REAL UPDATE: Always My “One Papa” by Siobhan
My One-Papa, “CB” Curtis Bryant, we will miss you Soooo!…
He will always be my “Big Papa” and my “One-Papa”.
Tears have run down my face for days this last week as I realize that the man I called “Papa”… my “Big Papa”… the original ONE-Papa who helped inspire OneMama… he will not be celebrating my birthday with me like we have the past 15-20 years… he departed on November 16th…
And I am sure he is wearing his big white suit in the heavens dancing all the way there!
I honestly have no words for how this man has been such a big part of my life and my fight for JOY!
How do you write about the loss of someone that fills so much of your life with JOY and the essence of what it means to truly live fully. There are no words just so many big emotions as my heart re-calibrates the impact that this comet of JOY and LIGHT had on me being me and the everyone else he impacted so incredibly.
He has been my papa, my friend, my confidant, my dedicated soul family, my dance partner, my advocate for change in our hood, and he even gave me away at my wedding.
He was the papa I never had in this life–my OnePapa!
And he was like no person I have ever met… always living and loving bigger than life!!
Everyone knew him as the “Mayor of Divisadero,” a legend here in San Francisco… but he was family to me… and will always be in my heart and soul.
He taught us all to BE more present by saying hello to everyone, by connecting with everyone who crosses your path no matter their situation in life! What a teacher to us all in so many impactful ways!
I went thru and listened to the years and years of saved calls I had from Papa. It is amazing to hear the day to day love and support all in one setting… you realize the building blocks of love that fills the empty spaces in our hearts and being just with the presence and love of this extraordinary man.
He impacted 1000s of people over the years with his light, joy, and face to face passion that brought the Fighting for Your JOY spirit to everyone he met. He did all of this without modern communication like the internet, social media, or with a smart phone. Just by being open to connecting with everyone who crossed his path in person, he connected with us! Truly amazing!! Imagine if we all did this… the world would be different place.
When you watched him, he was a bright light walking the streets of San Francisco smiling and saying hello to every person who crossed his path. He always carried gifts and gave them to all his family in the community or even a passerby that needed cheering up.
Today is the local service for our beloved friend “CB.” you can watch it on the Church’s facebook page here Bethel AME Church, San Francisco 11amPosted by Madrone Art Bar on Thursday, December 3, 2020
Every week we danced at Motown Monday and usually had breakfast Friday mornings after my ocean swim. We would discuss the sweet details of life. I have so many memories of us walking around the hood talking to everyone in this community as one big family. I loved him for his amazing expression of JOY IN ACTION. He asked everyone he could how they were and if they needed anything and usually had a little gift in hand to give out… he showed how to truly connect to the JOY in everyone… If we all could be more like him!!
Some of you may know my story, I come from an outlandish upbringing and didn’t have a family that I could look to for guidance and that day to day inspiration. I didn’t have what I would call a “Papa” in my life… and Curtis Bryant (“CB”) became my “Papa” shortly after we met.
We had this instant connection like two souls that danced to the same beat and he seemed to just get me and confide in me and always go out of his way to cheer me up and be my heart family. From that moment he would sit me down for sage advice and make sure I was always living big and fighting for my joy and the joy of others. With his favorite saying…
“WHO HAS IT BETTER THEN US….. NOBODY!”
When my dogs died he went out of his way to come and check on me every day. He wrote poems for me and my heart break… I was so touched that this man who seemed bigger then life would always take such thoughtful time to be with me and support me in my challenges and in my successes.
When I lost my baby and went to Africa to go find how I could be of service. He hugged me and cried as I left and asked me be careful saying… “I’m here…” and “We are Family, and I am always here.”
I have never felt anyone was ever really proud of me for me just being me like I suspect most parents are of their children. I created a life of service, work, and actions to find something I could be proud of in myself. And those things are things people tell me they are proud of me for… and while I am grateful for those kind words, there is something that “Papa” gave me that was different. He was just proud of me for being ME… all of me with my shine, with my sad, with my ups and with my downs… He just seemed to be proud of ME in this unconditional way that I’d never experienced before.
Walking the hood these last days is so different than it was before… knowing he isn’t here anymore to walk with me in one of his fancy suits. And most of all… missing his larger then life contagious smile.
I will always KNOW he will always be walking with me in Spirit!!
Here is an amazing song that our sweet friend Dana Carmel wrote for him the day he passed called Song for Ceebs. I have been listening to this non-stop to help me thru my grief. I hope you enjoy this piece of expression as much as I do. You can find it on SoundCloud here: https://soundcloud.com/danacarmel/song-for-ceebs.
Some of my favorite pictures and videos of One Papa:
Thank you Papa for Loving Evan Krause and I with that BIG LOVE!!
We will miss you…!!! But will always dance with you every step we take in Spirit!
Sending prayers of light… into the light in his favorite white suit and hat he goes!!!
With all my soul love,
Siobhan OneMama Neilland!!!