Living without my Daddy at Christmas 

I try not to remember what happened Christmas Eve 2003. I tried my best over the years to not let it be the anniversary of my final conversation with my Daddy. I attempted for years to be all that symbolizes this holiday season  for the sake of my children and grandchildren. 

It wld be the final time my Daddy would be intubated and his final intelligible conversation that resulted in his last wishes for the doctor to override our feelings and he declined to be intubated. I recall he said, “Please do not put that tube down my throat, it was horrible, I wasn’t at peace.” I ran into the bathroom to hid my pain, my broken heart, my tears, but he was my Daddy and there was no hiding from him. He sent my auntie to retrieve me from my hiding space and he sat on the bed with his arms extended to embrace me. I felt like that little baby girl he would claim was on the floor the night I was allowed to stay with him in the ICU due to a nursing shortage, he needed supervision and I thought I was qualified to be my Daddy’s nurse…Wrong wrong wrong, I regret staying. 

I would spend the night watching in agony and a tiny bit of happiness as my Daddy pulled the breathing tube from him lungs and mouth, pulling off his hospital gown off along with every tube and cord from his body as he stood with his huge 6ft4in frame, delirious from the morphine and his brain being eaten away by the cancer. He was shouting at the male nurse to get his baby off the floor. I was that baby, but I was a 29yr old young mother of two and I was laying on the lounging chair with a flood of tears that made their release thru my eyes. What prevented me from all out losing it was that he somehow willed himself from his induced como to talk, get out the bed, walk and for a couple hours I had my Daddy back. 

Within those hours I decided to not believe the doctors who said he had maybe a few weeks left. I was on the phone with evey organization in the world, but the moment I told them he had stage 4 lung cancer that spread to his bones and brain, the staff I spoke to over the phone informed me that I needed to accept his doctor’s prognosis. Looking back, I was an educated nursing professional who was very much in denial, but this was my life, not my patient. It was my Daddy, my family on the end of medical chart, which I read and did not accept that my Daddy was at the end of his life.

When I went over to him after my hide and seek episode, he wiped my tears and grabbed my cheeks, turning my face to look out the window and he said, “Deatra, the sun will always shine, it shines even when its dark or raining and it will shine when I’m gone and you will be ok, because the sun will always shine.” He was intubated a couple hours later, I spent Christmas with him at the hospital, someone brought me some food that I picked over, but I was happy just to be with him. It may have been selfish, but it was just me and my Daddy and I believe his last words to me and spending one on one time with him after that horrible night in the ICU, helped me heal and move pass seeing him like that. What daughter, child no matter the age wants to see their parents undressed, discombobulated, angry and sick on their death bed, I experienced all of that and more in a minutes on Christmas Eve. As you can imagine it took me years to grieve, but today I can write and speak about how I made it to be able to not only celebrate with my family and friends, but I can finally share my last moments with my Daddy without busting out in tears. 

I no longer run and hid during the Christmas season, because of the timing of my Daddy’s death. I know he would want me to celebrate with my family and friends and be happy. I am and the sun is shining and my Daddy lives in my heart. 


A native of New Orleans, who left her beloved New Orleans to spend twenty years of living in the land of Minnesota Not So Nice. Minnesota was full of opportunities but would learn that the soul of the state and the people who made it was just as icy cold as the temperatures. After the years and my 40th birthday flew by, I decided it was time to pack up my youngest child and come back to my roots, my birthplace the city that not only birthed me but gave me life. I would not be who I am without my New Orleans beginnings. I am all things that would challenge the belief of growing up in New Orleans. I was a 16yr old teen mother of a premature baby born with a severe medical disability. And only With the help of my mother, was it possible for me to BE! I was able to endure and survive the obstacles laid before my child and me. In a city that was built by my family, but did not allow for us to reap the benefits I overcame. Charity Hospital was my second home — a building filled with miracle workers who made it possible for my daughter to have life. I have lived a life of rainy days with peeks of sunshine, that are my children, including those not of my womb. I'm the proud mother of three and a grandmother of three. My dream was to live the life of the nursery rhyme of ”The Old Lady Who lived in a shoe,” and for the most part, I did. I cared for several children over the years as a special needs foster parent. I would learn that my love was not enough for some children, but I loved them through their pain. I'm not sure if I ever had a case of true love or came close to what love looks like on television, but I had my share of men and the mirage of love. I survived two abusive marriages. Though I longed to return to New Orleans on a daily bases, I must admit my move was one of the best decisions made for me. I am a college graduate; I was a successful entrepreneur. I coowned a soul food restaurant and catering company in Minnesota for 12 years. I developed the talent of creating custom cakes after the murder of my beloved cousin Melvin Paul. He survived Katrina only to go to Minneapolis six months later to be murdered over a parking spot dispute. But with the challenge of creating a simple wedding cake, I was able to find healing. I created the House of Cakes in honor of him. Minnesota life had me pretty materialistic. I worked to the point I do not remember much, but work and handing my children love money. I thought by having the big house on the hill, a husband, having a family, the ultimate provider and being involved in all things that matter, plus having the funds to match would cure me of what I was told was a generational curse of lack of everything from money, love to even self-love. But for the most part, that life poisoned my heart and soul. I was blinded by visions fed to me by the media. I was told I wasn't anything unless I was better than the Jones's. I lived being ok with a broken, bleeding heart. Life like this did not exist in my family while living in New Orleans from what I viewed with my eyes and soul. We may not have had all the things I acquired over the years, but we were happy, we were together. Family outside of New Orleans wasn't family anymore. We lived separate lives and had awkward moments when we bumped into each other in public. I hated living in Minnesota even though life their helped me in so many ways. I felt deep down the only way to repair it was to get back to my roots, my soul, my home, myself, my New Orleans. I'm here, and I love it. Even being in the so-called Blighted Area of New Orleans and not having all the financial and material security, I'm happy. I am determined that She, yes, New Orleans is a woman is just like me; together, we will overcome and will rise from all that tried to kill our spirit. Nothing like starting from the bottom and making your way back up!. I just know in my heart that New Orleans will provide for me. There's a bank account with funds in it owed to me by way of back pay for my ancestors. And I will receive my inheritance, and I will continue the traditions and customs of the old to keep the heartbeat of New Orleans beating. I'm down in the boot, living the life that feels right to me awaiting my destiny...

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