My Grandma Freda departed this side of life one year ago today. On Monday May 17, 2021 she quietly slipped away from this side of life. In the last year, there has not been one day that I have not thought of her, most times those thoughts are accompanied by tears. It’s difficult for me to write about Grandma Freda, because just thinking about the fact that she is gone still hurts in an indescribable way. I know that she’ll always be with me in spirit but her physical presence meant the world to me and not having that is something I have yet to adjust to. I can always hear her voice saying “Just as sure as you’re born you’re going to die.” I just never prepared myself for living a life that did not include the huge presence of Alfreda V. Regans Delaware in it. I‘m grateful that although Grandma Freda’s death has left a huge hole in all our hearts and an empty chair at the head of our dinner table, we (her family) won’t ever stop speaking her name. She embedded a part of herself in all of us and left us with a multitude of memories. We owe tremendous gratitude to our life’s crossing guard for all that we are and ever will be.💜
I’ve been trying to write this blog post for several days, but every moment that I was able to still myself I ended up in a battle with my emotions and was badly defeated by an uncontrollable flow of tears so I just couldn’t write anything until now.
In Celebrating My Family’s Crossing Guard #61 (posted February 5, 2019) I wrote about my maternal grandmother, my Grandma Freda who on that day was celebrating her 95th birthday. I hope everyone who pays attention to my blog has a chance to read that post.
Twenty days ago, on Monday May 17, 2021 my grandma’s tour of duty as our family crossing guard ended as she quietly slipped away from this life and onto the next. The last twenty days just haven’t seemed real to me, it is like I’m walking around in a long somber dream, but sadly I am fully awake and in real life. I saw my grandma alive on this side of life for the last time on Sunday May 16, just one day before her death. It was so very painfully obvious that death was near, Grandma wasn’t at all herself. I’m not sure that she even recognized my mother and I, because her reaction to our presence was not at all the same as usual. It was like she was in a daze. I’d like to think that her mind was completely focused on the transition she was preparing for. I hope that she had her mind set on going to a place where she will no longer be sick & weak, a paradisiacal place where her strength will be renewed eternally.
Even though while sitting in her bedroom on that Sunday afternoon, crying & praying, I figured that Grandma Freda’s time with us, on this side of life was coming to an end; I absolutely never for one second imagined that her final hours in this life would be the very next day. I never thought that the next time I would see her, it would only be her body, the shell that held her awesome soul for 97 years, laying in a casket. God hasn’t given me the talent or vocabulary to put into words just how painful that was for me.
If you knew Grandma Freda then you know that showing affection was in no way her thing, she was never the hugs & kisses type of person, although she didn’t show love in affectionate ways I can only think of one time in my life when I questioned her love for me. I won’t go into any detail but I’ll say, it was a time in my life when I was young and I had to live and learn, but I was soon reminded by God that my Grandma Freda loved me with her whole heart. I can’t remember a time in nearly 39 years when Grandma didn’t have a strong presence in my life. I can remember in elementary school I was in plays reenacting The Wizard of Oz and The Three Bears which must have been before my extreme stage fright developed, but anyway Grandma Freda was sitting in the front row with my parents and my Aunt Zel each time. I got very delicious homemade birthday cakes until the age of 37 and any birthday party or dinner that I ever had Grandma was always right there.
Grandma could be a bit hardcore sometimes, at 805 you lived by her rules and she didn’t play, it was her way and literally no other way. I can remember only one time that she spanked my hands when I was a little girl, but my memory fails when trying to recall the reason for the spanking, whatever it was I never did it again because I never wanted to suffer grandma’s wrath in that way again. Through all the medical procedures I have had in my life I always knew that she was a praying grandmother who has sent numerous prayers from her lips to God’s ears for me, not just through my endurance of medical procedures but on a daily basis. I can always hear her telling me “just trust in God.”
