Uncle Richard is soaring with a new pair of wings. Born in Jim Crow Mississippi, he moved to Flint, married, raised a family, experienced scary and glorious adventures, retired from ‘The Shop’ etc…. Along his 78-year journey, I remember my family awaiting Uncle Richard’s arrival for his annual summer visits (always driving the latest flashy GM model). We knew Uncle Richard would be CLEAN, smiling, talking about having a good time, and ‘soooo’ happy to see us. Just being in his presence was electrifying: He exuded confidence, radiance, and positive energy.
Last year, I saw Uncle Richard twice. At my sister’s homegoing, I remember watching him from afar. The last time I saw him was at my aunt’s service. I noticed he was a little slower, but he was his jovial self. I told him, I was going to hang with him if that was okay. Uncle Richard smiled broadly and said, “Alright Annette – my little niece”. I felt like I was 10 years old again and fondly thought of those summer visits.
As we talked in the car, Uncle Richard took the scenic route through Flint, reminiscing about his daddy and mama (his words) and we talked about my mom (his oldest sister) and my dad (I remember him smiling as he said his name). Eventually, we ended up at his daughter Kinita’s house and that was another ‘great’ time laughing and talking. After our visit, Uncle Richard told me about his work to help young people get their lives back on track. He talked about going to retreats and conferences where he was sometimes a featured speaker. He said he would, “let young folks know that they could have a better life if they put their minds to it”. Then, he smiled and told me about his involvement at his church with a glow that again was reminiscent of those trips home to Mississippi.
This news made me stop, reflect, and realize that Uncle Richard LIVED LIFE TO THE FULLEST: He beat Jim Crow, became a successful Black man, and left a legacy like the one he was trying to teach others how to live. In addition, to his new wings, Uncle Richard has a big contagious smile on his face and a custom-made couture suit (remember his swag). Uncle Richard is helping everyone have a good time in heaven just like he did with us here on earth. Thank you, God for Uncle Richard: We will remember and love him forever.