I'm just a man ... standing in front of the world ... asking them to love my writing.
That's one cool old dude.
Some say that he's a dying breed.
A sneaky smile. A charming demeanor. A biting humor.
He loves the women. Particularly younger women. A dangerous proclivity when you're a man "knocking on 60". But that's what he prefers. Often saying, "There ain't nothing a old woman can do for me, but serve me coffee."
The player of all players.
But you don't get the full effect unless you see him on a Sunday morning. Donned in his Sunday suit, gators on his feet, old school change purse in his pocket, guitar in the case and strapped on his back.
He loves going to church. That's ingrained in him and it makes him feel good inside. But more than anything, being able to sit in with musician friends, especially on a evening program where various Gospel quartets are on the guest list to perform. No other Christian music gets him going like a Bluesy/Doo Wop-ish Gospel quartet.
He dresses the same when taking a young lady out too. Though most of them can't appreciate a night on the town to hang out in a Blues or Jazz club. However the ones who consider such an activity "lame and corny", will endure it all in the name of "Unc" pulling out that change purse and spending the contents on them. And therein lies a problem. That age old conundrum of deciphering whether or not someone wants you for you, or for what you can do for them.
And Unc has money. He keeps money. A truck driver that studied Mortuary Science. So when he wasn't driving, he was burying bodies. A passion that his kinfolk kidded him about for years. But what he can't put into words is how being a "undertaker" is a ministry to him; ministering to people in their deepest moment of sorrow. Whether the loved one died of natural causes, a crime of passion or gang violence.
Mississippi loves children. He will often exclaim, "Mississippi love the kids!"
His heart for babies also got him into trouble. Because once he starts bonding with a single, widowed or divorced woman's child and begins spending money on them ... A cunning woman will sink her hooks into him and refuse to let go like a literal man eating shark. And more than a few have tried to pin children on him that were not his.
I'm his nephew and I see what others don't or choose not to.
I see that look in his eyes. That faraway look that he'll get when he sees a married couple that he loves and respects; wanting what they have. Perhaps even aching for it. But unfortunately, many of the women he'd fallen for, loved to use him for his money; mistaking his kindness for weakness. One overly playful woman even pushed him in a swimming pool once, even though he assured her that he couldn't swim ... He almost died.
Eyes that were ''liquor yellow" and that color didn't go away. Eyes that hid a ton of hurt. Exactly what kind of hurt, I wasn't sure. Only bits and pieces. Like being raised in a house with relatives that resented him for being in their house. Where anything that went wrong was "always his fault". Where he was made fun of by the cousins who were supposed to be his protective playmates. Instead he was made to feel like an unwanted outcast that even his mother didn't seem to want. A party girl who cared more about grabbing as much gusto as possible, versus being a loving mother.
Mississippi "Sip" East.
His mother was a East. His father was a Hill.
After years of emotional abuse, Mississippi finally fell out with the East side of his family when his one cousin did the unthinkable and no one took his side.
Canada "Candy" East. The one that tormented him the most, though Mississippi had managed to continue to have lots of love for him in his heart.
Candy liked to party, but his wife didn't. Mississippi's wife did and began hanging out with Candy. That and the fact that Mississippi wanted to bury bodies for a living. A passion that made her the laughing stock of their small town. But Candy had a sensible and practical job at the paper mill. And she didn't have to wait for him to finish college. He had money now and had no problem with showering her with gifts. And though she still got up every morning to cook Mississippi breakfast and sat in a pew with him at church, she had absolutely no issue with sleeping with Candy as often as possible.
It turns out that her two kids were not Mississippi's, but Candy's.
Finding that out was a pain like no other, I would imagine. That's how he ended up leaving that sorrowful town and moved to the city where he could get to know the Hill side of his DNA much better.
And though he practiced his hoe-ish ways like a religion, eventually he spread his seed in the right direction. Former rapper/singer, Karissa Hem-Lee. A beautiful young lady about 30 years his junior. And in her eyes, Uncle Mississippi hung the moon. And she gave him a son.
Karissa loved my uncle so much, that with respect to what he'd gone through in the past, she offered, paid for and went through with a DNA test. She wanted him to know without a shadow of a doubt that their child was his. And when those results came through as 99.99% positive, you couldn't get him to stop grinning to save his life; bouncing his baby boy on his knee and holding him up in the air as he looked him in the eyes and proudly exclaimed, "Yep! You're mine Boy ... From tip to tail!"
© 2022 LaZeric Freeman