Farewell My Dear Cousin #72

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” Thomas Campbell

My heart is heavy laden with sadness as I write these words today. One of my favorite people was laid to rest in her eternal home earlier today. I couldn’t be with my family to celebrate her life because distance and a global pandemic separates us. My maternal grandmother’s niece, my cousin Mary was very affectionately known as simply Mae Mae. Mae Mae journeyed through this life for a very blessed eighty years before she transitioned to her eternal home on Friday June 19, 2020. I was very heartbroken when I heard that Mae Mae’s time on this side of life had ended and in the days thereafter I began to think about her life and what she meant to me. I decided to celebrate Mae Mae and what she’ll always mean to me by writing a bit about our special relationship.

The first time I have any memory of Mae Mae coming into my life was in the early 1990s when I was 8 or 9 years old. It was 1991, if my memory serves me correctly, when Mae Mae and several other family members came to my family’s hometown to attend a family reunion. I can remember instantly just taking a liking to Mae Mae, I guess it was because even as a child I could tell that there was something extraordinary about Mae Mae. I immediately felt like she loved me. During the weekend of that family reunion I stuck with Mae Mae at all of the reunion events. After that weekend, Mae Mae started calling me “her girl”. I can’t explain to you just how much that always meant to me, even if she had other relatives and friends who she called that, it still meant that I was special to her. Once the family reunion weekend was over, I don’t remember keeping in touch with Mae Mae much, I guess that’s because I was busy growing up, but she would always ask about me whenever she spoke with my grandmother.

Over the years, whenever Mae Mae, her daughters and family came to visit or my family and I traveled to Gary, Indiana to visit Mae Mae and her family, just as I did as a little girl I always stuck right beside Mae Mae. As I came into my adult years I feel like the bond that Mae Mae and I shared grew even closer/stronger. In recent years Mae Mae and I had numerous phone conversations that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my time on this side of life. I don’t know anyone who loved and cherished family quite as much as Mae Mae did, family literally meant the world to Mae Mae. If ever there was something that I wanted to know about our family she always had the answer for me and sometimes the answer went far beyond what I was asking, because family was her favorite topic during all of our conversations. It always seemed as though Mae Mae made an effort to keep in touch with just about everyone in the family. During many of our phone conversations she would update me on what was going on in the lives of several family members, some of the relatives she would tell me about I still have yet to meet. Her family updates always meant a lot to me, because like Mae Mae family is very important to me.

It probably doesn’t make any sense, but sometimes I felt like I could hear the smile in her voice when she would discuss her family. She always spoke as though it brightened her day to speak about her family. Mae Mae and I never had a conversation without her mentioning something about her daughters. She always seemed so proud to be their mother. She spoke in a way that would lead one to believe that her sons in law were more like her sons. On all of our phone conversations Mae Mae was always a doting grandmother, she was always bragging about her awesome grandchildren. She was very proud of the young adults that her grandchildren have become. Family truly meant everything to Mae Mae.

As I sit in my quiet place writing these words about one of my most favorite people, Mae Mae, I can hear her infectious laugh and a twinge of sadness hit me because I realized how long it’s been since I’ve gotten to visit with Mae Mae. In the last year or so I’ll admit I have done an awful job of keeping in touch with Mae Mae and at this moment I’m feeling some regret. I’m feeling some regret because I haven’t picked up the phone to call Mae Mae in a while and now I can’t. It’s dawned on me that distance in miles is no longer what separates Mae Mae and I, honestly that realization stings my heart more than I could fathom. Although I failed at keeping in touch as I should’ve, Mae Mae has never left her very special place in my heart and she never will.

Rest well Mae Mae, my girl 💜

Four Wise Men #69

My God is so amazing, you see, 37 years ago when God placed me in this world, he made me the daughter of two extraordinary people, but being the amazing God that he is, his plans were already set and he knew that my daddy would forever be in my heart but only physically a part of my life for 16 years. For 16 years of my life I was blessed with the best father any daughter could have. I know all of us who have/had great fathers feel that way, but anyone reading this who actually knew my daddy, you know I’m right, my brother and I were blessed with a great father who we always felt loved by and my mother was blessed with a wonderful husband who without any doubts loved her. My amazing God knew that in March of 1999 he was going to need Daddy back with him, so from day one of the lives of my brother and I, alongside our daddy and of course our exceptional mother, God placed our village. My brother and I were extremely blessed with exceptionally great parents, but as the saying goes “it takes a village to raise a child.” We have many great people who have had a role in the village that raised us alongside our parents, especially after our daddy’s death. In this post I want to express my gratitude and love for four of the wise men in our village.

