Like the Rough Riders of old western movies, arriving from different
parts of the country, we descended upon Franklin and Marshal, a small
college in Lancaster, PA. The occasion was College Enrollment for our
grandson, Lorenzo (Rennie).
First to arrive was Sharon, his mother, bringing Rennie with her (Dartmouth
College, Class of ‘87). In addition to being a successful entrepreneur,
she is a professional performing artist and National Director of the
Performing Arts in The House of the Lord Church. Second to arrive, an
aunt – Leah. Our first-born, (Dartmouth College, Class of ‘84).
Chief of Staff to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), recently
appointed CEO to the National Democratic Convention ‘08 and founder
and Pastor of The House of the Lord Church in Washington, DC, fifth
generation of ministers in our family. Then came another aunt –
Dawn Daughtry-Pemberton, our youngest daughter with her husband Todd.
(Todd is founder and CEO of Bugs are Gone, an extermination company.)
Dawn, (Syracuse University, Class of ‘89), is an Assistant Principal
at PS 113 in Brooklyn, founder, and pastor of the House of the Lord
Church in Bergen County, National Youth Director of the House of the
Lord Churches, another 5th generation minister.
Then came Herb, Jr., uncle, and the youngest and only son, with his
wife, Danielle, both are Attorneys at Law, their two sons, Herb, III
(21⁄2 yrs.) and Miles (4months). Herb, (University of Chicago,
Class of ‘91 and Georgetown Law School, Class of ’95) and
now the Principal of Ronald Edmonds, II, Elementary School in Brooklyn.
Then came my wife, Dr. Karen Smith Daughtry, (Adelphi University, BA
‘78, MA ’83 in Education, the New York Theological Seminary,
MPS in Religious Education ’85, D.Min in Pastoral Care & Counseling,
‘97), and I. We arrived late into the night.
The next day, his father, Lorenzo Chambers, Sr., arrived – (Dartmouth
College, Class of ‘87).
It has become a family tradition, whenever there was/is a significant
event in the lives of any member of the family; the family put forth
maximum effort to be present. Some events, especially school related,
i.e. Graduations, enrollment in a new school, athletic contest, performing
arts participation, etc. were/is mandatory. So, on the morning of August
15 we gathered at breakfast to discuss the schedule for the day. First,
there was the enrollment, where rooms were to be assigned and schedules
would be given. From the hotel, it was only a few minutes drive to the
After receiving his room, the family, baby in a lockdown carrier, with
bags and suitcases, marched up to the third floor of the redbrick dormitory.
My wife, leading the way began searching for the best bed, mattress
and room space. The room was shared with another student. This was part
of the tradition, arrive first, my wife taking charge. We had done this
with all four of our children. After examining the bed and mattress,
of course, both were inadequate. The spring was broken and the mattress
was too bumpy and soft. Up and down the dingy, soiled carpeted halls
we went, until the right bed and mattress were found and moved into
Now, a major discussion, on which side of the room he should claim.
After considerable deliberation, it was decided he should take the side
next to the window. And the desk and book shelves closest to his bed.
Now, began the cleaning, dusting and shifting stuff around. He had to
have his own heater, microwave, refrigerator and a special quilt for
his bed; the drawers and closet had to be spic an span for all the new
stuff that had been purchased (much shopping had been done and much
more yet to be done), everything was placed neatly in his drawers and
closets. Another debate, what pictures would hang on the wall? It was
decided Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and a picture of Tommie
Smith & John Carlos, winners at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico
with raised black fits and hung down heads in protest at the Olympics.
Next, the library, books had to be purchased. It was a short distance
across the manicured emerald grass, white paved walkway to the library.
It was a quaint, little place with two floors of books, a narrow staircase
and cozy sitting area with plush leather chairs. I could not resist
the temptation of the big soft leather chair. I purchased a bottled
of water, and looking out of the picture window, I surveyed the surroundings.
The scene before my eyes was quiet, clean and beautiful. Here and there,
a few people strolled casually to and fro.
