Friday, September 16, 2011

Grandparents Day Tribute: The Matriarch Of Our Family


A Tribute to ‘GG’

The matriarch of our family, my grandmother's birth name is Hazel after her beautiful hazel eyes. We now refer to her as 'GG'. GG is the abbreviation for 'great-grandma', which was first given to Jordan (the 4th generation of my maternal lineage) to distinguish my grandmother from my mother.  But GG has now become her official nickname of the family. :-) 

For as long as I can remember, GG has been my rock, my cheerleader, my role model.  I have so many fond memories of my life with her, so where do I begin?  Is it the first song she taught me, "Away in the manger no crib for His head, the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head...”? Is it her impeccable style (the original Carrie Bradshaw)? Is it how she took good care of my grandfather up until he succumbed to cancer in 1981? OR is it the most vivid memory I still see today-Getting on her knees to say her nightly prayers? 

Prior to my grandfather’s death in 1981, GG did everything with my grandfather.  After his death I saw this 59 year old beautiful woman evolve, beginning a new chapter of her life and slowly gaining her independence by retiring from her job of 25 years, serving as president of several faith based organizations, joining a travel club, learning to drive, playing golf and even dating! For GG, life began at 59 and she lived the next 14 years of her life to the FULLEST!!! She was always there for all of the major highs and lows of my life ( college graduation, wedding, marriage, divorce, receiving the Right Hand of Fellowship at my church, the purchase of my first home,to name a few).

In 2004, after being diagnosed with dementia, GG came to live with me. GG living with me was an adjustment for us both. But I vowed to give her the same life she gave to me.  I registered GG for membership at the local senior center and made sure she was impeccably dressed and participated in every activity from bowling to plays to shopping trips to weekly luncheons and teas. I arranged for the senior bus to pick GG up daily and transport her to the center.  On Sunday's we had a routine where we went to church and then to breakfast and then I cooked dinner EVERY Sunday for us to enjoy.  On my Monday's off we went shopping and had lots of "GG and me" time.  But the time I treasured most was our weekly impromptu bible study. I would peep into GG's room to see if she was asleep only to find her reading her Bible. That prompted me to get my Bible and join her for reading and follow up discussion.

 In September of 2008, GG moved to Florida to live with her daughter, my mother so I only get to see her 4-5 times per year.  And with each passing year I see that time and space has caught up with my diva. GG’s physical health had always been great and she always looked 10 to 15 years younger than her actual age so much so that people always thought my mom and I were sisters and GG was our mother! 

Fast forward to July, 2011:

On July 25, my mom called to say that she had called an ambulance to take GG to the emergency room.  The next telephone call from my mom was to inform me that the doctors wanted my mom to start looking for hospice care for GG. I immediately booked a one way ticket to Orlando! When I arrived at the hospital, I saw a frail woman hooked up to all kinds of machines, with doctors and nurses coming in frequently to check vitals, administer medications and consult with my mom and me.  I thought it would be my last visit with GG and I placed a pair of rosary beads around her neck, held her hands and prayed, told her I loved her and kissed her on the forehead as I had done nightly when she lived with me.  The next morning my mom and I went to interview hospice centers before driving to the hospital.  GG was in so much pain that my mom and I stayed until late into the night to comfort her where possible.  Before we left the hospital, I held GG’s hands, prayed, told her I loved her and kissed her on the forehead and then GG opened her eyes and asked, “What time will I see you tomorrow?” I responded, “First thing in the morning!” 

Before I went to bed that night, I asked God to take GG out of her pain, WHATEVER that meant.  I could no longer see her suffer.  The next morning when my mom and I arrived at the hospital, GG was unhooked from every machine and was sitting in the chair eating breakfast.  The day after, the hospice recommendation was changed to ‘rehabilitation’ inpatient care for 3 weeks and then ongoing care as an outpatient.  GG checked into a facility near the hospital and had 3 weeks of speech, physical and occupational therapy.  Once I felt comfortable with GG’s progress, I returned to DC and told everyone of God’s healing power!! 

On September 1, 2011 I received a picture message of GG getting a mani/pedi before going to church that evening to hear Marvin Sapp… Two days later GG and I were enjoying a seafood bake at a Labor Day cookout!  

