Archive for the ‘Loss’ Tag

The Soundtracks of Childhood by Angenita Williams

When one thinks of childhood, they think of school, school plays, kickball, teachers, bratty brothers, long summers outside, chores, barbecues, and an early bedtime. It’s a time where we all couldn’t wait to be adults because we had to follow so many rules that simply were not fair. (And many of us adults would like to go back to that time when things were much more simple.)

We also think of the music. What we didn’t understand was that the records that Momma and Daddy played on the stereo, or the tapes they played in the cassette player were setting a stage of memories for us to carry with us throughout our lives. And as we grew, as new artists burst into music, we added their sounds with the sounds already placed in our hearts. These tidbits of melodies etched themselves into our histories to the point where if we hear a song now, it takes us back to that moment where we fell in love with it. Don’t believe me?

Where were you when you first heard Thriller?

I was sitting in front of the stereo. My dad brought the record through the door and played the entire album. I held on to the cover. Michael was so beautiful in his white suit. I was enamored. It was 1982. I was 6.

Where were you when you first heard You Give Good Love?

I was at my house. My cousin, AJ, came down for the summer to watch my brothers and I while my mother worked. She played that song out, but it was BEAUTIFUL. I didn’t know whose voice that was at first. But then I saw the video. Whitney was so tiny, yet her voice was huge. It was 1985. I was 9.

Where were you when you first heard Purple Rain?

I was at home. Again. Dad brought this album in. I knew there was a movie for it. My friends had gone to see it. I hadn’t seen it yet though. I heard the song Purple Rain, and the guitar solo at the end caught my attention, and instantly became my favorite part of the song. It was 1984. I was 8.

These songs effect me that same way…over 30 years later. When I hear “Until the end of time, I’ll be there for you,” I’m taken back to Turrell, Arkansas, at my cousin’s house where it stayed on repeat, and it touched my heart. “Oh I wanna dance with somebody, I wanna feel the heat with somebody” brings me to my first summer in Indianapolis. “Hey pretty baby with them high heels on” takes me back to my uncle who loved that song, and made a howl every time it came on.

And as I type this, I smile.

Of course there is an astronomical list of artists that moved me at different periods of my life which includes:

Patti – If Only You Knew. Chaka – I’m Every Woman. Aretha – Pink Cadillac. Frankie Beverly – Before I let Go. Kool and the Gang – Celebration. Mtume – Juicy Fruit. Madonna – Like A Virgin. Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time. Marvin Gaye – Sexual Healing. Diana Ross – Upside Down. Stevie Wonder – Ribbon in the Sky. B. B. King – Lucille. The Gap Band – Party Train. ConFunkShun – Love’s Train. Isley Jasper Isley – Caravan of Love. Janet Jackson – Control. Luther Vandross – Never Too Much. Teena Marie – Lovergirl. Rick James – Mary Jane.

And that’s not even touching the surface….

When we lose these people who contributed so much to our lives, it leaves a hole…a gaping hole…a crater in our souls. We feel hurt. Lost. And what’s really funny…I wonder if our icons really know how much they affect their fans with the words they sing. With the arrangements they make…

Prince guided me into and out of heartbreak. Whitney helped me understand heartbreak. And Michael, well, Michael gave me life after heartbreak.

Prince made me dance. Whitney made me wanna dance with somebody. Michael made me wanna dance like him.

Without these melodies, these beats, this rhythm…my childhood would be vastly different. What would trigger a great memory if it were not for our soundtracks?

Behind Whitney, Michael, Luther, Gerald, Marvin, Teena, Rick…we lost Prince too. And man…that hurts. It really hurts.

All of them played a huge part in my soundtrack….my childhood. But Prince? He gave me one of my favorite songs in the world….Adore. The lyrics mean so much more now…

“Until the end of time, I’ll be there for you. You own my heart and mind…”

I truly Adore you.

RIH Prince.

You were such an instrumental part of my childhood. Of my life. Rest Easy, Purple One.


