I know that today a lot of people are reflecting on and thinking of those affected by the horrific attacks on 9/11 that happened 12 years ago (!) but in addition profound tragedy of that day, today also has personal significance for me and my family as a day to celebrate the lives of relatives who had touched our lives.
Today would have been my maternal grandmother’s 69th birthday:
Tonia Joann Gaston Phillips
Grandma Tonia came into my life when I was about three years old, due to my mother being raised by another family. I was her first grandchild but did not get to see her as often growing up because she lived in California. She was extremely funny, sassy and tough as nails. And although my mother and one of her brothers did not grow up with her around, she did a fine job raising three other boys by herself. One of my favorite memories of her is when I was about 19 or 20 and lamenting about lack of money, she suggested I get a part-time job at Hooters. When I scoffed, mortified that my grandmother, of all people, had suggested such a thing, she shrugged and replied matter-of-factly, “What? You have the rack for it!”
Today also would’ve been my parental grandparents’ 60th Wedding Anniversary:
Fielding Duane Draffen, Sr. & Nancy Roberta Huston Draffen
Grandpa Fielding & Grandma Nancy a huge part of my life from the day I was born, I have so many fond memories from their big blue house on Bales Ave. in KC when I was a kid. Grandma was one of the kindest people I’ve ever known. No matter who you were or where you came from, as soon as you walked into her house, you were adopted into the Draffen family. She could also cook like nobody’s business – in hindsight, I very much regret not taking the initiative to learn from her and my mother when I had the chance because I am now in my mid-twenties and pretty hopeless in the kitchen. Grandpa Fielding was a veteran of the Korean War and one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. I remember quizzing him for hours about history and science and 1) him always knowing the answer and 2) never getting impatient with my constant questions. Together they co-founded the Missouri Negro High School Alumni Association (which apparently doesn’t have a website, according to Google) and were perfectly matched partners in crime who raised six (!) children together.
I miss all three of them and wish I could talk to them today. The world has changed so much since they’ve gone. I would love to find out what Grandpa would think about the iPhone and can imagine having to repeat myself a million times while Grandma Nancy figures out how to use Skype. I’d even take Grandma Tonia making me feel bad for not calling her often enough. If Apple ever figures out a way to FaceTime from the afterlife (you know they’re working on it), I look forward to catching up.
Credit to my mom’s and my Aunt (Nancy) Elaine’s (yes, my grandmother figured if her husband could have his first born son named after him, she deserved to have a girl named after her) Facebook timelines, where I stole these photos from.