This week was the passing of another birthday for me. Ten years ago my brother passed away at 63. This week, I attended a funeral/home-going celebration of the life of a friend, Brenda Marsh Mitchell. My birthday was a day to prepare a project for my youngest son and his family. I have been blessed with three sons and seven grandchildren. Thank you God, thank you God! I am proud that I have been blessed enough to have something to be a blessing to my sons and their families.
Being a blessing is something we all can be, even if it’s just being a good example. I often cite a Chinese saying to my children and grandchildren that I once read. It says, “Old folks give good examples because they can no longer set bad examples.” This week, someone asked me why old folks can no longer set bad examples. I don’t think I answered the question because it can be complicated or embarrassing. Although it can be good advice to take your cue from old folks, sometimes it’s not, because their lives may be examples of what not to do. It generally comes out at their funeral. However, the lessons at Brenda Marsh Mitchell’s funeral service were worth hearing and very good examples worth following.
For Brenda, her rhythms of life stopped but her examples will continue. Her boss of forty-five years, Danny Bakewell, told the distinguished crowd how loyal, diligent and faithful Brenda was. And she always got the job done. When he met her, she was a diamond in the rough. She developed into a powerful woman. He said that he took her hand at the hospital and told her to not stop breathing. He could not imagine life without his business partner. But this was one instruction that she was not able to obey. Her other boss, King Jesus, had another assignment for her.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters, in her tribute of Brenda said, “Brenda could always move people to action.” She ended by saying, “Don’t be too hard on them up there Brenda.”
The crowd at her services included California Attorney General, Kamala Harris; County of Los Angeles Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas; and Assemblyman Isadore Hall who sang the anthem, “I Won’t Complain”. A pictorial video of Brenda featured singer Denise Williams, who sang “Black Butterfly”. Reverend Jesse Jackson gave the eulogy. He told us of how Brenda got whatever she wanted, in her own way.
In all of her sixty-seven years of life, she was dedicated to helping others. She worked with the Brotherhood Crusade; the Los Angeles Sentinel; and was CEO of Mothers In Action, a social action organization, through which she channeled her many community activities. These activities included her Thanksgiving Day feeding for seniors, her Back to School program, a Health Fair where she provided free health screenings, census enrollment programs for undocumented people, voter registration drives, and many other programs.
I couldn’t help but think that if we all did half as much as what this lady did, instead of just talking about it, we could win many battles. She traveled the world, as evidenced by the testimonials of both Rev. Jackson and councilman and former Los Angeles police chief, Bernard Parks.
My wife and I would see Brenda at church and NNPA (National Newspaper Publishers Association) conventions across the country. I traveled with her and Danny to the Bahamas for a business meeting of the Trumpet Awards last year. She proved that she knew how to enjoy life as well as work. To put it bluntly, she was a special woman.
The rhythm of her life may have stopped, but her melody lingers on, as an example to follow.
We all will miss you, Brenda.