Mothers mean so much!

Our mothers have taught us how to love ourselves and others.  They’ve been there for us and they’ve taught us how to be there for others we care about.  They’ve been examples and shown us how to live with the best and the worst of times.  We’ve also seen them endure hardships of their own and those of the people they care about.  One of the first and most consistent lessons that I learned from the man I admire most in my life, my father, was to always care for, support, and revere my mother (“you only get one” he would say).  He not only told me that but he showed me how by the way he loved and supported my grandmother.

All of you that read my messages, check out my Facebook, or view my webpage know how much my mother and grandmothers mean to me.  My mother has been a great source of support, love, strength, and kindness my entire life.  Despite the challenges that come from growing older, retirement, and helping her children through their different difficulties, my mom continues to set a stellar example of grace, dignity, intelligence, and kindness for me, my brother, and her grandchildren.  Even though it’s time for her to focus on herself and her needs, my mother continues to call me twice a day and interact with my friends and caregivers, making sure that I’m being taken care of.  She’s also in constant touch with my brother to make sure that he, his wife, and their children are OK, happy, and well taken care of.

My mom’s been having a particularly difficult time with her health these last couple of years.  We’ve all been supporting and praying for her as she continues to fight head on these challenges to reach a healthier and happier place in her life.  Nothing makes me more proud of my father and my brother than the way they are supporting my mom.  I’d appreciate all of you that read this to think a blessed thought of healing and contentment for my mom at this time, as I do for all of you.

Those unable to have a good relationship with their mother spend much of their life trying to fill that void.  Those who have lost their mothers realize how difficult it is to cope, especially without faith.  I have a friend who recently lost her mother, who was supportive and dedicated to her and her children throughout their lives.  I have another friend who recently lost his wife, the mother of his children.  He continues to represent her memory by being the kind of father and grandfather to their children and grandchildren that we would all cherish.

What I’m trying to say is, no matter what, a good mother, like a faithful God, is the gift that keeps giving.  Although we should do it more often, I think we should take this time to extend our appreciation, love, affection, and gratitude to that person that we mean so much to.

I love you guys!  Thanks for reading.

Recognition of Effort is Important

DJ Riley

Wynton  and jazz have been important to me since the mid 1970s.  Whether it’s because of my tenaciousness and help from friends or my radio connections at the schools I went to, I’ve been able to get backstage for years and stay in touch with musicians, particularly jazz musicians.  It’s music that’s older than me.  But ever since George Benson’s “Masquerade” and “Breezin” and Grover Washington’s “Mr. Magic,” I’ve been hooked on it and connected with it, like I have with Motown and the R&B classics from the 1960s to the 21st century.  Getting a chance to meet the “young lions,” the practitioners of jazz and soul music (a term Wynton uses), has given me a particular love, energy, and connection.  A lot of these young guys that have connected with this timeless music have inspired and motivated me to keep active and involved, just like the Civil Rights movement that I was born into.

Wynton is a very busy, intelligent, and participant individual that I’m proud to know and blessed to be able to make the effort to go and see.  It makes me particularly proud to know that he still thinks of me and is pleased with the relationship that we’ve cultivated and what I’ve been able to bring to his life and the music.  I’m particularly happy to get this message today, since I’m embarking on a weekend long vigil to support the Roy Hargrove quintet, who are in town at Catalina Bar and Grill in Hollywood.  Roy Hargrove is my second favorite jazz musician, whose dedication, creativity, and enthusiasm I’ve enjoyed since I’ve seen him when he was 17 at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland some years ago.  He’s as talented in every facet of the music as Wynton and Branford Marsalis and just as dedicated.  I’m pleased to have watched his career evolve and I look forward to sharing it with my jazz comrades in L.A. this weekend.

I love all these guys for the respect and dedication and commitment that they’ve made to our musical culture and the respect and warmth they’ve shared with me this past 30 something years.

Much love always,
DJ

Valentine’s Greeting

Happy Valentine’s to all of you that I love and who love and keep positive thoughts for me. I didn’t get a chance to send you all my usual New Year’s message. Things change and I haven’t been able to coordinate it. Me and my boy Brian are working on a different schedule these days. But he still keeps me in touch.

I’m so thankful to be here in 2015! My mom’s back is not where she would like it to be yet. She’s planning on visiting later this month, and I’m so happy. I’m looking forward to seeing her and my dad. It’s a big year for my family. My brother’s boys are both graduating, Tommy from high school, and Jordan from middle school. We’re so proud of both of them. I’m looking forward to being a part of that celebration, if everything works out. They know I love them so much.

