OWED TO LOU - THE LOVE OF MY LIFE - 5th Anniversary of His Transition to Ancestor/Angel January 7, 2013

By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Hello All:

                                                LOU WILSON THE LOVE OF MY LIFE (kind of looks like an odd shaped halo doesn't it? When I took that picture, I wasn't aware the light was coming through like that. 

Well,  it's finally here - the day I had been subconsciously dreading - the 5th Anniversary of Lou Wilson/ Love of My Life's transition to the realm of Ancestor/Angel. I had fully expected to be a basket case of tears and blubber at the memories of our life together - and apart (we were separated for a stretch) -  I expected the memories that came flooding back to have me paralyzed with grief.  But, you know what?  I'm kind of okay.  I'm in a much better place than I had anticipated I would be.

I had kind of psyched myself up to be down. But I got such a great message this morning on Joel Osteen - that turned my whole perspective around - and it was truly a blessing.

During Osteen's service this morning, there was a series of "Declarations" where blessings were declared over the congregation at Lakewood, and those of us who tune in online and from Sirius 128 - the most significant of which, for me, was dedicated to those of us who are grieving for the loss of a loved one.  The message of love that outpoured lifted my spirits and put me in a totally different frame of mind.  Osteen's Grief Minister declared: "This is a year of restoration.  This is a year the Holy Spirit will walk alongside you, guide you, and let you know where your loved ones are.  God loves you so much He gave us this year for strength, wisdom, knowledge and understanding.  God loves you so much that he would never do anything to hurt you.  He never makes mistakes, and whatever you have lost will be reinstated to you double fold  (now that does not mean that Lou s coming back - but it does mean that I can be at peace and move forward).  I said:  "AMEN!! Thanks!! I needed that" 

So now, instead of mourning,  I am in the mode of celebrating this fantastic Fine Black Man and our 40+ years (off and on) journey;  and the great and crazy times we shared together.  Mind you, it wasn't all peaches and cream. You have two indomitable forces coming together - Scorpio (Lou) and Aries (me), who always had to be right all the time - but knew that we were absolutely right about loving each other.  

Lou & Glo
At the Hilton, just outside of Philadelpha 

Lou was a musical genius. He was the musicians' musician.  He wrote, composed, arranged, sang, played, danced and oozed music from every poor of his body.  Musical notes ran through his veins.  He would go to sleep and wake up singing or humming or writing something.  If a glass tinkled up against another glass, he would hear that as the beginning of a song  If someone said something in a certain way, he thought of it as a possible lyric.   

I don't have to tell you that Mandrill Inc. was Lou's brainchild.  Nor do I have to tell you that he was devoted to his brothers - Ric, Carlos, Wilfredo, as well as Claude "Coffee" Cave, who made up the core of the group.  They were a close family, raised by their Dad, Wilfred, to look out for each other. Dad Wilson was also the one who insisted that each of his boys learn to play a musical instrument, and made it mandatory to practice before they went out to play.   So, no matter what, they were integrally intertwined with each other.  Lou may have been the genius behind the music, but they inter-inspired each other.  So when I took on Lou Wilson, I took on the Wilson Family, and that was a major undertaking. Mom and Dad Wilson were the most affectionate loving people ever - they were still romantic about each other.  They would hold hands while the proudly watched their sons perform  They were the epitome of family from birth all the way though Lou's transition.  He, as the eldest brother, felt a profound responsibility for his younger brothers.  But that did not stop sibling rivalry from happening.  It was always comical to watch them to inexact when they disagreed - because, no matter how mad they were, or how loud they were, you knew that at the end they'd end up by hugging, slapping high fives and getting on the with business of making great music.

The great thing was Lou's taste in music was eclectic, and because of it I learned to appreciate the Beatles, Joe Cocker, all forms of jazz, and I taught him about African Music (I played the Sekere, agogo, Ikun (African xylophone and other instruments).  He shared his Caribbean Panamanian roots with me, and I shared my Southwestern, cowboy, Cherokee roots with him.  There is a song on their MandrillLand Album that is completely in Swahili - "Twende Na Safari" (Let's Go on a Safari) - I wrote the lyrics for him in Swahili.  We involved our children in music from birth to such an extent that our son, when he was 14, would not go to sleep without having jazz playing softly in his bedroom.  He has his own music style; but performed with his dad on stage, and toured briefly with him.  Lou, being the educator he is,  wanted to start a center for Ethnomusicality - which would highlight all the similarities and cross cultural linkages - especially in Black music.

