Thursday, February 9, 2012

Death is Certain

"Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone"...

Those are a couple of bars from the ultra-famous tune by Joni Mitchell, "Big Yellow Taxi". On Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, those words never rang truer for me, as I experienced the loss of my father, Augustus Greenleaf. "Gus G" (or Daddy Gus, as I've heard some others call him) passed away at the age of 77. Cancer was the cause, as it attacked his liver, lungs, colon, bladder, and kidney.

Honestly, his passing was s'thing I prepared myself for several years ago. He suffered a severe stroke less than 10 years ago... and that's when I saw the changes coming. The little things he used to do like watching "Looney Tunes" and "Tom & Jerry" everyday, going to the spa, and reading the Sports section all changed. Dates and numbers he would be able to recite easily... gone. But the thing that let me know my Dad wouldn't be with me to much longer is when he gave me his collection of jazz tapes. I ain't talkin' that bs smooth jazz crap that we both loathe so much. I'm talkin' about classic material like Bobby Timmons, Horace Silver, Jimmy Smith, Ahmad Jamal, Dave Brubeck, Charlie Parker, Yusef Lateef, Lee Morgan, and my favorite musician of all time in any genre... 'Trane. My Dad played music around me all my life. But it was something about the jazz, man.

Jazz and sports were our main connections. The jazz was heavier, though. It spoke to our soul. I remember many days he'd call me and see if I was listening to the Ed Love show WDET 101.9FM. Or how he'd call me and read off the list of tapes he wanted to go buy at Dearborn Music. He'd come pick me up just for the experience. After the purchase, he'd excitedly rip open the packaging and put the tape in before he put the car in drive. Once the tape got goin', he'd use the dashboard as an imaginary piano. I'd just shake me head and laugh knowin' damn well I was as into it as he was. Those are the memories of my Dad I'll remember the most.

I prepared myself for this day a long time ago. But until it happened, I never really know how I'd feel. I still don't know. Feb. 6, 2012 at 5:13 am was the beginning of his transition and probably the beginning of my transformation. The timing of it was so odd, considering I've been in the midst of planning a tribute to my good friend and music associate Titus "Baatin" Glover, who passed away in 2009. Add to that the fact my Dad's funeral is the same day as the soon-to-be legendary "Dilla Day" in Detroit, which honors the incredible producer/emcee/composer James Yancey. But the fact that those events are shaped around my Dad's passing push his transition closer to the forefront. It magnifies everything I've done and everything I'm about to do. Even still, I'm praying for strength and guidance because honestly... when the music stops I have no idea how I'm gonna feel. Now synchronizing headphones and pushing play....

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