Loretta M. Cox Funeral Plans

Loretta M. Cox

January 31, 1938 – September 3, 2012

Mom’s Pennsylvania Memorial Program

Saturday, November 3, 2012 Memorial Celebration, 10:00 am

St. Luke’s Christian Community Church
325 Tilghman Street
Chester, Pennsylvania

In lieu of flowers the family requests donations to Doxology Ministries International, Inc, a 501c3 charitable corporation. Your donations are tax exempt. Checks may be sent, payable to Doxology Ministries, to PO Box 340926 • Dayton, OH 45434

Mom’s California Memorial Program

Friday, September 7, 2012 Memorial Celebration, 6:30 pm

Shield of Faith Fellowship of Churches

1750 West Holt Avenue

Pomona, CA 91768

In lieu of flowers the family requests donations to Doxology Ministries International, Inc, a 501c3 charitable corporation. Your donations are tax exempt. Checks may be sent, payable to Doxology Ministries, to PO Box 340926 • Dayton, OH 45434

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Private Family Service Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tillman Riverside Mortuary (2874 Tenth Street, Riverside, CA 92507).

Interment: Riverside National Cemetery, 22495 Van Buren Boulevard Riverside, CA 92518

A Dad

I wrote this poem last year for my husband of nearly 30 years, Gerald A. Cox, Jr. I repost it to honor him and all of the wonderful Dads in my life (a truncated list):  Danny McNeal, Sam McNeal, Sandy McNeal, Walter Brinkley, Deione Cox, Derrick Cox, Derrick Cox, Jr., Dameon Broadus, Phillip Cox, Keith Mary, Keith Bullock, Kevin McNeil, Flint Fowler, Keith Cosby, Tom Howell, Kevin Jenkins, David Abney, Daryl Ward, & Walter Green. I love you guys!!

 

A Dad

Donna Cox for her husband of nearly 30  years

Being a father is a relatively easy task

All it takes is the passing of appropriate body fluids at the opportune time

Being a father doesn’t necessarily mean responsibility

Nor does it automatically bestow certain privileges

But being a Dad – ah, that’s an entirely different matter

Being a Dad isn’t easy

It requires everything a man has to give – and then some

A Dad sacrifices personal desires and plans so he can be available to his child

A Dad wipes runny noses, dirty behinds, and dries salty tears

A Dad plays silly games and sings goofy songs

And makes up outlandish stories – for the price of a smile

A Dad will dress in a boa and frilly hat for a tea party with his girl

A Dad will shoot bad guys, scale mountains and leap tall buildings with his boy

A Dad will take three hours doing a one-hour job so his child can ‘help’

A Dad will kneel by his child’s bed and pray while she sleeps

or gives birth to her own child

A Dad will slip $20 into his adult son’s hand before he heads out the door

A Dad doesn’t have to give birth to a child to love him or her

So his grandson can put big shoes on small feet and call him ‘Dad’

A niece can sidle up to her uncle and, in her heart, call him ‘Dad’

A Dad seeks intimate relationships with his children

He knows he can’t expect them to give what he isn’t willing to provide

So he shares his mistakes and struggles in the hope his child will share hers

A Dad can be a father with ease

BUT a father has a long road to walk before he can be a dad.

Happy Father’s Day to a Real Dad!

To My Precious West Family

Farewell to cousin, Kenneth Lee West, better known as Kim!

To my family,

It is with sorrow and hope that I write on behalf of your Dayton family. The funeral places a period at the end of Kim’s life – our Kim – cousin, brother, uncle, father, friend. Yet, that period doesn’t have to signify the end of Kim’s impact in our lives. We each have a store of memories from which to draw. Though I’ve spent the majority of my life living far from Sanford, and I didn’t really get to know the adult Kim, I thank God for the precious memories of the little boy with the ready laugh that I grew up with, the boy I played with, shared meals with, fought with – no wait, that was Mitchell (smile).  Our memories of Kim reduce the finality of the period. Yet, as precious as our memories of Kim are, his death gives us something much more important. His passing gives us an opportunity to reflect upon and re-evaluate our own lives. None of us knows how much time we have left. As it was for Kim, death doesn’t often give advance warning of its arrival. We don’t get a chance to yell ‘do over’ when we look at our yesterdays. And tomorrow is a gift we only hope to unwrap. Today, right now, is the only time we have. In this moment, as our lives are intimately touched by the passing of our precious Kim, we face our own immortality. When the period is placed at the end of our lives, when we’ve closed our eyes for the last time in this world, where will we open them? Where will we spend eternity? This is a critical question. It is my deep desire that we have a serious family reunion beyond Heaven’s gates. I want to know that every member of our family will live forever with Christ. Yet, as important as this question is, we cannot afford to neglect the here and now. Don’t be content to simply slide into heaven. Walk boldly, knowing you’ve lived a victorious life, doing the best with what you have. The God who created Kim, who formed him before (Aunt) Mae and Daddy (Uncle Robert) even met, is the same God who promises each of us an abundant life, the God who offers the blessed hope that we will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! This is Kim’s gift to us.

