Today, I must prepare myself to say goodbye to a very special woman. I know it will be hard, but God knew best when He called her home on Sunday morning.
When I was in college, my best friend worked at a nail salon and I would visit her when I came down for breaks. Very rarely did I get my nails done. When I visited her at work, it was mainly to catch up on life events and the such. During every visit, I would speak to one of her co-workers, a fabulous 5o-something (or so I thought) named Miss Ethel.
Miss Ethel wore long, blonde hair, extra long lashes and even longer finger nails. She was always dressed to the nines! Her clientele loved her and the men passing by the shop loved her even more. She had a way with people. She was truly unforgettable. Though our interactions in the shop were brief I admired the way she carried herself. Always walking with a sway of the hips and wearing a smile on her face.
Post-college, I relocated back to Miami and had become a member of the Pembroke Park Church of Christ. A few weeks after I was baptized, I spotted Miss Ethel at church and I had to say hello.
“Miss Ethel!” I exclaimed towards a woman dressed head to toe in straight up fabulous.
“You’re Tangie’s friend, right?” She remembered.
“Yes, ma’am. I’m a member of this congregation now.”
“You are? This is my church home!”
From then on, she became my unofficial grandmother. As God would have it, I formed a personal and business relationship with her granddaughter, Syndy, and Miss Ethel (now, Sister Richardson) was part of my life.
Sister Richardson will always hold a place in my heart. She was a lady in every sense of the word. In all the years that I’ve known her I have never seen her with a hair out of place or with face undone. She was a greeter at our congregation and people truly loved her. She had a way with words, always letting you know what was on her mind.
Some time later, she was deemed “Foxy” and that name fit like no other. As a member of the singing group at Pembroke Park, she made sure everyone looked the part. Because she always did! She was not one to dress like an “old lady”. Though modest in nature, she always wore figure-flattering, eye-catching, one-of-a-kind clothing so you knew when Foxy was in the building.
I can remember riding in the car with her to a play rehearsal last spring.
“Chanell, when you gon’ get married?”
“Um, I don’t have a boyfriend.”
“Well, I can’t tell.”
“What are you talking about Sister Richardson?”
“You can’t fool me. I see the way you and that young man carry on.”
She laughed and I sat silent.
She was an observant woman who always prayed for her children to come to Christ. She thanked God in advance of every birthday; a habit which I will adopt as well.
She had spunk. She was love. She was sassy and gave you just enough “over-the-top”-ness like no one else could.
She was The First Blonde in Miami and a TRUE Diva!!!
This past New Year’s Eve, a friend of mine visited our congregation and just upon seeing Miss Ethel, she said, “I have to meet her. Who is that?!?”
I introduced my friend to Miss Ethel and they took to one another. Sadly, I had to break the news to my friend that God had called Miss Ethel home only five short months after their meeting.
Ms. Ethel Richardson, I will miss your style, your class, the way you say it like you mean it. I will miss you. I can’t say goodbye. I’ll just say see you later.
Miss Ethel, Sister Richardson, and Forever Foxy, You are irreplaceable!