February 4, 2004
Cornelius had been after me for a while to go with him on one of his trips back to the California Mother lode. We lived there in the early ‘80’s, and he has returned several times a year to gig with the Columbia Jazz Choir. Good music, good friends, great fun.
I finally relented, took a week off from work and we packed our bags. It was on the plane, on the way to a gig, that Cornelius suffered a heart attack. Not one to want to call attention to himself, he would probably be appalled to know that the plane made an unscheduled stop in Sioux City to try and get help for him. Jet Blue Airways was extraordinary. The people of Sioux City were extraordinary. And our friends have been and continue to be extraordinary.
The kids and I want to thank you all for your prayers and support. They mean a great deal to us. We are firm believers that Life, God, is eternal, that man exists as God’s reflection, and therefore lives eternally.
Cornelius was a man of great modesty and simplicity. His life was music, family, and church. He never liked giving talks or speeches. (He always felt more articulate with a horn in his mouth.) So in that spirit I will keep this brief.
I’m not sure why, but my thoughts keep coming back to the last few lines of a song he wrote a few years ago. Apparently he’d been thinking about them too, because when I got home last night I found the music sitting on top of the Rhodes in our living room. As always, his lyrics are simple and hip: “Grab your thoughts and hurry into the Promised Land.”
With love and thanks,
with Lishelle, Aaron, Megan, and Sara