Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Rest in peace and love to Mr. Michael Jackson. I guess you can say that life moves on, moves forward and in many mysterious directions, good and bad. I've been dealing with the loss of my mother and as such, have given much tribute to her here on my blog and I'm sure there will be more times when my thoughts of her will be revealed here but now I want to take a moment to give my respect to Michael Jackson's incredible talent and gift to the world. I was blessed to have actually seen him in performance way way back when I was a young kid. My father took me to see the then Jackson Five at the Hollywood Bowl and for some reason, I can remember the experience, the vibe much more so than I can remember details of the moment. From then I was hooked on the group; watching the cartoon show every Saturday morning and using some of the songs like "Got To Be There" as the background soundtrack to when I would be talking to one of my kindergarden honeys over the phone... *smile* I would later graduate to Prince but that's another story. I continued to enjoy the incredible creativity and voice of Michael and his brothers for many years to follow though I have to be honest and say that I'm actually one of the few on the planet that wasn't really into the Thriller album but prior to that with the Off The Wall album and everything before that, I was lovin it! I was chatting with someone the other day about the songs that dont get much mention but to me are the songs that get me moving and smiling.. I can hear the grooves as soon as I mention the titles.. I'm talking about "I Am Love," "Get It Together," "Maybe Tomorrow," "Looking Through The Window," "Corner In The Sky," "Forever Came Today." I can remember listening to many of these songs one year when I drove from Los Angeles to east Texas. My intention was to truly drive back in time since I was headed to a place that holds so many past memories for myself. Listening to those songs really takes me back to a time when all loved ones were still around. A belief in forever is a nonexistent thing, especially when your mother is no longer among the living. That being said, I imagine many hold the same sort of loving feeling for Michael Jackson. I hope that on the strength of those feelings they keep within their heart a positive memory of the man who was without a doubt, one of the greatest entertainers to strut from coast to coast, all over this planet. And on that note, let me leave you with this really cool video from another very creative soul; a true artist... Dwele. His tribute is way too cool...
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I'm in the beginning stages of going thru some of my mother's things. It's not a task I've looked forward to but at the same time it's necessary and to a certain degree, very interesting/fulfilling... Once again it feels like going back in time. It also feels like discovery and surprise. I'm amazed at all the stuff my mother held on to for a lot of years. One moment I'm finding in one folder, my birth certificate, her birth certificate, her marriage license, divorce papers, an unused passport that she'd planned to use when my father promised to take her out of the country. I found old collectible magazines and more family pictures that I hadn't seen before. She hadn't placed them in one of her many photo albums. I laughed when I saw an old ticket stub from 1985. It was for Prince and the Revolution performing at the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood. That was the infamous Purple Rain Tour.
I found a ton of pens and old unused greeting cards for every occasion that might come in handy. My mother collected some things and I can remember a long long time ago tell her how cool it would've been if she'd collected things as a kid or if her parents and grand parents collected things that she could bring forth into the present and pass them on. She agreed though she didn't do that before but she quickly changed that habit. Her favorite things to collect were the magazines, stamps, and anything else she could organize into some cool folder with tabs. I'm sure I'll discover more as time goes on but for now I'm just grateful for the time and the memories...
Monday, June 22, 2009
I meant to post this yesterday but I'll post it now for posterity sake as I say Happy Father's Day to my dad in heaven. Father's Day is for me a sad reminder of the passing of my dad ten years ago and my mom on June 8th. I'm grateful to all the love and concern shown my way recently. The folks making me promise to call them or they'll call me sort of thing. The list is becoming long; a blessed thing so it may become hard to fulfill that promise. I know they connect or relate with the fact that here I am an only child with no parents or even grand parents left in the world. That gives me pause and deep sighs because I miss all of them and so much time has passed by that it's just mind blowing. I didn't know my grandfather on my mother's side too well because I was so young but I do forever remember his huge grin and smile. His german features to the point where you could definitely see the german mixed with black heritage in him... I was very close to my grand father on my father's side. I feel like that closeness remained even after his passing so long ago in the early 70's. There's never a day that goes by without me thinking of him in some way. His influence on me was/is strong despite the short time we spent together. He is the man I always aspired to be like. Strong, hardworking, honest, carrying himself tall/confident yet gentle at the same time. I've always felt like he was/is my guardian angel all these years though perhaps they all are and especially now that my mother has joined them in heaven, she's probably watching me the most.
