Monday, September 21, 2009

Remembering a beautiful life

She and her best friend used to race home from school to see who could get the first kiss of my chubby cheeks when I was a baby. She still had that same enthusiasm and eagerness to kiss my daughter. Whenever I payed my mother a visit, my mother would call and tell her to come over. She did, with the quickness just to hold and kiss and play with my baby. On Friday, September 18th around 11:30 p.m. she called my mother and they talked. My mother told her that she had spent the evening with my daughter. Aunt Jan wanted to see her too and that whatever she had to do, do it because she really wanted to see my daughter.
Around midnight, a drunk driver ran head on into the vehicle she was riding in, killing her instantly(wow, it's hard for me to write this). A wife, a mother of two, an aunt, a sister, a friend, a cousin, a well known musician - was taken away from us.
Later that morning, I arrived from New York, my husband knew but he never let on. I got a call from my cousins, one of whom was my aunt's oldest daughter, they never let on. I finally called my mom and asked if she had spoken to the cousin. She said, "no." Then I said she didn't sound too good. My mom asked, "She didn't tell you?" I asked, "Tell me what."
Whenever my mom starts off with, "Oh my God," then I know something terrible has just happened. Then she told me. It felt like someone had just knocked the wind out of me. After I let the words sink in "JAN...KILLED" a pain so deep erupted and I screamed out in anger, hurt, and confusion. How could a life so beautiful end so tragic?
She has always been the backbone of the family. I always joke and tell her that she should have went to law school because she was versed on legal issues. She always knew how to read through the fine print. If there were ever any issues in the family everyone went to her and by God she got on it and wasn't satisfied until it was done.
She was a talented musician and singer as well, serving as Minister of Music and even composing some of the songs for her church. During our family reunions she played the keyboard and always led the praise and worship hour. Who would've thought this year would be her last because this year unlike before, the holy spirit was present at our family reunion and the recreation house turned into a church sanctuary. It was a little emotional because we had just buried my Aunt Emma in May. So this was the first family reunion without her. When Aunt Betty got "happy," there wasn't a dry eye in the place.
Later during the family reunion, Aunt Jan entertained us with a bluesy rendition of "Stormy Monday. " She sang her heart out so we started throwing money at her feet. I'm so glad her husband was there to video the moment as he's done on many occasions. I think part of the reason why he did so were to capture moments that included my mother, who was dealing with lymphoma at the time. As strange as this may sound no one thought Jan would die before my mom.
And so the family is still in shock, and when it seems things don't get any worst they do when more members our family are killed in a terrible accident involving a driver who ran a red light. The death angel took not one but four members of our family over the course of the weekend. There's only so much the heart can take, right now all we can do is ask God to give us the peace He'd promised, the kind of peace that surpasses all understanding. I'm also thanking God in advance for his angels of protection over my family and everyone's family.
I can't get angry with the drunk driver who took away such a beautiful life. Aunt Jan had so much to offer, she still had a lot of living to do. She had two daughters; one who is about to graduate from college and the other who is about to graduate from high school. She was planning a party for them and she was excited as well as emotional about the upcoming chapters in their lives. My heart aches when I think of her husband and daughters. My only peace is in the biblical verse: Earth has no sorrow that heaven can't heal. As time goes on my prayer is that they will eventually heal. I pray that God gives them all the strength. And I pray that the girls go on to become the women their mother would be proud of. I also pray that Robert, her husband, finds the peace that God promised him. I pray for my entire family. Rest in peace, my dear sweet Jan. The angels in heaven are rejoicing!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Another snippet from "Spring Cleaning"

Sit time between flights make me more tired than the hours I spend on the plane. I utilize this time to have lunch in the food court for a change. Lucky is next to me with his nose in a box of Popeye’s Chicken while Eddie is across from us nibbling on a six- inch sub with a bag of chips.

“Word on the low is.” Lucky begins, “Roxy is about to lose custody of her daughter.”

I’m not a fan of gossip but for some strange reason my ears perk up whenever her name is involved. It has a lot to do with I don’t have a life and she seems to have too much going on in hers. Every week it’s something different. One week she’s not getting along with the nanny, the next week she and her rapper boyfriend are fighting. On an earlier flight, she got confrontational with a passenger over a wrong drink order. Tomorrow she may get off the trip just to show us that she doesn’t need the job or the money. I just look at her and think Lord, why her? She never seems content. If I were in her position I would utilize my time and money wisely. There are times when the crew has gone out for dinner and she orders the most expensive thing on the menu. She takes two bites out of it and she’s done.

Poor baby. Your daddy’s rich and your mama’s a hot mess. I’ve always wanted a child or two and here she is with a daughter and she runs away from her every chance she gets.

“To whom, Mad Lew?” Eddie asks. He’s thinking like me. Mad Lew didn’t want that child anymore than Roxy.

“Mad Lew’s mother wants it. You know what that’s all about.” Lucky dips his chicken strip in a round container of spicy mustard.

“To keep from paying Roxy child support.” I add.

“You know he pays her $20,000 a month?” Lucky fans himself, “Honey when she told me that my jaw dropped.”

“That’s $240,000 a year.” Eddie says.

“Lord forgive me for saying this but for that amount of money I wish I could birth a crumb snatcher.” Lucky looks at me, “You feel me, Boo?”

“No. You are by yourself on that.”

His smile disappears and he rolls his eyes at me, “Anyway, that heifer got Walter Nunnley paying her membership dues in the President’s club.”

Eddie frowns, “You’re supposed to be her friend, why are you telling us her business?”

“Amen.” I second.

Eddie taps my hand. “Ronnie, does he tell you my business?”

“I always put him in check.” I wink.

“Don’t even try it.” Lucky rolls his eyes at me again.

“So what, you and Roxy hanging tight now?” Eddie asks.

“I’m not supposed to be telling all her business.” He turns his back towards me and rolls his eyes at Eddie.

“Suit yourself.” Eddie chuckles.

Once I’m on the plane, it’s still a half an hour before boarding. We’re on a 757 with twenty-four first class seats so I find a seat in the very last row. Somewhere between a light and a deep sleep I wake up to the sounds of Roxy’s voice yelling into her cell phone.

“You knew my status when you got with me.” Apparently she doesn’t see me. What does she mean by status? Financial status? Relationship status? Her status of the War in Iraq?

“You know what Kenny, kiss my ass.” She yells into the phone, “And if you think you’re getting custody of Marlow kiss my ass again.” She slaps her phone shut and I hear it being thrown into her purse. She walks the first-class aisle in a huff and still don’t see me slump against the seat. I hear Lucky come on board and stow his bags in the mid-cabin closet, if he walks into first-class he surely wouldn’t miss me.

“What’s wrong with you?” I hear him ask Roxy.

“I don’t want to talk about it.” It sounds like she’s standing in front of the mirror powdering her nose. “When are you going to New Orleans?”

He answers, “This weekend, why?”

“I need a witch doctor or something. You know any?”

“Do I look like the type of person who know people like that?”

“You want me to lie?”

“Boo, I don’t know what you’ve heard but I don’t know witchdoctors.”

“What about your mother, your grandmother?”

“What are you trying to do?”

“I’ll tell you about it later.” She says just minutes before Whitney and Victor arrived. I remain slumped in the first-class seat until I feel someone tapping my feet. I pretend as if I’m asleep and start wiping my eyes.