Are Relationships Hard?

I was having a conversation recently about a couple who are in the midst of some turbulent times in their relationship. It’s possible that they may not make it to the forever they promised one another. It’s commonly said that in any relationship it will not always be ‘peaches and cream.’

Well it’s true that life in itself is at times very challenging. Externally there are things going on all around us that grab our attention. We have goals, wants, needs, and desires. Sometimes it’s as simple as survival. From where will come our next meal? How will the rent get paid? Whether goals or stresses, these will abide no matter what. I’ve heard it said that in life we are either going through something, about to through something or recently came through something. We don’t need to be coupled up to have these challenges. They will be with us regardless.

So what does this say about relationship?  Are they hard or are they easy?

As I think about it, I don’t believe relationships are hard. I believe WE are hard. It’s easy in the beginning to find favor with someone we like, care for or love. We even know going in that the object of our desire is not a perfect person. We know that he/she has faults. If we are self aware we also understand that we are deeply flawed or at least far from perfection in a human sense. There will always be room for growth no matter what stage in life we are in. And yet when someone has our favor we are graceful towards our partner’s imperfections. Some of us overlook them altogether. Some of us who are a bit wiser recognize them yet view our partner’s imperfections as an opportunity to step up and really show love and compassion towards him/her. Either way, it’s not the relationship that is the problem. It’s us!

At some point in relationships it is us who change. We become less graceful towards our partner. We become stubborn, resentful, unforgiving with a hardened heart. We become rigid, impatient, judgmental, prideful, lazy, and self absorbed. We forget or refuse to remember the first fruits of what attracted and connected us in the first place. We stop putting in the work of developing our own character to grow and be a better person and by extension a better partner.

It’s easy to love when ‘things’ are good and going our way, right? However, love is strengthened through trials and tribulations when we as people decide that no matter what is going on externally, we are determined to remember and maintain a basic foundation of humanity and decency when we think of and address our partner. When he/she misses the mark in our opinion, we can choose compassion instead of spite. We can choose soft words or if necessary temporary silence in the midst of conflict or pressure. We can choose to remember that our partner is a person who needs the same grace and kindness that we desire when we are not our best selves. We can decide to never ever remove the emotional security blanket that assures our partner that he/she is never alone and will always be received and accepted; without question. We all have and will always have faults as well as external distractions. Through love and devotion our partnership can grow us under the tent of a security that says, “No matter what, I’ve got your back.”

Always remember, nothing great and worthwhile happens by accident. Love is an action word. It is achieved, maintained and perfected intentionally!

Day 2… Staying True




So far so good.  Just finished a 4 mile power walk.  Started off a little painful as my shins were stiff heading out.  They eventually loosened up.

Great day to do it as well.  The local temperature is 57 degrees and the skies are sunny!  Taking advantage of a day like this allows me to save on burning gas driving to the gym.  I don’t expect this to last forever!

My breakfast was a banana, and my lunch a meal of protein only.

When I first got out of bed.  I did not feel the same amount of enthusiasm as I would have liked towards looking forward to the extra workout.  But the best thing about it, is that I didn’t have force myself out the door.  I felt that inner motivation, that light that goes on in my psyche that says, “I WANT to go out there and capture the momentum that propels me to the point where I will feel as if I missed out on something wonderful if I don’t work myself out!”

It’s like the more you work out, the more you want to work out.  Just like the more you sit around, the more you want to sit around.

There are many accomplished people out there who are not as physically disciplined in their bodies.  For me, when I am physically sharp I am mentally and spiritually sharp!

The best part of it all, I still have a basketball game to officiate this evening.   In the meantime, I’m going to make myself a carrot and pear juice cocktail in the Blendtec, relax and ice my knees.

Looking forward!



***** 5 Star Serving Your Spouse *****

Question for Spouses and Lovers; If your lovin’ was named after a restaurant, what would it be? 

I didn’t ask my wife this question.  But rather I recently asked what’s her favorite restaurant.  Her answer was Citizen Kanes Steakhouse, a nice little spot in the St. Louis County municipal town named Kirkwood.  I took her there for our one and only visit during our most recent anniversary. 

Citizens came highly recommended by someone whose name escapes me.  But he or she had enough credibility to make break out in ‘big shot’ mode and make dinner reservations for what was sure to be a wonderful, but pricy experience. 

