Keeping the Spirits of Lost Ones Alive

by on November 8, 2023 · 4 comments

in From the Soul

by Ernie McCray

There’s a meme
that reads
“Be the things
you loved most about
the people who are gone”
and when I think about it
I can see that
I’ve been doing that all along,
keeping the spirit of lost ones alive –
through how I live my life,
|going back to my teens

when my good brother,

my ace boon coon,

Napoleon Wilson, died.

Nap was the cat’s meow

when it came to friends.

He, being a bit older than me,

and worldly way beyond his age,

was a mentor to me

giving forth with wisdom like

“Hey, man, how can she (whoever my latest crush was)

know how you feel unless you stop panting

and get your ass over there

and whisper something in her ear.”

That really worked

at a summer Baptist Convention

one summer

but he really boosted

my ability

to scope out the world

when he said to me,

when I was about nine years old

and he about thirteen:

“Watch how fast the major leagues will start signing

Negro baseball players

after they realize how good Jackie Robinson is,

how good it will be for the biz.”

Next thing I knew,

because Black Cleveland Indian ballplayers

in Spring Training in Tucson couldn’t stay at the

Santa Rita Hotel,

I was watching, in a short period of time,

the likes of

Larry Doby and Harry Suitcase Simpson

and Luke Easter and Satchell Paige

stepping out of taxicabs

at Mr. Willis’s house where they could stay.

Nap, to me, was a sage.

And I don’t know how many times since those days,

when I’ve been hesitant to speak up about something

weighing on my mind,

that I haven’t heard his voice

in the memory section of my ear

encouraging me

to do what I most loved about him:

take a stand.

He’s a major contributor to my outspoken-ness

and as I think about him,

another one of my dearest childhood friends

comes to mind,


a woman who was

funny as Richard Pryor,

brilliant as Einstein,

artistic as Picasso,

and made a nice living

as a prominent caterer in San Francisco.

In one moment, we might be discussing

practically any subject

there is in the universe to know,

like professors

testing theories

they want to explore,

and in the next moment

give way to silliness

that has us falling down belly-laughing

on the floor.

I still do such things

with her very much in mind.

And, there’s my dad, Mack.

Whenever I drop down and kick it, fully relaxed,

I’m being what I most loved about him,

the most laid-back

human being there has ever been.

In a chilling contest

he’d surely win.


And no one who has gone on

has inspired me more than

my dearly departed soulmate, Nancy,

and my mom and my grandad,

folks who wore their loving natures on their sleeves

literally and figuratively,

loving me so generously and unconditionally

that being loving

is the only way I know how to be.


I’m so grateful for having had them

and so many other

precious never-to-be-forgotten folks

enriching my life,

giving me the license

to be the things

I most loved about each of them.


Life can be such a gem.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Stan Levin November 8, 2023 at 2:05 pm

my brother
it is y’all
what am the Gem


Shirley Sprinkles November 8, 2023 at 4:29 pm

Oh what precious memories! Nat Wilson! Hadn’t thought of him in years! Yes, he was one-of-a-kind! It’s great to recall those who left their mark, in a positive way, on your life. Thanks for these special ones, CharlieMack!


Dave B November 9, 2023 at 2:11 pm

Wow ! Great memories of the Town we grew up in Ernie and the people we grew up with..

Dave B
Tucson Hi Class of 1956


Thomas L Gayton November 10, 2023 at 12:51 pm

Memories of Love help us cope with today’s reality of hate.


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