September 20, 1956 - December 19, 2011
September 20, 1956 - December 19, 2011
I remember a preacher (Rev Verna) preaching from the subject, “Get Up Jesus!” The text was Mark 4: 37-39. Jesus was on a ship, sound asleep and a terrible storm arose. The sailors were doing everything to stay afloat. Somebody decided to go awaken Jesus. They said, “Carest Thou not…i.e. Don’t you care that we are about to die here? How are you just lying there asleep?” Jesus got up and said, “Peace Be Still.” The storm ceased, just like it had never happened.
The preacher’s message was that when the storms of life are raging, we should say, “Get Up Jesus!” “Wake Up Jesus!” “Speak Lord!” The storms of life might be illness; yours or a loved one, it may be a disobedient or ungrateful child, a disloyal or unfaithful spouse, the loss of a job and… oh my yes, the death of a loved one.
I thought about that as Millie and I rolled down Bailey Ave. to Woodrow Wilson and to UMC following the Paramedics. That was the worst storm I’ve been in to date. When I ran besides the gurney holding onto your foot as they loaded you, I couldn’t feel you, so I knew you were gone, yet I kept begging. I begged the Lord to give you another chance even though I knew you were gone. In retrospect, when I was begging for another chance, it wasn’t for you, but rather for us; those you were leaving behind. We didn’t have a chance to say, “I love you;” or “See you at the meeting;” or “Boy, we gone miss you.” You had just slipped away.
Over the years, I’ve learned, God says “Yes,” “No,” or “Wait.” That Sunday morning, He said “No.” You were/are His. He made you, He knew all about you. He knew the pain and suffering you had endured in this life. He knew your hurts, your disappointments, your dismay. He knew how very hard you had tried, and tried and tried. And like any good Parent who loves a child, He said, “Enough! That’s enough. Go get him.” Millie talks about how good, restful and peaceful you looked that night when she gave you the Pepto. You were just lying there with your hands behind your head, watching TV; at peace, no pain or distress on your features. I believe you knew it wouldn’t be long now.
I like to think that as you lay there, you heard the fluttering of the Angels’ wing as they hovered around in your room; perhaps you even saw them, as they awaited the final word from the Master so they could transport you. They watched over you all night. And as the household came awake and started moving around, God allowed you to tell Grandmother/Momma, “I feel better, but I’m not going to church this morning.” She was able to relax knowing you were okay. But you were better than okay, weren’t you baby? You were at peace, knowing you had an early appointment in Heaven; the Angels were already there. Shortly God said, “Come home Child.” And the Angels took you away.
Sure, they worked on your body. They did all that was humanly possible, but your Father had called you home and His word is final. As you lay there in the ICU, they kept your body warm did all kinds of afore unheard of things. But you were gone that Sunday morning. They didn’t officially pronounce you until Monday, but you were gone. I touched you all over, but I couldn’t feel you at all. I kept praying, begging, for mercy. But, as I said, in retrospect I now know I was praying for us. That we could/would accept God’s will and let it be.
You would be so proud of your nephew. I know you tried for over 40 years to teach him something, I want you to know your work was not in vain. He manned up. Michael stood right there in the ICU and got Kent, Priscilla and Johnnie on the phone and let them talk to you.
All your nieces and nephews were there. Sheronda and Ronnie made a turn-a- round trip. Cousins, Aunts, Friends, people whose lives you have touched in any way were there. The hospital staff was amazed. There was a crowd, but an orderly crowd. Bug did you know how much you were loved? That’s the title of the story I’m going to write…one day. Bug, Did You Know?
How did you like your Homegoing Service? Everyone said it was impressive. I don’t know what was expected, but we could do no less for you; a memorable service for a memorable guy. I know you didn’t like the blue lights. I know, I know. There’s a city ordinance, so their presence was a mandate. Other than that, I hope you were/are pleased.
Your brother found you a wonderful spot, on a hill, overlooking everything. And as “busy” as he is all the time, he has found time to spread wheat/hay or something all over the fresh dirt, so the ground won’t erode. I’ve only been asking for wheat/hay for my yard for 4 months or so and haven’t gotten it. But, you have some already. Ain’t that something?
