Heart and Soul

by on April 28, 2020 · 5 comments

in From the Soul

by Ernie McCray

I’ve been thinking of my son, Guy, my second child to depart this earth before me.

We had so many memories, running the gamut of father and son relationships but my thoughts have mostly been about some of our really special moments: going at each other on the basketball court, one of our favorite things to do; hiking along the Junipero Serra Trail on some incredibly beautiful days when the sky was clear and blue; a road trip to Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and Vegas on a Spring Break; lounging along the shore in Rosarito Beach for a week; him singing and playing guitar at my 50th birthday celebration…

And when I think of his fine musicianship I’ll always remember his graduation in 1977 from John Muir Alternative School, a K-12 school I helped create with some incredibly innovative educators who were absolutely great.

So much happened on the campus that year, students feeling their oats, enjoying freedoms not many students ever achieve, questioning themselves, the school, and the world at large, some days charging windmills like clones of Don Quixote, other days feeling the agony of defeat, falling on their faces, learning so many things, both academic and common sense-wise, along the way, having a school year for the ages.

God, I loved that place. And I wanted to do something special to honor students for their contribution to such a challenging year.

So I wrote a kind of bluesy boogie hymn, about our ups and downs, to sing to them, and Guy accompanied me, strumming his guitar like the late great Guitar Slim – at a setting above the Pacific Ocean on a stretch of grass at La Jolla Cove that was quiet like a soft wind.

None of those school auditorium ceremonies for us back then. I can still feel the moment as though it were yesterday, Guy playing a little intro and then me coming in with:

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’ve got to strive to stay up
when the downs pull down on you…
So many folks
seek easy ways
They spend their nights and days
seeking easy ways
oh, when sometimes
the only easy ways come hard
oh, yes they do
You’ve got to jump right in
and work hard to make the easy ways come true…
I knew a man
His name was Jake
and when he spake
he said life never gave him a break
That wasn’t true
No, no, no that wasn’t true
Here’s what he’d do
He’d sit right down
and leave everything for others to do…
I know some folks
Now this is true
The folks are me and you
and here’s what we must do
Oh, we must fight
fight for what is right to do
We’ve got to stand and be counted
if things are gonna be right
for me and you…
How do we know
what is right
We know it’s right if when we fight
we respect the rights of others too
Yeah, yeah, yeah
others too
That’s what to do
I can stand and be counted
without pulling down on you…

I can still hear the last chords that son of mine played and the applause right after and, forever etched in my mind’s eye is the beautiful appreciative smile on his face for the display of love we received.

Sharing those moments with Guy stands high on my list of pleasant memories: memories that ease the pain of losing him as his music plays on inside of me.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

obsurfer April 28, 2020 at 2:59 pm

Beautiful words and sentiments. Every moment is a blessing. Thank you for sharing


Richard M April 29, 2020 at 8:05 pm

Ernie. I taught a John Muir for 27 years and retired a few years ago. I wish I you had been there while I was. I missed it by a few years. It still echoed of you past leadership, but many times I think your presence would have been so nurturing and inspirational. In spite of that, I relish your posts on the Rag.


Dennis Doyle April 30, 2020 at 10:26 pm

I can picture this and can practically hear it, too. Thank you!


Thomas Gayton May 1, 2020 at 8:51 am

His spirit and music still live in you. VIVA!


Bobbijo Tousignant September 16, 2020 at 6:01 pm

Wow!! ! I had to read it three times..


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