Having a conversation with Grandma Freda has always been like being at school. In her classes (conversations, be it phone or in person) there was always a multitude of lessons and sometimes there would even be homework assignments. Homework assignments would be reading a specific scripture or looking up information on someone like Paul Lawrence Dunbar. She taught useful life lessons that will never be printed in any textbook. Grandma would teach everything from Sex Ed. to Sunday school and any & everything in between in one conversation regardless of if you had time to listen or not, she didn’t care because it was always something she felt like we needed to know. If you’ve known her for a long time I’m sure you’ve gotten a lesson or two about the “sponge” and the egg in only the way that she could teach it.
Grandma Freda could be very tough sometimes but deep underneath her tough exterior lived her very kind and loving side, if she loved you then you know exactly what I mean. As I said on a Facebook post soon after her death, I have several items of clothing that I can’t wear and some broken jewelry that she gave me simply because she wanted me to have them and those are items that I will cherish for the rest of my days in this life.
I’m not sure I know anyone else who possesses the faith in God that Grandma Freda did, I’m not sure if she ever found herself questioning God, she always seemed to trust in God and his plans. She taught all of her offspring to have that same faith in God and that no matter what your occupation in this life is or what material things you are afforded, only what you do for Christ will last. I’ll always remember when I decided to give my life to Christ, be baptized & join her beloved Beulah Land Church, she was so excited and happy, her only criticism was that I was 16 years old and should’ve done it at a younger age. Happy and exciting times in life with Grandma Freda were usually mixed with a little criticism, especially if you weren’t doing things her way.
I could probably write a novel about the special bond that I had with my Grandma Freda since the day of my birth, but I won’t right now because I’m sure this long blog post gives you just an inkling of what her strong presence in my life meant to me. I wholeheartedly believe that Grandma will always have her hand on the lives of me and the rest of her family, she’ll always be making sure we do life her way.
I know that Grandma Freda was 97 years old and God blessed her with a good life. I know that she hasn’t been in the best of health for a little over a year now. I know that the bible which she belived in so wholeheartedly says Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. (Matthew 25:13 KJV. ) I’ll always remember Grandma Freda saying “just as sure as you’re born you’re going to die. ” I know all of the above-mentioned, but selfishly all of those things are in the back of my mind at this moment. Her death came much to soon for me. I had her in my life for nearly 39 years, I’m grateful for those years but I wanted just a few more days.
It is so extremely excruciatingly painful accepting the fact that Grandma Freda is gone, but I’m trying to do like she taught me and trust in God and accept his plans. I pray that I am living a life worthy of transitioning to that paradisiacal place I believe Grandma Freda and many other loved ones have gone to so that we will be reunited someday.
My tough as nails but loving grandmother Alfreda V. Regans Delaware Feb. 5, 1924 – May 17, 2021 She used her dash well.
“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.
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.
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.
If you have paid any attention to many of the words that I’ve shared on my blog, then you know that thoughts and memories of my daddy are always on my mind. As a teenage girl I never thought that at the age I am now I would be living without my daddy and even after twenty years it’s still extremely difficult for me to wrap my mind around the fact that he’s just gone from my life until I hopefully see him in another world.
Father’s Day was four days ago and I’ve probably said it before but since daddy’s death it’s always a day filled with mixed emotions for me, it’s like on Father’s Day either I’m fine and it’s just a normal day or I’m filled with a deep sadness that I can’t seem to suppress, no matter how hard I try. This year on Father’s Day I thought to myself “I’ll write about my feelings” but I set down to write and I just could not get my thoughts straight so I decided to try again another day.
Today when I set down in my quiet place where I go to collect my thoughts and write I tried to come up with so many other topics to write about besides my daddy, because I never set out for my blog to be “the grieving daughter blog” but it seems that I can’t help myself when it comes to writing about my daddy I cannot control my pen, it feels like my thoughts are writing themselves. I feel like if I can help just one person who reads my words about my daddy or any other topic then my writing and my living is not in vain.
A few days ago on Father’s Day, I began to wonder “what would Daddy think?” What would Daddy think about that condition this country is in? What would Daddy think about the fact that Donald Trump is the president. I’m sure Daddy would have something funny but thought provoking to say about President Trump. I look at my awesome nephew and I think “what would Daddy think about having a grandson that’s like him in so many ways?” One question that came to mind that’s more important to me than the others is “what would Daddy think of me? Would he be proud of the person I am? It’s actually something that I think of quite often and maybe I’m crazy but, even though my daddy is no longer living physically he will always live in my heart so I still worry about making him proud. I want him to look upon me from Heaven with pride in his eyes. Is it crazy that I want my deceased father to be proud of me?