They pronounced you on Monday, 12/19; the Monday after the third Sunday in December. Tomorrow is the January 19, a month to the date they pronounced you, but it falls on a Thursday. Today is Wednesday, January 18; a month to the date that you left us. A month to the day was Sunday; the third Sunday in January which was January 15. What does this mean? What does it have to do with anything? Absolutely nothing. It’s just my wee, tiny mind rambling as it is wont to do. It has been a crazy week for me; I’ve been mess. So I write.
So many things bring me back to horror and pandemonium of that Sunday morning. Michael and I were on the phone, your name had just crossed my lips when I got the call from Sylvia. I went back to him and said, “I have to go. Sylvia said Bug is sick.” He said, “Okay Ma, keep me posted.” Sylvia didn’t say, “Hurry!” But there was something in her voice. When I turned off Livingston onto Eminence and saw all the Emergency vehicles, I think my heart and mind stood still for a moment. As it turned out, Michael got there almost at the same time I did. I don’t know, to this day, whether someone called him or what. Now, when I go to Grandmother’s house and make that turn, often that scene replays in my head. I haven’t decided to take a different route…I know it will get better.
To show you how crazy I went that day, I just got in the car with Millie and rode to the hospital. That Monday when I was about to get into her car to leave the hospital, I stood there in the parking garage and said, “What happened?! Where did all this stuff come from?!” She said, “Get in the car girl. Somebody must have done this while we were in the hospital.” OMG! You would not believe the debris and garbage in her new car. I didn’t even see it that Sunday. OMG! But that’s your sister. I worry about her all the time, now more than usual.
Rationally, academically, empirically I have accepted the fact that you are gone. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my heart, I can’t seem to let go…I will though, I will get there. I can’t keep putting your candle out. I have okay days. Good days. And then…I have “Lord have mercy Jesus!” days. I took your things out of your closet, piece, by piece, by piece. When I got to the last shirt…I was on the verge of falling over the edge, Grandmother was right there. So I left the room, I called Michael and said, “Pull me back! Pull me back!” He talked to me. Your things rode around in my car for 10 days, but I had to let them go. I dropped them off at Goodwill…it was not cute at all. I called Michael.
I do not know what I would have done if it were not for him. He has been my ROCK through all this. Not just for me, but he’s been there for whomever. He has, and has had his days/moments, and he reaches out; but I can’t thank him enough for holding on to me. . I have had to call that boy so many times. I’ve tried so hard to be there and hold everyone else together. Our main concern has been to be there for Grandmother/Momma. I think we’ve done well so far.
I try to be there for all your sisters and brothers. I know they are there for me also …but being the oldest, I try so hard to hold it together so I can hold them together. You used to hold all of us together, but now look at us. We need somebody to hold us together because of you. Shuckin’ Shuckin’ Shuckin’
Reading and/or writing used to always be there for me. Reading used to be my escape, but it’s not working for me right now and that’s a real bummer. I haven’t been able to lose myself in a book since you left. I’ve tried, but I find myself reading the same sentence over and over. Barbara says she has a book, by a new author, that she’s going to send me. I’ll try to read it. I need it badly. I’m trying to get “my life” back.
Your best buddy, James, has fallen in love with the website. He visits us daily. He reads the updates and other entries. He asked me if I ever rest. I do…I think. I am so sorry it took this tragedy (for me) to invite him to the site. I can’t believe I had never told him about it. What was I thinking? But look at you, still teaching us, still trying to run things.
Writing is what I have, what I can turn to, what I can do without disturbing anyone, or bringing anyone down, or ruining anyone’s day. Some of the things I write/have written will never be read. Some I will share. Some are healing or cleansing or cathartic for me. Do I cry as I write? You better believe it. But only Jesus and I know about that. Ain’t that special?
I guess I should read over this and edit, delete, change, revise, rework, improve, tidy up…make if flow a little better. I might, one day, but these are my thoughts as I feel them today, 1/18/12.
Okay, Baby Boy. I’m going to get up and do something. I have a glob of leaves in the driveway. They washed down the hill yesterday with all the running water from the rain. I guess I’ll have to get out there and get them up. Now is as good a time as ever.
It was good talking to you. I’ll talk to you again. Maybe next time I’ll be telling you some of the great things happening in the family.
We miss you Boo.