I love you all.
Donna McNeill Cox
Gerald, Jonathan, Jamie, Hezekiah

It’s Deeper Than That

I spent a very frustrating day going from store to store looking for one simple object. It should have been available at the first store. It was not. I was set to talk to the manager but the store had an emergency of some sort and evaluated the place. Rather than wait, I joined the throngs of folk who took the evacuation as a sign to leave. I went to three other stores and was equally frustrated; I did talk to one manager.

So, what is this simple item that I should have been able to find easily? A black baby doll!  In store after store I looked at rows of White baby dolls that jumped, crawled, cried, did nothing but look beautiful or some other baby-type antic. I saw one or two Black baby dolls but most of them were of a lighter complexion than I am. To make matters worse, I wanted a BOY baby doll. There were NO Black boy dolls.  Just what do manufacturers think African American children are supposed to play with? And why aren’t the buyers concerned that there are so few Black dolls? I talked to one of the sales people at Toys R U (surely THEY should have had Black baby dolls, right? Wrong!). She apologized profusely saying she had been similarly frustrated. The floor manager was sympathetic but unable to help me. She promised that she would ‘bring the issue up.’

My frustration is multifaceted. To be honest, there were plenty of multicolored Barbie-type dolls but I didn’t want an ADULT doll. I wanted BABY DOLLS. When my daughter was little, we didn’t allow her to play with adult dolls. Little children shouldn’t have dolls with boobs etc – my opinion! I’m not about to change my mind now about believing children ought to play with children dolls – at least until they are old enough for some meaningful conversation about the anatomy. As well, I want dolls that look like Black people. I started to say dolls that look like me but I suspect some people would argue with that since I happen to be a biracial, lighter complexioned African American who had long, wavy hair for most of my life. Actually, I DO want dolls who look like me because I represent an aspect of diversity that exists in America!

How are we supposed to teach our children to be comfortable with their Blackness if every image they see, every doll they look at has slighter dark(er) skin but the same features as the White dolls AND long straight hair? There is something very wrong if I am having the same issues in 2010 that I had 20+ years ago when I was looking for dolls for my children!  And as a parallel sidebar, every year I go into stores looking for Black angels and Santas and have the exact same problem! And every year I am forced to spend extra time looking for a manager so I can make my concerns known only to be told that they a) they had one or two,  b) they buy what sells, c) they will express my concerns to somebody or d) I should feel free to call the home office and talk to them – once again I have the onus to make change and that can get very tiring.

There is a lot I could talk about in this commentary but I’ll leave it with this major concern for now. We live in an era where everyone is talking about diversity and inclusion at every possible level. But why aren’t manufacturers, store buyers, merchants etc. on the page? Why aren’t they concerned about inclusion, gender equity, diversity?  I don’t mind my children and grandchildren having White dolls but why is that my only choice unless I go find the ‘Black’ neighborhood stores? Isn’t that a type of racial profiling?

And what about all of the darling White children who never get a chance to play with Black dolls because their parents don’t see them in the stores?  I teach at a PWI (predominantly White institution) and the case for diversity is market driven. Consistently, employers are telling PWIs they must teach their students to work and live in a global society. They must learn to live, work and play with people of all colors. PWIs struggle with not having enough Black faculty or Black students – a critical mass – to force broader conversations and experiences for all of its students.  My experiences in the stores are uncomfortably close to the ones we often experience on campuses. Where are the faces that look like our students – not just in the classrooms but in the brochures or on the websites?

