thoughts for my grandfatherPosted: December 16, 2012
I have never known the experience of having a grandfather in your life to learn from and spend time with. My father did not know his father and my mother was estranged from hers. However, my father’s grandfather, my great grandfather, has always carried such importance in my life. His name is Herman Walder, but we call him Daddy Herman. I never knew him but I know many things about him. He was a well-known and talented jazz musician in Kansas City, a family man, and a sharp dresser. His daughter, my grandmother, says that he used to say ‘sharp like a Harlem sissy’ in regards to his fashion. A lover of womyn and an ally to the queers. The truth is my grandfather was always down for a good time, and during the prohibition days good times were to be had at the underground jazz clubs, where musicians, queers, prostitutes, jazz lovers, and anyone looking for a party could be found. He was a charismatic person and an artist. Even though I never knew him I have been connected to him all my life. I guess it’s just something in the intuition; I feel his spirit in my own.
He has been gone for 28 years now. I’ve been thinking about him a lot today and it has felt good to meditate on his spirit, as well as my own. Been feeling preoccupied all weekend with thoughts…thoughts for my brothers who are so alienated in this world. Dehumanized as ‘criminals’. Disconnected from feelings. The legacy of our continual slavery. I think about the challenges I have experienced with trying to love my brothers. The disappointment and violence that sometimes greets this love. I think about humanizing them as I humanize myself, so that we can really embrace each other in our many selves. In honor of those feelings and my grandfather I wanted to include a poem by the fierce and important poet Wanda Coleman. Also known as the ‘LA blues woman’. Her words always radiate with truth and power.
Much love for the ancestors.
Holding the Sidewalk Down by wanda coleman
it is an american universal peculiar to certain black men
who hang out on street corners no matter where
making signals to one another
some mysterious juju/communication
worshipping the passing of a life
that excludes them