Hey Cowboy; how is it going today? How do you like your surroundings? Have you been visiting, talking, laughing with your Family, enjoying yourself? Have you gotten used to your NEW Family? More importantly, have they gotten used to you? Man, oh man, I know that must be something; they must be shaking their heads wondering what happened, saying, "Child, you ain't gone worry me."
I'm not going to keep you, I know you have things to do and people to see; I just have a few things to say. Some years ago, I began a journal of sorts for my Homegoing Service. Yep, believe it or not, I did. I live alone and at the times I lived miles away from the Family. At the time, I thought it was a good idea...prepare for the inevitable, spare the family the tedious task of frustratingly hunting through my "things." I didn't know at the time that according to Psycho-Geometrics, I am a BOX.
Persons with a BOX persona are organized, logical, conservative, analytical, a loner, etc., etc., etc. They believe, "If you want a job done right, do it yourself." So, now I know why I am so special. (I'm SMHL, 'cause I amuse myself sometimes.)
Anyway, in making my journal, I wrote some things, included my bank account numbers (moot at this point), insurance companies (with policy numbers). I put pictures, poems, and other writings in the book. One poem was from the program of a funeral I attended. The poem was, "Miss Me - But Let Me Go." It touched me then and even more so now. It says, and I won't bore you with all of it:
"When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me,
I want no rites in a gloom-filled room,
Why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little-but not too long;
And not with your head bowed low
Remember the love we once shared
Miss me - but let me go."
So, how did I propose to ask that of you and the others, yet I can't seem to do it myself? How? I don't think it ever occurred to me that I would ever have to 'Miss you - but let you go.' Nor did I think that of the others. I just never thought about it, but here I am.
Starting today...tonight as it is, I'm going to make an effort to let you go. Letting you go does not mean I won't think of you. I've thought of you every day for over 50 years; my 4 brothers and 4 sisters were always one of the joys of my life; and you are my favorite, as I am yours. CWL! Just kidding Child...a little joke.
We did have plans though. We were going to get a place together near Utica. Aside from Grandmother, I have the distinction of being the only one you knew you could "deal with" long enough to live with. We just had it like that. I know you are saying, "That'll work. That'll work."
Letting you go does not mean I won't miss you. I didn't see you every day, nor did I talk to you every day, but I knew you were always THERE... now you are not. Letting you go doesn't mean I'm never going to cry again. I don't want to put your candle out every day, but yes, the tears do flow sometimes.
Letting you go doesn't mean I'll forget you. I cannot possibly forget you, unless I develop Alzheimers or for some reason have to have a lobotomy. If either of those happen, I will have also forgotten ME, and it won't matter.
Letting you go means I cannot keep HOLDING on to you, trying to bring you back. Letting you go means I'm going to have to stop beating myself up about, "If I had known...." The Bible says, "He comes like a thief in the night. No man knows the day nor the hour." But wouldn't it be great if we knew beforehand?
Letting you go means I have to accept the fact that there is nothing I can do now, and there was nothing I could do then. Letting you go means that I have to keep in mind that it's not always the OLDEST, or the one with the known disease or illness that God calls to eternal rest, it is at His discretion.
There are sooo many "IF's" - "Would'ves" - "Could'ves" and "Should'ves" but to no avail. My/Our hearts are broken, but I promise you, we're going to try to comfort and soothe ourselves and each other by just 'Remembering the love we once shared.'
We did share US some LOVE and some good ol' AWESOME times together as a FAMILY, didn't we? We are going to continue to do just that, and in YOUR honor. You will always, always, be in our thoughts, in our midst, in our hearts.
We miss you Baby Boy.
February 9, 2012
Baby Boy, I dreamed about you last night...this morning to be exact. It was my first time since you left. Let me start off by saying, when I got in bed, I was exhausted from dealing with your momma. She has me making Valentine Cards for her Sunday School Class. OMG! While I do consider myself to be creative, my creativity does not lend itself to cutesy, cutting, gluing, pasting, or lettering. But, when Grandmother enlists you, what are your choices?