The first of the four wise men is my godfather, Joe H. Smith who I expressed my love and admiration for in My Heaven Sent Second Father #62. One definition of a godfather is a male godparent who acts as an advisor or mentor to someone. If you read perspective #62 then you know that definition fits Joe’s role in my life, but he serves a myriad of roles in my life so I always feel like only calling him my godfather seems so inadequate. Joe is not only my godfather, he’s my trusted confidant, I consider him one of my professors in the classroom of life, because I’m learning something from him all the time, he’s an outstanding role model, he’s my shoulder to lean on whenever I need and there’s nobody else who can make me laugh like my god daddy. He does all of that and more for me, sometimes without reward simply because he loves me without conditions. He is always there for me whenever I need him. He is one of the most selfless people I know, I can’t think of a time that he has ever said “no” or “not right now” when I ask him to do anything for me. One of the most essential life lessons I have learned from Joe is to always keep a sense of humor no matter what circumstances this life puts you in. I can’t imagine my world without Joe Henry Smith in it.

The next of the four wise men is my Uncle Charles, my daddy’s youngest brother.

Uncle Charles is one of the people in my life who when I really get to thinking about what he really means to me the tears just start to roll down my face before I even realize it. Uncle Charles reminds me so much of my daddy it’s amazing, I never realized how similar they are in so many ways until after Daddy was gone. I’m not sure Uncle Charles knows just how much I value his presence in my life. Uncle Charles and I have phone conversations that last for a few hours sometimes, we talk about everything and nothing. Uncle Charles is probably one of the wisest wise men in my life, his intelligence is unparalleled, he seems to know a little something about anything that I ask him about. I call him when missing Daddy gets to be too overwhelming and nearing the end of our two or three hour conversation Uncle Charles will have me laughing at a story about something silly/comical that my daddy did when they were boys. I’m grateful to be able to pick up the phone whenever I want or need to talk to Uncle Charles.

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Rev. Willie E. Smith, one of my daddy’s best friends from childhood to manhood, his Tougaloo College roommate, is the third of my four wise men. Rev. Smith has always been a part of my life, as a little girl I knew that he was one of my momma and daddy’s best friends, but honestly it wasn’t until after my daddy’s death that I began to truly appreciate his presence in my life. Rev. Smith and my Goddaddy Joe are two of my parents’ lifelong friends who have been men of their word for as long as I have known them, but most especially since Daddy died, if those two say they are going to be there they are; always. Rev. Smith has been there to officiate over some of the most important moments of my life, he was the officiant at my baby blessing ceremony when I was an infant and he performed my baptism in my teenage years. I don’t get a chance to see Rev. Smith nearly as much as I would like to because he is always busy fulfilling his calling doing the Lord’s work and taking care of his family, his church members and anyone else who needs him, but I know that if I need him all I have to do is make a phone call and his 747 will land wherever I need. I’m grateful to Rev. Smith for being someone who befits the definition of the word friend.

Last but surely not least is my Uncle Jake, my mother’s only brother. I feel like the older I get the more and more my relationship with my Uncle Jake grows. My Uncle Jake is a deep thinker like I am, he always looks like he has something on his mind and when you have a conversation with him you get to see just how wise he really is. Uncle Jake’s demeanor reminds me a lot of my granddaddy, you can’t always tell what he’s thinking by looking at his facial expression. My Uncle Jake was there that awful afternoon/evening nearly twenty one years ago when my daddy left his earthly life. I don’t think I ever got the chance to thank him for being there, but if I did get the opportunity my emotions would probably get in the way of me being able to express myself properly. My Uncle Jake is someone who I am glad to have in my world and I hope and pray that our uncle/niece relationship continues to grow.

Though neither of them could ever fill the void that my daddy’s death placed in my life I am profusely grateful for the place each of these wise men holds in my life and I hold an infinite amount of love in my heart for each of them.

That’s just my perspective!💜

A Salute To The Coolest Cat #66

The first person who I witnessed slowly making the transition toward leaving this side of life was my maternal grandfather, it’s so hard to believe that today it has been exactly twenty one years since granddaddy’s earthly journey ended. I was 15 years old in 1998 when a short battle with lung cancer started to take its toll on my granddaddy’s body. After about a year or so of chemotherapy and radiation therapy Granddaddy decided that he’d had enough and he put his life all in God’s hands. That summer is one that I think I will always remember, because it was the start of some life changing events that shaped the way that I currently think about life and death.

