Auntie Livia Rest Easy, Job Well Done
My auntie and first lady Livia Atkins went on to be with the Lord on August 16. She meant to so much to so many people. Her titles go beyond wife, mother, auntie, leader and woman of Christ. With her contagious smile, she touched everyone she encountered. She was always willing to help and serve.
For the last year, she battled against breast cancer. She had both her breasts removed. On January 13, she rang the final bell at MD Anderson Cancer Center indicating the completion of her chemotherapy treatments.
“To God Be The Glory! Tonight I completed my chemotherapy treatments and rung the bell. I'm on my way to complete healing. Hallelujah!” she wrote on Facebook.
She had completed all her treatments and told me she was planning to return back to work. She was still in a lot of pain, but remained in good spirits.
When I completed packing for Abu Dhabi, I called her to double-check. I packed everything. We talked for more than two hours while I unpacked everything in my three suitcases detailing everything in every bag. Every few items, she would add a comment about what I didn’t need to bring or needed to bring more of. I appreciated her opinion and insight.
I saw my auntie one more time before I left for Abu Dhabi. An opportunity I almost passed up. I went to her house. She uploaded movies for me to watch on a flash drive for my more than 20-hour travel journey. Her house was always filled with the best movies, new and old. Even though she was in pain, she still made time to help me. She was always thinking about others and always putting others before herself.
This moment leaves me feeling disappointed, but yet honored. Disappointed because I won’t be there to wipe away my cousin Allison’s tears and celebrate her life with my family. However, I was still honored; because, I know I am where my auntie would want me to be. She surely wouldn’t advise me spending hundreds of dollars to fly home.
Even though I won’t be there in person, I pray my spirit will resonate with my family. I send my love. I ask all my friends, family and supporters, keep my family lifted in prayer.
10 Reasons I will forever love and cherish your memory
She was college educated. And most importantly, she loved Grambling State University. My auntie, my uncle and both of their children graduated from Grambling, along with a host of other relatives. That love was something she shared with me. While I originally wanted to attend Louisiana State University for undergrad, they motivated me to attend Grambling. Best decision I could have made.
2.) My Cheerleader
I could always count on her to be there to help me celebrate. Basketball Games. My First Car. Graduations. Birthdays. Baptism. Internships. You name it; she was there.
3.) A Tough Cookie
She was tough, and she didn’t mind telling you her opinion. I had to learn to accept her criticism. I had to learn to get to the truth, and take the consequences. It was all from a place of love. A place where she wanted me to be the best I could be.
4.) The Family Photographer
Writing this prompted me to search for pictures with my auntie. It was pretty hard. Not because she wasn’t there, but because she was the one always holding the camera. When I graduated from Grambling, I remember someone yelling my name. I looked in the crowd. There she was with her camera ready. Not to mention, she took some great photos.
5.) A Christian
There is only one church I can remember attending in Houston: Progressive New Hope Baptist Church. It was my uncle and auntie’s church. From the first time attending until now, it always felt like home. She loved her church family, and they loved her.
6.) A Selfless Auntie
When we moved to Houston in 2007, we didn’t have much. We only had what we could fit in our mini van of five people. But that didn’t matter; my auntie and uncle were more than helpful. They always made sure we had everything we needed. She doesn’t only treat me like that. She treats everyone with love and respect.
She could throw down. My favorites were gumbo, crawfish etouffee and peach cobbler. Let me tell you. If you were not in the kitchen when we started digging into that peach cobbler. You missed it! Her peach cobbler would disappear so quickly. Leaving whoever missed it scrapping the bottom of the pan for whatever was left. Hopefully, Allison will teach me how to cook all of my favorites.
8.) The Organizer
One thing I am going to miss is the opportunity for my auntie to help me plan my wedding and baby shower. (Not for a few more years.) She loved to take control and make things happen. She was creative, and didn’t mind making things perfect.
9.) A Survivor
She overcame something that was supposed to defeat her, but it didn’t. She beat breast cancer. A few years ago, I attended a Breast Cancer Awareness themed painting session. I painted a pink ribbon with angel wings. I hung in my apartment until I was packing for Abu Dhabi. I asked Allison to deliver it to my auntie. I didn’t know at the time the significance the canvas would hold. My breast-cancer beating auntie has her angel wings now.
Thank you for showing me the light. Becoming a woman of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was one of the best decisions of my life. Whenever I travel I can always find a Soror to show me the way. Your introduction into our great sorority was life changing. It changed the woman I wanted to become. The journey to Deltaland shapes you in ways people will never understand. You are the true representation of what a Delta woman looks like. I appreciate your service and dedication to our sisterhood.
You were everything and more! Your impact on my life can be illustrated in so many ways. By writing this letter, I understand deeply your sacrifice and impact. I pray that I too can impact the lives of the people I meet. I pray that I continue to make you proud in all my endeavors. I promise to keep Christ first and to follow my dreams. I love you!