November was no joke! Full of emotions and transitions..
Over the summer, the JSU fellas and I began to discuss plans for homecoming this year. I have to admit, I had not been in years, so it was well overdue for this brotha. I was excited nonetheless and the stars aligned. I bought my plane ticket super early because I know too well how my schedule will get all mixed up and crazy and I will miss everything. So, with plane tickets and rental car taken care of, bags packed, destination intact, I was ready!
I flew into Memphis, under 3 hours from Jackson, so that I could pay a quick visit to the family: Pops, Big Mama, Big Bro, etc. After arriving and grabbing the rental car I couldn’t get in touch with anyone so I went to my alma mater Central “THE High School” just to poke around a bit and was completely surprised to find the marching band in rehearsal! I had no idea they would be there.
There I find fellow Boom-mate Ollie Liddell at the helm of the band at my old stomping grounds. Then, I see several former Sonic Boom Brothas at the rehearsal as well. That was such a surprise and so rewarding… timing is everything. Some of my best high school memories were in and around that very band hall. I learned a different level of musicianship in drumming, and so many things about jazz. It was at this time that I fell in love with A Night and Tunisia, Girl From Ipanema, Art Blakey and Charlie Parker, Glen Miller and Dave Brubeck, Zydeco and Cajun music of New Orleans – mostly from our band director, Bill McKee. At home, Pops was constantly playing Wes Montgomery, Chick Corea, Grover Washington, Jr. and Bitches Brew. So, I was getting schooled on jazz left and right. Not to mention my early exposure from Big Bro (and Merriman!) I digress…
Finally, I was able to find the family so I headed to North Memphis (Fredrick Douglass Neighborhood) to Big Mama and Big Daddy’s. I saw the family! Most importantly, I was able to see Big Mama – Mrs. Verta Boyd, the faithful, disciplinarian turned comedian (of sorts) – and would kiss that beautiful, deep chocolate, smooth leathery, black don’t crack forehead FOR THE LAST TIME. I just didn’t know it – at least I didn’t want to admit it.
I would soon hit the road for Jackson and discovered a little piece of Kemet on the way. There was an obelisk! I found out that it was erected in 2008 as a cell phone tower. That shows how long its been since I was there! I took a shot from the car…
I had the time of my life at Homecoming. Seriously, it was unforgettable and I felt like a million bucks at its conclusion. The brothas, the sistas, the early parade, the Sonic Boom of the South, the football action, the parties, and the undeniable LOVE was irreplaceable – I reconnected with some of the most fantastic souls on the planet. I miss those days.
When it was all over, I journeyed back home to Cleveland and less than a week later I got the call – Big Mama had indeed transitioned to the ancestral world to be with her lord, in whatever way her heart and spirit desired. I cried and quickly began to plan for another trip to Tennessee.
Funerals are never easy, but of course seeing your family is probably the most rewarding part about it. It felt so damn good to be around people who love you without reservation. People, who despite our differences, genuinely care about you and your well being. I took a few photos, but really wasn’t focusing too much on it. Here are a few images from the landmark of a home we affectionately called Big Mama and Big Daddy’s.
We had a beautiful time sending off the Queen Mother and will never forget her. She and Big Daddy are in us all.
P.S., there’s more of November to share… Like I said, it was a packed month!