Posted in friends, Inspiration, Memorial, Post a week, Uncategorized

Fitting Forty: Flowers

Often met with getting older is experiencing death. It is not uncommon for friends of old to tell me that a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or parent has made their transition. I experienced this phenomenon quite often and wrote about losing my own Father.  Although death has become a more frequent tale, it always takes me a back especially when it is a friend. This post is to honor my friend the way that I remember him.

My friend, Peter Grant, was a friend I met while attending Eastern Illinois University. He was born and raised in Central Illinois and was a son of a farmer. He was raised around corn and soy beans, big farm machines, and was really good with cars. I was only raised around corn I found at the grocery store, I knew the very basics about cars, and big combines scare the daylights out of me (that’s another story)! When we met, I wasn’t sure the farm boy and the city kid would be friends, but we were.

Pete and I pal’d around quite a bit. We were all part of a group of kids that gave their hearts to God and leaned on each other a lot to find answers. We often trudged around central Illinois to different services, revivals, and bible studies held by a family we all adopted namely because they would tell us truth and fed us since we were all poor, college students with a lack of nutritional sense! We laughed, cried, prayed, and would cling on to one another to draw strength to make it through another day, another exam, or another research paper!

I could always  call on Pete as a friend or as a confidant. We would talk to each other sometimes for hours. I remember going to his family home once for Easter dinner. When we sat down at the table to eat, his Father told everyone at the table, “When Cynthia calls, Pete turns into a wet puppy!” Pete replied,”It’s true dad I do!” Although this is a little difficult to do as a black woman, but I turned beet red! All of us kids sat at the table first in awe that his dad actually said that and then burs-ted into laughter because his dad actually said that! Pete was just a sweet guy and he genuinely cared for me. When we would come back late from different events, I would make him drive my very temperamental car I owned at the time. It was a 1988 forest green gas guzzler that was always breaking down that I fittingly named “Diva”. Pete was on the only one that could get that New Yorker bucket of bolts to sometimes act right! When she died, transmission went boom and she was no more, I called him. He told me, “Diva fought a good fight and ran a good race.” No truer words were spoken.

Peter later on married his sweet heart Nina and they went on to have four children. He and I lost touch over the years but we later reconnected thanks to the wonderful world of social media. When we did, we just pick up where we left off! We talked about school, family, what we were into now, etc. He even “liked” a video of me singing at a service I posted on Facebook singing, “My Living Shall Not be in Vain”. His comment to follow was, “I ain’t heard me some good Cynthia singing in over 10 years!” Oh Pete! So sweet, yet sooooooo country! He loved to sing too. I remember him singing at the top of his lungs during worship services we attended together. The song I remember him singing with the most emphatic voice was “Shout to the Lord”.

Pete fought a good fight with cancer but his soul transitioned this past Thanksgiving. I am very sad my friend is gone but I am glad that we reconnected before he left this earth. He was a kind, gentle, loving soul. He was a lover of God, of his family, and friends. I wish that we had more time and I wished I had the chance to express to him in person how much he meant to me. I wish I could give you your flowers Pete. Even if I can’t give them to you personally, I will give them to your wife and children who love you very much. There is a new angel and his name is Peter Grant. He will still be around watching over all who he loved. He will missed but never forgotten.

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Posted in Dads, Healthy Living, Memorial, Post a week

Fitting Forty: His Hands

June 18, 2017, was Father’s Day. I decided that I should spend the day with my Dad. Most people will take their Father’s to a restaurant, maybe go to a ball game, or even make a grand dinner. I however spent time with my Father at his grave.

My Dad had a battle with prostate cancer that he lost on January 2, 2012 . He ashes are interned in a Veteran’s cemetery outside of my hometown of Chicago. He was a Korean War Veteran  that served in the Navy as a Seaman. He ended up doing 2 tours staying in the Navy for 8 years in total.  Although he served his country and held several titles in his life, the one he held for me is my first Love.

My Father and I did everything together. When I was a kid, I would spend my weekends with him. He had a 1977 charcoal convertible Volkswagen Beetle. The car had no heat so you could only drive in the spring/summer. It had a pull out radio just like the movie McGruber. He and his friend Rip rebuilt the car from the ground up and he would go to an auto parts store called Wachowski’s in the South Loop constantly buying car parts because the thing was super uber sensitive!

I loved that car. I supposed I loved it so much because I knew that every time I got into it, it would be an adventure that only he and I would share together. The adventure could be as mundane as going to dentist or the grocery store or as fascinating as  a Chinese dinner in Dalton or China town. My Dad and I shared a deep love for stir fry.

I often reflect back on the times we had together, like watching Miami Vice on Friday Nights (it was cheesy but we cared not!), practicing the piano in his living room (He loved Beethoven), or watching him build a doll house for me that we go to the north suburbs for parts (drove my sisters crazy he built it for me! ha ha!). No matter what we did, it was always special to me because I was his running buddy and his reflection in female form. I looked just like him from the speckles in this hands and feet to the wide smile that paints our faces when we find something funny. He loved to laugh.

When I visited his grave, I put my hands on his name stone. I often look at my hands and if I stare at them long enough, they look just like his. The more they look like his hands, I start to hear his voice. I hear him talking to me about when he was growing up, him giving me a chore to do (he really liked doing that) or hearing him sing a jazz song like “Angel Eyes” or an opera aria sung by Franco Corelli. The main reason why I have such a deep love for music (especially classical music) was all because of him.

My mind often wanders back to him and without trying. I would hear a phrase, a song, or see something as I walk by that would remind me of him. Even when I have life decisions to make, I think to myself “What Would Daddy Do?”

Making it to this age, I hope within my being that he’d be proud of me. If anyone wanted me to get my health together, it was him. I know I say I made the decision to get my health together to save my life, but I also say to him, “Dad, I did it. I finally did it.”

He was and still is my motivation to press forward in life. Although he isn’t present physically, I still feel him with me because I refuse to forget him. But why would I? He is a part of me and forgetting him would be forgetting myself. I miss him dearly but as time goes on, it does not hurt so much that he is not on Earth. Rest in Heaven Daddy. Please know, I love you.