My father, Virgil "Sonny" Rivers was special to me and he lived quite a life. We at times had some misunderstandings or lack of communication when physically at a distance from each other but typically when we were together, everything was alright. Sometimes, I even felt a little jealousy coming from him because I reminded him so much of his father. It didn't help that his mother/my grandmother kept telling him and reminding him that I was the reincarnation of my grandfather. Later on when she got really sick, she'd even mistake me for my grandfather. Nevertheless, I was always proud and always admired my father for his accomplishments and his skills. He was gifted at carpentry even though he spent the first half of his life in the music/record retail business. And as time goes by, memories become like historical literature that would make for great books or fascinating movies... I know my father had fun in his life though I'm not so sure he recognized or even at times appreciated his journey. I think that's the best part of living is to recognize the journey you're on and to pay close attention to every phase of it, good and bad...
I can recall way back when my father was traveling up and down the westcoast working for Fedco's music department. Sort of like a salesman and bringing in the latest hot product into their various stores. Then when he had promotional copies or extra copies of albums, he would bring them home. Needless to say, I was exposed to a wide variety of music as I can remember him bring home the first Beatles record, Hendrix, various Motown stuff, Miles Davis, Coltrane, Issac Hayes etc. I didn't really know what it was because I was a baby but I'd always notice the different album cover images. After a while in the mid seventies my father got the opportunity of a lifetime to head a chain of record stores in Houston called Budget Soul and he ran with it. That was seventies heaven with the afros, beautiful ladies, cadillac sevilles, corvettes, cash flowing everywhere, bell bottoms and open silk shirts with some kind of gold chain and medallion. He got into partnerships with various music business folks in the Houston area like George Fraizer who was a DJ at KYOK, Steve who was a promotion man, Big George who was the muscle, Gil Butron who was his most popular at his number one Budget Soul store on Alameda. They all formed a little concert promotion agency called Family Productions. It was the limelight, the highlife and everything else. It made it hard for my father to come down to the reality of the slow times on Carmona Avenue with wife and kid back in Los Angeles. The life he was then living in Houston where eventually the mayor awarded him a key to the city for being a black man running a record retail business and generating more than a million in sales had him truly feeling himself. My father is originally from Mt. Pleasant Texas which back in his day was very few people. It was a country town in the best sense of the word and tradition. He had no indoor plumbing, they took baths by filling up an aluminum bathtub with water they carried in from the well. My grandmother truly made everything from scratch, whether it be churning the butter, making preserves from fruit off the trees, vegetables grown outside, chicken that they raised, etc etc. That was his life before and the reason why when he got old enough, he left though from what he shared with me, his first stop was Chicago before he made his way to LA. I'm not sure what he did in Chicago. he never went into much detail about it except to say that he struggled a great deal and that it wasn't what he'd hoped for.
As times went on in Houston and he decided to end things with my mother, eventually even his hightimes took a downward spin. As I always say, once you start feeling invincible, that's usually when a higher power steps in to remind you just how human you really are. He had some health issues, he started to get tired of the music business because it began to change and transform into something less personal, if you will. I mean, Budget Soul Records was the kind of place where you walk in and get personal attention from the person behind the counter. Is you weren't sure what was new and hot, the person would put the needle on the record and play it for you. I remember working in my father's store on summer vacation and having this one guy come in from one of the neighborhood discos and asking me to just show him what was out. I went through pretty much the top 40 plus records at the time. he'd hear the intro to the record and would already know it was good. At the time the hot stuff was James Brown, Rufus & Chaka Khan, Brick, Brother's Johnson, Tower Of Power, Crusaders, Parliament-Funkadelic who we always soldout, Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Barry White, and the list goes on and on when the music was incredible... Those were the days but then that change happened. In Houston it was a place called Cactus Records, which was similar to Big Ben's in LA where it was like a huge supermarket size record store that sold not just albums, tapes and cassettes but also electronics and everything else. No more personal attention. You just shop and purchase. That was the perfect opportunity for my father to get out and do something else he enjoyed that gave him real true personal satisfaction. He moved to northern Cali and got into contracting; building