The three strongest men that I've ever known were my father, Horace Grey, Jr., his sons (my brothers), Carl Sidnye Grey, and Derrick DeWayne Grey… all gone from this earth and my life. Happy Father's Day to all of them, R.I.H.
My Dad set the bar for the young and old with his tales of raw manliness growing up in the south, on a farm, with no real formal education, except for rainy days – only on those days he could attend school. Self-made is what he was, sending off for magazines to self-educate himself about cars and engines. It paid off, as he quickly became a great mechanic with his own business “Grey Auto Repair” for over 25 years in Chicago. That to me is A Man!
My brother Carl, so young at the age of 14, was working at the corner grocery store, attending school, and a member of the h.s. football and wrestling team. But he still took a lot of time out to help mom and dad around the house, and with mentoring his fives sisters and brother. He became a man at an early age, and soon fell in love and fathered two children (Karen Howse and Keith D. Grey). He next met his wife and fathered a son, Carl Dushaun Grey. His marriage, so young at age 23, was a tumultuous one, and soon he and his new wife began to separate. He came back home and resided in the basement of our house and secretly, I was so happy to have him around again. What a joy to hear him sing, “Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling…” with his beautiful voice. And what a joy just to run to the store for my brother, iron some pants, or the best yet, swing from his huge biceps when he was working out. He was a finely tuned athlete, and such a good father to be so young in age and in experience. Taking a note from Dad, he worried relentlessly about providing for them, and tried to keep the food on the table by working 2 or 3 jobs at a time to get it done. Alas, at the age of 24, Carl went to a party one night and never returned, for the streets of Chicago had claimed another young black soul as he was killed that night. That day our family almost died with him. For the first time in my life, I realized my own mortality and the fact that we all must cease one day. However, my Dad never fully recovered. He used to revere in taking Carl to work with him at 4 a.m. to help out at the auto shop, working on cars, showing off his intelligent son to his friends and co-workers. He then began to just go through the motions, bringing home the Butternut, as he knew he should as head of household. But pent up pain like that can manifest itself, and somehow and it did—he developed stomach problems and Cancer over the next fifteen years and then passed away in 1986. He was only 58 years old. At this time we all were a bit older, and had looked death square in the eyes when Carl passed away; so with honor, we buried our father and vowed to keep up the ethical traditions of the Grey family by instilling the pride, joy and lessons of our Dad to the younger men. And, especially to be strong in the face of adversity.
Baby Brother Derrick to the rescue – only 5’6” tall and all man—all man. After Carl and Dad left, the women folk clung to Derrick and spoiled him so badly. But it only made him the super-friendly, handsome man he turned out to be. Derrick also had inherited huge muscles, and a big mouth, talking crazy funny stuff constantly, and yet highly intelligent. But then, those that knew him understood this and Derrick realized the shoes were empty after Dad died and jumped right in there. And, boy, those shoes were big! He struggled, he fell, he got up, he fell, and he got up again. Nothing could stop him from being the man he knew he wanted to be, and needed to be, for our family and his. He grew up to be a foreman in construction, a sprinkler fitter, and so he knew how to give orders, and how and when to receive them from others. He created a beautiful family, a wife and three children. And just when we thought it was safe to go back in…Derrick and his family went through terrible rough spots, but always stayed in love and cared for one another. And eventually he came out on top. He had only recently seized his place in power, as the head of the Grey Family and was regularly mentoring to all the young men next in line for the big three spots, DuShaun Grey (Carl’s son), Lewis Vaughn IV (Jackie's son), Jason Grey (my son), and Lance Grey (Janet's son). They couldn’t wait for the next guys’ retreat where Uncle Derrick would talk more smack that was chalked full of knowledge, more than a little bit, so they would know how to receive the baton from him, and how to prepare the next one to pass it forward. Sadly, God had other plans and Derrick was called home in January 2011.
Still, when I think about Father’s Day, it brings a big smile to my face. I remember all of the “Greyisms” my Dad bestowed on his children. That is, rules to live by, that I follow to this very day—yes, Mr. Horace Noel Grey, Jr. (RIH), You did a very good job. You instilled in me that whatever you do, try to be the best at it. And when you fall down, get up and start over. Good Advice!
To all the "Fathers On the Scene,” Keep Up the Good Work—It Pays Off Greatly!
To all "Father-Figures" – THANK GOD FOR YOU, “Keep Up the Good Work--Children Rely on Dads’ Sound Advice and Leadership More than Anyone Else!
And, I thank God that my Father was a spectacular one, showing me what Real Men Stand For. Rest in Peace and Heaven Dad.
Love you always, your Baby Girl, Faye Renee
Stay strong all Young Fathers, and pass it forward.
Happy Father’s Day!
A Special Shout Out: HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to all the Father-Figures that helped mentor my son Jason: Horace Noel Grey, Jr. (RIH), Isaac Coulter, Michael Brown, Rodney C. Andrews, Derrick D. Grey (RIH), and Joseph A. Morris (sometimes, it takes a Village)