I’ve gone on a bit of a tangent but I’m deeply concerned. I’m also angry and hurt. It’s not just about a toy. It’s about life, respect. It’s about children who should be able to play with age-appropriate toys that look like them – dark skin, textured hair, different shapes of noses and both genders! It makes a difference the kinds of toys our children play with. Parents of all colors should have the option of providing their children with a diversity of age-appropriate dolls with which to play – without running all over town! Otherwise, they run the risk of raising children who, like a former student – an EDUCATION MAJOR, was genuinely SHOCKED to see Black dolls in my home – even though he had recently graduated from college. It had never occurred to him that Black children might play with something other than White dolls. His shock was a failure of his neighborhood and his education! And, without bragging, he benefited greatly from marrying a young woman who was one of my best friends when she was a student and who stayed in my home and traveled with me on a regular basis.

Okay, enough for now. I’m interested in hearing from you.

What’s Your Filter?

I was listening to Marvin Sapp sing The Best In Me. I’ve loved this song since the first time I heard it:

He saw the best in me,
when everyone else around me,
could only see the worst in me

He’s mine and I’m his,
it doesn’t matter what I did.
He only sees me for who I am

And every time I listen I raise my hands in praise that my God, the creator of the universe, looked at me and saw the best! There were and continue to be so many other things God could see. Though I often pretend they don’t exist, in my unguarded moments I can see those things in myself yet to be totally surrendered to God. Yet, despite all of it, God saw and always sees, the best in me.

Today, I went through my normal ritual of praising God for looking beyond my faults when the Holy Spirit began to work. For the first time I really pondered those words and acknowledged the reason God sees my best and not my mess. God sees me through the prism of the blood of Jesus! That’s reason enough to shout. Of course, I already knew that but sometimes I take it for granted. Still, this was not what the Holy Spirit wanted me to consider.

Jesus loves us enough to cover our sinfulness so that God offers grace instead of the justice we so rightly deserve. Jesus does this knowing our every fault. He covers us despite the times we reject him or hurt him.

Today, I invite you to consider two things the Holy Spirit showed me.

1. Jesus covers us so that God sees the good in us. Jesus is to be our example of righteousness. Yet, too often we are unwilling to cover our brothers and sisters. Instead, in our words and actions, we seem to find joy in exposing their brokenness for all to see. If truth is told, we do this much more often with the people we are supposed to love the most: our children, our spouses, our parents. Friends, decide today to cover the people you love with prayer, grace, mercy.

2. God looks through Jesus Christ and sees our best! Number one will be easier to do if we begin to see people through the filter of Jesus Christ. When we look through our own pain, through our own limited understanding, through our own experiences, even through the prism of the wrong others have done to us, we will always see the worst in people. But when we view them through Jesus, we see people made in the image of God.

Marvin Sapp’s song is a wonderful reminder that, even as we celebrate the blessed privilege of knowing God sees our best, we must extend grace to others. Imagine how families would be transformed if husbands and wives made a conscious decision to see the other as God sees him or her. Imagine the confidence children would have if every adult in their lives would stop concentrating on their flaws and see them as gifts from God. We have the power to change our worlds if we simply take off our blinders and put on the filter of Jesus Christ.

What filter are you wearing?

Happy Father’s Day

This is the day we set aside to honor the Fathers in our lives. In a Godly world, we would honor the people in our lives who love us and care for us on a daily basis and I believe this is what God calls us to do.  But, as it would be, today is that one day a year that we make a special effort to bless fathers. [I recommend that you read the origin of Father’s Day at this website: http://www.ideafinder.com/guest/calendar/fathersday.htm

You may remember some of this from last year. I saw no reason to rewrite what remains true in my heart.

To ‘Daddy,’ my uncle Robert Gray West, who allowed me to stay in his home after my birth mother died and my Grandmother decided that she would raise me. Daddy allowed his home to be an open door for Mama and me as we moved in and out from the time as far back as I can remember to when we moved to Richmond before my 8th grade year.

Uncle Sandy

To Daddy-Uncle Sandy, the hero of my young life. In my eyes he was bigger than the stars and could do no wrong. He is still my hero because he stayed! My brothers, Danny, Sam & Christopher, grew up with Dad in the home because he stayed when so many others walked away from their responsibilities! He modeled a life of service to the kingdom!

