Looking at my life with a natural eye, I could easily say that November, the month of Thanksgiving, has also been a month of sorrow for me. First, there was a serious family problem that involved my great-grandson Jaylen (thank the Lord he is OK).
And as if that wasn’t enough, I got the news this month of the death of three people who were very dear to me: Congresswoman Carrie P. Meek; classmate, and life-long friend retired U.S. Army Major Lucius V. “Peanut” Reeves, and just three days ago, actor Tommy Lane.
As I grieve my losses, I remind myself that grieving is a part of life; there is a time to mourn. And that it is OK to grieve. I know that through it all, the Lord is still good, and that I still have so much to be thankful for. I have lived long enough to know that life will bring about times of sadness. But there will also be times of joy and laughter, too. Even as I mourn the loss of my friends, I smile when I think of times spent with them, when they said, or did something funny. I think of the legacy each of them left. And I smile at the memory.
While November was a month of sadness for me, it was also a month of gladness. Thanksgiving week found me spending time with my grandson Asher, in Bloomington, Indiana. That brought me great joy. I hadn’t seen Asher since the memorial service for his mom Stephanie, who died earlier this year of COVID. After the memorial service last May, his aunt Marny Clark took him to live with her and her partner Ayden, in Bloomington.
A couple of months ago, Marny called me to invite me to spend Thanksgiving with them. “If you want to come Grandma Bea,” she said, “I will send you a plane ticket.”
I said yes, and the plane ticket arrived a few days later.
Moving to Bloomington has been good for Asher, now 21. He is surrounded by love, has a job, and is doing well. Lesson learned: Out of the midst of sorrow, there is always something to be grateful for.
A soon-to-be centenarian
As I think on being thankful through sorrow, I am also reminded of Thessalonia Tinsley, who will celebrate her 100th birthday on Dec. 7. What a blessing it must be to live to be a century old! Mrs. Tinsley is the mother of a dear friend Girlean “Gigi” Tinsley. But it was her niece Susie Canty, who called me about her aunt’s birthday. I am in awe when I think of all the things she has lived through; the paths she has taken, and her faith.
Thessalonia (I love this biblical name) Tinsley was born in rural Sandersville, Georgia, to the late Oscar and Susie Anna Walker Tinsley. She is the second of seven children. She and her sister Moselle, 94, of Miami, and her brother Leroy Hayes, 89, of Valdosta, Georgia, are the surviving siblings.
According to Canty, Thessalonia met and married Napoleon Tinsley in 1942. She was 21. Both sought a better life than toiling in the cotton fields of Georgia and moved to the farmlands of Belle Glade, where they raised their four children, Norman (deceased), Girlean, Betty and Patricia.
In 1958, still in the pursuit of a better life, Tinsley and her children moved to Miami. By then, Canty said, her aunt had become a master presser and seamstress and was quickly hired at Shoreline Cleaners in Little River, where she worked until she retired. Even in retirement, she continued to work, sewing clothes for men and women.
She is a woman of faith and is a longtime member of New Covenant Presbyterian Church at the edge of Allapattah near Liberty City. Once settled in her home church, she became an activist of sorts, serving in church and community organizations. One of her favorite groups was the Jolly Twelve Civic Club, where a group of Christian women offered emotional and financial support to students in need. She was elected president of the organization in 1972.
Although she has lived through many social changes, Thessalonia still believes some things should never change: respect for others, decency, honesty, and love for God and for each other.
Age has slowed her down and she now lives with her daughter Betty Gabriel in Miami Gardens. She still has her sense of humor and she still enjoys a good chat on the phone with her sister Moselle, reminiscing about “the good old days.”
Family and friends will honor Thessalonia’s birthday at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 7, with a drive-by celebration at 17140 NW 24th Ave. in Miami Gardens.
Veterans honored at Historic Lyric Theater
While we are on the subject of blessings, let me tell you about my friend retired U. S. Army Corps Nurse Captain Agnes Rolle Morton, who was honored during the Veterans Day celebration held at the Historic Lyric Theater on Nov. 11.
Morton is a native Miamian and is a graduate of Booker T. Washington Junior/Senior High School (class of 1955) in Overtown, and Florida A&M University. She served in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps from 1961 to 1967, including a 13-month tour of duty in Korea. Upon her honorable discharge, Morton moved to California and lived there until she retired as a nurse anesthetist and came back home to live.
Morton and I practically grew up together, singing in the concert choir at B.T.W. She not only had a great alto voice but was also a brilliant student. Most of all, she was kind — and still is. Back home, she wasted no time becoming involved in community and BTW’s alumni affairs. She is well-known as a local historian.
Also honored with Morton was Thomas M. Yarosz, who received the Vietnam Veterans of America‘s prestigious National Member of the Year Award.
The Veterans Day program was coordinated and hosted by Alvin W. Roberts, who himself was the national Vietnam Veteran of the Year in 2009. They are members of Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter No. 1125.
Bea L. Hines can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.