Anyone that knows me and/or reads my blog or has been to one of my poetry readings in the last two years or is a Facebook friend knows about my Honey Bun Aunt Sis. Anyone that has stopped by this blog in the last week knows that last Tuesday, Aunt Sis left this world for the next one. She had bone cancer, which is incurable, but she fought it tooth and nail for two years. When the end came, she went in peace in her sleep. My Dad, though technically her nephew, was one of her sons...considered such by Honey Bun as well as her four biological children. He was listed as her son in the funeral program and it was my Daddy that was by her side most often for the last two years and even before that. I knew that when she died, he was going to have a hard time. Daddy tried to keep his game face on, especially with me, but I knew he was hurting, and he let it out in his own time, surrounded by people that loved her as much as he did.
Now she's home with Jesus. She was a woman of faith, and I know that her faith and love was rewarded. I've written before that I believe God sends angels to walk amongst us...unpresupposing folks that come into this sometimes hurtful, harmful, painful, crazy world to remind us that there is always love. That was my Honey Bun.
Last week, I was in rough shape. There was a three day gap between when I received the news and when I would be able to get to my family. I am still unemployed and David was scheduled to work out of town on Wednesday and Thursday. We needed the money, so I had to wait until he came back so that we could pack and leave. The reality of the living is that we need to keep working cuz the dead have no needs. I was soul weary and heart sick on our drive from NYC to Ronceverte, WV. I was anxious to get to my family, and my Daddy, as he always does when we are travelling to get together, was texting me about every 15 minutes to check on our progress. When we finally pulled up to the Holiday Inn Express in Lewisburg, I basically bolted from the car. My Dad came around the corner, and up the road came walking my great-aunt and uncle Lilly and Sherman and my cousin Buddy. Right then I knew what I needed. I needed my family.
Like my Aunt Sis, my family is crazy as Hell. As we walked from the car, I looked in the window of the hotel lobby and saw a room full of black folks. I knew they belonged to me and that I belonged to them. My sisters had arrived from Atlanta about 15 minutes before we got there, and I walked into a room of familiar as well as unknown faces. But even the faces I didn't recognize were clearly people to whom I was related. Aunt Barb, Aunt Bud, Aunt Sister Mary Jerome, my sisters, my cousin Wendell and all the others had the stamp of those hills on their face. And damn if they weren't all beautiful.
Over the course of the weekend I became re-acquainted with family I hadn't seen in years, met family I had never met, and met at least 100 people who weren't biologically related but were people that loved my Aunt Sis. The church was packed, the service was rockin' and even though there were tears and sadness, hearts broken and fences to be mended, at all tims and every step of the way there was someone telling a story to make folks laugh. The Lacy's are a folk built for joy. We are an entire family of story tellers and flame keepers. Eloquence is a family trait as is a wicked sense of humor. And we are beautiful, so so so beautiful from the octogenerians down to the infants, the Lacy's, as my sister says, have good genes. Genes or not...it was the laughter and the love, the soul food and the singing, the praise and the memories, the open doors, open homes and open hearts....the family...that made us so damn beautiful.
I am sad that my Aunty Sis has left us. I am sure there will be tears in my future, but I left those beautiful emerald hills with so much joy, and a committment to knowing those kin more deeply, and that is a gift that I know my Aunty Sis wanted all of us to walk away with.
Family equals love.