Dear Grandma by Angenita Williams


Dear Grandma,

First, let me say…I really miss you.

On this beautiful day, I reminisce on your love.

It’s been almost five years now. I will never forget the day I walked in your room. You were having a hard time. You took off your mask, and looked at me. I said, “Grandma, you need that.” I reached over to you to put it on, and you smacked the hell outta me. I laugh about it now because it reminds me of how feisty you were. I was like, “OK, did she just hit me?” And the look on your face said, “I sure in the hell did. Now try it again.” You kept fighting me. Although I long gave up on the mask, you fought a good few minutes and worked yourself right out of breath. I called the nurse, remember? When I called her, tears streamed down my face as you dozed off.

She walked in and rubbed my back. Ariana looked on. “Don’t let her see you like this. Be strong…for her,” she said.

I straightened up. I bent over, kissed you, and whispered, “I love you.”

Seven A.M. Sunday morning, I got the call.

“Angel, Momma…Momma gone…” Momma said. I immediately let out a wail. I just saw you. It hurt me so badly. I had to see you that day. For whatever reason, Grandma, I had to pay you a visit. I didn’t think that would be your last.

Remember that pretty poem talking about “The First Lady” in my family? The one I framed on a Mother’s Day, and you proudly displayed? I tweaked it just a bit and read it at your homegoing service. What’s funny is that when I read the line about the pretty blue bath water and the pink powder puff, half your grandkids all nodded and smiled. Some of us didn’t live down South, and didn’t get to experience it. But those that did remembered them like yesterday. You gave awesome baths, Grandma.

You made awesome homemade biscuits. And never gave me the recipe. I guess it was one you were gonna keep all to yourself. LOL.

I could come see you and curl up with you as an adult. I could call you and let you make me laugh at some extremely country saying. Your voice carried love. You embodied love.

I remember how you always did little things for me…a doll here, some socks there, trips to Johnny Rye’s store. As much watermelon I wanted. However many oranges I wanted. To sum it up, whatever I wanted. You gave me jewelry. I could be me and just imagine things with you. You listened to every story I made up. And laugh! Now that I think about it, were you were laughing AT me or with me? LOL! Grandma!

I remember when you told me that I had piano hands.

“Angel, them long fangas belong on a piano. Why don’ cha take lessons?”

“I don’t think I would like that Grandma. Renea plays the piano. She teaches me some of what she does. I don’t know if she really like it though,” I replied.

“Do somethin’ with yo’ hands. They too long for you not to,” you said.

I remember countless nights at your house. The awesome baths. The wonderful, soft beds. The glorious meals. And Frosted Flakes. All the dirt I could play in. All the space for running around. But I think the funniest is when you asked me to get a ‘banch’ from outside, and I was confused about what you asked me for. I moved to Indianapolis about three years before. I thought I was ‘citified.’

I asked to you repeat it. You said, “That banch on the porch. Right there on the porch!” I was clueless as to what you asked me for. Then you showed me the bench. “OOOOOO, you meant the bench?”

You gave me the craziest look and said, “I told you the banch!”

I remember the first stroke. I came to the hospital. You didn’t remember me. I cried so hard. It felt like I was forgotten. But you saw Ariana and said, “Well, there’s my Angel.” You remembered me as a toddler, and that comforted me. You didn’t know the adult me, but you knew the me you helped take care of.  I gave you the biggest kiss on your forehead. You smiled. So did I.

I mean, can you believe that I, too, am a grandmother? Since I am little young, YaYa is MY name. I know you know all that though. I know you are smiling down on all of us. I remember how much you loved babies. I swore whenever either one of my grandchildren smiled in their sleep, your spirit was with them.

I really miss the comfort you gave me. Sometimes, when things get heavy, I really need you. I find myself remembering your hugs and kisses. I smile through my tears. 

I think I speak for everybody when I say life ain’t the same without you…

Happy Birthday, Grandma.




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