Craig Morgan Remembers His Late Son, Jerry as Joyful
Craig Morgan's son Jerry wasn't just happy, he was joyful. He was a shining light who overcame great obstacles to thrive in school, sports and life. The country singer and his daughter, Aly, remember their 19-year-old son and brother as someone who had a positive impact on everyone he met, even in confrontation.
Jerry Greer's 2016 death inspired (and anchors) Morgan's most recent projects, a downtown Dickson, Tenn., store called the Gallery at Morgan Farms and an UP TV reality series called Morgan Family Strong that debuts on March 1 at 9:30 PM ET. The television show follows the singer, wife Karen and their adult children and spouses as they work together to build, stock and run a small business that relies on hand-crafted items made by them. It's a passion project that often requires Morgan to whittle wooden spoons from a mobile workshop while touring.
The first two episodes are honest, to say the least. It's not easy starting a business from scratch. It's even more difficult getting over the devastating loss of a child and sibling. Talking to Taste of Country, Aly (Alexandra Beaird) recalled getting emotional while on stage with her father, laughing as she called it one of the most embarrassing moments of her life.
"There’s no shame in that," Morgan adds. "You just let it happen. For me personally I find my private moments and it's usually late at night or real early in the morning and no one is around and I'll go out in the shop and I'll cry. We have a family gravesite on our property so I've walked down there a few times. I get angry. There's phases in this grief, too, and it's very frustrating. So we just kind of deal with it."
"Wyatt, our youngest, is the one that said it: ‘We live with the suck,'" he adds.
Jerry and his brother, Wyatt, were just 13 months apart because Jerry was adopted. This is something the family didn't reveal before or after the fatal July 10, 2016, tubing accident. In an interview with People Morgan and his wife share that Jerry was abused as a baby, but they started fostering him at 9 months old and adopted him a short time later.
"He was a very creative kid, too. Super creative," Morgan remembers. "Suffered from severe, severe dyslexia."
"It was to the point where it was obvious and his classmates would see," Aly adds. "And that's intimidating, I think, to a teenage boy."
See Photos of Craig Morgan's Son Jerry
There are tears, but it's difficult to miss the joy Morgan and his daughter find when given a chance to talk about Jerry. They light up as they recall how he'd convince other kids to go to church. It's nothing but smiles when Morgan recalls his son coming to him, saying he wanted to start a rural recycling business one day. At the time, the "That's What I Love About Sunday" hitmaker says he was so focused on being a parent that he didn't fully appreciate the lessons he learned from Jerry, but there were so many of them.
“I think for me, the love of my friends and my family ... That boy loved his family and his friends more than anything, and nothing else got in the way of that," Morgan says. "To hear the stories his friends talk about how much he meant to them, I wanna have that same impact."
Grief overtakes Morgan and his family sometimes. The best advice he can give others is that there is no advice to give. As a celebrity, he recognizes that people take comfort in his music and stories to get through their own tragedies, but that's not a responsibility he's ready to bear. The 53-year-old has dropped songs from set lists. He still does very few meet and greets. Songwriting is emotional (as fans will see during Ep. 2 of Morgan Family Strong) because Jerry is still at the forefront of every thought and action, even if Morgan is able to hide the pain with a lot of smiles and laughter when in front of fans and customers.
“I’m recording country music without any concerns or cares about whether or not anyone is gonna play it or anything," he says with strength and defiance. "I'm recording music that I think the fans want to hear."
*This story has been updated to include mention of Morgan's new song "The Father, My Son and the Holy Ghost."
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