Boxing with Willie

My grandson Willie Junior is named after my son who was murdered three years ago in West Oakland. Willie Junior remembers his father well: the way his father played with him. They’d box, throw the football, and shoot together at the basketball court.  Willie Sr. started teaching my grandson the plays and moves when the boy was real young.

One day, lil Willie was playing with his boxing gloves when he started talking about how he and his daddy would box with one another and he would always sock his daddy in the face. My grandson has those moments a lot – those times when he seems almost transported back in time, as if he’s standing right there with his daddy, beaming the way he would when his father complimented him on a good jab or a great catch.

When lil Willie has those moments, I am glad to be there for him. I listen as he tells me his memory. Then he leans on my shoulder, or puts his arms around me, and tears come. He cries, and I tell him to let it out – his memories, his stories, and that sadness that’s way down inside. That’s what happens every time he tells one of his “I remember when” stories.

Those are my fondest times in my life after the lost of my son. My loss causes me a lot of pain, and being there to support my grandson and to share his memories is joy that I live for.

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