Hello My Empowered Friend,

I have been thinking about the legacy my mother and grandmothers left: Love, Prayer, Thanksgiving, Zeal, and Praise. My Momma Flo (Florine) left a legacy of LOVE. She took in stray cats. She took in stray people. It did not matter. Momma Flo was my great aunt (grandmother in every way) who lived next door. She raised my mother as her own from infancy. As a result of being influenced by Momma Flo, my mother also left behind a legacy of love. Between the two of them, most of the extra-ordinary local people were drawn to them. My five siblings and I were exposed to many special souls in our youth. We are also very accepting of people who are very different and those who walk to the beat of their own drum. From that, we learned that we are all unique and special and deserve love no matter what we look like, sound like, smell like, or believe.

Momma Flo always had something to cook up for us and others who stopped by. She was quick to fry up a chicken or eggs from the coop.  When my siblings and I were sick we went to Momma Flo’s house next door if my momma was working or not home. Momma Flo was very nurturing. She did not only care for us, her grandchildren, but she was often called to care for sick people in the community. She loved everyone!

The very last thing my dear grandmother, Momma Flo, said to me was, “You got to love’m”. She died back in 1988. Those words changed my life forever! If we can simply love….we have done something great! Listen, Momma Flo was not talking to anyone during her final hospital stay in the fall of that year. I was sitting at the foot of her bed looking at the “stories” (soap operas) and it has been so long ago. I am not sure if it was General Hospital, The Edge of Night, Search For Tomorrow, or All My Children, but I remember the man was doing a horrible thing to the lady on the show. So I said in a firm voice, “No man will EVER do ME like that!” Then out of nowhere, Momma Flo broke her silence with, “You got to love’m”. My mouth dropped! I turned around and her eyes were still closed and she said absolutely nothing else. I believe those were the very last words my grandmother spoke!

1Corinthians 13:4. Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8. Love never fails.

The legacy of PRAYER was left by both Momma Flo and my mother. When I was a young girl I would hear Momma Flo praying out loudly to God. I remember seeing Momma Flo kneeling down in her back den praying to God. As she prayed, she called out my full name, the full names of my siblings and parents; no nicknames. The thing that stood out to me is that she prayed so formally by periodically saying, “Please Sir, have mercy!”  Well, I can also say, my grandmother prayed for me and my children’s grandmother, my momma, definitely prayed for them! I pray even now for my grandchildren and they are not even here yet. Legacy.

My beloved mother, Bobbie Jean, left a legacy of  PRAYER AND THANKSGIVING. Since the early 1980s my mother took serving God to a different dimension. She was a church goer all of her life, but when she received the infilling of the Holy Spirit she was full of zeal and enthusiasm! Back then she was considered a “holy roller”. Charismatic Christians are far more common now. I can remember my mother being upstairs in her second story bedroom praying and praising at the top of her voice, “Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus!” Even though the windows were closed and the curtains were drawn and she thought she had complete privacy, her voice carried out to the streets. I can remember being so embarrassed and hoped the community wouldn’t hear the wailing coming from our house. You may say that was way over the top. Perhaps it was, but that was my momma, and she was excited and on fire for God.

Decades later my mother’s zeal and zest diminished to a soft sweet, “Thank you”. You see, my mother was diagnosed with parkinson’s disease in about 2004. (I intentionally lower cased the word parkinson’s because I hate that disease that took my momma away, and a lower case “p” is a small way of me taking some of its power.) Anyway, her loud “Thank you Jesus!” waned to almost a whisper of a “thank you”. She practically thanked everybody she saw in her latter days! That was her phrase of choice! She said, “Thank you” and we, family, friends, and caretakers, would not be aware of what great thing we had done to deserve thanks! I believe she was saying thank you for visiting, thank you for caring, thank you for your love. I also believe she was saying, “Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus!” deep within, but came out as the soft thank you after being filtered by the ailment.

My mother was appreciative. She was grateful. She was thankful. To put icing on the cake of “thanksgiving”, my mother passed away on Thanksgiving Day in 2014. Oh, what a fantastic legacy to leave.

(Philippians 4:6-7) 6. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The legacy of ZEAL, SPUNK AND PIZZAZZ was left by my biological maternal grandmother, Variniece. Momma Neacie, as we most often called her, was a hard working woman who owned the well cared for house across the street from my family home. Her nick name was Pepper. That alone tells you something about her personality. She was the cool grandmother who allowed her grandchildren to call her Pepper, Neacie, Neace, and Momma Neacie. Of course, we were always respectful. She had a pep in her step and was spunky and witty. She was a spiffy dresser with her big hat tipped to the side when she attended church. The only car I remember her having was a tan Nova, and she drove it fast and furiously! She rode a bicycle for exercise and would cut her own grass if her grandsons were too slow getting the job done. She was all about getting things done properly and expeditiously.

Momma Neacie loved to travel. She traveled all over the United States, Canada, and the islands and had a wall of souvenir plates to show for it. She was thrilled to help send me on my 7th grade trip to Washington, D.C. and the family trip to Mexico. She was the go to person for the latest gossip and deaths as she read the newspaper daily! She was well connected with all the big shots around town, and she entertained in style.

When she walked in our house she would do her special whistle. That was a welcomed tune when it was my day on the dishes because she was happy to do my job for me and on Christmas Day when she came in with her arms full of gifts for the entire family! Momma Neacie passed away in 2004. However, I was inspired by her when I traveled alone to Korea in 2006 to visit my dear friend Yun. When presented with the opportunity to experience what the natives experienced I pulled from my memory of my vivacious and zealous Momma Neacie and I tried everything I was offered in Korea as I imagined she would, and I enjoyed every minute of it!

My paternal grandmother Gladys, who we affectionately called Momma Tit was equally as spunky as Momma Neacie with her snazzy church-ware and hats. She was very kind to her grandchildren and was known as the family seamstress and also known as the community bus ride organizer. She was very active in her church that was founded by her grandfather, and she would out PRAISE, sing and out shout everyone! The last thing I remember about her was singing “When the Saints Go Marching In” on her death bed. She loved to PRAISE GOD. She didn’t mind letting you know what was on her mind either. I loved that about her! My Momma Tit had an infectious laugh and an unforgettable strut.

My intention is to pass on the legacy of love, prayer, thanksgiving and zeal and praise to the next generation. I am sure I will have more to add to those. Time will tell. What legacy have your loved ones left? What legacy will you leave?