I was correct about all of the above.  The experience was awesome.  Sitting at a cozy little table in the corner upstairs, we enjoyed wine, appetizers and a steak that we both agreed was the best either of us ever had.  The service was nothing short of outstanding either.  We left the restaurant feeling extremely satisfied and thoroughly impressed.  We promised ourselves that we would visit again at some other special occasion.

citizen kanesCitizen Kanes

Part of what makes a restaurant experience unique, is the combination of meeting a primal need (eating for survival) and the extras that tap into another sensual desire which is to experience pleasure.  Eating touches four of the five senses.  i.e., sight, smell, touch, taste.  (You can get the fifth sense of hearing if the food is sizzling when you receive it.)

I liken the primal needs and pleasures of food to love and marriage.  Each partner embodies the restaurant service provider, as well as the one seeking to satisfy a hunger within.  To sustain health, we each need a steady diet.  Being fed once a month, week, or any random day is not going to make for a healthy and sustainable life.  However, food isn’t the only essential for creating an enjoyable dining experience.  There is also the atmosphere, the lighting, the décor.  A restaurant can have the best food, but if the atmosphere is not appealing to the eyes and nose, or if the host is not professional and inviting, even if the customer endures long enough to try to meal, the negative presentation can taint the entire experience.

The finest dining establishments entail minutia towards the slightest of details.  This includes the ingredients as well as the preparations.  The temperature and time in which to prepare certain items.  There isn’t just the main course, but the wine and the appetizers.  In order to succeed in providing Five Star service, I have to be on top of all the little details that make my abode a welcoming paradise.  Relationship food isn’t just functionally natural, it’s also emotional and spiritual.  It’s wrapped in a blanket of security and protection, fun and sensations.  I am the owner, the greeter, the server, the chef, and the general manager.  My #1 goal is to satisfy my customer so much that she never desires to eat at any other establishment.  I must be versatile and nuanced enough in becoming all things that I may please one.


Perhaps you think this is all kind of over the top.  That it doesn’t take ‘all of that.’  Here is something to consider.  Your lover is your customer.  And your customer is going to be hungry.  You may think your customer should always just show up at your doorstep.  But don’t sleep on this; There are many restaurants to choose from.  All of them with signs advertising what it is they have to offer your lover.  Some restaurants cater to the cheap date.  They deliver fast food in just a few moments.  You can get drive-thru service; go to the window, make a request over the loudspeaker, (phone, email, IM) and ‘wham bam’ receive services without even getting out of the car.  Some go above that, perhaps he/she would have opportunity to sit down a while and enjoy a meal.  The experience may not be so good that they want to go everyday, but perhaps there is something on the menu they enjoy.  Other businesses go the the very top of the food chain.  (Pun intended)  And get this, none of these restaurants care about where your lover dined previously.  They will welcome his/her business now! It doesn’t always take that much effort either.  Hell, nowadays one can even get a meal at a gas station!

And so it is with your lover. My goal is to represent the best of what my wife desires, (the most flavorful steak ever with all of the extras) while being able to quickly convert to something she just wants to snack on.  Even she doesn’t want to eat steak every day.  In my eyes, when it comes to taste and service, the customer is always right.  As the service provider who wants her repeat and exclusive business, I must adapt according to what she desires on the menu at any given moment. I am her personal chef.  And I have to be open for business at all times.

The purpose behind the goal, is that as she goes about her business and she sees the lights of golden arches, spots the brightness of the castle; as she passes by that spot that sits outback, she won’t consider stopping in because she’s already full and satisfied. 

So I ask you, what is your loving like?  I want my lovin to be like….Citizen Kanes~

Of Cars, Bars, Friends and Strangers


Recently I went to a local watering hole to have a cold one while watching some Sunday night football.

While there I had a brief conversation with BR. BR is a respectable enough fellow. He proudly wore his Vietnam Veteran baseball cap.  Upon noticing it I thanked him for his service to our country.

Shocked he thanked me and said, “Wow I don’t get that too often. Since those days I’ve normally gotten the opposite.”

I assured him that regardless of the politics of the war itself he was a soldier following orders and he should never be faulted for that. I appreciated BR as an American and my thanks to him was indeed sincere. After that we dabbled in a little conversation about politics and since he was rather full of the vine he was kinda loud with it.

