One of the most interesting things about looking at a sunflower is seeing how much it matches the likeness of a big beautiful eye. The crown wrapped around like golden lashes around a deep brown pool of seeds, a sudden softness looking back at you as it waits for you to see yourself in the same loving perception. There is no question of worthiness, but a respectful patience as the realization makes itself visible to you. The sunflower serves as a reminder of that perception. Standing boldly, eye fixed on you as the lulling stalk tells you it’s story of becoming. Growing and glowing in all the right directions with each new sunny day. It’s what you’ve always wanted-deserved, actually. But did you see it for yourself? Have you figured out how to sculpt this positively honest view of yourself? Struggling to find answers to these questions came with many years of experience for me. Fortunately, my friends and family have seen me through many of those times and one person who will remain heavy on my heart is my late father, Sammy Hill. This series is dedicated to his love and memory.
Heading back to Kansas City, I began thinking about how much I needed to do–the laundry list of things awaiting my arrival. Anxiety crept in as I had my legs tightly curled under my long charcoal dress, attempting to keep my feet warm but failing miserably. It didn’t matter. All the blood was pumping anxiously to my heart, with much concern but without ceasing. Something else did pause though–my yearning for music. I could not muster up the space to feel another single thing for as long as I could hold off. With my senses on overload and my mind being swarmed with rushing thoughts, even breathing felt like a forgetful task. I begged for sleep. After an hour of tossing in the small square seat, relief finally came.
I simply wanted the time to pass quickly and to give my brain a rest from the cruel thoughts running rampant, however much more came of this time of rest. I saw him. My Father. My subconscious thoughts sent me exactly what I needed in my dream of him; my own valuable ancestral plane to learn from. A magnifying calmness came over me with seeing his face, his smile, and of course, that infectious laugh. Something you’d never want to forget if you’d ever heard it. As I stood there in awe, knowing that the moment would past as quickly as any other time, I was reminded of the person he was and how much of an integral part of my life he played. Here are a couple of the many, many things about him that I will hold dear to me:
City Wide Entreprenuer
Sumner High School graduate, Sammy Hill was a lot of things but one thing is for sure, he took great pride in being an Entrepreneur; a true business man. Charismatic and casual, he networked with a lot of people in the city as a trustworthy appliance repair man which factored into his decision to open his own storefront shop just off the corner of 18th and Minnesota in Kansas City, KS. Although the shop no longer sits there, I still imagine him outside conversing with clients, friends, and family. Always seen with a cigarette tilted from the corner of his mouth, with a pack of KOOLs peeking from his shirt pocket as he continued to build relationships with each person he encountered. His drive, postitivity and faith are attributes he held that continually influenced his path in life. His peserverence lives on through his wife April Hill, 9 children, 19 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.
An Introspective Writer
An excerpt from his writings, titled “The Things That God Has Done, 2005”-
“I thought the life I was living was the way of this life, but I must confess I had a sense that there was something inside that’s hard to explain. But it was good and what did it mean? I didn’t know, but when I went through the troubles of the world, as I was living worldly, things came to shake me, made me fearful, just going through confusion where I could not think nothing but negative thoughts, thoughts of no way out. I felt like a person with a curse on his life. But when I would get quiet, I could sense or heard this still, small voice or a knowing that I was going to be alright. Now at this time I didn’t know the Lord but he knew me and sent his angels to help me. Thank God for being God…”.
As I carefully combed through the pages of his many notebooks, I found so many heartfelt words and intentions in anything he wrote. He wrote poems, songs(R&B and Rap), prayers, sermons, hopes, dreams, community service event plans, business to-do lists, even food recipes. In essence, I saw a lot of myself along those pen strokes. The most intentional thing he left on every one of those pages is his cursive handwriting. Beautiful loops and curves, finding their way to stay together all this time. There was something to take away from that, for sure. I had never taken a good look at his writings since he passed 5 years ago-I wasn’t ready to endure that loving hurt that was sure to tag along until just a few weeks ago. He had no way of knowing the impact his writing would have on me years later, but I would hope that he is proud of not just myself but of those who carry his memory day-by-day. My Father; one of my favorite influencing artist who helped bring me to this pivotol point of my life.
Thankful for that moment as it affirmed my purpose with this Kansas City series. I began to realize that being a black artist in any form is showing courage, it’s sharing yourself, its giving more good to this world–even when the world doesn’t ask or want it. It’s a personal obligation that you get the pleasure of sharing with others in your own unique way. Such value in your generosity, whether you realize it or not and my plan is to use this platform to highlight and thank those that continually work to bring light to this dark world. Over the next few weeks we’ll get a better look at some of Kansas City’s up-and-coming artists and their contiributions to our community.
Written By Michelle Hill
See you next Sunday for our first Kansas City Artist review: Matthew Robinson