He Lived A Long 77 Years - The Jose Vilson

He Lived A Long 77 Years

by Jose Vilson on August 16, 2011

in Jose

You ask me if I’m OK, and I say yes. I’m OK in the knowledge that, the day after I found out Luz and I have a baby boy awaiting in her womb, my grandfather passed. It was a Tuesday when I saw my boy’s penis through black-and-white live-action screens, exclaiming “YES!” in relief that I finally found out a whole lot more about the fetus occupying her space for the better part of four months. It rained hard that day, and, as the taxi windows clapped with the drops of water from the outside, I told Luz about the joy I felt of this tremendous undertaking, but the eerie feeling I felt at the pit of my stomach. Shortly thereafter, we called her mom, my mom (who didn’t pick up at first), and then her father. She called my mother a second time, and my mom might as well have jumped out of Luz’s cell phone receiver with her elation.

But something was off. Mom said she was made aware that my grandfather was officially off the pipes and machines keeping him alive over the last week. After she had just visited him in Miami, my mom’s father reassured her that he would eat and he would be well, words used to allay my mom’s otherwise nervous demeanor. On Wednesday, that message sat with me for a few hours. After our usual morning dialogue and reflections, I told Luz I felt like I had to visit my mother, just to reassure her. I hopped on the 2 train, and transferred to a bus that made me wait far too long.

My mother’s eyes welled up on sight, understanding what was to come. Two hours after I arrived, she got the phone call. He passed away, quietly and neatly. His six-foot 300-pound frame and powerful bass gave im a presence I could only hope to emulate in my adult life. He saw himself as a true patriarch, proud, stout, and full of vigor. Even a decade ago, he still knew how to take his Metrocard, and traverse the MTA to Washington Heights, where he partied and BSed with alligator shoes and a Kangol. Even when he lost some of his teeth, he still knew how to crack jokes and tell stories really loudly. He didn’t always have the greatest relationship with his grandchildren, often losing his charms in favor of some old fashion “I’m an adult, so what I say goes.”

As we all got older, it became easier to appreciate him after he also reflected on the attitudes he would leave behind. He didn’t want to make apologies for his life, but didn’t want to find people angered by him in the afterlife. It’s his biggest negotiation. Now on the way to Miami, we may be officially mourning his passing, but he lived a long 77 years, ones that weren’t rich monetarily, but rich in living within the means given to him. It’s hard to mourn someone who had so many moments in life to value, especially when you relate that to the life of a newborn.

He won’t be expected to fill in the shoes of the 77-year-old, but he’ll at least know that he comes from a lineage of people who lived life to the fullest. And a couple of Kangol wearing Dominicans.

Jose, who’ll be back on Thursday …

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Lehmann August 16, 2011 at 12:54 am

A wonderful tribute, my friend. So sorry for your loss.

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Katy August 16, 2011 at 1:01 am

Really beautiful. The cycle of life continues to inspire teach and yes pain us at times. Congrats on the baby!!!!!!!! It is THE most beautiful journey. Love n light.

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Tafari August 16, 2011 at 1:03 am

Congrats and Condolences.

My grandmother got sick almost 14 years ago. A few moths after falling ill, she passed. Luckily, I was able to have some kind of goodbye but it wasn’t much. Like Luz, Suzanne was pregnant with our 1st daughter so the pregnancy, death & funeral made that time bittersweet.

Years later, our oldest baby is great. The memories of my grandmother keep hope alive and she is always here.

Stay strong… Commando warrior.

Damn, y’all about to have a baby….

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Jane August 16, 2011 at 2:01 am

Jose,

Lovely piece on someone that will continue to live on in you and now your little one. Thoughts and prayers to your mom and family.

Take Care,
Jane

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teachermrw August 16, 2011 at 2:21 am

My sincerest condolences, Jose to you and your family. We are blessed to have them for a long time, don’t we?

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Fred Klonsky August 16, 2011 at 7:41 am

Condolences and warm regards, Jose.

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Joyce Reynolds-Ward August 16, 2011 at 10:36 am

Condolences and congratulations!

My son was conceived just before my mother died. That was…odd, to say the least, especially since I didn’t know about it until a few weeks later. Circle of life and all that.

77 is a good long run (I say this, knowing I’m 24 years away from that…eek). Your words really brought him into focus. We don’t say enough positives about our proud patriarchs who live their daily lives and make such a difference in the lives of those they leave behind. It’s not the mouthy privileged jerks pretending to be patriarchal who matter in the long run, it’s the number of men like your grandfather who do.

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e. August 16, 2011 at 10:38 am

lovely piece. condolences my friend and congrats as well. have a safe flight homie, i’ll see you soon

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Jose August 18, 2011 at 7:03 pm

I can’t even begin to thank each of you individually enough. So, thanks all. He’s fine. I’ll tell you; he probably joined me in spirit when I first saw his body. He helped me protect my mom. Felt odd, but it worked. Thanks, everyone.

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Matt August 19, 2011 at 11:27 am

Fall if you but will, rise you must.

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