“Her slight pigeon toe prance…Her name, her existence, was transforming into an emblem of peace: Auntie Linda…”
As a little girl, I watched the way she walked into a room: A hair never out of place, and smile that could charm the seemingly unfriendliest of people. Her walk was mesmerizing for her fit, petite body frame. The slight pigeon toe prance with short strides in killer stiletto heels. It embodied motions of finesse, sass, and ‘Tude all at the same damn time. Her walk was so memorable that we attempted to impersonate it while playing our childhood favorite pastime, “house.” Auntie Linda’s name became one of top 10 favorite “play names.” We wore her name as gracefully as we remembered seeing her.
When I was 31 years old, she called my hospital room. The call was seemingly brief, simple, and all within ten minutes. Her character remained the same throughout my lifetime, kind. She asked casual questions like, “How are you…? How do you feel…?” My responses were polite, and also brief with a few, “Ok’s and good.” At the time, I was still adjusting to the balance of pain, pain medicines, and chemotherapy, so I was not all too sure how I should feel. And the thought of explaining the cocktail of emotions that I felt was better left with words that could not be misconstrued. Auntie Linda ended the call with a statement that rang in my ears years later. She kindly said, “You know, I had cancer?!” I had not known, but more importantly, I wondered, “how did she beat it?!” She must have read the question in my hesitancy as she proceeded to say, “Make sure you take your supplements! I’ll send you some.” After ending the call, the image of her petite frame and “slight pigeon toe prance” wheeled in my mind like an old film.
It was in the middle of our last conversation when I realized this would be our last. I remember the long pauses; the brief moments of silences when forming answers; the inflection of my tone not rushing the conversation, and the ease she gave in wanting to absorb the gentleness I was sending. Unbeknownst to her, I released tears while speaking. I sat and clutched my mouth and wailed after we disconnected. I was not too sure why this had such an impact on me, until I received word of her passing weeks later. I was forced to examine her imprint on my life: The power of her words; the power of her prance; the power of our calls.
As a womanist, I believe that “human beings are energy transforming machines.” We are “change agents”! We have the power to transform situations and circumstances, and transmute energy with the simplicities of dialogue and love. Furthermore, I recognize my own sacredness and the sacredness of others. Sacredness, as defined by womanists, refers to the higher dimension of a thing, that essence which evokes awe. Armed with this understanding of who I am, I sat in the awe of an epiphany that formed of what Auntie Linda’s call did for me three years ago. As I played back the conversation, I remembered something. She had just told me about her encounter with cancer and paused. It was in this pause that I asked, “You did?!” She proceeded with, “Mmmm Hmmm!” This was not words she mumbled, but her spirit humming the sound of her soul’s victory. I recognized the sound of strength reverberating in her voice, and the proudness in her pause. Looking back, it seemed as if the pause had been ten minutes, instead of a few seconds. I wondered what gave her the inclination to pause then?! I wondered if she knew what she was saying was soaking into my consciousness? I wondered if she thought silently, She can too?! At some point in this reflection, I realized that the pause meant more than me “just soaking it into my consciousness.” It was her spirit transferring strength into my soul. She was transforming my consciousness about survival and my ability to fight, just as she had transformed my understanding of kindness as a child.
I drew parallels from that conversation to the last one we shared, and reflected. The wave of thoughts coupled with emotion hit me, drastically. As a womanist, I realize and honor my sensibilities to Spirit or spirituality as it is foremost. Therefore, understanding takes processing, and with processing takes patience. It was likely that she understood that she would not make it in this realm beyond the time we spoke, however, she knew the relevance of peace. As we spoke, her spirit beckoned peace. It is the reason I knew not to rush the conversation. It was the reason I knew to let her hear the insignificant details of my dinner plans. It was the reason I cuffed my mouth as tears rolled down my face. Her name, her existence, was transforming into an emblem of peace.
Auntie Linda, I honor your love, kindness, strength, and peace…