I often wonder if Daddy would be upset with me, because according to societal standards I haven’t made much of myself in the twenty years since his death. I wonder if Daddy would be proud of me because like both my parents I have a good heart (too good at times) and I try to always treat people with kindness. I wonder what Daddy would think about the man and father that brother is growing into each day? Does Daddy feel like his children who suffered the loss of his presence in their lives so suddenly and were forced to grow up/mature without him are good people? Is he proud of the relationship we have with our awesome mother who he loved wholeheartedly? Are we in some way(s) a disappointment to Daddy?
These questions and so many more about how my daddy would feel about certain things if he were still alive are always running through my mind and it’s still so very difficult to fully accept that there’s no way for all my questions to be answered, because Daddy is gone.
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. When I think back upon that time, I always find it interesting that several nights before Granddaddy’s death I slept in the bed in his room, while Granddaddy was asleep on his hospital bed and the night hospice nurse was watching over him, but I’ve come to the conclusion that God had a plan that didn’t include me being in the room when Granddaddy made his final transition, because that night I slept in another bedroom. I always wonder how I would have reacted if the nurse had woken me up with the news of Granddaddy’s death. 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.
Wednesday March 3, 1999 is a day that is forever engraved in my mind. I was 16 years old, a junior in high school, who never thought about how life can change instantly until that day twenty years ago. It was the week before Spring Break and just like every other person in their junior year in high school I was anticipating being out of school for an entire week. The school day ended at 3:30pm everyday and most days my daddy and little brother were either parked right in front of the school or in the back parking lot waiting on me to come out of the building. On that day when I walked out of the building I was expecting them to be waiting on me as usual, but that’s not what happened. It had been a great day at school, so I was in a good mood, but the afternoon took an unexpected extremely tragic downward turn.
I didn’t want to stay outside waiting so I went back in the building and set down to wait, thinking to myself “Daddy must’ve gotten held up doing something that prevented him from being on time to pick me up as he usually is.” Never once did I think something is going to happen in the next few minutes that will change my life forever. I can’t tell you how long I set there waiting; looking back on that day it seemed like I was waiting for a long time, but it was probably only a few minutes. After that few minutes of waiting, wondering what’s taking them so long to get here, suddenly my brother came into the building looking sad like something was wrong. I never expected to hear the words “Daddy fainted” come out of my brother’s mouth, but that’s what happened. There I was a sixteen year old girl just anticipating Spring Break like everyone else my age, thinking that it was just a typical Wednesday, but the next few hours after my brother spoke the words “Daddy fainted” turned Wednesday March 3, 1999 into the worst day of my life.
My brother and I ran out to the car and I remember being in disbelief but not immediately going into a state of full panic. The image that we saw is literally forever etched into my mind. I won’t go into full detail, but just know that it was an image and situation that no children should have to live with seeing their father in. The minutes after that are somewhat blurry to me after twenty years, all I know is that those minutes involved getting in the car with my Aunt Sonja, following an ambulance to the hospital and calling my mother at work to inform her of the situation still not in panic mode saying “Daddy wasn’t breathing.” You see, at that time I don’t think that I had considered the possibility of my daddy not pulling through whatever caused him to faint. At that point we didn’t know that he’d had a massive heart attack. It wasn’t until we got to the hospital that the possibility of death hit me, but I pushed the thought away. I knew that whatever was wrong with daddy it was something awfully bad, because when we arrived in the emergency room at the hospital I vividly remember someone coming to unlock what’s called the prayer room (a small waiting room for families of critical patients), that’s when I got very scared but again I pushed the thought of Daddy dying away from my mind. My brother, our aunt and I set in that room and waited on my mother to get there.
