Tag Archives: December

The Eulogy I Couldn’t Give My Uncle

December 6, 2017. Today would have been my Uncle Jeffrey’s 55th birthday. Unfortunately, God called him home three months ago and my familial dynamic has been very different.

I knew I was speaking at my uncle’s memorial service; I wasn’t quite sure what I’d say. He was a street guy, so there were many things I wanted to say that would have been inappropriate in a church. So I wrote them all down:

Can I kick it? Well, I’m gone…

Friends, family, and acquaintances: you are waiting for me to finally say one thing and one thing only; so we will all say it together: Chad, you look just like your uncle.

Second only to “I can’t with you,” the phrase “Chad you look just like Jeff” is the most popular phrase I hear regularly. Walking down the street, a lady walked up to me, kissed me on the cheek, and said “Hey Jeff!” I didn’t want to make her feel bad by saying “I’m his nephew.”

It is difficult to speak in Grace United Methodist Church about Jeffrey Mumford without there being some “Murdock Ave” moments in this eulogy. Also, humor is my coping mechanism; I just want to get that out of the way before I get started.

There are times in which my mother cannot stand me because I remind her of my father. On the other hand, my mother and I get along very well because I remind her of her brother.

I am a lot like my uncle. We’re both Sagittarius’s, tall, charming, funny, and have a tapered haircut with curls, a mustache and goatee that don’t connect because Mumford men are babyfaces…and forgetful (word to the beef I had with him when I was six years old when he borrowed my Mickey Mouse watch and I had to ask him incessantly for it back).

All jokes aside, I looked up to my uncle. He was cool; he was respected in the streets, and just had an aura about him. My earliest memories of him are him mixing records and my grandmother’s basement, looping the break in “Yes We Can, Can,” by the Pointer Sisters, over and over. He was the person in my family that was hip hop and I loved that.

We shared an affinity for getting into trouble for marching to the beat of our own drum with a disruptive cadence. On elementary school field trips, I was the kid that needed his own chaperone; and Uncle Jeffrey was the one that would come along (and all the girls thought he was so cute); we’d have a great time, too.

The day before my first baseball game, right over there at Peter’s Field off Liberty Ave, he took me in my grandmother’s back yard, drew home plate on the ground with a crayon, and showing me how to swing when someone is pitching the ball.

My uncle was that uncle; the wild uncle that said and did fairly crazy shit. Nonetheless, that was part of what made him charismatic. Somewhere between nature and nurture, I picked a lot up from him. As a teenager, we would drive around Queens and he taught me valuable lessons my parents couldn’t; that’s what uncles do.

With the latest mixtapes as the soundtrack, we drove around South and Northside Jamaica, and he would tell me about his life while dropping gems. I learned how to roll a blunt from my uncle, what to roll one with (Never use papers or Philly’s. Dutches-NY for Dutch Masters cigars-burn slower); as well as how to properly smoke weed while driving (You keep a slight crack in the driver’s side window. It blows directly out the window like a vent and doesn’t smell up the car)….I didn’t smoke weed at the time; but those words wound up being useful information at another point in my life. My uncle was the first person to let me hold a gun and taught me how to shoot using a beebe gun in my grandmother’s basement (those holes are still in the wall).

During our walks and drives, he would tell me stories about his adult life. He knew how much we were alike and felt as if telling me was a second chance for him to do what he chose not to. “Let me tell you about hoes…” was his way of informing me that women can be a distraction and loyalty to one was more important (“But if you do, strap up,” he’d say). He would tell me to stay away from drugs by giving me his encounters with wise words such as “Withdrawal is a bitch.”

My uncle was a street guy and I picked up some of his nuances. In no way am I a street guy; but I know how to conduct myself in that manner. It’s the underlying edge I have that every once in a while slips out and I say some fairly hood shit…I’ve seen girlfriends of mine who didn’t know that side of me at all scrunch up their face in disbelief and ask “What did you just say?!”

