I’d like to say “thank you” to my Aunt Ann Turner, Uncle Bill Turner, Aunt Laura Smith, Uncle Bennie Smith, Cousin Hazel Dukes and Uncle William Johnson for all they’ve done for my family and me, but also for instilling in me, especially recently, that it’s never too late to inspire. Sometimes, even in my 40’s I feel like it’s not too much more to do or offer. All of these loved ones, who are in their 80’s or 70’s are SIMPLY AMAZING, and the epitome of love for the Lord and love for family. They continue to live life and make a difference every single day.
From my Aunt Ann’s oh-so-classy lasting impression she made on me as a child the time she literally filled my grandparents oven with Chick-fil-A sandwiches because, “darling, she wanted her entire family to experience that southern fried delight”, to the near daily text messages, phone calls, stirring devotionals, comical emails or facebook chats Uncle Bill and she share with me, even while battling serious health challenges, they are my inspiration.
From the above-and-beyond service to ministry, educating future leaders at home and traveling around the country to share the love of Jesus, then taking that same love and extending it to family and friends through hosting functions that rival the best of a party planner, to being present for functions and events even if they travel alone, to being go-to fixtures in times of trouble and celebration my Aunt Laura and Uncle Bennie are a picture of God’s selfless love. Their open affection for each other with known words of affirmation and actions of love are a pattern of a Godly marriage that should be followed by all. They are my inspiration.
What can you say about an 82-year-old woman with more spunk, class, influence, drive, commanded presence, purpose recognized and sincere love for family than a dozen 30-year-olds put together? My cousin Hazel Dukes is my great-cousin, and at 40 years older than I, I’ve come to love and respect her even more. She’s gracious, generous, intently bold, funny, stylish, loving, important, business oriented, but family focused. Spending my 40th birthday with her she reminded me, as I tried to keep up with her walking the streets of New York, that you’re as young and useful as you feel and choose to be. She is my inspiration.
My Uncle William Johnson has recently returned for an extended visit with his family “down south”. He has been a joy to reconnect with. He’s a quite, and insightful man, whose presence is felt through his crisp, clean suits, genteel hats, and southern charisma that lingered even as he moved up north decades ago. He’s a gentleman’s gentleman. What I’m learning about him as an adult is that he reminds me of my grandmother. The twinkle in his eyes when around his family far exceeds any physical challenges he may be having. His doting about delicious foods, funny observations, asking about other family members or remembering a little nugget about us far replaces anything that he may be experiencing. He is my inspiration.
I may not say it often, or often enough, but I hope and pray they all realize how important they are to me, now and always. I’m so grateful to have them as trailblazers for my journey, and honored to watch in awe as they still make the most out of life and make our lives better.