Once my mother arrived at the hospital, she was allowed to go into the area where the doctors and nurses were working on Daddy, I’m sure they were trying their absolute best to revive him. After seeing Momma’s reaction once she was sitting in the prayer room (waiting room) I still don’t remember panicking, because I thought for sure Daddy is going to be fine. During the time of what felt like an eternity of sitting in the waiting room watching the minutes go by I thought to myself “ok this has to be a nightmare that I’m going to wake up from soon.” I remember going outside because I just needed to get some air when I walked back into the hospital the nightmare that I was living got worse when I heard the words “your daddy didn’t make it.” I’ve had several surgeries and experienced a lot of physical pain in my life, but I’ve never felt pain like that before that day. I can remember screaming “no that’s not true!” and falling down on my momma in tears like I’ve never cried before. I just couldn’t believe Daddy was gone.
He had been so happy and joyful earlier that day. I thought something wasn’t right, the doctors were wrong my daddy couldn’t be gone, that’s just not possible, not my daddy. He was supposed to live beyond 51 years.
For a long time after Daddy’s death, I remember feeling like if I had done something different he might not have died, if I had been able to much more accurately answer the questions that the paramedics were asking me about Daddy’s medical history and the medications he was taking, maybe something could’ve been done to keep him alive.
Now twenty years later, I realize that there was absolutely nothing I could’ve done, because Wednesday March 3, 1999 was my daddy’s pre-planned by God date to leave this side of life. I write about Daddy very often on my blog so if you read it regularly then you know how tremendous my love for my daddy will always be and how much I loved being his daughter. It probably seems strange and I’ve never thought about it until this very moment sitting in my quiet space twenty years later writing about that day, but I realize that I’m somewhat grateful for experiencing some of the events of those few hours until Daddy was pronounced deceased, at a young age because now at a few months from 37 I think about life in a completely different way from how I did on that day twenty years ago at 16 years old. I’m much more thankful/grateful for all of my loved ones and I value the time I get to spend with them on this side of life, because I now realize that there is no truer saying than “we aren’t promised tomorrow.”
There is literally not a moment that goes by without thoughts of my daddy and I treasure the sixteen years that God allowed us to be father & daughter on this side of life. I pray that God deems me someone worthy of going to a place where I will see my daddy again when my earthly journey is complete.
Written In Memory Of My Daddy,
Tee McReaver Taylor, Sr.
An awesome son, brother, husband, father, uncle & friend who is forever loved and unbelievably missed
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. If ever we happen to step off the course she set and 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.
It’s Christmas Eve and I’m feeling a lot of emotions, but festive and the so called Christmas spirit just isn’t on the list. This morning when I got up I just wanted to close my eyes again, get back under the cover and sleep the day away. I just wasn’t feeling right. I thought maybe it’s because today is Monday. I set on the bed and said to myself “ok Zena, you’ve got to snap out of whatever this is, you have lived to nearly the end of another year and that’s something to be upbeat and grateful about.” The self pep talk didn’t help because I was still feeling like Scrooge in a grumpy mood, even after an unsolicited hug from my nephew. I realized that no matter how hard I try to not allow myself to get in this bad mood, it happens every year since my daddy died. Holidays just aren’t the same for me anymore. I don’t know about anyone else in my family, but I always feel my daddy and my granddaddy’s absence even though they’ve both been deceased for twenty years. Holiday family dinners haven’t even been the same for me since their deaths, because at some point during my time with my family I always began to feel their absence. I always try to hide it, because I am not sure how anyone else feels therefore I don’t want to ruin any of our precious moments together because I can’t seem to step out of the pit of grieving.
