Skip to main content

The Ending of An Era: Losing Family and a Sense of Home

Jo Anne is a gifted encourager and the author of On Solid Ground: Inspirational Poetry For All Occasions and Relationship Seasons of Love.

Dorothy Lewis aka Aunt Dot

Dorothy Lewis aka Aunt Dot

Facing My Feelings

I feel like it’s the ending of an era, as I am losing family and a sense of home. That is what I discovered when I was finally ready to face my feelings around Dorothy McBride Lewis, aka Aunt Dot’s recent transition. On Wednesday, Mar. 10, 2021, I set the intention to tune into my emotions and write it out after being in denial since I perceived the news on Saturday, Feb. 27, at 2:30 a.m.

Kevin, Aunt Dot’s nephew, had sent me a text message, saying he would call later that morning. I didn’t ask any questions, especially when the follow-up text said, “Rather tell you than text it to you.” A few days earlier, Aunt Dot had gone back into the hospital and it wasn't looking good, so when Kevin called around 10:20 a.m. and said, “You know what I’m calling to tell you,” I glumly responded, “Yes.” I had already suspected that what I had been dreading had occurred. I didn’t need to see or hear the words, and thankfully, he never said them.

My usual modus operandi for dealing with grief is mentally disconnecting and staying in emotional avoidance until the burial. It wasn’t until I shut down my conversations and started binge-watching movies, emotionally eating, staying up all night, and sleeping off and on all day for several days that I realized I was more deeply affected than I thought. I repeatedly made unhealthy futile efforts to block out the sadness, which kept creeping up to invade my space. I couldn’t even talk about it until this day because I didn’t want to feel the pain or release the floodgate threatening to overflow from my eyes.

Ma Brown and Me

Ma Brown and Me

My Other Mother and Family

Last year, on Apr. 25, 2020, Aunt Dot’s sister, Jeanette McBride Brown, transitioned. Ma Brown was another mother to me. The last time I saw Aunt Dot was at Ma’s homegoing, and now she has gone home too.

The Browns, Lewis’, and McBrides are a close-knit tribe who alternated many family gatherings and holiday meals between the two sisters’ houses in Queens and Deer Park. I was privileged to participate in their family events on many occasions through the years. The first time I saw Michael Jackson’s Thriller video was in Aunt Dot’s basement during a Thanksgiving celebration one year.

I also lived with Ma Brown for several months in 2003, and we often traveled to women's conferences together and fellowshipped at each other’s churches.

This beloved family has been an integral part of my life since 1978 when Ma’s son Kevin and I became friends in college.

Ma and Poppi Brown

Ma and Poppi Brown

Family Transitions and Prayers

Isiah “Poppi” Brown, Ma’s husband, transitioned in 1999. Ma and Aunt Dot’s brother Leroy McBride transitioned in 2017, which leaves Herman as the last surviving sibling.

My love and prayers for peace, strength, comfort, and anything else you stand in need of during these sorrowful times, go out to Herman McBride; Kevin, Sandra, Kowann, Clarissa, David, and Darnell Brown; James, Millie, and Keith Lewis; and every other family member and friend connected by blood, spirit, and love.

The McBride Siblings: Herman, Leroy, Aunt Dot, and Ma

The McBride Siblings: Herman, Leroy, Aunt Dot, and Ma

A Shared History

Together with their families, we’ve shared over 40 years of precious memories, travels, meals, joys, and sorrows, and they will all remain forever family in my heart and thoughts. Taking solace in that, I choose to press forward, one day at a time, focusing on celebrating those beautiful memories to dispel the sadness that continuously attempts to creep up and invade my space.

Aunt Dot, Ma Brown, and Me

Aunt Dot, Ma Brown, and Me

A Conclusion of Gratitude

I miss these two matriarchs tremendously. The last time all three of us were together was on Apr. 21, 2018, celebrating Aunt Dot’s birthday. Kevin had treated us with tickets to a theatre dance performance and then picked us back up for dinner at Junior’s Restaurant.

My heart aches--it feels like this is the ending of an era, and I have lost family and a sense of home. Yet, I am incredibly grateful to God for the time I was blessed to spend with them and the unconditional love they so generously showered on me.

Thank you Ma and Auntie! Rest in Peace and Power.

Be blessed,

Jo Anne Meekins
Inspired 4 U

© 2021 Jo Anne Meekins

Related Articles