By Cheryl Smith, Publisher, I Messenger Media L.L.C., Texas Metro News
The month of August was filled with answers, especially if you take into consideration an important question, “Why?” I’ve heard people pose the question when someone transitions, even though they don’t want to question “God.”
When I first moved to Dallas in 1981, I visited a restaurant called “Smokey John’s Barbecue.” I actually visited weekly, to pick up my Black newspapers, get some fish and on the second Saturday of each month, attend Florida A&M University Alumni meetings.
It was also the place where the first meeting of the Dallas Metroplex Council of Black Alumni Associations was held. The owner, John Reaves, was the best, and his restaurant was a fun place, especially on Friday nights when there was entertainment and some of any and everybody came by for a good time, fellowship and great food.
Well, Mr. Reaves died last month, and many shared their fond memories of him and the Smokey John’s BBQ experience. Meanwhile, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) had a rough month with the passing of television anchor Nancy Parker in New Orleans; mother, son and daughter Marsha Edwards, Christopher Edwards II and Erin Edwards of Atlanta; and former television anchor Donna Davis of Memphis.
Then I received a call last week about long-time friend and Warrior, Thelma Youngblood. I met “Youngblood” in the early 1990s and we’ve been friends ever since. I think we were drawn to one another because we respected one another’s candor.
Now, she’d probably laugh at that observation, but it was true. There was nothing fake or pretentious about our relationship. Born in Ennis, TX, and an honors graduate from Jackson High School in Corsicana, Youngblood said how she felt and I did the same. We didn’t always agree, and we didn’t always agree to disagree.
Instead we respected one another’s opinions and decisions. Youngblood and I didn’t choose our friends based on each other’s likes or dislikes and we knew when to pump the brakes on certain issues. The last time I talked to Youngblood, earlier this summer, I told her how great she sounded. It was good to hear her voice, sounding so strong and vibrant.
When I got back into town from the NABJ convention, I called her on August 14 but didn’t get an answer. I then called a mutual friend, and no answer. Youngblood remained on my mind. I even asked a member of our distribution team if she answered the door when he took the paper by. Yes, with over 300 distribution drops, Youngblood’s house was my only home drop and she appreciated the courtesy immensely, at times giving her commentary on what she had read or what was going on in the world.
I’m going to miss her. To know her is to love her. I won’t profess to have totally reconciled this thing called death, but I do realize that death is part of life.
Which brings me to my truth. As I continued to massage my temples and remember the good memories, in the face of death, I received quite a bit of exciting news that succeeded in easing the pain to a certain extent. You see, two of my children are pregnant. One with a boy and the other with a “to be determined.”
Then I got word of two special young ladies, both journalists, who will be giving birth soon. Television anchor Amanda Fitzpatrick had her Gender Reveal event and we celebrated the news, “It’s a girl.” Next, radio personality Dareia Tolbert -Jacobs had her Gender Reveal event and we celebrated that news: “It’s a boy.”
For me, as I process all the wonderful people in my life who are no longer with me, I will be happy just to hear that mothers and babies are healthy. Just think about the high maternal morbidity rate for Black women. Healthy moms and babies must be the priority.
Death and birth can both be stressful. We celebrate the joy of birth. We must also celebrate the joy of living and the lives of those who have transitioned. And, we must make sure we are living joyous lives.