Our favorite thing to do was to learn something new together and teach each other how to do it.  Back in the day of the Backgammon craze, we taught each other how to play and would play for hours.  He was the consummate educator and my coming from a family of educators loved the fact that he valued education  That meant we would never have dumb kids, and that I would never have to argue with him about making sure our kids got good education - so important in an age when we were beginning to question whether education was "relevant."  

We both loved the written and spoken words - him with his lyrics and me with my analytical think pieces (LOL).  Somewhere in there we would meet in the middle.  Lou used to bounce ideas and concepts off of me for songs.  I'd give him my recommendations and he go and do whatever he intended to do in the first place (LOL).  I loved his mind when he was focused on a concept - not so much when he would go into his jealous rants about who was looking at me too hard, or trying to get to me and get around him.  But, after all, that's the nature of a Scorpio - jealousy and possessiveness.  And the only way an Aries will tolerate is if she is totally smitten and likes the protectiveness.  That was me all over.  I absolutely loved the fact that he pulled out the chairs, opened the doors, and treated me like he owned me.  At least for the first year.  Nice to know there were still some brothers like that on the planet.  But, one night in California while Mandrill was performing on stage,  the music was so compelling I got up to dance and one of the fans came over and started dancing The Bump with me.  The next thing  I knew, Lou had jumped down from the stage between me and the hapless brother and was about to give him a beat down.  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  The audience didn't know what was going on, but that was one scared brother, who profusely apologized for dancing with his "lady."  

Lou was a terrible parent, but a great Dad. He loved our kids to no end, but didn't know the meaning of discipline.  That was generally my job.  But then we had to make sure that when we decided something was going to be done or not done,  he didn't fall for a sob story and give in - especially to our youngest, Adiya.  He loved to watch our children explore and learn new things, and then take the time to explain to them what it meant.  This extended to our nieces and nephews and kids in the community as well.  When we lived in Altadena, CA we always had a house full of kids - ours and the ones from next door and around the block.  We had the biggest yard in the neighborhood and all the kids came out to swing from our trees, play hide and seek, baseball and football.  Lou was the biggest kid of them all.   He never lost his youth or his love for children.  

The other great memory I had about our life together was that he loved my cooking - which was great, because I loved to cook.  In fact, he learned healthy  cooking styles from the health food/African food I used to cook for him.   Lou used to bring his friends, fellow musicians, brothers, and down on their luck musicians over to dinner - so needless to saw we had to have a 30 cubit foot refrigerator to keep food stocked.  We used to have a mi casa is su casa (okay, so I don't speak Spanish, despite the fact that Lou s originally from Panama) open door policy.  And folks knew it.  Bob Byrd, former roadie for Kool and the Gang would come and stay with us in California and come hang with us so he could go play the horses at Santa Anita Raceway.  First thing Byrd would do when they came to town was call us to see if Lou could hang out.  Of course the answer was, YES!  They'd come back with fans who had recognized him.  He was a big hearted person - the problem was that we simply didn't have the funds to support his largesse.  But that didn't stop Lou, and those dudes could eat, and never contributed a thing to help with the food, or the cleaning up.  I used to call them his basket cases. I've often wondered what happened to those guys.  

 In New York we'd have "Clam Bakes," and invite our friends who would bring some kind of fish, or sea food to be cooked - or liquor - and we'd turn our house into the Caribbean for the week end.    Friends would drive up from Philly, New Jersey, DC, Maryland and hang with us for the week end. We'd party from one end of New York to the other - then back to the apartment, crash on the couch, floor, any where  (about 5 in the morning).  We'd get up (middle of the next afternoon) eat, and sit around cracking jokes, having jam sessions, and getting ready for the next go round of partying.  