It was about 1:00 AM when I got in bed, then about 3:00, there you were. I will probably never know the dynamics, or the whys of the scenario, but it was so very real. You were sitting at the table in Momma's/Grandmomma's house. Kent was sitting next to you, real close, all up in your face. He was grinning for days, the Kool-Aid type grin. His eyes were bright and shining, he was hanging onto your every word. Johnnie was sitting across the table from you. He had that little peaceful, satisfied expression of his, you know the one...all is well.
Sylvia and I were standing behind you and Kent. She was to my right. Lord, was she ever smiling; showing Big old teeth all over the place. I have a sense of Millie on my left, over my shoulder, looking on. You know how she pretends to like being in the background. I have a sense of her smiling, but I didn't really see her expression. My expression was one of awe, or incredulity, yet joy at seeing you.
Boy, you were looking good; you had your suit on. Your face was full, bright and shining. I don't know if the light was all around you or within you. You were holding court; telling us about your new bicycle; waving your hands or rather raising them in the air like you are prone to do. We were so glad to see you, we were looking at you like you were a celebrity or a Super Star of some kind. It was so good to see you. A sense of peace and joy prevailed.
When I woke up, I couldn't move...literally. I don't know why. I tried so hard to get back to the dream to see if anyone else was there, but I couldn't go back.
Is there a message here Baby Boy? Do you want us to know you are fine; to let you go? Why was I the chosen one? Because I'm the oldest? Because you think I'm more capable to getting your message across? Because you think everyone is moving on except me? Will I see you again? Oh Lord, it was sooo good to see my sisters and brothers smiling that way again. It's been a minute. I promise you, I am moving on...I'm old, so I'm slow. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Why Grandmomma's house? Do you want us to know that not only are you in the bosom of Jesus, you also are in the bosom of your/our grandparents? In other words, right at HOME? A new bike? Why? New transportation in your new home? I think I will just go with that.
Okay, I'm signing off now. I'll talk to you again.
Hey Cowboy: Today is February 19; a Sunday; two months to the date that they pronounced you. I'm okay. Everybody is hanging in there. We went to a funeral yesterday. Another Mother was forced to say 'Goodbye' to one of her little chicks. A Father said 'Goodbye' also; so did Sisters, a Brother, Aunts, Uncles, Nieces, Nephews, the entire nine yards.
I didn't or don't mean to imply that it's easier for a Father than it is for a Mother. I feel the Mother's perspective because I am a Mother. Saying 'Goodbye' to one of your babies is a Parent's worse nightmare. The Circle Of Life is...is supposed to be...that the chicks/babies say 'Goodbye' to their Parents. But...God, in His infinite wisdom, has the final say.
The funeral was for Carnice. Be on the lookout for her. Show her the 'ropes'...help her get acclimated. She was a remarkable woman. She did so much for so many. I know her Family will miss her terribly.
Grandmother finally had a good cry. Well, that was the first good one that I am aware of. For some reason, she thinks she is not supposed to let go. I have my owns hurt and pain, but I hurt so much for her that it's often unbearasble. Her strength and fortitude are legendary, but your departure was/is a bit much for her.
She's going to be okay...at some point. She will, as well as the rest of us, learn to deal with IT, ONE day at a time; but for now, we are stumbling along, moving forward, but shakily, puzzled, uncertain, baffled, and simply confused. It's gone be aw-ite though.
Okay Baby Boy, I'm going. I needed to say something today; not because it's the 19th; not because it's a Sunday; I'm not sure why, but I needed these few minutes. How to end it? Man oh Man. Shuckin'! Shuckin'! Shuckin'!
Hey Baby Boy. It's Saturday, March 10 and we "spring" ahead one hour tonight. I will never understand who needs that much daylight at the end of the day. Morning light is more important to me, but then, who am I? Exactly! Anyway, Spring is in the air. It has been an exceptionally warm winter. The trees are budding and blooming; grass is growing, the sunlight is very bright; reminds me of Southern California days.
I'm not going to keep you, for I know you have better things to do. I just want to get an update on your candle. Is it burning brighter and for longer periods of time now? I hope it is. I think so, but you are the one to know for sure. There are still tears, but they have lessened a bit; they are not hourly or daily, therefore your candle should be burning pretty good. Right? For me, it's mostly when I'm doing "mindless" stuff/work; like dusting, cleaning the bathroom, sweeping, vacuuming, etc. My solution is to not do any of that, just read and/or stay at the computer. LOL!