Today I decided to try my best to just snap out of the Scrooge mood, but boy oh boy is that extremely difficult to do. I know that I will always miss my loved ones whose earthly journeys have ended, but I am still here which according to my beliefs means that God still has tasks for me to complete here on Earth. I have several loved ones still here with me and I am going to enjoy the precious time that I am allowed by God to spend with them. I promised myself that this year during the holidays I am going to enjoy spending time with the people that I love the most in the world and I trust that it’s a reciprocal love. I am going to enjoy watching my mother get her Christmas and birthday gifts all on the same day, although her birthday is two days after Christmas. I am going to enjoy my awesome godfather using his incredible sense of humor to constantly keep our time together filled with laughter, although the other half of his comedy show is missing (my daddy). I am going to enjoy receiving my two dollar bill and bottle of Welch’s grape juice from one of my favorite people, my Aunt Zel. I am going to enjoy watching my 94 year old grandmother just enjoying all of her offspring and being ruler over us all. I am going to enjoy every dish that the taste bud magician (my Aunt Sonja) prepares for dinner. I am going to enjoy just listening to whatever intellectual conversation my Aunt Diane brings to the table. Most of all during the holidays I am going to enjoy spending time with my five year old nephew, I know watching him open his Christmas gifts will put a smile on my face and some much needed joy in my heart.
I vow to myself to try not to dwell on how much I wish my deceased loved ones were still here to enjoy Christmas dinner with us or how much I miss having the light that my daddy and my granddaddy provided in my life. I am going to try to focus on the tremendous love that I have in my life because of my family and friends. Sometimes I feel like I am being ungrateful because I can’t seem to stop focusing on how I wish my deceased loved ones were still alive, especially my daddy because I feel like I need him so much, but I am as grateful as one can be for my life and for all of the amazing people in my life who represent so much of what’s good in this world to me. I just feel like the holidays and many other aspects of my life would be so different if death had not visited my family twenty years ago.
On Christmas Day I think if I find myself slipping into that sadness which causes the grumpy Scrooge in me to emerge I’ll find a quiet place to be alone, just me and my thoughts. Maybe someone out there in the world reading my thoughts here on my blog can help me fix myself. How do you get pass the changes that the death of loved ones brings to your life? It’s been twenty years and I have yet to figure it out.
That’s just my perspective!💜
From me & my family to you and yours I hope that you have a very very Merry Christmas. 🎄
I’ve made a list of a variety of topics that I might want to write about for my 50th blog post, but none of those things are on my mind today. On this rainy Wednesday, what’s on my mind and in my heart is the subject that you all know is never far from my mind and always in my heart, my daddy. You all probably get tired of reading about him, but I never get tired of writing about him.
I can’t remember the name of the blog, but earlier this week I read another blogger’s story about the death of her best friend and how she was feeling about it. I left a comment telling her that I hope that writing is therapeutic for her, because grief is a never ending process that can take your life on a scary rollercoaster ride of emotions all in one day.
I feel like it has been nearly twenty years since that Wednesday evening that my daddy left this life and I should be over it, but my mind seems to be stuck in time. I’ve tried as best I can to shake it but I just can’t get that day out of my mind, I can even remember things that I did at school that day well before the hour of daddy’s death.
Today as I began to prepare to write my blog post, I thought to myself, “I wonder if my daddy would be proud of me and my blogging journey, I wonder if he would be proud that I finally found something that I am passionate about and I wonder if Daddy would be proud of the person that I’ve become since his death.” That thought brought along a myriad of emotions for the rest of the day.
I will never forget how happy my daddy was that day, he had been so sick the previous week and my momma had to take him to the emergency room exactly a week before, so it was really great to see Daddy back to his normal self, joking about everything. There was no way to tell that it would be the last day of his earthly life. No son or daughter should have to go through what my brother and I went through that evening, I don’t understand why that was God’s plan for us at 11 and 16 years old. Why did we have to bare seeing our daddy laying over the steering wheel completely lifeless after having a massive heart attack in the car that we rode all over town with him in. I apologize if that’s too graphic for you, but it’s our reality. Can you all imagine how I felt walking out of my high school to witness that, the feeling hasn’t gone away. He was feeling so good that day, why is he gone now? I asked that question for a long time afterwards.
Nearly 20 years later I realize that Daddy died at the moment, second, minute, and hour that God had already chosen for him but that realization really doesn’t make me feel any better. I miss him and I feel like the deep pain in my heart isn’t ever going away, it hurts so bad and I just want it to go away so I can feel better. I probably shouldn’t be sharing all of this on the internet, but I figure maybe someone who is stuck on the rollercoaster ride called grief like I am may need to know that someone else understands. There may be another daughter out there whose father has left this life and she is hurting because regardless of age daughters need their fathers just as sons do, well maybe that daughter needs to know that her struggle is understood.