We’re both frustratingly nonchalant and made a joke out of everything. The stoic face was-and is-the setup for a hilarious punchline we’d say out of the corner of our mouths if you were close enough to hear it. As recently as Easter Sunday, we joked around, saying that if we didn’t make fun of you, we’re not really your friend.

Hip hop was our covalent bond. We listened to A Tribe Called Quest a lot (my second beef in life with him was at 16, when I had to repeatedly ask “Can I have my anthology CD back?!). He knew Kid Hood from the “Scenario Remix.” Hood told my uncle he got on the record and was killed the next day. He told me how he’d played ball with Tribe at St. Albans Park, Phife sucked, and my uncle busted his ass. So I guess the last thing I have to say is I hope he makes it his business to catch up to Kid Hood and tear Phife up in that rematch.

But now for what we’ve all been waiting for: I was driving the other day, with my cap not fully on my head and cocked to the back, and my glasses on as I rapped along to whatever I was listening to. I was finally able to admit to myself “Damn, I look like my uncle.”

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Christmas Music

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The Christmas album I made with my cousin two years ago that never came out…My twitter name may make a little more sense now-it was my stage name when I was a rapper.

I hate Christmas music.  Maybe I don’t hate it, but I am not a super fan of it.  I know that sounds borderline heinous but that’s just me.  As a kid, I loved it.  It built anticipation for the holiday coming up and meant toys upon toys upon toys on deck.  My mom used to play the Jackson 5’s Christmas album and Take 6’s ‘He is Christmas’ for a good four weeks (Kinda funny how both groups have a numerical name).  Those are the two albums that have songs on it that I can stand (and ‘You Ain’t Getting Shit for Christmas’).  I think it’s just my rebellious nature.  As I’m writing this, I was just put on hold and a country rendition of “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” came on and i cringed a little bit.  A few years ago my cousin and I made one of the most anti-Christmas albums ever-Santa got beat up for kissing my wife underneath the mistletoe and all.

I’m slowly trying to get out of this.  I have to do it for the kids.  I have to do my part in letting her love the music the way her mother did.  Timile lived for Christmas music.  From the day after Thanksgiving until December 26th, that was all she listened to.  To make matters worse, she loved to listen to the Lite FM station so it was all country music and during the Delilah show it was all sappy love Christmas songs.  It was soft rock which I already didn’t like and Christmas music together which is double-evil to me.  I hated it but bared through it because it gave her so much joy as she’d sing along to these songs.  When she was pregnant we listened to it 24/7.  We were having a rough time in New York between her starting not to feel well and some other family-related issues that were making the holidays very unpleasant; so the Christmas music was all that she had.  Noto mention I’d be an asshole for telling the pregnant mother of my child “Ummm, I don’t feel like listening to this right now.”  That would have been a death sentence from someone who once hit me in the face repeatedly while I was driving on Queens Boulevard of all places (Note: Queens Boulevard is eight lanes and is called the most dangerous street in the country).

The holidays are already a melancholy time of year for me.  On Tuesday it will be two years since Timile passed away so of course she’s on my mind a lot right about now.  I think I don’t like to listen to holiday music at all anymore because of how much they sucked in 2010 and 2011.  Maybe it reminds me of all of the struggle and how there was more hurt than happiness during that season.  2010 sucked, but we still had each other and we were still expecting what we found out would be our little girl right before Christmas.  We got lucky and Cydney was facing the camera, so we sent everyone Christmas cards of her face en utero.  

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We spent a good portion of December in Virginia.  Timile’s best friend was getting married, it snowed there, and it was more or less our baby-moon.  It was the only time I’d ever been to Hampton, Virginia that wasn’t about some bullshit and was drama free.  Now that I think about that trip, all I can hear in my head is Christmas music as the backdrop to the mental pictures in my head.

2011 was hard because of losing Timile.  At a time I would have needed to grieve, I was beginning a battle of custody with my daughter and I didn’t have her with me to give me that smile I’d miss from her mother and such.  Nonetheless, it’s 2013 and Cydney is all kinds of looking forward to the holiday.  Maybe we’ll jam to some today.