I remember my hands going up and down the lumps of her collapsed veins on her soft, fragile dialysis-injected arms and thinking to myself “this is the most beautiful feeling” – not the lumps, but the love and respect I felt for the woman that lived and laughed. My aunt, Ethel Mae. She was saying something, but I don’t remember the words exactly. I just remember the feeling I had as she spoke her wisdom knowing deep down it would be the last time she’d see any of us again. She never told us that, but we knew. I knew the moment it was time for us to leave and she held onto my grandmother, her baby sister, crying like she’s never done before during our goodbyes. It was more like a farewell. I knew when the whole family did what we always do to cheer ourselves up. We just started singing and dancing as black people tend to do. It lightened the mood but in between my two steps I soaked in the moment knowing that yes, this just might be the last time until we meet again. I am grateful.
This woman raised in Brooklyn that traveled south when everyone was traveling north to be a colporteur and make known the glorious good news in the rising heat of New Bern, North Carolina. She, the founder of our faith through the Robinson line created a legacy of hope and reverence to the truth and esteemed it so high. My great grandmother Annie, my grandma Norma and everyone else followed. So here I am generations later. I am all that I am because of the foundations of these matriarchs. I hope to live up to what was passed on to me.
For being so refreshing, kind, gentle and witty … thank you. For setting the standard and having a good o’ jolly time along the way dancing, joking, speaking to us in spanish … thank you! Thank you for touching our lives. I can’t wait to see you and uncle Charlie again. Rest well until Christ calls, my sweet Ethel. I will see you soon in Paradise, on earth. We’ll be waiting for you – just look for the loudest people, then you’ll know you’re back home.