Great families make great people. Great people make great families. Love in Action. Action in love.
This mornings walk had me clearly in a conversation with my late uncle, Melvin Harris, Jr. It was so strong and clear that I had to sit on a park bench in the middle of nowhere to gather myself. His LovePrint on me was strong and loud this morning. I could hear his smooth powerful voice, I could feel his hands on me, and I needed to be present in whatever it was. It took me several minutes to regain composure and try to get home and write.
I write from my heart. When my heart speaks, I try to sit and put those things into words so that I understand them, and myself. Maybe, you have someone who spoke to you, guided you, or directed you. For those people, I honor my uncle today.
Uncle Bro. (Said Uncle BRUH). He was this brilliantly witted, composed, incredibly funny man. He would come to Arlington once or twice a week, usually on weekends, and visit my family at my grandmother’s house right behind ours. He would bring three of my best friends with him, and along with his wife Clara, they constantly appeared to give me a clue about what families were about. We would cookout (someone please tell me the difference between a cookout and a bbq), play cards, watch sports, dance, eat, and laugh. It is where my love of of those things came from. Bro was the loudest voice, the biggest smile, and the maestro. While my grandmother hosted with the most-est, my uncle would orchestrate the energy like a maestro, setting the priority of the day with game watch schedules, card game order, judge and jury of teams selected to play, and usually the head of the table when all was said and done in the meals and the games played.
He was the ignition for my love for sports. His sons were my first true teammates and rivals at the same time. We would find our way to the playground to take on whichever of my friends were at the court, or on the football field. Well, by football field I mean Oxford Street, or Pollard Street, where we would play touch football. I still have the scars from catching my cousin Anthony’s post pattern and running into a parked truck, or the emotional scar of driving my cousin Adrian’s blue cat mini bike into the fence at Fort Barnard. They were generous enough to let me craft point guard skills on the basketball court, and helped master the whiffle ball knuckle curve. I have four older sisters, and my cousin Tina was one of two cousins who were the same and having younger sisters. And she earned it by taking the jokes of us all. I apologize now, Tina. Our bad.
We would leave the games and return to my grandmother’s house for what was always the best meal of the week. My uncle introduced me to THE BROILER. MY HEAVENS. He explained that pepperoni AND sausage was the true king’s meal. He explained the joys of eating a slice of pizza, a half of a steak and cheese sub, and the worlds best French fries. Or, he would stand regally over the grill out back, perfectly timing the hamburgers, steaks, and hot dogs to whatever temperature everyone wanted without missing a beat or sweating. He taught me the proper way to bowl, and introduced me to the Washington Senators, often driving all of the way to Arlington to get me to let me go with them to games at RFK Stadium. He always made sure that we went on Frank Howard bat day, or Senators batting helmet day. He also made sure that we understood what we were seeing and why we should go.
My uncle taught me how to count books in bid whist and spades, and gave me the handbook on properly execution of the final book when running a boston. (I am sorry that some of you got lost just now, but I will gladly explain it in private). My hand hurts just thinking about perfectly palming the big joker and bringing it above the head but not behind the ear to deliver it powerfully to my grandmothers good dining room table.
My uncle taught me to love my family even if it wasn’t a good family day. He is the constant reminder to love those around you whether they are yours or not, as though they are yours. He is the annual reminder of why I do not use fireworks, and the laughter I hear at any table of food. He is the standard of work ethic and love that I strive for.
I guess I just wanted to put it in the air that we all have the power to make lives better. This man loved me enough for me to remember him decades later. That, my friends, is a LovePrint.
Thank you, Sir.