It’s a time in my life that I’ll always be grateful for, because it taught me about being grateful for people who truly love me and to cherish the time that God gives me with my loved ones. When my Granddaddy’s earthly body started to prepare itself to transition into the next life he had to be placed under hospice care and that was something I never knew anything about until that time. Because of my physical limitations there weren’t a lot of ways that I could help with taking care of my granddaddy while he was on his deathbed, but I could feed him while he was still able to eat and sit and talk with him. I’m infinitely grateful that God allowed me moments when it was just Granddaddy and I in his room together and I could tell him that I loved him beyond measure, so I’m confident that he died knowing my love for him.

I remember that Thursday morning like it was yesterday. A couple days before Granddaddy drifted into what I like to think of as a state of complete calmness, because he knew he was on his way to a much better place and life. I’ve never said it to anyone but I had a sad feeling that death wasn’t very far away. I’m sure the whole family was feeling it, but praying for just a few more days with Granddaddy or even for a miracle. I always find it interesting that for several nights before Granddaddy’s death I slept in his bedroom with him in his hospital bed and the night nurse watching over him but God had a plan that didn’t include me being in the room when Granddaddy made his final transition. I remember my daddy waking me up early the morning of June 4, 1998, before the sun had arisen telling me that my granddaddy died. It didn’t hit me immediately, I don’t remember crying until later on that afternoon when I went in the room and the sight of the empty hospital bed brought me to tears. Y’all know I still have a really difficult time wrapping my mind around the fact that Daddy died just nine months later. Twenty one years later it’s still difficult to repair my heart after death took two of the men I loved, admired and respected most in the world within nine months of one another.

Growing up as a little girl I absolutely adored my granddaddy for so many reasons, one being that he bought me whatever I wanted, all I had to do was ask. I always felt like I was his favorite grandchild. I often reminisce about admiring the fact that when my granddaddy who was a plumber until his health failed him wasn’t in his work uniform, there was no way he was going to step out not dressed well, looking sharp and smelling good. As I started to get a bit older I began to value my relationship with my granddaddy for much deeper reasons. One trait I wish that I had inherited from my granddaddy is that he was the type of person who never ever gave a damn about how people felt about him and his choices, I definitely aspire to be more like my granddaddy in that way.

When I am at my grandparents’ house now, I often wish that I could go in granddaddy’s bedroom, sit on his bed with him and just listen to whatever he had to say as I did so many times in the 15 years God gave us, because that’s one of the things I miss the most about being his granddaughter. I always learned something from just listening to my granddaddy and I cherish those times. As I am writing these words I can hear my granddaddy referring to me as “the cat that the kittens don’t know about. I think I got to see a side of my granddaddy that he didn’t show everyone, especially those outside of his family and I am tremendously grateful for that. Most people might have thought that Granddaddy was a bit of a Scrooge but to me he was one of the most loving and affectionate people in my world, I miss laying my head on his strong shoulder when nothing seems to be going right in the world and having a grandfather who just wanted to make my world alright.

I am so thankful to God because for 15 years of my life, Silas Delaware was my granddaddy, a man who I know without any doubt loved me and was proud of me. I am grateful that even though my granddaddy was literally on his deathbed each time he saw me he smiled because that’s just how special our bond was. I feel honored to be his granddaughter. I’m sure my granddaddy is watching over his wife of 50 years, his five children, five grandchildren, & the four great grandsons who he never got to meet smiling with pride at his family and bragging about us to everyone in Heaven.

That’s just my perspective!💜

95 Years Of My Family’s Crossing Guard #61

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If you’ve read anything that I have written in the last four years since I started this blog then you know that I absolutely adore my family. I always feel extremely blessed to have been born into such an awesome group of people.

Today is the 95th birthday of the woman who I call the chief of our tribe, the captain of our ship, and the ruler over all in my family, my grandma. The bible tells us that our days may come to seventy years or eighty, if our strength endures. (Psalms 90:10). Today God has allowed my grandma’s strength to endure living in this world for 25 years beyond the 70 years that the bible speaks of. I don’t know about anyone else but I am overjoyed by that fact.

Let me tell you a little bit about just who my Grandma Freda is. For 29 years of her life her occupation was a school crossing guard, but she was a crossing guard long before she started that job. My Grandma Freda has been life’s crossing guard for her five children, five grandchildren, nieces & nephews and countless others. Til this day she is still serving as life’s crossing guard for her four great grandsons. Grandma Freda has been the one to see us all safely from one phase of life to the next. From infants to children, from adolescence to adulthood, Grandma Freda has been there every step of the way, making sure we got safely through each phase. Even if we happen to step into harm’s way she is right there to pick us up and point us back in the right direction all the while very sternly telling us where we went wrong. Grandma Freda is an important part of the lives of everyone that’s born into my family.