It was clear that BR had too much to drink. After a while as he was saying his goodbyes I asked him how he was getting home. He showed me his keys and started to stumble for the door.  I knew he had no business driving that Lincoln Continental in the parking lot so I tried to convince him to let me take him home.  He tried to convince me that he was just fine and didn’t need my assistance.  As he stated his case and started to make his way to the door he stumbled into my arms.  I looked him in the eye and said, “BR, I know you think you are OK and perhaps you aren’t used to another man challenging you in this area.  But this is not about that.  Screw pride.  You are in no shape to drive.  This is not a judgment on you, but a plea that you accept the help.

BR was a tough customer.  I sensed he wanted to let me drive him home but he didn’t want to leave his car at the bar.  I supposed the thought of trying to get it the next day was burdensome.  I had to go for broke and pull out all the stops.

“Where do you live BR?” 

“About a couple miles from here,” he said.

I told BR that I would take him home in his car and arrange my own way back.  This seemed to satisfy the chap.  I drove him in his car and when we got there walked him into his home.  It took about 10 minutes to get from his drive way to his side door entrance as the man was totally six sheets to the wind. 

How are you getting back he said?

I’m walking… but its cool.  I’m in excellent shape!  Have a good night BR.  See you around.


Fast forward to this past Friday:

I celebrated my daughter’s 21st birthday where she was looking to get inebriated.  Not that this was her first day of drinking, but first day of legal drinking.  She was great on transportation as she and her family on her mother’s side took a school bus where they all rode together. 

When I got to the restaurant/bar I tried to get some photo shots of the birthday girl with my blackberry and initially had trouble with the lighting.  I decided to check my car to see if I had my camera handy.  Upon walking out the door I noticed two women leaving and walking toward the parking lot.  Well sort of.

Really they were all but stumbling towards the parking lot.  If I were to estimate the level of intoxication of the two, I would say woman 1 was about a 5 on a scale of 10.  Woman 2 was an easy 9 at best.   As they looked at me one of them made some sort of comment and laughed as I walked by.  I went to my car to search for the camera.  After a few minutes as I locked my car door noticed woman 1 had escorted woman 2 to her car.  Woman 1 literally had to help woman 2 into the passenger seat.  Woman 2 couldn’t stop laughing at herself obviously amused at her state.  Woman 1 said to woman 2 between chuckles, Call me when you get home so I will know you are alright.” 

These two events are what prompted this post.

This isn’t about the drinker who has too many and decides to get in the car irresponsibly.  That’s because most of us understand the dangers in that and there are plenty of organizations to sound that alarm.  Not to mention we do have millions of alcoholics in our nation.  Alcoholism is an addiction and as such I understand that any addiction brings with it irresponsible behavior.  Driving while impaired is dangerous for any and everyone on the road.  That includes myself, my family and friends as well as any of yours. We get that?  Or do we?

My problem in these two instances were not so much the drinkers, but the other patrons and friends who see someone in a drunken state whether a stranger or worse yet a friend about to get behind the wheel of a car and let them.   Believe me when I tell you that though I took BR home that night, I knew him the least of everyone in that bar and not one of them was willing to help him.  They were fine to watch him possibly turn his car into a missile and hurt himself and or others.  Woman 1 whom I referenced seemed to have thought to come to a stopping point where she wouldn’t be so bad off.  Yet she had no problem putting her “friend” behind the wheel knowing full and well she was not capable of expertly handling that vehicle.  Why wouldn’t she take her home?  Why not call her a cab?

Think about it.  Where I live there are thousands of restaurants and bars where one can buy liquor.  When I go to a bar, I know within 5 minutes who needs to drive who doesn’t.  In most every bar there is a great chance that every single night of the week there is at least one person that drives away intoxicated.  Victims of drunk driving can testify to the damage.  So can police I’m sure.  But how many of us enable people by not even saying a word.

BR could have kept blowing me off.  I don’t know what I would have done if he had.  Maybe I would have followed behind him.  Maybe I would have called the police.  Maybe I would have asked for some assistance.  I don’t know.  It just didn’t seem right to do nothing.  I think at the end of the day, the man knew that I cared and that made the difference.

I know we live at a time when folk don’t want to get in other folk business.  I know that challenging someone not to drive drunk can cause conflict.  It just seems to me that I would rather have a person tell me ‘no’ than to not say anything at all.  It don’t seem right to see someone who may have had too much get behind the wheel when it could be a tragedy waiting to happen. 

I hope others will extend a hand and show someone you care when someone can’t help themselves.  The life you save may be your own or someone you love.

