August 15, the day after my mother's birthday, my family faced the transition of my eldest brother, Joel Rice Jr., aptly called "Bubba" by most of the family. Bubba was a husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and friend to many. Those that knew him knew he was a no-nonsense man who had no problem speaking his mind. Bubba was an avid fisherman who loved being on the water. Today, I celebrated my 53rd birthday; however, this one was different. Since Mama's passing, usually the first one to wish me a happy birthday was Bubba. Today, that call never came. As I reflect on the many blessings and the gratefulness for seeing another year, I reminisce about Bubba, I remember one time he hadn't been feeling well so I called to check on him. When he answered the phone, I was immediately stricken by his tone. His voice was faint and weak. Instantly, I tensed and immediately thought the worse, that his health had taken a downturn. To the contrary, Bubba explained this was the best he'd felt in a long while and that he was taking advantage by going fishing. When I inquired about his tone when answering the phone, he informed me, "I'm whispering because I don't want to scare the fish". We laughed heartily at his response and for a time I felt him as his old self. Today, the laughter is gone; yet, the memories live on with me.
Blessed to see a new year (I recognize my birthday as the start of a New Year) there have been highs and lows over the past year; however, I'm open to the limitless possibilities of 2017-2018. I will love with the expectancy of return. I will model the behavior of how I desire others to treat me. I will take care of myself physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I will speak without the need for pomp and circumstance and exercise shut mouth grace when prudently necessary.
Now, there remains six siblings: Edna, Jacob, Debra, Donna, Danny, and yours truly. Today, my prayer is that each of my siblings lives his/her life to the fullest. I love them with my full heart and pray peace, love, and an abundance of blessings over each one of them. Happy New Year!