I’m not sure I know anyone else quite like Grandma Freda, she’s awfully headstrong, as a matter of fact she’s probably where the rest of us got that trait from. You might not think so when you first meet Grandma Freda but deep underneath her very hard shell lives a kindhearted woman. If she has even just an ounce of love for you you’ll know it, but don’t look for hugs, kisses or much in the way of affection from Grandma Freda because that’s just not who she is. If she doesn’t like you trust me you’ll feel her sting. Grandma Freda does not sugarcoat anything at all for any reason. If it’s on her mind you better believe it’s going to come out of her mouth and you just might get your feelings hurt, especially if you’re sensitive like me.

I think that the spiritual/religious side of me has always been nurtured by all of my life’s crossing guards, but I have so many memories of Grandma Freda sitting me down as a young girl and teaching me “church songs” and scriptures. I admire her faith and her trust in God. Her church members know something is wrong if she’s not at Beulah Land on Sunday morning. She’s the oldest member of the church and they all know not to talk back when she says something. She’s always taught me “just trust in God.” Grandma Freda is the reason that Proverbs & Psalms are my favorite books to read in the bible, because whenever life throws an obstacle in my path that I just can’t seem to jump over easily Grandma Freda tells me to read Proverbs & Psalms and of course I do as she tells me.

Grandma Freda will teach you a multitude of life lessons in one conversation with her. You really have no choice but to be still, sit, listen and learn, because it doesn’t matter what else is on your schedule when Grandma Freda is talking. Grandma Freda has always been a my way or no way type of grandmother but a lot of times in my life I have found that she’s not going to steer me wrong and her way is at times the best way. I just wanted to tell you all about the woman I’m celebrating today, my family’s life crossing guard. A woman I’m grateful beyond words to have in my life, my Grandma Freda.

It’s my prayer that God continues to bless her with good health and many more years to celebrate her life.

That’s just my perspective!💜

Blessed To Know Love Personified #12

20180923_0146582763698612359055742.jpgI wonder if anyone reading this is like me when you think about the good people that God has placed in your life it brings tears to your eyes, because you think you are so undeserving of such good people in your life. I think the good people that God has placed in my life are a testament to how much love God has for me and that amazes me beyond words.

If you know me then you know that there are two people in my world who I am always writing and speaking about how grateful I am for them.  Those people are my mother and my Aunt Zel. It happens to be a day before my Aunt Zel’s birthday and I began to think about what I would  write in my usual birthday Facebook post or in a birthday card for her. I started thinking about what my Aunt Zel means to me and just the thought of all that she means to me brings tears to my eyes.  My Aunt Zel is one of the few people in my life whose love I never feel like I have to question, because love constantly pours from her. I very often wonder why God did not make more people like Zel, because if he had this world would surely be better. Zel is literally the kindest person I know,  Zel is always there for not only me but everyone she knows, whatever you ask of her it shall be done, you might have to remind her a time or two but she will do whatever you ask of her and it’s done with meticulous perfection.

I think of Zel as my second mother, that’s one of those thoughts about Zel that brings more than just a few tears to my eyes, because I 20180923_0120259139139210763471381.jpgrealize just how much God loves me, he not only gave me my mother, who I am infinitely grateful for but he placed Zel in my life, someone who has clothed me, fed me, taken me to doctor’s appointments, spent nights with me in the hospital, takes care of me and loves me just as my mother does. It amazes me how giving Zel is, there is not a selfish bone in her body, she is one of those type people who would probably give you the clothes off of her back just because you stated that you like what she is wearing. Zel is truly a Christ-like person. I can only remember a few times in my life that I have seen Zel angry, I believe that’s because she loves so intensely that it takes a lot for her to get to the boiling point of anger. Zel is someone who is deserving of only the best things in life, because she gives the best of herself on a daily basis. If you know her you should consider it a blessing because Zel is love personified. She is someone we should all aspire to be like.💜

The Unconditional Love of Children #11

7170CF6A-3F98-482F-8DE6-03BD8BD76BB2For the last three years I have been privileged and blessed to be able to watch my nephew grow into a remarkable, loving three year old miniature version of both his mother and father. Being around my nephew on a daily basis has made me realize how children his age truly give love from a pure place. I think small children have one condition that they place on giving love and that condition in my opinion is that they are treated well and feel loved. I think once we grow into adults we sometimes lose the ability to love without condition. As adults we begin to see flaws in one another that children are unaware of and we choose not to  accept those flaws which affects our ability to love unconditionally. I believe we all should learn from the small children around us, to unconditionally love the people in our lives who treat us well and are willing to accept us flaws and all.💜