After books, writing pads, posters (there was no MLK, Jr. posters) and
“do dats” were purchased, the family, (baby in stroller)
made its way to the freshman and family barbeque. Under the shade of
trees tables of food were spread, mostly cold salads and hot dogs. I
kept looking for a barbeque pit or grill. I never saw any. After hearing
“rah rah” speeches from coaches, athletic director, family
coordinator and introduction of freshman football players, we made our
way to the restaurant and more shopping.
After lunch and shopping, the family returned to the room with more
fixing and putting things away or in their places. After 10pm, Rennie
returned to his room, he was delightfully startled and that is an understatement,
when he walked into his room and was shown how orderly and neatly everything
had been arranged. There were words of encouragement written on the
pad on the wall. I was told to write something. I decided to wait until
When it was time to take our leave, as is our custom, we joined hands
and prayed. We walked out into the warm night, stood at our cars, embraced
and expressed endearing words. It was hard to leave him there. There
is a little rhyming game I have played with him since he first learned
to talk. It goes, “See you later alligator,” one of us would
say. “After while crocodile,” would come the response. “You’re
the boss applesauce.” “You got it made lemonade,”
in response, and so on until we run out of rhymes. The person who said
the last rhythm was the winner. So, he started. “See you latter
alligator.” “After while crocodile,” I responded,
etc. Near the end of the game, I said, “You’re the tops
apricot.” He had no response, we smiled, embraced, I whispered
to him, “I love you and I’m proud of you.” I felt
guilty that I had beat him in the rhyming game. But the competitive
spirit in me refuses to deliberately lose. Anyway, it would not be good
for his self-esteem to know that I let him win. We waited until he had
disappeared into the building. He was/is as close to being a perfect
grandson as you can get.
I had said to his mother, in church after his going away party, something
I heard David Dinkins say, quoting Congressman Charlie Rangel, “If
I had known you were going to produce this wonderful grandson for me,
I would have treated you better.”
The next morning as we were preparing to leave, Rennie called, he was
so excited. He had outrun the upper classman in a special back and forth
40-yard race. (Later we learned he would be the starting tailback or
running back, an extraordinary achievement for a freshman on any college
football team.) I finished my letter at the breakfast table and handed
it to Sharon to give to Rennie.
I wrote, “Dear Rennie; I wanted to write something profound to
leave with you. Then it occurred
to me, I have said and modeled it all. Since you first saw the light
of day, you have seen me as student, as teacher, pastor, leader, father,
husband, counselor, etc. You have traveled with me. You have been at
my side as we discussed local, national and international issues with
leaders great and small. You have been at the church and in the community
all of your life. You have been surrounded by family, church, school
and community, providing you with love and support. You have been observing,
absorbing, practicing, learning, teaching, leading, praying, singing,
and studying – so, now you are the personification of all of those
experiences. You are ready! It is as if you had been preparing all your
life for the super bowl. When the moment arrives and you are waiting
in the dressing room, there is nothing left to say or do. You have been
waiting and preparing for the big game all of your life – the
only thing left is to play the game, fully confident you will perform
magnificently. God bless you, ‘You’re the boss applesauce.’”
When Sharon finished reading the letter, she exclaimed with tears and
smiles, “This is wonderful. He will frame this.”
Drizzling rain had begun to fall as we started our journey back over
the hills. Our conversations focused on Rennie growing up, what a wonderful
child he had been. Our reveries were interrupted by the radio announcer
with the sad news Max Roach, the incomparable musician, had died.
“So, we laugh and so we cry, so we live and so we die, we shed
our tears and say good-bye, and such is the stuff of life.”
Hold the date for The National Religious Leaders Concerned About Darfur,
Inc., and first Anniversary Celebration taking place on Thursday, October
18, 2007 from 6pm to 8pm at the House of the Lord Church, located at
415 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.
Organizing Meetings regarding Darfur every Thursday - 12noon @ the House
of the Lord Church
Keep abreast of our Darfurian activities by checking our web page @
BCAT Program every 2nd and 4th Sunday @ 2p.m.
For further Information on all events, contact The House of the Lord
Church @ (718) 596-1991.