Valentine’s Day is a special day for me. It’s a day of love. My life has been blessed and graced with love from so many people in so many places. My love for music, especially jazz and old school R & B, keeps me invigorated. I’m hoping we get some more from both this year in L.A. and I get a chance to get out and see it and be part of helping to keep those great traditions alive.

I’ll be 57 this July and I’m thankful! I’m looking forward to it. It’s the power of love and prayer that’s keeping me here. I can feel it! Keep thinking good thoughts for me. Write me, call me, and come and visit when you have a chance. I’m making every effort to stay as vital as I can, so I can be contributory and helpful to you when we make our connection. I love you very much. Thanks for everything! Stay in touch!

Again, Happy Valentine’s. I hope you were able to share it with people you love!

Always,
DJ

Catching Up

My good friend Brian came by to see me last week, so I got a chance to get on email.  So much has happened recently.  President Obama is still catching hell from the Republicans.   He’s traveling around trying to get some more Democrats in the House and maintain the Senate in the mid-term election.  It doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to get to see him while he’s President.  The process is so involved.  I’m hoping my friend Steve will connect us when he comes to L.A. after his term is over.  Looking forward to meeting him and Michelle at some point.  That’s one of my goals.

So many things are happening with ISIS, trying to keep a consortium of countries together, working to resist their development.  I believe that we’ll be able to do it, but I fear they will bring us some more challenges in the near future.
Ebola is another international issue that we have to stay on top of.  I was watching Dr. Oz on Wendy Williams, and he was saying it doesn’t spread without physical contact and body fluid exchange, similar to the AIDS virus.  It’s going to create challenges for West Africa, the U.S., and the world because people are so fearful and stereotypes keep us suspicious of each other.  We have to get past that to deal with Ebola, AIDS, and ISIS.  I believe that we can.

I’m sorry to see that Attorney General Holder had to resign.  I’m happy that he’s putting into motion some reforms that could improve community relations between minority communities and police.  I wish he was going to be here a while longer so he could see some of the reforms materialize.  I’m worried about the replacement that will be chosen to take his place and whether he/she will be as dedicated in dealing with these issues.

I was also disappointed that Leon Panetta wrote a book challenging some of Obama’s decisions on international policy.  I guess they had disagreements so he decided to write a book expressing some of them around the time of the elections and before Obama’s term was over.

I’ve had a chance to check out some jazz recently and attend the Watts Tower Jazz Festival.  I saw some friends in the music business whom I’ve known for some time.  I’m so thankful to be able to get out to see my music and stay in touch with my friends and to keep connecting with what’s happening.  Watching football and basketball keeps me connected to a lot of my friends.

My mom and dad are taking care of each other while my mom rehabilitates from her back surgery.  I love them so much!  I love my brother and his family as well as my brother Baron and his daughters and mother.  I also love staying in touch with all of you.  Your messages and your calls mean a lot to me.  Remember I’m here for you.

Looking forward to the upcoming holidays.  Check out the TV shows from the new season.  And don’t forget to vote!

Celebrating summer birthdays

The summer months are special to me because of the birthdays they include.  Mine came July 2.  We had a great birthday dinner for some friends and family at Harold and Belle’s .  My dad was there, but my mom was missed.  She’s got back surgery on Aug. 27.  I want all of you to think about her and pray for her.  I’m doing good otherwise.  I hope to remain so while my mom is rehabilitating for the next couple of months.  With God’s help and your love, we will be fine.

I went to a party for a UCLA colleague of mine, Jason.  His twin boys turned one year old.  Jason and his wife are great parents!  They have a wonderful network of family and friends.  Jason’s in the education network, with many of his friends.  They all have children.  I’m connected with Jason through my mentor Harry Edwards.  They’re related.  I saw two of Harry’s daughters, his wife and his first grandchild, KJ, at the party.

I missed one on the east coast.  My “adopted” brother and sister, Todd and Tanya,  had a birthday on July 29.  I’m so proud of them.  I saw Tanya and her family this past year, and I look forward to seeing Todd and his family soon.  They’re twins.  We’ve been connected since childhood, growing up in NJ.

This past Aug. 11, my brother Wayne had his 53rd birthday.  He’s such a strong family member.  We’re so proud of him.   He keeps things going.  He keeps his and our family working.  I’m so proud of him and I love him so much!