My daddy was such an awesome person and a great daddy who loved wholeheartedly, I feel like a part of me left this life along with him. I think I may have written about it before, but my daddy’s death has made me love, value and worry about my mother more than I did twenty years ago. I’ve become very protective of her, at times probably a bit overly protective. One of my daily prayers is that God gives my mother longevity in this life. I ask that of God a few times a day, although I know death is inevitable thinking about having to experience her death only adds to the soul deep pain that I already feel. I want to get off of this rollercoaster ride called grief and never have to get back on it.
On my message of encouragement that I have started trying to post weekly on my social media accounts that I created to accompany this blog, I wrote about the ways that I try to encourage myself when I have allowed life to make me feel overwhelmed and frustrated. I believe that it is so important to develop ways to encourage yourself when all of the trials we encounter in this life overwhelm and frustrate you. In this life, we are all going through something and sometimes its necessary to encourage yourself because you can’t depend on anyone else to do it for you.
It was last weekend when I realized that I can find contentment in overwhelming times. Lately I have been feeling like I’ve been running on empty. I have been dealing with some health problems and just feel very discouraged and overwhelmed with a million of life’s issues on my mind. I had a moment of contentment last weekend. It was a bright and sunny, beautiful weekend. The fact that I got a chance to spend some much needed bonding time with my nephew Tristan, made the beautiful weekend even better. He arrived Fridayevening, cranky after a long day of being a Kindergartner so he didn’t want to have much interaction with me and I was not offended.
Saturdaymorning I woke up with Tristan asleep next to me, I couldn’t move even if I wanted to because he was literally almost under me. I am sure if you have a little person around his age (5) in your life then you know just the position I was in. I think little children turn into gold medal winning Olympic gymnasts while they are asleep. I laid there a little uncomfortable yet feeling a sense of contentment, because laying directly next to me was this incredible little boy who in just five years has brought an infinite amount of joy into my life. I couldn’t move, all I could do was smile.
Once Tristan woke up we spent the next few hours of Saturday morning watching Bubble Guppies together, neither of us had a care in the world. It is amazing how a child can bring so much joy into your life and remind you of what’s really important in life. During my nephew’s visit I didn’t think about all the issues that I had been overwhelmed by, all that mattered was spending time with the best nephew in the world, that was contentment for me.
I just looked at the clock, its 2:30am on a Monday morning and I’m awake for no apparent reason, but there’s so many things swirling around in my mind. I turn over and watch my mother seeming to be having a peaceful night’s rest. Yes, I am admitting to the world that I’m 36 years old and for the last two years I haven’t slept in my own bedroom. If you all knew and really understood what my mother has endured during the last two years then you wouldn’t judge me because I’m a grown-up who sleeps in the bed with her mother. Momma had two life altering surgeries back to back, one in 2016 then again in 2017. She is the only parent I have living in this world and right now I just feel the need to be close to her as much as possible without figuratively smothering her, especially at night because she suffers with Rheumatoid Arthritis so night time is the worst time for her. I have always thought very highly of my mother, I mean this is the woman whose womb God chose to send me into this world through, the woman who endured nine months of allowing me to develop inside her, the woman who underwent a Caesarean section so that I could have life in this world. Those things alone are reasons to think highly of my mother, but they aren’t my only reasons. My mother is one of the strongest people I know and she reminds me of that every day just living her life, she is constantly pushing through her pain and getting every job that needs to be accomplished in a day’s time completed. I am always telling her “Momma, just sit down, you’re always trying to do too much in twenty-four hours.