A Son’s Perspective

cmac and lil c 09 

Recently I did a series of post about expressing my thoughts about each of my children.  My son Christian decided to write his own little observation about his father.  Here is goes.

I can fondly remember walking into my father’s room across the hall as he watched those late night Laker games. He would just be sitting on the bed or with his laptop watching and (if the time was right….or sometimes it doesn’t even matter) YELLING at the TV.  It was like coming into a “Daddy Zone” if you will.

A situation I could always remember is Daddy’s head poking out of the door stating the next mission of the day. Missions such as “Hey Chumney, you wanna go to the Y?” or “Hey Man, you wanna go watch a game with me?” OR the suspenseful “Hey Christian, you wanna go somewhere?”….Where is “somewhere”?……YOU DON’T KNOW!!!! BUT I dared not explain to my dad that I was unaware of our next destination because “It doesn’t matter, your with your dad”.  I could remember thinking that there is a 1% possibility that we were going to a retirement home to watch old people play backgammon for hours but this didn’t matter because I was with my dad.

My Dad has always been the organized and inquisitive type. Much like myself save for the organized part. You can tell that he was raised in a house where things “had to be done” to keep the house “running” (as if the house would explode if the dishes weren’t cleaned everyday). So because I can sense it, I can believe the “in my day” moments and just abide with no questions asked. I remember last year he was trying to teach me in the “Way of the List”. The Way of the List is an ancient art in which you carefully “List” your scheduled activities of the next few ydays, months and years. It takes years to perfect apparently because I could only get to about “5 minutes” ahead of the present. This grasshopper had no idea what he was going to do 2 months from now. This is just another sort of thing indicating that this man was just a little ahead of the game, which is delightfully reassuring in a father.

Playing basketball against each other was always a kind of loving rivalry we had. Pretty much every time we played against each other (which go back as far as i can remember playing basketball) he would win. I at first would always think of my game plan which was basically “man if I just run around enough he’ll get tired then I could save my energy to take him to the hole when i needed to” but to my utter demise the plan would backfire, and I would only notice that my plan failed when the game was 28-Daddy 8-Christian.  (The game winning scrore was 32.)   At this point I’m taking my very sweet time getting the ball when it goes out of bounce because this is the only break I get from this daddy machine. My Plan-B was “GET AWAY FROM HIM AND SHOOT!!!” I can DEFINITELY remember this working one time! It was a bright and beautiful day the first time I beat him when SUPPOSEDLY he didn’t let me win.

Every once in a while the dreaded “Father Son Talk” would resurface. This was always a time where I DID NOT want to say what was on my mind or my view on certain subjects but he would get it out of me anyways.  Why is this?  This is because he would set the mood for some serious talkin. We would either go out for a walk or a drive or just a little lunch.  Before I would eventually give in and start letting him know things I would just think “Man I better tell him SOMETHING or else we’ll never leave”.  Everything would eventually come out but the pretentious moments before were a little challenging, but my dad knows what questions to ask and will eventually say, “Just come out with it”.  This would ALWAYS throw me off balance even though I KNEW it was coming, a  little chuckle would precede me spilling all I knew to spill.

We have recently discovered we have a more similar taste in music.  I can say I haven’t appreciated music all my life until about a few years ago but it’s a great thing to REALLY explore.  This came into view after I picked up the guitar last December.  I started playing and I was already hip to some of the more detailed and immersed music such as Pink Floyd and The Eagles.  I sent my dad a link of a sample I did of some Pink Floyd.  I smiled when I got the message back “Freakin Pink Floyd!?”.  This is just another topic to explore with my father this year.

I always look forward to trying my best to impress him with what I’ve learned thus far.

I Love you Daddy ^.^


The Gift of Gab~



 I admit when Gabrielle was born, we didn’t make that father/daughter connection right away.  We were more like the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s.  We just fussed at one another a lot.  LOL  – Seriously!

When Gabi was a baby, the only two people she wanted were her momma and great-grandmother.  Anytime I tried to pick her up or play with her she would have a fit and just cry!  For a while after my feelings got hurt enough I would just be like, “Fine!  Whatever! Go to your momma then!” 

