When my son’s father and I decided on our son’s name we decided that we had to incorporate some family into it. We are both family oriented and both felt a certain connection to our paternal grandfathers. Now a while back when I was a teenager I told my grandfather that I would name my first son after him. He asked me not to because, he didn’t like his name! LOL! This guy! So when we were talking about naming our baby, I thought about the day my grandpa introduced me to what he called the Soul of Love.
There isn’t a way to describe my grandfather without sounding like you are describing some complex character in a dark comedy. He was smart, intriguing, mysterious, hilarious, serious, complex, creative, charming, loving, stoic, crazy, reasonable, endearing, protective, mean, sweet and everyone who met him fell in love with him. Before being a victim of a home invasion and shot point blank with a shot gun, he was constantly in a three piece suit. After the accident he was in a silk robe, matching pajamas (some of them had initials on the pocket) and leather slippers. His voice could be as soft and creamy as butter or as loud & jarring as thunder. He was really one of the most fascinating people I knew. And he knew it! LOL!
Right before he died, I said, “Grandpa, you’re an interesting dude!” He smiled and said I should be grateful for giving me something to talk about to my future undeserving husband. Then added softer, “I hope that you will tell someone about me.” he said through a whispered breath. I told him, “How can I not? I mean you’re the only black gay man I know who isn’t black and remarried his 19 year old bride who is the grandmother to his grandchildren and would wear a three piece suit in this place if they would let you! There is no one else, Grandpa. Don’t you know you’re everything?” He gave me a small laugh and big smile “I’m the bees knees?” At that moment I knew it was coming to an end. Our fun. This was the final stretch. I smiled back through my tears and said, “The coolest, dude!” He grabbed my hand and turned to look me in the eyes and said, ” You guys have been the soul of my love.” I understood it all. Everything he tried to tell me. It took everything in me to not break down at the moment. I was leaving St. Louis the next day and I knew I wouldn’t be able to be back to see that smile again. My grandfather passed away about 4 months later.
You’re probably wondering what he meant when he called us the Soul of his Love. Years ago after my grandfather’s accident, there was a long period of time when, whenever I came over he was in the bed. And no matter what we were about to do when we got to Grandpa’s house, the first thing I did was go to the back to his room, get under the covers and listen to the radio with him. He’d ask how was the weather where I lived, I’d tell him. He asked about school and I’d tell him. He’d ask a couple other random questions and I’d answer. Then he asked if I knew who was on the radio. If I answered right, I would get some money! LOL! This was the norm for some months. My grandpa was in that bed for a long time. Well one day my dad and I walked in to my grandfather sitting on the floor with large albums and A-Tracks all over the living room spewing out of the closet! Yes, you read right A-Track. My grandfather told me that all the good music was A-Track or record. If it wasn’t on either one of those then it was crap! HA! Well from what we understood, Grandpa was looking for a specific album, John Coltrane & Duke Ellington’s Sentimental Mood. Grandpa LOVED Coltrane. He loved Davis…but he LOVED LOVED Coltrane. My dad finally found it and helped my grandpa to the couch. The record started. I watched him. It looked like his whole spirit relaxed.
He looked at me and asked if I knew this song. I shook my head no. He told me it was his favorite song of all time because you could hear John Coltrane’s soul speak. I looked at him in complete confusion. First of all how does a soul speak?! And second how does a song make you do that? He put his hand over my eyes to close them and then put my hand over my heart and told me to breathe. And I felt something. I don’t know what, but I know I felt something. It felt great. I heard my grandfather say, “You can hear his soul through this song. He’s literally pouring his soul into this song. His love, his soul. This song is the soul of his love.” He was trying to get me to open myself and hear my own thoughts and feelings. He wanted me to know love. I can hear my grandfather’s voice when I hear that song.
The first time I felt my son kick in my belly, I felt like my soul was finally alive. So many things made sense to me. I heard Sentimental Mood. I heard love. I felt love. I found out that day that love has a soul! And so my little Coltrane got his name. I understood what my grandfather meant that through it all his family was the soul of his love… he wouldn’t be free without us. Sounds a little hippish until you sit, and listen to a great song where an artist has laid their soul on a track, you can find yours.
Grandpa, I found the soul of my love. His name is Jax. And he loves John Coltrane and three piece suits! xo English