homes, doing bathrooms, kitchens, etc. As he and my mother redeveloped their friendship and closeness during these latter years, he was greatly encouraged by her and thru her pushing him he studied hard and got his contractors license. He did well enough to where he would work six months and then take time off to travel and see the world... He lived and that's what I appreciate about him. In the end I felt as if he were slowing down and really contemplating or perhaps re-evaluating his life, his friends, his surroundings but before it could all make sense so to speak, his time was up. He had a sudden and devastating heart attack on Oct. 3, 1998. His body was put to rest in his hometown, Mt. Pleasant. Unlike my mother who was blessed with time to get things in order and to make all of her wishes known, my father wasn't given that opportunity. Time was hectic after his death and that which perhaps he was re-evaluating made life very tough for myself and my mother as we attempted despite the aftermath to take care of his mother/my grandmother, Senora Rivers. I believe my father would've been proud of my mother in how she stepped in made sure things would be in order with Senora. It was rough because of others but easy because our hearts were in the right place. Life is precious and such an amazing journey.. My father had a great one.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
There are split seconds of unconscious times that a camera cannot always capture. Mostly that happens because individuals become conscious of the fact that something is being pointed at them so they react in some way, either embracing the fact that they're being photographed or putting up a defense while reluctantly submitting to being captured by image/photograph. Anyway, I say this to say that yesterday, as I enjoyed spending time with family at the gathering/repass of my mother, I noticed in one split second as I looked in the direction of my uncle Cecil "Bubba" Moorings that he in his moment of expression looked exactly like his mother, my grandmother, Alzata Moorings.. It was one of those moments when I wished I had my camera but I knew that if I attempted to take the shot, he would've noticed and the expression would've disappeared. I often wonder when moments like that happen, are we simply being visited by the loved one that's passed on. was my grandmother there in some way. I believe she was and perhaps my mother was two alongside of her; both probably enjoying the love and togetherness of family. I hope we can share that love again very soon not only because of a passing but more so in remembrance and celebration of those watching over us as well as us taking care of each other right here on earth... My uncle Bubba said to me, "we gonna make it.. we gonna get thru this.." and I believe we will, though our hearts will forever wish, want and miss those that have passed on... most notably, Natalie(my cousin), Alzata(my grandmother), and now my mom, Gloria.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I can remember ten years ago seeing my mother on the couch, holding a picture of my father in her hands. I knew the reason without her saying anything. He'd passed on at the young age of 57 and in between that moment and today, time has flown by with various ups and downs, good moments, highs and lows; life lessons one after the other. Now here I am with my turn to hold the picture on what feels like a Black Tuesday; the day of my mother's memorial service.
I'd been feeling like a whole was placed inside my body the last week. I wasn't sure what to do or where to go. All I could hear were words of concern and talk about being strong. Those words mostly came from me and from voices that I hear from time to time in my head. I could also hear my mother and see her face; sometimes a smile and other times a smirk as she loved to do. She was a strong minded opinionated woman with a very large soft side too... I'm gonna miss every ounce of her personality but I know somehow I'll feel her spirit, her concern, her love for she was forever and always doing just that; being concerned and giving her love...
Now, though I started this day feeling like it would be Black Tuesday, thanks to my family, Tamer, Charles, Bubba, Mildred, Johnnie(her voice reminds me of Texas and all my ancestors), Vaughn, Dee Dee, Chris, my uncle/brother Richard, Sylvia, beautiful Lorna, David Jackson and Tyrone Griffin(two heros of mine) and a whole lot of friends and other family, this day was beautiful and the memorial, truly special... I'm so grateful for the service given by special friend, Rev. Daryl Street and family member Rev. A.K. Brown. It was a beautiful occasion and one that I believe my mother would be surprised and very proud of. I don't believe she imagined many would come but the turnout was tremendous and I'm forever grateful to all that came. My mother is at peace and now she can be peacefully proud.
I'm also forever grateful to my auntie Tamer for all that she did and has done for my mother even long before this cancer came into our lives. My mother has always been proud and always excited about the special bond and special moments that the two have shared together. Tamer Ruth Moorings, my mother's special and beautiful sister. She did my mom proud and truly took care of her until their mom(Alzata Moorings) came and showed her the way to heaven... God Bless...