Fortunately, as time went on we found our niche.  She wanted her mother for nurturing.  But I was the cool dad that had all the fun make up games.  Gabbi and I were always good at that.  For instance one of our favorite games was called, “Tickle Monster.”   This is how it works:

I (dad) am the tickle monster and I pretend as if i am asleep.   Gabrielle has the freedom to say anything she likes without disturbing the monster.  But if she says the word ‘tickle,’ immediately the tickle monster wakes up to see “who said tickle?”  After that the tickle monster tickles her ferociously and says things like, “MMMM tickle monster tickles you – tickles me tickles everyone I see!”  This goes on until she says the magic words, “Stop, please.”   At that time the tickle monster slowly falls still back asleep.  We repeat this about 10 times till I get bored and we need to do something else to keep up the excitement. 

Gabrielle is really a sweet child.  She is very caring about others and very sensitive towards other’s needs.  Since she is my 5th child she has the benefit (or not so much the benefit) of getting the most experienced part of my parental experience.  On one hand I can tell her right away all about peer pressure and how she needs to compartmentalize the other school girls in her life by understanding who is a friend and who is not.  On the other I am far less tolerable when she doesn’t stand up for what is right especially as it relates to her own welfare. 

One evening she called me as I was about to start to officiate a basketball game.  She was crying about how she hurt herself doing something called a “cannonball.”  I forget all the specifics, but basically some girl picks her up and tosses her through some contraption they made up.  Gabrielle told me she didn’t want to do it and knew it wasn’t right but allowed them to talk her into it because she wanted to fit in.  After she finished the story I told her, “You lost me after you said you knew you didn’t want to do it and you knew it wasn’t right, but you did it anyway.”  Then I reminded her that in life she has to learn to be a good leader as well as a good follower.  “If a peer is doing something good then by all means follow that example.  If not then you have to be strong enough to lead from within.  Get this lesson now!  You don’t have the luxury to wait till you’re 25 to learn what I am telling you!  The sooner you figure the peer pressure/leader/follow principles and live by them the better.  And don’t you ever call me crying about doing something you knew you didn’t want to do in the first place but did cause somebody else said to do so!” 

Gabbi got the message.  I didn’t want to be so rough on her.  But I thought I had better leverage my daddy influence to where she felt it was more important to please me than her misguided peers.

Nowadays, Gabbi and I have a great relationship.  She loves to hang out with me in the local gyms when I do basketball officiating and she recently attended the first baseball game I had the privilege of umpiring.  Of course she didn’t pay any attention to me till she got hungry.  Instead she did what she usually does.  She made friends of strangers quickly and found other girls her age to play with on the playground.  (She’s 12 what are you gonna do?)

Gabrielle has a bright future ahead of her.  One of her best qualities is that she is tremendously courageous and even through tears and trembling will confront issues that can be hurtful and hard to deal with.  Equally charming is her sense of humor.   I have to really stay on top of my game with this young lady.  If she catches me slipping one bit or sounding old fashioned some old man jokes are sure to come flying out of her mouth with the quickness. 

I am happy to say that she adores her dad as much as I adore her.  She has her first dance recital in a couple weeks.  I can’t wait!

** Thank you for reading about my wonderful children.  I love them so much.  From the beginning my goal in raising them has always been focused and centered upon seeing them as mature adults who contribute to society in a positive way.  Every lesson, talk, form of discipline or adventure in fun is to instill in them a foundation of love and to know that they can live their dreams and be great achievers.  My job has been to provide a space and a lab for them to grow into, make mistakes and learn.  And to know that no matter how much I push them, I will always have their backs.  Every child needs that.  Cause trust me, the older folks time is shorter than ever.  The time to create and sustain legacy is now.  We create and sustain a lasting legacy of value most by what we invest in ourselves first and then into our children.  One great generation to beget another.

May God bless all of our little ones.  



Smooth Like Butter, My Son Alex


I’m used to giving all of my children nicknames.  Alex’s nickname was Butter.  Why?  Because he reminded me of a tub of butter.  He was thick, strong and hard.  His weight seemed dense.  So he was not just Butter like the butter you buy today, he was like the government issued butter.

Right from the start I knew Alex was going to be different and have his own way of doing things.  For one, if I recall it took him almost two years before he would speak a word.  He often pointed, made gestures or maybe grunted to you if he wanted something.  No matter what anyone tried, he wasn’t going to talk till he got ready to.

Though he had a slightly older brother, Alex never craved having anyone to play with.  That’s because even from the beginning he was very satisfied with himself.  His imagination has always been vibrant and active.   This was cool on one hand because Alex didn’t need a lot of management.  On the other hand it presented a problem when it came time to go to school. 