DSC02105To Dad Cox, my father of nearly 29 years. Dad is a model example of a Father who prays daily for his children. Every father would do good to emulate him. Dad has the gift of encouragement and uses it without reservation! When I was ordained, Dad Cox made his way across the country even though he had been ill. He had prayed so long for my ministry that he was determined not to let this moment pass without his presence. I was humbled by his sacrifice. That’s what a Father does. I have been so blessed by Dad and I can never express my gratefulness! Thanks, Dad.

sibs

To my brothers Danny, Sam, Deione, Derrick, Phillip, and Walter, Jr., brothers who love their children and are not afraid to show it. These are Godly men who understand that loving their families start with loving God. Things have not been easy for all of them and some have struggled more than others. Yet they continue to stay the course, to seek the best for their families. Their children will know what a Godly man looks like! Thank you for staying! Thank you for seeking God as you raise your children.

IMG_2704

and of course,

To Gerald, my husband of nearly 29 years. I have a storehouse of memories of him with our children, pouring into them: reading with them, bathing them, taking them to the park, wresting on the living room floor, tossing them high in the air and catching them with a flourish, correcting them when they fell and skinned their knees while doing something goofy (Mom did the kissing). I see him kneeling beside our daughter’s bed, praying, while she lay in pain waiting for our grandson to be born. I see him standing in the driveway crying as we watched Jonathan drive the car to Hampton for the first time. I see him holding little hands as we walked down the street, holding Jamie steady while she learned to ride her bike, dressing as Santa and holding excited children on his lap. These and so many memories from the past 25+ years are treasured memories.

Even today, with adult children I see Gerald praying for them, worrying about them, and encouraging them to be all that God created them to be. Our children know what a real Dad looks like. They know what it means to have a full-time, Godly father.  Because of Gerald, our grandson will never have to wonder what it would be like to have a strong male figure in his life. He will always have, not just the memories, but the confidence that comes from the times he ‘helps’  Gerald do yard work or the times the two of them sit on the sofa doing ‘man’ stuff like watching sports and eating snacks.

You’re a prince of a Dad, Gerald and I will always wish I had had a Dad just like you!

A Day on My Road Trip: Linking The Present To The Past

Donna from years gone by. And yes! Jonathan does look like me!

May 26, 2010 was a journey into my past, visits with family and friends from a lifetime ago; pieces of my today as much as my yesterday.  The morning was spent with Robin, always a treat. Four years my senior, Robin and I none-the-less share important history and traits. Over a breakfast of eggs, grits (rice for Robin) and toast, we laughed and caught up on a million small details. After our meal we set out to visit a store that boasted all kinds of treasures, things people who enjoy home decorating, crafts and a good bargain love. Robin and I share each of these things. We returned from the store with lovely fabrics – gotten at rock-bottom prices – and collaborated ideas about how to use our goodies. I plan to cover my breakfast room chairs IF the color is a good match. I’ll also make a cushion for the bench.  I intend to use several other pieces to create a coverlet for the master bedroom. I ended up with some wonderful things (I have no idea what they were really intended to be) that are going to become covers for bolster pillows or table runners or an embroidered runner for my book table or, ….well, I’m not sure how I plan to use them but they were a tremendous bargain so I had to have them. The ideas will come later. I also ended up with a bit over a yard of another fabric that called to me. Its uses, too, will become known at the correct time. I can’t wait to see what it will be. Likewise, Robin left the store with pieces of fabric that she will also make into something else as the something reveals itself. That’s a family trait. It makes me feel good to know I share these things with someone else. For a person who often felt totally alone as a child; a woman who was in middle age before she realized the importance of embracing all of the steps of her personal journey, this feels like stability! (See Angels Encamped About Me: Provision In The Wilderness for more information).

We stopped for a few minutes to visit Ms. Betty. She is always good for a story and information about neighborhood happenings. Unfortunately, the story she had to share this time was not a good one. Childhood friend Judy, died on her 52nd birthday, January 19.  Judy had suffered for many years, having lost her sight in her 30s. I’m told that even though she was in tremendous pain, she maintained a wonderful attitude and positive presence. She and her husband worked with the youth at their church, providing encouragement, treats and the ministry moment for the children. What a legacy.

I spent a great deal of my life in this room when I was a little girl!

On the way to the next stop we took a brief detour into one of my childhood neighborhoods. I was so glad I had gotten photos before the landscape was totally changed. Still, Gerald was able to get a glimpse of what Maybe Hill had been when I lived there as a young girl of about six or seven. Then we had dinner with Bettina. She has been my friend for as long as I can remember. And though I moved away prior to my 8th grade year and we lost touch for periods, our hearts have always been joined. We share memories of growing up and intersections beyond. We have children the same age, only a month difference in their ages. We’ve both been married nearly 29 years. We have grandchildren we adore. Bettina came to Dayton for my ordination and I appreciated it. So, on this whirlwind journey, we met over a meal at Golden Corral, and yes, I overate!

