This is the day the Lord has made, LET US rejoice and be glad in it!
I am beyond honored for this opportunity to stand before you and share my reflections on the matriarch of our family, my grandmother, Sister Annie Mae Southall Dunn.
I hope you don’t mind, but I want to use this time to reflect on what her life means to me, from my perspective; as I rode in the back seat of her Buick as a child.
As I rode in the backseat of her Buick as a child, I learned just how much my grandmother loved GOD, and loved GOD’s music. Even if you were in the kitchen with her as she baked her infamous 7up cakes, she would have her little radio on shelf set to the AM gospel station as she baked!
Driving down the streets of Algiers together, most often our destination was in some way related to GOD! If you were riding with her you would more than likely hear a tape recorded service from our home church Beautiful Zion.
There were no sound booths, DVD recordings or Media / AV Ministry back then, so those recordings were recorded from her own little portable tape player, and you would hear songs like,
- “Have a Little Talk with Jesus, Tell Him all about Your Trouble, Have a little talk with Jesus makes it right.”
- “It flows to the highest mountains, and it reaches the lowest valleys. The Blood gives me strength from day to day and it will never lose it power!”
- “Somebody prayed for me, I’m so glad they prayed for me”
- “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I Owe”
- “If it Had Not Been, for the Lord on my side, Where would I Be? Where would I be?”
- “His Eye is on the Sparrow, and I know He watches, I sing because I’m happy!!”
In the back seat of her Buick, you could see her tapping her hand on the wheel and bobbing her head to the music, as we drove to: Sunday Worship, Sunday school, prayer band, drill team rehearsal and performances, choir, Determination Sunday, Bible Study, Vocation Bible School. Yes, she was souled out for Christ, and her grandkids had no choice but to be as well.
I’m eternally grateful, for that!! My grandmother introduced me to the Most High, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords! And to this DAY, there is NO OTHER HELP I KNOW, than the Lord. I now find my own refuge in GOD and in GOD’s music. The songs she sang when I was younger are rarely played, but when they are… it brings back so many memories!
We, all of us who were blessed enough to be in her life, are who we are today because she prayed for us. I thank GOD for my praying grandmother with a heart for GOD.
As I prepared this reflection, I realized more and more, how she indirectly used the church to grow me into the 40 year old you see before you today. She encouraged me to be the Mistress of Ceremonies of Service church, and that of course was my first time speaking in front an audience, she trained me.
She encouraged me to become the Sunday School secretary, and that of course was my first time preparing and presenting a report to my constituents, oh yes, she was training me.
She encouraged me to join the junior usher board and to work with “Ms. Ethel” to get on a board position on the jr. usher board, more training.
She encouraged me to join the children’s choir and somehow Sister Dunn’s granddaughter was picked to sing the solo… OMG! Yeah, for those of you who know me, know I CAN”T SING, so that didn’t work out so well! But, even thru my failures she was training me. The subtle message there, you won’t win at everything, and that’s okay too, have the courage to try ANYHOW!
You know as we drove thru and around Algiers over the years, I learned more and more about my grandmother. I learned that is it far better to give than to receive. Not because she read Acts 20:35 to me, but because she lived the life of a giver. She led by example for us to see how it’s supposed to be done!
- Each time she made me get out the car to pick up newspapers / cans for the church newspaper / aluminum drive, I hated that!
- Each time we delivered can goods to a family in need
- Each time we picked up a friend or neighbor so they could make groceries
- Each time she gave out a dollar to a homeless person
- Each time she baked a 7up cake for the teller, the trashman, the teacher, the friend, the coworker, just everybody!!!
She SHOWED me how to be a selfless GIVER, who did not expect nor ask for ANYTHING in return. She showed me, not by her words, but by her actions, what being a cheerful giver really meant!
When I think more about it, back in high school, I think she drove me to a girlfriend’s house who was a seamstress several times to have my prom dress made because she heard I wasn’t going to go because we could afford a dress? I’m not sure how that all went down, but there I was getting fitted for dress I didn’t think I could get. As prom drew nearer, walked me in her room and pulled out some pearls from the jewelry box she kept on her dresser, and said, “here ‘What-ya-ma-call-it’, you can wear these, they would look nice on you with that dress”.
When I graduated, she and paw paw Jack were the first to cut out articles of me and place them under the clear glass on the top of the table that sat in front of the sofa paw paw jack used to watch his baseball.
Oh wow, as I write this I now remember how she and Auntie Ag pooled their monies and paid for my high school class ring. I also remember how she, uncle Robert, my daddy and Auntie Fannie came to my dorm room on my first day of college and had a small service in my room, where they prayed for my success.
I was completely embarrassed then, but today, I stand before you proud that I had a grandmother who loved with action not just words!
As I see it, my grandmother made a huge investment in me and into so many others! I can never repay her for all the things she has done for me. I can only try! If I can just be 10% of the woman she was for so many of us, I will have done well.
You see, my grandmother was resourceful! Not only did she bake delicious cakes, and love to wear fancy lace stockings, but also knew her around a hardware store. It was nothing for you to see her put a cake in the oven, and with the same apron on and go outside and trim the bushes, then back inside to get cleaned up, take the cake out, drop it off to whomever the recipient was THIS TIME, and then go to Monroe Street and cut the grass?
I remember thinking to myself, WOW! She took great care of her own home, along with pawpaw Jack. She was very active in the church, and all her auxiliaries, she took care of a clan of other folks, found time to cut the grass, and her hair was always pressed and rolled!!! Like I said, if I could only be 10% of the woman she was to so many I would have accomplished much.
My grandmother, lived a grand life, and she has earned her eternal rest! I’m sure by now she has her mounted wings like eagles!!
Before I take my seat, I want to publicly thank my aunt Jackie who is amazing woman just the same, along with Uncle Tommy, Chantel and Jackyron for doing an AMAZING job caring for my grandmother for more than a decade as she aged. For also honoring her just as she deserved during her time of transition. Amazing job!!!
I know for them it’s especially hard to see her go, but to them and to all of you I say, weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning! In the morning, we will realize she is still with us!!! Her legacy lives in us and through us everyday!
Oh and she still rides with me! I’m no longer in the back seat though. I’m driving now, using the tools and examples she set for me and doing my best to model them for those around me. Since I’m the driver now, I know she is up there right now saying What-ya-ma-call-it, now don’t drive too fast!
Rest on God’s good and faithful servant, WELL DONE!
Ladies and gentleman I stand before you, as a proud decedent of Sister Annie Mae Dunn.
With a full heart,