Alex’s didn’t need any friends.  So going to school was strictly business.  And when it came to socially working with other boys and girls, that didn’t work out too well initially.  Let’s just say my son was an ummmm bully!  So it was common for me to get a phone call telling me that he hit somebody’s child. 

Teachers didn’t have it so good either.  They had to really be on their games and think outside the box to get through to him.  Alex resented whenever a teacher treated and reacted towards him like they did all the other students.  It’s not that he thought he was better than anyone else.  Its just that his brain worked differently.  He perceived the world from a different perspective and cookie cutter approaches didn’t work.

I remember one teacher was having such a hard time that I considered taking him out of her class.  “Noooo, ” she exclaimed.  “I want to work with Alex.  I just don’t know what to do.”  That was the breakthrough he needed.

You see, Alex was the type of kid that needed to connect with you as an authority figure.  Once he did, there was nothing he wouldn’t do for his teacher.  This same teacher just adored Alex by the time the school year ended.  This was a process that was repeated for a couple years. 

Alex gets a new teacher.  Teacher uses cookie cutter approach.  Alex rebels, teacher resents Alex.  Teacher learns to give a little and understand the specific needs of Alex, and most importantly does not write Alex off as ADD or any other stereotypical diagnosis teachers use when they lack the skill to improvise.  Alex excels and becomes one of teacher’s favorite students.  That’s just how it was.

Alex has always been that cat that you just can’t tell him anything.  If it doesn’t make sense, he questions it.  Period!  I don’t care who you are!  He has a sense of justice that must be satisfied in his brain.  Again, a great strength that I appreciate and also have had to work hard with him on when it came to understanding that things will not always be explained to him.  Sometimes he has to simply obey because his understanding wouldn’t be fruitful regardless of his knowledge base.

I am so proud of Alex because he has really grown up a lot over the last few years.  I contribute this growth to a few things as I think about them.  He took Tai-Kwan-Do when he moved to Atlanta.  Learning this discipline was great for him.  He is also a very devout Christian and has been blessed to find a church that he is extremely comfortable with.  I think he is spiritual leader in his house.  He has the ability to see the good and hope in even the most dreadful circumstances.  His faith is a huge key to that.

I am happy to say that now he is still just as imaginative and still thinks out of the box, but he is savvy enough to know when he is dealing with mere mortals who don’t.  He makes mostly A’s in school and have adjusted well to navigating through dealing with new people and authority figures. 

In addition to being excited about his church, (which he says he attends 3-4 days a week) his love and gifts are writing his comics.  This started with the stick figures he would draw as a young child.  Under the figures he would write a line or two.  This blew up into what are now full scale stories and plots.  When I would take he and his little sister to the ‘dollar store’ to get toys, Alex would always get a notbook so he could draw and write more comics.

I remember when Alex wrote a paper at school on how to write a comic.  He described eloquently how to develop the characters, having a good guy, an antagonist, a conflict and so forth.  This young man is a genius!

Alex is no longer built like Butter.  He’s tall and slender, handsome and humorous.  He still finds comfort in being alone which is good.  But he’s very comfortable meeting people and making friends.  So that balance is evident.

Alex likes to call me his main man.  That’s a thing between he, I, and his brother Christian.  It talks of our kinship of father and son, and buddies and Butter.  He and his big brother are real partners and great friends.  I love the man he is becoming.


Behold! The Only Thing Greater Than Yourself!




Christian is my first born son.  I gave him the nickname Chumley.  That originated from the cartoon series Tennessee Tuxedo. Tennessee Tuxedo is a penguin and Chumley is a walrus who he affectionately calls his ‘little buddy.’  In each of the episodes Tennessee would get them into adventures exploring things inside the zoo where they lived, and Chumley would follow along blissfully.  That was me and Christian.  He was my little buddy. 

I remember when we took him to church for dedication.  My boy Evan “aka Copasetic Soul” was there because he asked to stand with me when Christian was prayed over.  Evan told me, “Man, when the pastor is finished, you have to hold your son to the sky like John Amos did Kunta Kinte on Roots and say, “Behold!  The only thing greater than yourself.”   Think I didn’t?  I sure did!  Evan just lost it caught up in that powerful moment.  I still get choked up thinking about it.  It was serious!

Christian has always been a mild mannered cat.  If you don’t know him, one would think he was kinda quiet and shy.  But when he gets comfortable enough around you he is a barrel of laughs joking up something terrible.  It took a while for me to figure this out because he would always be so quiet around me.  Now he knows he can be himself around his dad and our overall communication is outstanding.