Lou Wilson was a Fine Black Man - 6'4", with legs that started at his neck and worked their way down.  I used to call him Hi Pockets.  He had a 37" inseam  and a size 14E shoe - for you guys who have to shop at the big and tall shops before they developed a sense of style, you know what kind of challenge it was to find decent, stylish clothes for him.  It was a total challenge.  I actually used to design his clothes for stage, and spent days finding shoes that he would actually wear.  It wasn't until the NBA started wearing suits that the Big and Tall stores started developing a sense of style.  I remember telling our son, RA, who is almost as tall as his dad, that he'd better pray that his feet didn't grow past size 12, because there would be no that I would be able to get him shoes for track and field ( size 13s weren't easy to come by).  I'm happy to say our son talked to the foot gods and managed to maintain a size 12 until he was old enough to pay for his own shoes.  

Folks used to walk up to Lou and look at his height and ask him if he played basketball - he would say, somewhat jokingly and somewhat sarcastically, "No, I play marbles."  Actually, he was into track and field. Our son was into track and field as a result, and participated in the Penn Relays two years in a row.  He loved it so much that he tried to get our daughters to become involved in it as well.  But we didn't have anyone interested in becoming Jackie Joyner Kersee.  Speaking of sports - we both loved basket ball.  I am a diehard Knicks fan.  He was more focused on the players than a particular team - and supported which ever his favorite player happened to be, regardless of the team. That said, we both loved Magic Johnson, Earl The Pearl Monroe, Clyde Frazier,  Kareem Abdul Jabbar - from the old school; and of course Michael Jordan. 

We loved boxing, and would move heaven and earth to catch the bouts on TV, if we couldn't be there in person.  Especially during brother Muhammad Ali's era - we caught the fight at Madison between Ali and Joe Frazier (the return - not the Fight of the Century); but the entire Wilson family (including Moms Wilson) loved boxing.  We'd bet on our favorite fighters - and sit around the TV calling each round.  Still love boxing to this day. 

When Lou and I separated for a period of time,  I returned to New York, while  he "stubbornly" stayed in California.  We used to talk long distance for hours - he'd call me at 9:00PM California Time, which was midnight in New York, and talk till nearly sun up.  At the same time we'd be on the computer collaborating on information for songs, politics, news, houses (we were looking for a property in Philadelphia - our kids had moved there).   His fondest thing to do was talk about growing up in Brooklyn.  He loved it there, but the neighborhood had become overpriced.  Plus, after having lived in California, we both wanted a yard and space.  We'd solve the problems of the world, plan out the nest decade of our lives, and put together our plans for our kids, grandkids and their kids. It was obvious that our separation wasn't working.  So we reconciled, and decided we'd rather be miserable together than be apart (in a Luther Van Dross sort of way).  

We always thought we'd wind up sitting on our front porch in our rocking chairs watching them play in the yard.  We always thought we'd be sitting in front of our fireplace (we loved fireplaces), listening to sooth jazz, and playing backgammon.  We had found the perfect home in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia  with high ceilings, two fire places, a two car garage, stone exterior, huge back yard with  gorgeous trees - great for hammocks; plenty of places for grand kids to play hid and seek. We had planned on moving into the house on January 24, 2013 when he suffered his cardiac arrest on January 7th.  All the prayers and beseeching, and believing, and vibing could not stop him from making his transition.  When God calls you, no matter what plans you have here on earth, you have to answer.  Lou answered the call.  I was heart broken.  So I never completed the purchase of that home.  I admit that I completely blanked on the house and haven't been by to see it since his passing.  I'm sure some nice family is enjoying it.  

In my mind's eye, I can still see Lou's home going service, which was held at Agape Center in Los Angeles, and presided over by Brother Michael Bernard Beckwth (a longtime family friend)  The last thing I remember was the video of Lou and Ric playing one on one basketball and how youthful and agile he was.  I remember how he used to do high kicks on stage using every bit of his six four frame as if he was 34, not 71. And hearing the rich tone of his voice as he introduced a number they were getting ready to perform - or the light in his eyes whenever the kids were around him.  Or the love in his eyes whenever he saw me.  Those are things I will always treasure and cherish.  

I thank God that I can now share things about Lou, the Love of My Life, and our memories that I probably would not have, had it not been for that wonderful Declaration ritual performed on Joel Osteen this morning.  I have to thank them for my being able to look at all the wonderful things that we shared and enjoyed and also affirm there are more wonderful things to look forward to as I continue to mend.

This is a bittersweet commemoration to a Fine Black Man who left a treasure trove of memories for us all.  For our kids, grandkids, family, friends and fans.

Stay Blessed & 
Glo W
More to come (c) gloriadulanwilson 

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