This is told from my point-of-view, feelings...
I'm just going to go ahead and tell you, I'm a mess today. I won't even lie to you. Hell, I'm a mess most days. My Father's sudden tragic passing has affected me in ways that I can't describe. The pain and hurt run so deep. I feel robbed. It doesn't feel fair to me. I know life isn't fair but his passing has broken my heart beyond words. He has missed so much including his first grandson, graduating. He was so proud of Tyler and he played a big part in his making it. I thought he deserved to at least be here for that. He more than earned that.
He was my dog. He was so charismatic, always had a joke, always sarcastic and always loads of fun. You never had to wonder where you stood with him. A real stand up guy. He was an amazing cook, line dancer, and friend as well as husband, father, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, and colleague. He was so many things. He treated the women in the family so well. He always did something for us for Valentine's Day and Mother's Day AT least. And you could count on a call on your birthday at the butt crack of dawn.
The holidays or pretty much any day isn't the same without him. Family and getting together was his thing! It doesn't feel right celebrating without him (to me) and it's very noticeable that he isn't here. He had a huge presence and you can walk in a room now and know that he is what's missing.
He loved to talk. He loved all his classmates & neighbors. He would feed anyone and give you the clothes off of his back and the shoes off of his feet. He was a big advocate for voting and community involvement and he had a special place in his heart for West Tuscaloosa. You could often find him out in the streets in Tuscaloosa talking to different community members, business owners, residents, and friends.
He had two jobs after he retired: golf and tailgating/being at/helping Stillman. First, let's talk about golf. After experiencing racism and bias at different country clubs, he and his friends decided to start The Links Golf Club so that they didn't have to beg anyone to allow them to play or have to worry about being accepted. They could also use it to teach the children from the neighborhood whose parents may not have been able to afford golf lessons. He also wanted to expose those same children to something other than football, basketball, and baseball. My Dad and his friends, or homeboys if you will, played at different tournaments around the world and he always brought back the coolest swag gifts. I'm wearing one of his jackets today from the Diamondback Country Club. After googling the location, I'm not sure which one it came from because he played all over the country.
My older brother Damon and I took golf lessons when we were younger. I had a jheri curl at the time & it was summer. That was "fun" lol. The best part of it to me was knowing my Dad had a golf bag full of change. After our lesson, my brother and I would sit in the clubhouse buying up all the snacks. :)
Yeah, I'm not inserting those pix lol
He had a warm place in his heart for his home church, Weeping Mary Missionary Baptist Church where he served as a Deacon until his passing. He loved his church members and drove the church van sometimes. He would also sometimes use his personal vehicle to transport members. He and my Mother also loved to visit the sick and shut-in not only at the church but family members and friends.
The compassion that they showed, both parents, to those bereaved family and friends was just nothing short of amazing. From the time they learned of the passing through days after the funeral, you could count on them showing up in some kind of way to comfort you, bring you things, make you laugh and just be good company.
And when his turn came, people showed out. I've never seen that amount of love in person. From the procession to the church, to the ride downtown and to the cemetery on 69. People pulled over. Flags were at half-staff. Police officers, EMT's and Firefighters were in front of their vehicles in their funeral blues standing at attention when we passed by. People pulled over on the highway. And at the cemetery, there was a fire truck with the ladder extended and the flag was hanging off of it. The City did that for him and I'll be forever grateful. It was emotional to see but it made me so full that the works that he had done, the lives that he touched, truly did speak for him. Not only did they speak, they shouted: WE LOVE YOU! He would've love to see it and in my mind, he did.
My reason for this post was to get some things out about the man that I loved, adored and took care of me until the day he died. As a matter of fact, because of problems with my house and a pending surgery, he had the kids and me to move in with him and my Mom until I could get better and we could get the house situated. I had my gallbladder removed in November 2014 that was supposed to be a same day surgery. I ended up being in there an additional 5 days. When I went to my post op check up, my lungs had collapsed. Came back to their house to recover some more and went for another checkup and I had pneumonia. Last checkup? Lungs had collapsed again. But throughout my recovery and all of this, he made sure I had 3 meals a day. He and my Mom picked up all my prescriptions, made sure I was comfortable, looked after my children, fed them, took them to their extracurricular activities, picked them up, checked homework, I mean, you name it. I can't describe how amazing they were and my Mom still is. In spite of.
I have relived this day over and over again and recently started going to therapy because I didn't feel like I had grieved properly and I was struggling with the why of it all. I felt like it was affecting my mental and physical health, my relationships and just my quality of life. I felt like one day I was going to snap. And I didn't know nor want to know, what that was going to look like. But I thank God for my loves. My children are resilient and my friends are amazing. All of them. Sometimes it's just a word, a meme, a joke, a "guess what happened to me" story, a post, a picture, a comment: ALL OF IT is helping me through whether you know it or not. You guys are the real MVP's. If I want to cry, you let me cry. If I want to be angry, you allow that too. You let me scream, vent, be sad, be happy, be whatever. You let me be me while I figure out what me is. I am forever indebted to you & will always have your back.
Let me also add that he had a soft spot for children but especially his grandchildren. Mess around and disappear for a few days & he doesn't see them, he's coming to get them. And in a few hours? he's calling you saying Aye, come get em! LOL! He would only be half kidding :P This sounds more like a eulogy ha? Bare with me.
But back to his love for Stillman & the ultimate reason for me writing this piece (other than to share my thoughts). I wanted to share this story that my great friend Dee Nyte shared with me. It took me a year to be able to share this. Dee is a people person much like my Dad and she ran into this gentleman here named Pierre Goode.
They began to talk and she found out that he had lived in Tuscaloosa and was the Track and Field Coach for Stillman. So whenever she meets someone from Tuscaloosa or Stillman, she always asks if they know us. He did. He told her how much love and respect he had for my Dad and that he had seen him 3 weeks prior to his passing on the Stillman field. He also showed her his Track and Field rings. Stillman's Track and Field team had won their championship but they were unable to buy the championship rings. As we learned with Bryant's Championship this year, the school is not allowed to pay for anything like this. He said my Dad purchased the rings for the team (I want to say both times but I'll have to double check with Dee).
That's my understanding. He talked about how your Dad and he cried on the field when he saw him about 3 weeks before you know what happened. He almost cried talking about how much he loved your Dad. He said he, Charles Barkley, and Bo Jackson hang out all the time.
It blew me away. I never know that. Here are pix of the rings that he proudly and emotionally displayed as Dee said he was nearly in tears as he spoke about him. And I was nearly in tears reading and listening to it.
I told y'all he rocks and baby, he rolled for Stillman. He loved his Alma Mater. #SCbaby
I just don't understand, with all the terrible, horrible, sadistic people in this world that the world would benefit from being 6 feet under, why is this man gone? It has truly been a tough pill to swallow and I haven't fully digested it yet. I know it will take time but that is a portion of how I feel. I'm still grieving.
If you don't mind, I'd like to share a few hundred photos and memories. I had to narrow it down, which was hard lol but here they are:
I am so very proud to be the eldest daughter of this incredible man and today, I honor him.
I wear this shirt and his jacket and bask in the wonderful memories. And if you wouldn't mind, taking a cue from Britney Smith, if you would share any memories that you have of him or us, with us today, I know it will do my heart good.
Love Always & Forever,
Well, because, you knew!!