In Memory Of James “Buddad” Collier, My First Sensei

Yoi and Buddad at our old house on Yellow Rose Ct. in Columbia, 1978.

Today is our brother Mar-Yoi’s 41st birthday, as well as that of our late grandfather, James Robert “Bud Dad” Collier.

Despite limited high school education, Bud Dad was an exceptional mechanic, tinker and arm chair inventor.

I just wanted to take a moment in this cyber platform and big-up my Grandfather, one of the most influential people in my life.

While I know of short periods of time when Buddad and Grandmom lived other places, I don’t ever recall NOT knowing Buddad as a part of my life. He was always there with a loving smile, patience, and Little Debbie treat. Driving us around town, back and forth to Tennessee.

By 1977, when Pops was struggling to finishing Med school and manage the family, Grandmom and Buddad moved up from Tennessee to help him.

Buddad and Aunt J.

I have no idea how young I was the first time I did jumping jacks, push-ups, and shadowboxing with Buddad, his morning routine for decades. But from that point forward it was a part of all of our regular routine and he was still dancing on his toes up until the late 90s.

He was a short, stout, strong man with speedy hands and the ability to punch, duck, and weave in ways that made him seem like a pro boxer to us kids, when he would teach us how to jab and move. In fact, he named my father (and me by proxy) after boxing champMaximilian “Maxie” Baer.

I added kicking to Buddad’s boxing, learning from books, fights, and movies. By the time I started training with my first Karate Sensei, Master Ali Hassan, in 1984, I had been already been kickboxing for years, because of Buddad, supplemented by our Uncle Gerald, who also taught us wrestling.

Buddad and Pops, we were out on a boat fishing in the Chesapeake.

Buddad educated me, my siblings and cousins about so countless subjects: fishing, mechanics, sciences, music, contemplation, inventiveness, language. I recall our walks thru woods in Tennessee and Maryland, looking for ginseng root, sassafras tea, and mint. My brothers and I lived as country boys in the suburbs, drying our leaves in the back yard.

Yes, there are so many things Buddad taught us, including teaching me by example, to never drink alcohol in excess. Because the only times I ever saw our Grandfather loud or aggressive, was when he would relapse in his battle with alcoholism.

Sure there was the charming, loving drunk side that would sit us kids on the porch singing “How sweet it is to be loved by you…”  But there was also an angry, dark side that surfaced on some of those binges.

But even in this battle with the bottle Buddad showed us lessons. I remember him going into rehab and successfully detoxing, probably adding unknown number of years to his life. He was sober for many years after, slipping up briefly following my father’s death in 1994.

From watching the impact of alcoholism on Buddad’s life and our family, I swore as a child that I would never let the bottle get me cause it was clearly in our genes. Of course I’ve got my own vices, but fortunately sipping isn’t one of them. I’ll take a Corona with some good Mexican food or wine with a meal, occasionally, but to this day I’ve only been “inebriated” a couple of times in life. One of which was in the lobster village of Puerto Nuevo in Baja Mexico, on New Years Eve, in a pool overlooking the Pacific. But that’s another story…

I’m just grateful for Buddad showing me the challenges faced by that path and helping steer me away from it. That’s what he did for so many of us, he provided gentle, consistent guidance.

Happy Birthday Buddad, Sept. 22nd 2010, we miss you, love you, and thank you!

From my earliest memories, until his death in 2002, Buddad was first and foremost dedicated to teaching and shepherding his children and grandchildren, and I tell my son, nephews, and nieces, that I believe his spirit still watches us all right now.

Comments are Closed