By Tracie Coleman

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Grandparents Day Special Tribute to Amelia A. Roach (1937 - 2008) Pt. 3 of 3

Mom Amelia with her daughter, grandson, and great-granddaughter

Whitney Deas:
Mom Mom, It’s difficult to try to put how I feel and what I think about her into such short words.  Mom Mom has always played a great role in my life, whether it be a leader, a mother, a faithful Christian, or simply my Mom Mom.  But the memory that is strongest to me is as a little girl, whenever it was time for me and Mom Mom to say goodbye we’d tell each other ‘I love you with all my heart!’  So, Mom Mom, until next time: I love you with all of my heart.    

Stephane Deas:
I will always remember Mom Mom in her truest form; strong, wise, and beautiful. 
She’s always been a shining example of how a female should act and behave.  I’m so proud to have such a strong role model in my life.  Words can not express how much my lovely grandmother has given me or how much she has showed me.  The unconditional love in her heart spilled through her words and actions.  Mom Mom is one of the greatest women I know.  I will forever remember her smile, her laugh, her voice.  I love you Mom Mom and I appreciate the everlasting influence of your love in my life.

Grandmom hanging out with her grands.
Jessica Johnson:

How do you find the words to talk about such a special woman like my Mom Mom? She was such an amazing woman. The thing that I can remember about her is the unconditional love that she had for me or anyone else that she knew. No matter what you did she was always there for me when I needed to talk, laugh, cry, or needed a stern talking to. One moment that will be special to me is when my grandmother led me into the baptism of the Holy Spirit. That meant so much to both of us for me to become closer to the Lord. So no matter if we were having a spiritual talk or just a nice chat, she was always a good spiritual leader, a great friend, and the best Mom Mom. I LOVE YOU MOM MOM AND YOU WILL BE GREATLY MISSED BUT NOT FORGOTTEN!

Mom Mom imparted her gift of music to her family.
 Tope Seriki:
        My first experience with Mom Mom was when I was much younger (around 4 or 5 years of age) and my sister, Mom, and I would ride up to Delaware for our annual family day. I always remembered singing in the choir and listening to Mom Mom play the piano or direct the choir.
        Secondly, I can recall when Teri Dredden was getting married and Mom Mom had gotten her hair done, but was dissatisfied with the outcome the lady who had done her hair tried to bleach her hair but it turned purple. But with Mom Mom being as glamorous as she was, pulled it off and looked wonderful and like a diva as always.
         My last major experience with Mom Mom was at her 70th birthday party in Maryland. I can remember her smile when she walked into the room. She was so happy to see all of her children, grand-children, family, and friends. She opened her gifts, fellowshipped with friends, and ate.  You could tell that she was just happy to be with us all. And that’s what she liked, just to be around people whom she loved.
Mom Mom, you’ll forever remain in our hearts and memories as we live the lessons you’ve taught and experienced for us.  Since your passing, there are more great-grandchildren who will hear about their great-grandmother. We pray that we will allow Christ to lead our lives as you did.  We pray that God will use us to leave a strong legacy with our loved ones as He did through you.  


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Grandparents Day Special Tribute to Amelia A. Roach (1937 - 2008) Pt. 2 of 3

Tiphane S. Deas:
Memories of my Mom Mom have been triggered by the smallest things, so I know there’s a lot that I’ll remember about her into my old age, but what I love to remember is how she always used to speak into my life: telling me that I was a prayer warrior when I was still simply a kid to most, reminding me of how much she believes in me and what I can accomplish. Lately the conversations had gotten so good that I would take notes after they were over. On July 16, 2008, I took this note from one of our phone conferences: “Nobody can take anything away from me unless I give it to them, particularly God’s promises to me.” I apply that even to her death. Mom Mom gave her life to Christ a long time ago (and she lived like it), so no matter what time and illness tried to take from her, nobody could take away her peace, her faith, or her life. Last week, she encouraged me one more time. Recently, I’d gotten comfortable venting to Mom Mom about the guys in my life who got on my nerves, and even though a lot of the time we made jokes out of my stories, I think she knew when I was hiding hurt behind them. I was thinking about some of those experiences while we were watching the news together not long before she passed but not really saying what was on my mind, and out of nowhere she looked at me and said, “You let God pick out the man for you, and you’re going to get a good one,” then she proceeded to tell me why while I wondered how she got into my head. I don’t know if her insight was wisdom, the Holy Spirit, or a combination of both, but it’s going to be missed in my life.