Nearly twenty years ago, on a Wednesday evening in the month of March, life drastically changed for my mother when she became a widow after 31 years of marriage. My daddy’s death has taken its toll on everyone who truly loved him. You see, if you knew my daddy you just couldn’t stop yourself from loving him, he was just that type of person, a real people person. My daddy was the light in our lives and on that Wednesday evening in March nearly twenty years ago that light dimmed to almost darkness for a long while. I always think about daddy’s death from my own perspective but this morning I am looking at my mother asleep and thinking about what indescribable pain she must of felt and may still feel. My mother and father were perfect examples for the definition of soulmates, they were each other’s right hand for 31+ years and suddenly she was left alone. She was forced to figure it all out by herself. She was suddenly placed in a position where she had to take care of everything in life alone, including raising a sixteen year old daughter with some unique medical needs and an eleven year old son who really needed something she couldn’t be, a father. That’s an extremely heavy load to suddenly be placed on one woman’s back, but my extraordinary mother has managed to make it through.
I think my momma tried to hide parts of her grief and sadness from my brother and I for a while after Daddy died but she didn’t succeed in that. I’m not sure if she knows that I know but my mother’s “secret” crying and praying place was her bathroom in the shower. I can’t tell you how many times I have been laying in my bed upstairs and I could hear my mother downstairs in the shower crying and praying. I have often felt like Luther Vandross sings in his song Dance With My Father, “I’d pray for her even more than me, I know I’m praying for much too much. But could you send back the only man she loved, I know you don’t do it usually, but Dear Lord, she’s dying to dance with my father again.” I know its beyond crazy but I’ve often wished that death wasn’t permanent and that Daddy could come back with no heart disease or any of the other health problems he had simply to continue living life alongside Momma.
Fourteen years after daddy died on the last day of her career as a teacher Momma had an appointment with a cardiologist and was diagnosed with bicuspid aortic valve disease and told that she would eventually need to have surgery. Just to give you a little information about bicuspid aortic valve disease, it is a form of heart disease in which two of the leaflets of the aortic valve fuse during development in the womb resulting in a two leaflet valve instead of the normal three leaflet valve. It’s a condition that people can live well into their sixties or seventies without knowing they have it, because symptoms don’t start to show until one is in that age group.
Luckily it wasn’t until three years after her diagnosis in March 2016 that she would have to have open heart valve replacement surgery. The day of Momma’s heart surgery was definitely one of the most nerve racking days of my life, especially during the few hours that she was in the operating room. The night before I don’t think I slept at all, it was one of those times where God probably got tired of hearing from me because I was praying so much. When I think about it now I realize it was one of those times in my life when my faith in God was seriously lacking because I had prepared myself for something bad to happen. As I set in the waiting room, all that was on my mind was, my mother, the one person I have in my life who has loved me through everything, is laying on an operating table with her chest cut open and doctors working on her most vital organ, anything could have gone wrong. On that day I was “prayed up” and in those moments in the waiting room I felt like I could handle a bad outcome but thinking upon it now I know no matter how much I had prayed about it, I would not have been able to handle a bad outcome. I’ve been thanking God everyday since because Momma’s heart surgery was successful. Her road to recovery was difficult but thank God, she made it, those of you reading this who know my mother know she surely doesn’t look like what she’s been through.
A little over a year later, Momma decided to have the back surgery that she had been needing but kept putting off since sustaining a back injury in a car accident in the early 1990s. In all honesty, my nervousness wasn’t at the maximum level about this surgery like it was during her heart surgery. The time I had to spend waiting to hear the outcome wasn’t as excruciating as the last time, I guess maybe my faith was renewed and I just felt like Momma was going to be alright. Once again it was a successful surgery, but the road to recovery this time was even more difficult than it was after her heart surgery. Seeing my mother in all the pain that she had to endure was very difficult, but like I said before my mother is one of the strongest people I know and this was just one more time that she made it through a painful moment in her life, because persevering through pain is something that my mother is a pro at. She may shed some tears, but she is a tough woman who always finds a way to jump over the obstacles that life throws in front of her.
Watching my mother make it through the two major surgeries she has had recently and just being her daughter who gets to witness her journey through this life everyday has made me more grateful for her than I think I have ever been. I value her place in my life and I thank God for choosing her to give me life. We have a bond that will always be unbreakable regardless of what other people’s thoughts are of our bond.
If you have a good mother who goes above and beyond the call of duty for you like mine does for me and my brother, although we’re both well over 21, please give her praises while she can still hear them, because life is so extremely short. I thank God for every moment that he allows me to express the love I have for my mother.