Thanks to all Texas family that visit this blog; College Station, Mt. Pleasant, Houston, Dangerfield, Bryan, Longview, Gladewater, Dallas, etc. Hope you know that Gloria Ann Rivers was a very proud Texan and I carry on that part of her spirit with pride... Today for the memorial service, I played a different version of the video tribute to my mother. Hope you enjoy and also visit the previous posts, saluting my mommy... Love forever and always... son.. V. Anthony Rivers III
Monday, June 08, 2009
How does one pay tribute to someone who gave them every ounce of life.. The memories that collide with one another deep inside my head and heart feel overwhelming at times. I try to be strong in the face of wanting to simply stop and cry but my mother is indeed in a better place right now, resting in peace. Though if her afterlife is anything like her life here on earth, she probably aint resting. Instead, she's writing up budget plans, taking notes, and putting enough money to the side so that she can enjoy a twice a month trip to the nearest casino to play bingo. Or maybe there's some sit and knit sessions going on in heaven. My mother didn't rest much until the powers that be placed cancer upon her shoulders and she had to take it easy, do a little less, cut back on those long drives out of town. I had two parents who loved to hit the highway and head to the promise land of east Texas and beyond. They passed that down to me. I live for moments on the road but I've had to stay close so I could be there for her.
Last year on June 23rd, my mother was diagnosed with gastric cancer. She fought hard and cooperated with all involved. She was a sweetheart in the midst of her frustration. She always questioned, why her and why now? She'd finally found HAPPINESS in a huge way. She wasn't without worry because I was around, working her nerves though not on purpose. *smile* Despite that, my mother found so much joy and purpose during what is now her very short retirement, cut even shorter. She just made five years after working so hard previously and putting in long long hours on the job. Sacrifice, dedication, love, concern, doing the best she could for me.. Every sense of the crown known as Motherhood, she displayed. She wasn't always a rock of gibraltar per se but she remained a constant cornerstone of support and caring, which always preceded her familiar sayings like "I tell you, Anthony Rivers" and "Oh God!" making you feel like the support might not come but it always did... always...
My imagination need not stretch when thinking about my mother. The memories are as complex as a Shakespeare play and as simple as an Isley Brothers groove circa the late seventies. I typically find myself wanting to go back in time and now is no exception. I would rob time if it meant I could go backwards to spend more moments with the love ones no longer here. Now that my mother is gone from this earth, I wish that to the tenth power... Life aint always fair but life is what it is.... time that doesn't always act in our favor. The only way to make it somewhat feel favorable is to take a little bit from my mother's consistent direction of prepare, stay prepared and never let a rainy day sneak up on you... She was prepared even for death despite the end in which the pain was severe and the mind not always clear. She handled it as best she could... Her sense of preparation reminded me of intuition. My mother’s intuition was a beautiful and blessed thing even when she still reluctantly allowed me to swim upstream against negative currents, go my own way, make my own choices, I still had her L-O-V-E. And along with it, she gave me a piece; a large chunk of her mind; advising me on what was good, what was wrong.. She’d give me her opinion on my choices; those that I allowed in my life that might bring strife. Mother’s intuition; she was right but I had to go my own way. Stubbornness pulls you that way sometimes... The best part though, is that in the end she found me happy, making the right decisions and allowing the right someone into my life…. someone she loved and approved of… someone she trusts and smiles at the mere sound and mention of the name… That’s an incredible feeling, blessing, honor and she was there too, with me as my mother joined my grandmother in heaven… My aunt Tamer said she prayed for Mother(Alzata) to come down and take her daughter with her to heaven and I believe she did... Love is that powerful and as they say, always on time... Rest in peace and love and I'll try my best to listen to every word of your wisdom... Love, Son
Thursday, June 04, 2009
I rush home to check on her. She struggles to breathe. Her heart is weak. Her chest resembling forced movement. By the grace of God, she's still in motion. I look in her eyes when she opens them. She's not completely there. Disoriented. Confused. Bewildered. Descriptions that never could be placed upon my mother at any point in her life yet now, close to the end, this is how it is. Decisions now placed upon me that she warned and prepared me for. She always knew how it would go and I did too but when it's your mom, a whole different perspective rides on your shoulders. I've seen the end stages before in dealing with both grandmothers but especially on my father's side; Senora Rivers. I was blessed with my mother to be the buffer during that time in my life but this time I'm somehow finding strength through experience and faith, family and love... I clutch tightly to all that keeps me going and very grateful for that which keeps me inspired to move forward in the midst of what will come tomorrow... remembrance and sorrow...