On today, I celebrate the life, legacy, and birthday of my grandmother Mildred "Millie" Devlin-Lewis, she would've been 76 years old. Though I miss her and so many other family members and friends do too.
I am grateful that I can celebrate my grandmother's life and honored that I can still intertwine her into my present life. If I could write her a letter, I would tell her about how I created 7 Millie Designs in honor of the love and light that she showed to many.
Also, I'd share with her the story behind the name as I didn't want to pick anything random. I wanted the title of this venture to have meaning. The number 7 is the month I was born, July. Biblically the number 7 is mentioned in the scriptures as a sign of healing, perfection, and completeness. Next, was my grandmother's nickname, Millie. Funny thing is I remember when I was about 13, we were riding in the car back from the grocery store, and I asked her did she have a nickname. The conversation went like this:
Me: Grandma, do you have a nickname? I mean, Mildred is such an old name. I can't even imagine you being my age and being called Mildred. My Grandma: No, I have always been called Mildred. Me: (Confused Face??) Mildred, well, I guess that was okay back then.
I am pretty sure she told me a family nickname yet, Millie, wasn't it. We could always have honest and funny conversations. I figured since she gave me my nickname that she would have one too.
Once my grandmother went to live in an assisted living facility, the staff lovingly called her Millie. She was known for having soft sweet stripes peppermints in her purse, and she would share them with all the nurses and her friends. My grandmother did not want to live in an assisted living facility yet, she adjusted and became very active. She loved to play bingo, card games, and she made friends quickly.
A few months before she transitioned, she lost one of her friends, Ms. Freddia. I spoke with her about it and she seemed down. I was sad too for her as any time I visited, the 3 of them were together.
My grandma Mildred, Ms. Freddia, & Ms. Barbara
I share these stories because these are the memories that I have recalled lately. Due to this pandemic, I have been safe at home yet, and I have small things that I may complete that remind me of what she taught me. These memories make me miss my grandmother even more.
Though some of us may be isolated and away from our families, I admonish you to find ways to celebrate their life now. I was able to spend a lot of time with her before she transitioned. But birthdays and holidays are different when you miss someone that is no longer here. I spoke about this in Grieving Well, though it is well with my soul, there are moments where I reflect on these beautiful memories.
My grandparents Mildred & Abraham Lewis
My grandmother impacted my life in so many ways. At her celebration of life, I told this story:
I was in 7th grade at a new school. I barely had friends, and I hated it. I devised a plan to skip school since my mom had to go to work early, my siblings went to the school in the town over, and everyone left the house before me. I would get up and get dressed like I was getting ready to go to school and say goodbye to everyone as they would leave. I would stay home or leave walking towards the bus stop. I would turn back and go home once the cars were out of sight. This plan worked for weeks. I thought I almost got caught when my mom came home from work early one day. She asked why I was back home so soon. I said early release day. I could erase the answering machine messages of reported absences and write my letters to excuse my absences. The plan was working until my grandmother's best friend, who worked at the school, snitched on me. Yep, she saw my name on the absentee list and called my grandmother. One day as I was chillaxing at home watching tv, I hear a car pull up. I go towards the window slightly, and it's my grandmother. The spirit of fear ran through my whole body. I turned the tv off and any lights. I attempted to hide in the closet. She couldn't get in because the door was locked, but the thought of her knowing that I was not going to school freaked me out. She banged on the door, calling my name "Shonda, I know you are home." I knew I had two options, and I didn't like either. Number 1 was to continue to let her knock until she went away, and I would still be in trouble later. Number 2 was to face my fears and open the door. I went for option number 2. I figured, either way, I was going to be in trouble. I may as well get it out of the way. I went and opened the door, and she wasn't as upset as I thought. She wanted to know why I wasn't in school. I lied and told her I was on my monthly. She saw right through it. I fessed up and told her how I felt. She encouraged me to stay in school, and that though I may not be comfortable, getting my education was important. My grandmother didn't stop there. She checked with the school to see if they had a bus stop near her house. They did. I moved back in with her and my grandfather. She spoke with my teachers to see if I could make up the work I missed. I was able to, and I didn't have to go to summer school to make up any classes.
I shared this story as when you have someone who loves and believes in you; it will push you to change. I changed a lot after this issue. Though my grandmother is no longer here physically, I carry her with me everywhere I go in my heart. I will not change it, and I will continue to celebrate and honor her life.
While she was here, I would give her flowers. I pray you do the same with your loved ones. The beauty of flowers is not that it's lasting; it's that when the seed has everything it needs to live, it will wake up, grow, mature, and develop flowers to reproduce. I'm thankful she planted seeds that lead to my growth. I celebrate her and growth today. "Embrace God, Love You, and Be Fashioned for Him."