What I really appreciate about Christian is that he is a very observant and sensitive young man.  He is a student of life like his dad.  Rarely does anything slip past him, even if he doesn’t say anything at the time.  Of all of my children, he has always been in tuned with me emotionally.  At the age of 15 he would ask me how I’m doing.  After giving him some generic response he would stop me and say, “No daddy.  I mean it.  How are you doing?  How are you feeling?”

Christian knows when something is on my mind or if I am going through something difficult.  I could see his level of maturity and for the last couple years I have been sharing what I call manhood conversations with him.  Christian allowed me to feel vulnerable around him and he lets me share even my pains and weaknesses with him.  At first I wasn’t sure if he could handle them.  But he always has and has never looked at me as less than his hero regardless of what I tell him.  Because we are so in tuned with one another, I help him by articulating his feelings by language what he could only identify though feeling before.  Its not unusual to hear him say, “I’ve always thought that, but never knew how to say it.” 

Some of my favorite moments with Christian were when we’d play basketball.  Not one on one, but when he would play on my team when my friends and I would get together.  I know he wanted to be down with me and my close circle of teammates.  We had played together in tournaments for years and the other guys watched him grow up.  So to see him come from being a little kid on the sidelines and playing with the other little kids to balling with the big boys, the men, I knew it meant a lot to him and it really meant a lot to me.  I would try to dominate at every phase of the game so he could see the fruits of hard work, even on the basketball court.  And it seemed like I always played well whenever he was around.  He wanted to impress me.  But I wanted to impress upon him that his dad was a true sportsman.  My theory was always, If I can beat them in what they like to do up at least up until a certain age they will always listen to me when it comes to other things in life.  I find this to be especially true with boys.

Christian is a very responsible young man.  He lives with his mom and little brother in Atlanta and is the man of his house even as I write this.  His maturity and thoughtfulness is shaping him up to be an outstanding young man.

Right now he’s really into the guitar and from the links he’s sent me he’s got some real game.  Nothing he accomplishes musically or otherwise would surprise me.  Christian has IT!  He’s got flavor, talent and charisma. 

The thing I know about Christian, is that we will always be close.  Sometimes we relate not merely as father and son, but like we are boys.  I am comfortable with that because he never tries to take advantage of it.  He knows I don’t play and that I am old school.  Equally true however, is that Christian has a lot to offer me.  And quite frankly there are times when I don’t mind asking the 17 year old what his opinion is of a thing.  Most of the time his thoughts are right on point!



* Christian (bending) with his friend JaLil

Dancing, Goth, & Hot Topics



When Chrystal was born I’ll never forget the first thing my mother said.  Upon seeing her complexion for the first time she exclaimed, “Finally!  One that looks like me!”  Chrystal is fair skinned like my mother and can often pass for Caucasian.  She is right.  There have been times they have been together and people thought Chrystal was my mom’s daughter instead of her granddaughter. 

Chrystal grew up trying everything.  She was the first to do tee ball, and soccer.  Every weekend she had some activity going on.  But what she really enjoyed and committed to was dancing.

I remember her first performance.  It was an all weekend thing and I picked the Saturday afternoon show.  I was probably more excited than she was.  Anyway, the program lasted a couple hours and Chrystal had like 3 to 5 spots.  After the show all of the dancers met with their parents, relatives and other supporters who would dote on them with many congratulations and compliments.  I waited patiently and knew she would be so excited to see dear ole dad and I couldn’t wait to shower her with praise.  Finally our eyes met and there she went!  “Daddy!  Daddy!  Where are my flowers?”  “Uhhhhh, what flowers I said.”  I noticed that other people had flowers in their hands but didn’t think much of it.  Nice gesture if anything.  I had no idea that bringing flowers to a performance and presenting them afterwards was proper protocol.  “I’m soooooooo sorry baby.  Daddy didn’t know that I was supposed to bring flowers.”  Chrystal was always a cool little girl.  Nice, pleasant, forgiving.  She would pardon the old man you’d think.  Her response?  “Waaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!”  She burst into tears totally heartbroken and disgusted at my utter ignorance.  She went straight for her grandpa and didn’t want to look at me.  I felt like the scum of the earth pretty much.  Yep!  That’s how I felt alright.  Needless to say I never showed up at another performance without flowers. 

