By Ernie McCray
A little while ago while kicking back in a park with a few members of my family tree, I found myself humming the Rascal’s catchy tune, “Groovin’ on a Sunday Afternoon,” because that’s what we were doing. Grooving. Cruising. Schmoozing. Amusing. Aka enjoying ourselves.
On a Sunday afternoon.
As we laughed and talked about what’s going on now with us and what went on in our past, individual thoughts about each precious one of them would rise in my mind.
Like a few times when I’d peer over at my daughter, Teresa, looking so young and pretty and sprightly in a long black and green and gray and white striped dress, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how far we go back in time. Precisely to November 6th, 1959. I was a 20-year-old college student with a mean jump-shot who worked a lot of odd jobs, a co-creator of a home that wouldn’t be believed in an episode of the Twilight Zone.
And this young woman survived the madness of all that and went on to raise two beautiful artful and talented children, alone, hustling a college degree and a career with AT&T along the way. No one has impressed me more in life than this middle-aged daughter of mine. She is one to be looked on with pride.
And it was with pride that I gazed at Tawny, Nyla, and Carlos, the younger three of my six children, as they engaged with all the players in our mix.
I kept thinking how great it had been raising them with Nancy, their beautiful mom, and seeing them pursue lives for themselves as deeply loving and caring and bright human beings, Tawny, as a fine writer, Nyla a five-star childcare provider, Carlos a worker for children’s welfare, an incredibly creative and problem solving man who comes up with ideas as easily as most people find it to breathe air. They all are imaginative in their own right. They have been the joy of our lives.
And La Toya, Marlon, Brandi, Brandon, Denisha and Lyric, six of my nine grandchildren, and A.J., one of my nine great-grandchildren sure added to the day.
La Toya really stole my heart not too many years ago when I used to watch her play basketball in high school, as did I, wearing the same colors as I, red and white, although we played for different schools in different cities. I dug her style, strong and wild, in your face in comparison to mine, smooth and easy and breezy, yet coming at you steadily and incessantly keeping you on your toes, ill-at-ease. Toy would just knock you off your toes.
Her son, A.J., is quite an athlete, too, and mild-mannered and smart. Great kid. He’s like his mother’s special assistant in life. I smiled as I watched him a couple of times mildly correcting her with a little tug on her leopard patterned blouse if she missed a point in a story she was telling in her soft voice which is so opposite of how she played. You can feel their love for each other. I can’t wait to see how their lives play out down the line.
Marlon. Teresa’s son. A mellow entertaining kind of fellow, a print model, rapper and beat maker, having the time of his life right now performing in commercials that hopefully will go big, in line with his dreams. Special dude. Well raised. I sure don’t mind singing his praise. I’ll remind him when the millions start coming in.
Brandi. Marlon’s sister. Soulful dancer. Traveler. Sharp. Has eclectic interests.
Go-getter like her mother. Owner of one of the smiles of the universe. A graduate of L.A. State, the school against which I scored 46 points in a basketball game which has been in the record book at Arizona going on 54 years, her mother’s age. Feels cosmic somehow as so much of family relations do.
Brandon. Renaissance man if there ever was one. A pilot, an entrepreneur, a graduate of UCSD, a speaker of Chinese. He was there with his girlfriend, Tian, who is Chinese, and I was there with mine, Maria, who is a Chicana and this broadened our diversity a few degrees on this day of good behavior and fun.
Denisha. I didn’t realize that she wasn’t in the picture Maria took that I wanted to use for this writing until I was nearly done. Being pretty, I’ve never quite understood her aversion to having her photograph taken but, oh well, I look at her and marvel at all she’s been through, losing her dad, a few years ago, then her mother, my oldest daughter, suffered a cardiac arrest a couple of Thanksgivings ago. But she has cared for her mother and her affairs so admirably. It’s been a lovely sight watching her grow as a human being from this experience. And, I thought about how nice it would have been to have her mother there, in spite of her disabilities, especially on such a pleasant day. I was very curious about her absence but kept silent, figuring that dealing with such a family matter at a picnic might be unwise.
I decided to just sit back and enjoy the company of all of the family who were there in the park with me and, as it is at this stage in my life, I couldn’t help but reflect on the 75 and a half years I’ve accumulated. And none of my kin made me more aware of my mortality, in those moments, than Lyric, my latest grandchild. Everybody at this little assemblage wanted to be in his space, in his face, pinching and kissing and cooing him like he was the main attraction in the Milky Way and I savored such sights thinking I have no control over how much time I have left but I sure want to be in as much of his life as I can manage before I take that final bow.
But I didn’t dwell too long on that curtain call kind of thinking, choosing, instead, to stay within the groovin’ on a Sunday afternoon mood I was in and just reflect on the love and hope that filled the air on this very nice upbeat sunny day.