Anthony “T.J” Johnson:
There are so many things that I remember about Mom Mom.  I am her only grandson and she has always treated me as if I were special.  Now I realize that she treats everyone like that. Even some of my friends and co-workers called her Mom Mom and she treated them as if she were their grandmother. 
I will miss the gift of music that God blessed her with.  It was such a blessing to me to see her in action.  Many times I was in awe when I heard some of the chords she struck.  Sometimes we laughed at some of her rhythms and the special vibrato that she was able to incorporate into the music, but that’s another story. 
When I graduated from college, I accepted a job in this area and moved in with Mom Mom.  There were times when it was hard living with her because she was over-protective and very demanding but I learned so many things from being around her.  She was a “real” Christian and had a very intimate relationship with God.  She was a dedicated prayer warrior and prayed with her intercessory prayer partners each morning around 5 a.m.  Not only that, she watched only TBN as if none of the other channels worked.  She has a complete library of books about spiritual living, faith, finances, preaching, and every translation of the Bible, which contributed to her being a Bible scholar.  After work I could always look forward to some type of outing.  There was choir practice and Bible Study to name a few.  Although she was challenged with sickness the last few years, she even completed her studies at Spirit of Faith.  Many of our conversations were about God.  I was fortunate to witness her living her ministry.  She spoke of God’s healing her body in spite of what it looked like and felt like.  She had faith in what God could do and what He said He would do.  
One of my most memorable events is one that involves my daughter, Shanae.  When Shanae was born, she experienced problems with her bowels.  Her pediatrician directed us to regulate it with prune and apple juice.  Most of the time this worked, but there were times when she still experienced discomfort.  Mom Mom was empathetic to this and often asked about her.  One day she asked me if we were still having difficulties.  She asked me if I really believed that God could heal.  My answer was yes.  She then told me that I no longer needed to wonder about it or worry.  Instead, I needed to lay hands on her stomach and watch God heal her.  Years since this conversation and her passing, I can attest to His healing power.  Shanae no longer experiences any discomfort, nor do we regulate her bowels with juices or medicines.  To God be the glory! My grandmother will always be remembered for her words of wisdom and her faith in God.  

Shawanda Johnson:
Although I’ve only officially been a part of the family for 6 years, Mom Mom Millie welcomed me with love. I remember how nervous I was the first time I met Mom Mom as “T.J.’s girlfriend.” When I walked in the door, she embraced me and asked if I wanted something to eat. I felt right at home.
One of the many things I’ll miss about Mom Mom will be our weekend appointments. Mom Mom was my “foot buddy.” On Saturday mornings, she’d call and ask me what I was doing. After a brief, “nothing really,” she’d say, “Let’s go get our feet done.” We’d sit in the chairs and chat while beautifying our feet. I’ll miss those conversations.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Grandparents Day Special Tribute to Amelia A. Roach (1937 - 2008) Pt. 1 of 3

Mom Mom
Amelia Anne Roach: a name that could put a smile on every face. She filled several roles in her lifetime: prayer partner, mother, sister, daughter, aunt, confidante, and friend. To us, she is our grandmother; she’s our Mom Mom. Already we miss her for being one of the centerpieces in our lives thus far, and it’s hard to imagine reaching other milestones in life without being able to turn and see her smiling her approval and telling us, “I knew you could do it.” As a matter of fact, it’s hard to imagine a holiday where she and Aunt Carol aren’t retelling all of the embarrassing stories from our childhoods in front of whoever’s there, detail for detail, like they happened yesterday. And who could forget her signature way of asking us to run an errand for her: “Don’t you wanna…?” Mom Mom brought laughter into our lives, music, love; she even helped us be introduced to Christ. We each have our own reasons for loving and remembering Mom Mom, and in her honor, we’d like to share some with you now.

 Krystina Seriki:
 My favorite memory of my lovely grandmother is how whenever she was introduced to people for the first time they will always tell her how beautiful of a woman she was. One thing I will always remember of my grandmother that she was a beautiful woman and had the smoothest skin a person could have. One thing I learn from my grandmother was to always carry myself as a well respected, strong black woman as she did. 

Desiree Roach:
I learned a great deal from my grandmother but the lesson that I remember the most is her teaching me about my culture. I was raised with my mother and because I am mixed, I didn’t have many opportunities to explore my African American culture. When I would visit my grandmother on school vacations or special occasions, she would always have pieces of information pertaining to where I came from and what I was truly made of, and for that I am forever thankful. In the end I learned that I was a piece of her which is all I needed to know.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Tribute--We Honor You...You'll Never Walk Alone

WOMEN AT LIBERTY & Women History Makers-DC, MD, & VA 

honor the memory

of all those who lost their lives in the tragedies that occurred on September 11, 2001 in 
New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. 

We also celebrate the contributions of those who courageously responded to and guided the United States through an unprecedented time of mourning and recovery.