What I appreciate about Chrystal was her willingness to be herself which was often different from the norm.  She has always been into exotic art, goth and other less than mainstream items.  She got me hip to the Hot Topic clothing store because there was a time she wouldn’t go any other place to shop.  She came home with gay friends 6-7 years ago.  Some of her friends appeared to be social rejects looking from the outside.  And they all seemed to love and adore her.  She has always been a very loving, non judgmental person.  If a friend of hers fell out with their parents and needed a place to stay for a while, she always brought them home and asked if they could be granted temporary asylum.

Chrystal was the kind of youth that did her own thing.  She rocks plenty of body art but is savvy enough to keep her tats from common sight.  For a while it didn’t seem like she felt the need for her dad as much.  Now that she is married and has a son, it seems that we’ve become closer than ever before.  We talk about most everything and I am still often surprised by her boldness.  

I took her and her husband Justin to one of our favorite breakfast spots the other day.  We met there once and now she’s hooked.  She’s been on me lately to take them back there lately.  “Look dad, me and Justin will pick you up and you pay!”  Finally I conceded to the deal, a sucker’s bet.  But taking life as it is she brought along a friend of her’s who was having a hard go of it these days.  She wanted to give her some support by treating her to breakfast.  “You don’t have to pay for her dad, we’ll pay for her meal.” 

Right!  Like I wasn’t going to cover that. 

But that’s Chrystal.  Always looking out for her fellow man.  I so appreciate her for that. 

Currently she is school to be a surgical assistant.  I am not surprised.  Of course she would pick an industry of service and helps.  

And yes she still dances.  She has a show coming up in June.  And married or not, I’m still bringing flowers.



1st Born, Daddy’s Little Girl


It happened late one night July 2.  The fourth of July fell on the weekend.  But my little treat was all I could think of.  My first memory of Charelle being born was the first time I had a few moments with her shortly after birth.  I was the only one in the hallway and most of the lights were off.  I was holding her and looking into her eyes, glancing over every part of her face.  She was all bundled up but I already knew she had all her fingers and toes.  What was strange was that as I stared at her she seemed to stare back at me.  Right back at me.  I know kids aren’t supposed to be able to see.  I’m not saying she recognized me or anything.  But it seemed as if she knew exactly who I was.  And all I kept thinking to myself was, “I can’t believe it.  I can’t believe it.  I have a daughter.” 

This wasn’t the, “Oh hell naw!” I can’t believe it going through my head.  I had been married a little over two years and wanted this child badly.  I even wanted a little girl on top of that.  And there she was.  I don’t quite remember what I said to her, but she kept looking at me and I think we both fell in love on the spot.  I was practically in a daze the entire 4th of July weekend.

The next memories were when she would sleep in her playpin.  We only had a one bedroom townhouse so she was there on the other side of the room.  She was an early riser and wanted to play immediately.  Before she could walk she would stand herself up on the railing and look at the direction of the bed.  If no one looked her way she would shake the playpen and try to talk.  I learned not to move and pretend as if I were sleeping because if she made eye contact, it was a wrap.  She would crack up in hysterical laughter and demand that I get her out of the playpen so we could play. 

Sometimes I would have to put her to sleep on the real bed.  Not only that, I’d have to lay there like I was sleeping too.   I would wait and wait for her to be still hoping she would fall asleep so I could watch the game or whatever.  She would put her arm around my neck.  Slowly I’d back away gently dislodging her arm from around me.  And soon as I got out of the bed, QUICK in an instant her head would bop up like it came out of a jack in the box and look at me.  I’d have to start all over again as she was hip to my game.  Sometimes it actually worked and before I knew it, I would be the one sleeping first.

Charelle grew up to be a brilliant student.  She was always in honor’s classes.  During parent teacher conference, it got to the point where the teachers would just say, “I don’t need to talk to you.  You know the deal.”  She also displayed great creativity in writing poems and drawing pictures.  I’ll never forget when she made paper dolls and cut out outfits for them.  They were so awesome they could pass for Vogue.  I’ve always complimented her on how she amazed me.  But too often she would just look at me and say, “Daddi you’re supposed to say that.”  “No no,” I’d say.  “I really mean it.  You are amazing!”

These days Charelle is growing into womanhood quite well.  She is a loving and devoted mother to her family which now includes two beautiful children.  I am very proud of her.  We have grown folks conversations now.  But she will always be my baby, my first born, my little girl.