My grandfather died of colon cancer on Tuesday September 2, 2014 in Columbia South Carolina. By his side was my mother (his Daughter), my cousin, and my sister. The man suffered from dementia, and cancer, only truly remembering his youth and his music career. Many of us were blurs in his memory but that didn’t matter. My grandfather was born in Ashville North Carolina, in the late 1930’s His mother and father moved he and his brothers and sister to Harlem New York, during the 1940’s. My grandfather loved Harlem, he would tell us stories of him sneaking into clubs, and listening too many of the great jazz musicians of the time. His love and passion for music would grow and develop into a love for playing the drums and singing. My grandfather would grow into a man that allowed his gifts to make room for him, but first he did what many in his era did and joined the army during the Vietnam War, he traveled the world as a cook for the U.S army, He cooked and played his drums. He would tell me that the army allowed him to see the world in a different light. He served his country for the years required and was honorably discharged. Settled back in New York City, and started playing full time. In 1964 he released the 45 don’t it sound good, where my grandfather sounding as a preacher gave a sermon of Love to the fans. This allowed for him to travel the world once again doing something he loved. He would return to New York and meet a women who gave him the joy of his life. This is where my beginning starts. William mashburn’s history is much longer than this, and his bio can go on for pages and pages. My grandfather battled demons of his past and had some of the greatest triumphs I can remember. He raised not only his daughter but the other kids as well. He treated them all as if they were his own. He would give up chasing the music and took a job as a dish washer and line cook for the airlines to have a steady income coming in. My grandfather played the Apollo, and many others from New York, to California. When I finally was born in the 80’s my grandfather settled into his life as a father, and family man. Getting a home in queens, and just maintaining a life of simplicity. My grandfather wasn’t flashy, and into showy fashions, whenever he and my grandmother went out to the mason’s lodge or the Zanzibar to perform he rocked a Dashiki, and a cream straw fedora with khaki pants and freshly shined black shoes. He would tell me “keep it clean, and simple” to “allow your character to walk for you”. The images still play in my head. Never did he overdue it and dress to impress, but people loved his sound, and dedication to his craft. Never saying too much and always with a watchful eye. He would tell stories to me as he practiced his drums, of magical people and characters that had my name. Stories of valiant men who were never afraid, and always saved the princess for the wickedness of the world. Of trees, and animals that had the abilities to talk, sing, dance, and give direction. He would come home from work, with his drum sticks in his hand, along with a liter of Tropicana Apple juice in a glass bottle, and chips ahoy chocolate chip cookies. He would have dinner, feed the dog, retreat upstairs to the bedroom, and practice his rhythms and beats. Sometimes it was jazz, other times it was the sounds of the islands, or gospel, or just some funky jam session but he poured his soul into it. Eventually, as we got older the drums went away, and the wood block become his practice, he would practice on the wood block for hours and hours, then he taught himself to play the flute, and as we got other, he would just play whatever he had time too. He walked with those drumsticks everywhere, to his job, and to home, with his head held high, and his uniforms pressed and pants creased. Black work boots shined fresh by himself daily, My grandfather never called himself a Dishwasher when we were kids, but when my grandmother died in 96’ he defined himself as a dishwasher. No longer having the passion for music as he once did, he would practice for an hour, and then he went into his hobbies of building cities out of cigarette boxes, and collecting toys. As his health got worst, and his memory starting to slip, he just held on to the drum sticks. We all left New York, and my grandfather moved into his brother’s basement. At first he was okay, but our visits become less and less, and calls less and less. When my mother discovered the conditions he was living in, that his mind had left him completely. That the people he was living with had abandoned him to himself, she almost lost it. Moving to Carolina was the best thing for him. When I had the chance to see him for the first time after he was diagnosed with dementia was at my wedding, Him being in his right mind looked at me and said “ Never let anyone define you, but yourself”. The words didn’t strike a tune with me at that moment, but the day he died with his drumsticks, the same ones that traveled with him, through many of years. Those words rang true, William Mashburn defined himself, as a musician, father, husband, and grandfather. Proud of all of our lives that he helped mold and lead. He was the example and definition of a man. He will be truly missed.