The last stage of this journey was spent at the home of the matriarch, Charnetta Williams or Miss Charnetta as she has always been known to me. I drove up to find her walking slowly through her front yard, leaning on a stick and looking a bit like a sage. She has aged and thinned since I last saw her. But her mind is much more focused than it was that year  or so ago. She had forgotten I was coming but was glad to see Gerald, Hezekiah and me. Hugs all around and an invitation to come into the house were issued. We elected to stay outside; Hezekiah really needed to run and play and we weren’t sure how long we’d be there. At 82 years old, Ms. Charnetta still loves to work in her garden. She proudly showed me around, pointing at the veggies that had ‘volunteered’ to grow this year and those deliberately planted. It was a bit surreal to walk through overgrown brush (oh Lord, I’m allergic to most of this stuff, I kept thinking, and was afraid of what might be hiding in the rest). Still we walked, she leaning on her stick and often stopping to point out a plant or weed, to gather up random trash and to show me the rose bushes that seem to be everywhere. With delight, Ms. Charnetta pointed out the buds or flowers on the plants. She showed me the ones she had transplanted, the forgotten bag of seeds laying on the ground where they had been forgotten earlier in the afternoon. She chided me for not remembering what certain plants looked like. Each bush, plant, new bud, or failing plant elicited comment; statements that showed just how much she loved them.  For long moments I wasn’t merely a 52-year old woman; I was a six-year old girl who looked forward to helping Ms. Charnetta plant her garden. I remembered the joy of skipping through the rows, digging my fingers in the dirt to place a seed and the excitement of seeing the plants stick their heads out of the dirt. Being both of those people is difficult to explain. For a moment I could just imagine myself walking backward in time as we moved through this yard, overgrown in so many places but so dear to its owner.  This place gives her joy, not just the growing of the vegetables and flowers but the knowing that in a few weeks she will have food to share with those less fortunate and lovely flowers for her great-grand daughter who loves pretty things. 

Ms. Charnetta leading me on a tour of the garden

Miss Charnetta’s son and daughter-in-law Wayburn and Gracie came over and it was wonderful to see them. I tell the story in my book, Angels Encamped About Me, of ‘dating’ with Wayburn and Gracie before they were married. This was the era when people weren’t suspicious of each other and when you could allow a little girl to hang out with a young man who was not her father. I looked forward to going with Wayburn to pick Gracie up for a Sunday drive. What a different concept of dating when a five or six year old who chattered non-stop and sat in the front seat in the middle joined you!  As we stood talking in the driveway, neighbor, Miss Shirley, walked over to say hello. It was wonderful to see her, too. We laughed about the year we separately attended Woman Thou Art Loosed in Atlanta. With nearly 20,000 women in attendance and after years of not seeing each other, it was amazing that we met standing in line at the women’s toilet! We all had a great laugh when Hezekiah looked up at her and declared in a clear voice  “She’s dark. Her face is dark!” Nonplussed, Miss Shirley joined in the laughter while Gerald and I tried to slide under the nearest parked car. Leave it to children!

This has been a great trip. Having a morning talking to Robin and watching her play on the floor with Hezekiah has been nurturing. I haven’t mentioned Peggy Ann, my darling cousin who has Downs Syndrome. Peggy is the sweetest 46 year-old child-woman I know. She still collects papers and pens, none of which she really wants to share. Peg gets such joy from being in her room writing in her puzzle books, listening to music in her headset and singing in her microphone.  She is surrounded with things she loves, things that make her feel secure and happy. Well into the night I could hear Peg singing in her room. Right before she went to bed she came to my room to ask me, once again, about Jonathan. For whatever reason, Peg sees me and recalls Jonathan as a little boy. Throughout my visit she asks about him even as she hugs Hezekiah. I hope Jonathan will one day go visit her. Robin has provided a beautiful, stable home for herself and Peg.  It’s a good thing!  Throughout this wonderful day, I’ve felt grounded in a way that allows me to recall with joy and gratitude the many blessings God has bestowed on me, not just in these days but in the ones that made this one possible.  All things DO work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes!

Here’s my sweet Peggy Ann, named for my birth mother, Peggy Maggie. Who couldn’t love this beautiful face!

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