We will think about you, talk about you and miss you for as long as we live. We are trying to find that "spot" or "place" where it doesn't hurt so badly. We are getting there. I know you are anxious to know about Grandmother. She is doing good...much better...getting there. You know she has always been a hummer, whistler, singer when she is involved in something. Well, she's whistling again, especially while doing her puzzles.
I don't think she was even aware that she had started groaning or moaning. I think she thought she was doing her usual humming, but it wasn't coming out that way. It was a groan. Child, Child, Child...you talk about something that hurt me all the way to my toe nails, that was it. Oooou! That day I cleaned your closet, she sat on your bed watching me and watching The Young and The Restless. She groaned/moaned the entire time. I kept asking her something or making a comment; she would respond and go right back to her groaning/moaning. I tried to rush through it because I thought I would die. I know the hurt she was feeling is beyond anything she had ever experienced in her life. When I think of my greatest hurt and/or sorrow and multiply it by 100, I know I don't even come close to what she was feeling, and God knows I pray that I never will.
I don't know when she got back to her whistling or humming. I just know one day, she was at the computer and she was whistling. It was the best sound I've ever heard. The other day she said, "If Bug was here my bricks wouldn't be lying around like that. He would have picked them up and placed them in their proper place. He would be cussing and fussing about these no-good children around here, but he would take care of it."
Millie said, "He would be out there digging the yard up to plant new flowers. I would be telling him some were perennials and would come back. It wouldn't make a bit of difference; he would just dig everything up and expect me to buy new flowers to replace them. He was so crazy!" She said she had been talking to you about her hedges; its time for you to clip them, but not down to the ground like you did last year.
Sheronda came into town last night. She is at Grandmother's helping her plant some flowers. The job is being done, but we all know it's not with your technique, expertise, flair or creativity, but it's getting done. When I go over and see it, I'll let you know. I can't go right now, I don't have transportation. That ole boy of mine has my vehicle and has had it since Tuesday. OMG! Normally, I wouldn't have anywhere to go, or have need of anything, but this week has been stressful...I didn't have my vehicle and had a thousand things to do and places to go. I haven't had a salad since Tuesday! OKAY?! OMG! Your car is in my garage, but one has to be special to push a Mercedes; I'm not that special.
Let me tell you this, then I'm going to let you go. DeLo and the girls gave Henry a party for his 60th Birthday at Penn's. It was a great evening. I was holding my breath, but it was good and I was able to exhale. You were missed and your name came up, but it was in funny stories about our childhood days. As I said, it was a good evening. A friend of mine said it's good and healthy to talk about you. It's good to mention you. We should not try to act like we don't think about you or remember you, because you will be part of our lives forever. Almost every story we tell or think about telling involves you, so talk.
Well Honey, I guess I've kept you long enough. I hope I'll be getting my car soon. Now he tells me, his car is still not ready. They need a part. OMG! Does that mean he needs my car next week? Geez!
Bye for now.
I/We miss you Boy.
Bug, Bug, Bug,
As soon as I have a “good” day or two; as soon as I think, “It’s getting better,” as soon as I began to breathe deeply, I have a day/episode/thought that makes me know…not yet.
However, I can finally talk about some of my other feelings, fears, dismay, and terror caused by my losing you. I was so scared and worried when Johnnie was so sick. Priscilla was so sick and I was scared and worried about her too. I did not want to have to make THAT call about Johnnie; I just knew I could not do it. And Lord have mercy, I for sure didn’t want to receive THAT call about Priscilla. They got better; the crisis passed and I was able to breathe.
When Sylvia was diagnosed with Cancer, it flipped me for sure. God brought her through it. He brought Kent through; I was and am so grateful; things were looking bright. I mean, there was and will always be a health issue or two. All of us are old and it comes with the territory.
But child, when you up and left, with no warning, no word, no heads up…I don’t even have words to tell you what that did to my heart, mind, body, soul and equilibrium. I know I must leave here one day; I’m okay with that…all of us must, but that was like a slam into a wall. It seems like I just suddenly came to the clarity and realization that either of us can leave here at any time. We don’t have to be sick, or in an accident…we could just be gone. Did I have some illusion that it would be the NINE of us forever? I don’t even know how to answer that. I just know I barely breathed for many weeks. What’s next?
