|(Pictured: Me and my Uncle Larry)|
All I knew was that this could have been a moment that would change my life forever or send me back to the drawing board.
When I last blogged about this, I told you I had obtained an address that had the names of my two uncles, Larry and Curly, listed as the owners.
On the afternoon of July 4, my family and I drove out to that address. It ended up being located in a nice neighborhood in Katy, Texas.
We pulled into the driveway. They stayed in the car with the engine running just in case it was the wrong house and we had to make a run for it. Just kidding. (smile)
I said a prayer and armed myself with my manila folder that obtained my father’s death certificate, photos of him and my mother, a picture of my grandmother, and all of the research I had done up to that point. I came prepared.
I rang the doorbell with nervousness.
A tall dark Black man came to the door wearing a red shirt and eye glasses.
He said “How may I help you?”
I said “Yes, I am looking for Larry or Curly McCray.”
He said “I’m Larry.”
Reaching to shake his hand I said “How are you doing?”
He hesitated to shake my hand but did while asking again “How may I help you?”
I then uttered the words…..sigh….wow I am getting teary-eyed just remembering this moment.
I said “My name is Jesse and I am Joe McCray’s son.”
Then…..a big smile came across his face…..he said real loud “You sho’ is! You look just like your daddy! C’mon in man!”
My smile stretched beyond ear to ear. I couldn’t believe it. It was the correct address! I found my father’s family! I said to myself “Allah u Akbar!” I went to the car to get my family and my wife knew by my smile that it must have been good news.
We went inside and he gave me a big hug and he said “Man, we was wondering what happened to you. I haven’t seen you since you were 8 or 9 years old. How did you find us?”
I started from the beginning of this entire search going back to September. He was in awe of it all. Then he went and pulled out old pictures of my father from his younger days including a high school graduation picture. (shown below). Uncle Larry gave them to me as a gift.
Between all of them I have about eleven first cousins living in parts of Texas and Louisiana. I will get to meet them all too.
Uncle Larry then started sharing with us how exactly my father ended up being shot and killed. This was the tough part to digest. He said my father and another guy was fighting in a club in 3rd Ward in Houston. My dad was getting the best of the guy in the brawl. They ended up taking it outside and the guy went to his car, got a gun and shot my father. My father reportedly staggered back into the club just before the killer came back and shot him again point blank.
Sigh….I was visually imagining the entire thing. I thought to myself “Somebody shot my daddy.”
Uncle Larry went further into how my father got wrapped up in the street life of hustling. He described how they were saddened and shock that my father even went that route, especially since he wasn’t the type. My father’s funeral, held at McCoy & Harrison Funeral Home, was packed with “pimps, prostitutes and hustlers” according to Uncle Larry.
“Your father was deep in the streets and had major influence,” said Uncle Larry.
He even said it was at the funeral that all of these street hustlers found out for the first time that my father even had family because he kept his family separate from the life he lived in the streets. There is more but I will save that for future blogs. He pulled out a picture book and showed me a photo of my deceased grandfather, Joe McCray Sr. I have his features as well. That nose. I came to the house thinking my grandfather might still be alive, but he’s not. I look forward to learning more about him and my grandmother.
In between telling us these stories, my uncle kept saying “Boy, looking at you is like seeing Joe again. You look so much like him….I just can’t believe you found us.”
I could only grin like a five year old who just received a Nintendo 64 for Christmas. Throughout all of this I wanted to just shed tears because I have heard stories from people during my search who have been trying to find their parents for years without success. And here I was sitting in the living room with one of my father’s brothers face to face after ten months of searching. God is great.
Uncle Larry and I exchanged contact numbers and we’re planning to get together again real soon so I can roll around to meet my other relatives. We hugged several times, took some pictures together and then he dropped some other information on me before we left.
“You got a little sister around here somewhere also,” he said.
“Huh? For real?” I said.
I remember my father’s death certificate stating that he had a surviving spouse. Well according to Uncle Larry the two of them had a baby girl. I got excited even more. I have a sister to find. I left Uncle Larry’s home in amazement.
I received my first two calls from Uncle Curly (pictured below) last week and we talked for several hours. He told me even more stories about my father and even revealed to me the major drug dealer whom my father worked for back then. Interestingly I know that person because he’s now a Muslim. Small world, huh? Uncle Curly explained his job to me, asked me several questions about my life and just kept saying “Man, I wish I was at home right now to see you nephew.”
I felt the same way. He had a chance to see my blog and told me “Boy, you on the move doing good stuff. I’m proud of you nephew. You look just like Joe. It’s like Joe has come back to life.”
Has all of this sunk in for you yet? It hasn’t for me. I feel like I am on the set of a Tyler Perry movie.
Uncle Curly will be home for Thanksgiving. They had planned to go on a vacation trip to Belize when he got here but they cancelled that trip because he said “I want to spend every moment with you nephew.”
By the Grace of Allah (God), a new chapter is beginning. My father is not physically in my life but I now have a chance to embrace his essence in my uncles, aunt and cousins. Soon I will get working on finding my little sister because I would like to embrace her. She might not know about me either.
There is not a word in the English dictionary to describe how my entire family and I feel right now.
More next time.
P.S. Also, I found out how my dad and uncles got named Larry, Curly and Joe. My grandmother took care of the children of a White woman back in those days. The White lady named them that. Go figure.
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