Birthday celebrations are so important.  We need to celebrate each other’s birthdays and share gratitude for another year together.

I look forward to a new school year.  My older nephew Tommy will be a high school senior.  I’m so thankful to be here and look forward to sharing his graduation with my family in June.  My other nephew Jordan is going to be in the 8th grade.  He’s growing up strong and doing great in school.  I have friends’ kids going back to college, Chris in NJ, Danielle in Boston, Taylor and Richard in Tucson, AZ, Haskel in a pre-med program in South Carolina, and Briana in Washington DC, who will be finishing her senior year at Howard.  My other Briana is going to England for a semester and my boy Theo is going to Switzerland for a semester.  And my boy Malcolm is starting his first year in medical school in Atlanta! This is really the beginning of my year.  With their support, I will stay in touch with them.  I hope to be of encouragement to them and see them become successful.

It’s been an incredible year.  Next time I get to write to you, I want to talk about race relations, police and community problems (starting with Ferguson) and other things.  So much good yet so many problems.  I’m still optimistic that together we can make it better.  So glad it’s football season.  Trojans, Saints, and some of my other teams will take me into the holidays, God willing.

Stay in touch with me.  I love you all!

Father’s Day – What a Great Day!

My father, who became 80 this year, has been wonderful to me. He’s inspired, motivated, and secured me my whole life and I’ve been blessed to have him as my father. From the beginning, he has also given comfort and backing to my mom, who also provides such great support and security to me.

Fatherhood isn’t something that I’ve been able to experience in my life, but it’s something I was able to recognize and seek out in my friends’ fathers. Most of my friends have either had some similar influences from their fathers that I’ve had or have become the kind of father that I’m recognizing. It’s a struggle to strive for and maintain that type of consistency and excellence if you don’t have the example to live with or to learn from. I’m so happy to continue to have that. I see in my brother and my good friends (including my nurses, many of whom are single mothers) the kind of people that raise the kind of children that make a difference. I’ve been blessed to be a godfather and uncle and a friend toward a number of young people that have given me the kind of support and love that I try to give my father. I’m so thankful for that.

I’ve got a nephew that’s graduating from high school and going to college this year, and I’ve been friends with a number of other young people that have gone on to college in recent years. I pray I’ll be able to continue to share the insights and support that my father has given me. I hope to continue to be the friend and brother to my friends and brothers and give them the kind of support and advice that my father has always provided me. Those of you that I’m speaking to that are similarly blessed to have (or be) the kind of father or father figure that I’m talking about, reach out to your loved ones on this special day. Give thanks to God for providing the kind of resources necessary to have that special type of relationship. Give thanks and show appreciation and love to those people that have made your life better and more complete.

Mother’s Day, I feel a special connection to it

Quote

All of you that get my messages know how important to me my mother is, and how important my grandmother, great grandmother and sister were. These are examples of women that God puts in our lives to make us who we are, to help us become what we can be, and to make it possible for us to endure the hardships of life. I’ve been blessed to have women like this in my life, as well as friends and (now that I need them) nurses as well that have such a positive impact on my life. I’m sure all of you have and are blessed to know women of similar quality. All of you take some time between now and Sunday to indulge in a bit of commercialism that can only make those women in your life feel as special to you as they are.

I can’t do enough to express the gratitude and appreciation that I feel for my mother and other mothers and how much they mean to me. Since I became a full time patient, I’ve had nurses who are single mothers that have come into my life, working hard to raise their children while taking time to care for people like myself in the process. They have come to mean so much to me. I admire them. They have been blessed to have the kind of father that I have had, a father who has been with my mother for the 56 years of my life, supporting her and helping her to raise my brother, sister, and myself. These women treat me with kindness, work for me with constancy, and have helped me stay alive. They’ve invigorated me and inspired me to feel worthy and to continue to be the best person I can be.

I recognize these qualities because my mother, grandmothers, and sister raised, encouraged and molded me with them. They also showed me the kind of human qualities, energy and receptiveness that make it possible for us to have the kind of relationships that we have. You’re blessed that way too. Believe it, depend on it, rejoice in it, and utilize it! It’ll make all the difference in your life and those lives that you care so much about and that you come in contact with.

I love all of you for being with me all these years in the various capacities in which we are connected. Once again, take some time to indulge in commercialism and make those people that mean the most to you and do the most for you feel special and loved. Try to remember that your friend and brother DJ encouraged you to do so and know that I’ll be doing it with as many as I can right along with you.

God bless all your mothers and sons and daughters. I love you all.