I relaxed after a while; accepted there is nothing I can do. You are sorely missed for so many reasons.
I’ve made two trips to Lawrenceville with Millie to see her children and grandchildren. I’ve become your “stand-in” or something. I’m not doing a great job. She has pointed out to me, “Okay now, Bug could spot the ‘Man’ from quite a distance.” You were the Official Spotter on all Family Trips, ‘cause you know you didn’t like to see those lights pointed in your direction. That’s just another one of your many skills. We are probably just now realizing how many things you were an expert at performing; you did them so quietly and so effortlessly that we didn’t even notice, we just took it for granted.
D’Quandra and her boys finally, finally moved into their new house. She says that almost every day, she sees or thinks of something she needs you to do, or that you would have done for her. She said you two had already discussed all the things you were going to do to help her get her house in order. Millie said she went off on a repairman who had not done something to her liking and said, “If my Uncle Bug was here, he would have done that much better than you. My Uncle Bug could do everything.” Boy, Boy, Boy, again I ask, What did you do?
Grandmother and I had a little heart-to-heart a few days ago. She said, “I’m getting there. I’m feeling better. But girl, you just don’t know how crazy your momma has been. I don’t know what I would have done if it wasn’t for my computer and my puzzles. I’m better now, so I’m not going to be on it all day anymore. I’m going to act like I’m used to having something. I couldn’t go ‘relax my nerves’ every day, but this computer sure has helped.” I was so glad to know she is feeling a little better. Did she stop doing three, four or more puzzles a day? I have to take the fifth on that. LOL!
I read something the other day that made me pause and think. I sent it to everyone in a card. I hope it made them think also. It was, “Are you going to be thankful for all the time you did have; or are you going to grieve forever for the time you didn’t have?” That was a profound statement.
You walked among us for 55 years. We have so many memories. Are we going to tarnish or lessen the joys, fun and importance of those memories by only focusing on what might have been? What we should have done, or what we planned to do, or what we wish we had done? That’s not our intention, but it pops in our mind sometimes.
A friend of mine said we should never try to “not talk about you.” Every memory we have of the last 55 years includes you; so to try not to mention you would be to besmirch our memories of the good times and/or bad times. So be assured, we talk about you. We laugh about you and at you; or something you said or would have said.
We miss you Baby Boy. Step by step, day by day, we can see the sunshine. We can hear the birds sing. Sunday is Easter; Resurrection Day; the day to remind us that He indeed lives. And because He lives, we can and will face tomorrow.
Love you man.
Child, don't get upset about the pink. I know you are a MAN; no doubt in my mind. There's a little Burgundy in it also, right? That's the color of your favorite suit. When you want to look "sho-nuff," for real cute, you get decked out in that suit. Lord have mercy, you are a mess in that.
The Pink is all about Mother's Day. That day makes me think pink; I have no idea why. I know it's going to be an "alright" day; but I am stressing about it as we speak.
I went to L A to see your brother a few weeks ago. I was there 5 days and saw him every day. He is doing good. He had a cold, but otherwise good. It was a good visit, but not quite what I expected or wanted/needed. I dealt with it, and I am dealing with it. It was good to see him face-to-face.
Got to go now. It's rough right now. I could use a shoulder. Thank you for listening to me. Lord child.....Umf!
Be good now and we'll talk later.
Am I going to be thankful for all the time I did have with you; or am I going to grieve forever for the time I didn’t have?”
Some days are okay...today is not one of those days.
Perhaps 'cause Father's Day is near and I bought cards
the other day for my brothers.
I haven't written anything in a while, which may or may not show progress.
I don't go to the site every month anymore, progress? Hmm....
Yet, I still say "Four sisters and four brothers." I correct myself...sometime,
other times I just leave it as is.
Johnnie gave me a list of sponsors for the website. As he was giving it to
me and I counted, I said, "Wait, you left somebody off." Then I said,
"Oh Yeah, Bug...I keep forgetting."
He said, "Yes, I know the feeling."
Whew...I gotta go now.
Miss you Boy!
It's about to be a real "mess" in Heaven now. Your Big Brother is up there somewhere walking around. Help him out. Although he's older, you have been there longer. Show him around and take good care of him.