It's never too late to say "Happy New Year.”

I really enjoyed New Year's Day.  

I prepared the traditional New Year's supper for my son and family.  After their departure, I was also excited to have a visit from additional family members.

I had not seen Mark Dickerson, my brother, in three years, and D'Andre Edison, my nephew, in months. Mark resides in Tennessee, and D'Andre is stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. The sailor graduated  from Talladega Central High School in 2016 and from boot camp in 2017.

My mother's moniker for D'Andre was “Little Boy.”  When she babysat him, she made sure bananas were in the kitchen. He would actually cry for bananas.

We laughed at how he used to love bananas, and he still does.

It is always good to be amongst food and family.

Tomorrow is no sure thing

Can you imagine being told, through a text message, that you  have minutes to live?

It was around 8 a.m. last Saturday, Jan. 13, and Ava, a friend, was sitting on her couch, talking with family in Chicago, when she was startled by a strange noise coming from her cellphone, which was next to her.  She paused her phone call with her niece and glanced at her phone.  

Low and behold, the strange noise was a text notifying residents to take cover from an inbound ballistic missile.  

Ava stated that she turned on her television, and there wasn't a warning; next, she dialed 911. The 911 operators did not answer, and neither did the operators for emergency warnings.

Ava then texted Arlanda, her friend, and Arlanda was on the highway trying to find a safe place. Actually, I found out about the alert from Arlanda's Facebook page.

The only safe place from a ballistic missile is the bunker on Diamond Head -- an island away.

The minutes were fleeing, and Ava was trying to decide whether to seek shelter in her bedroom or bathroom.

The alert had advised all residents to seek safety away from windows. So, she chose the bathroom, sat on the commode and heavily placed towels around her neck and chest.

As we laughed, she informed me that the towels were to block the possibility of shards of glass from the bathroom mirror from mainly puncturing her neck.

Thankfully, after 38 minutes of torture, the residents were informed, via television and social media, that the alert was an error.

Ava and I decided that the false alert was a message to all that tomorrow is not promised to us.

On a lighter note

While Ava and I were laughing about the towels being placed around her neck, I was reminded of a childhood incident relating to my grandma and her frequent visitor.

The old lady/visitor would visit grandma, actually my great-great-grandma, at least twice a week.  Grandma said she liked the old lady and actually enjoyed her visits before the visitor had been accused of slitting her own husband's throat.  

When I was under 10 years old, we lived with our great-great-grandmother and our grandfather. Many thought they were married and not mother and son. Grandma's husband passed before I was born, as did my grandfather's wife.

Anyway, whenever the old lady would come to visit grandma, we, the grandchildren, would stand in the doorway and stare at her until she left. We didn't know what to think or expect of her.

During the old lady's visits, grandma would sit across the room from her with two towels and both hands firmly planted around her neck.  She wanted to make it difficult for her visitor to slit her throat, too.

When the old lady left, we, the grandchildren, would stand on the porch and watch her out of sight and then place chairs behind all doors leading inside.

I still laugh at grandma and the only visitor who had to leave our house before sundown.

Back to reality

Early Tuesday, my youngest son notified me that Dot Carson, his mother in-law, passed during the night.

I still can't believe Dot is gone. She was a retired nurse and could outcook any chef. At holiday gatherings, she always prepared a huge pan of dressing and mac and cheese, a stock pot of greens, a huge ham and cakes and custards.

She loved her family, her friends, her church, was full of energy and laughter, and never met a stranger.

She often spent weekends with my son and family, and my grandsons thought the sun set and rose on her. But, with a wink of an eye, she is gone to be with the Lord.

New Year’s prayer

My New Year's prayer for the world is for kindness, peace, understanding, willingness to help those who can't help themselves, to lend a hand with stopping violence and spend quality time with our youth, that every person of age and in good health find employment and affordable health care so that we can help, along with prayer, stamp out a huge degree of sickness, homelessness, hunger, poverty and violence.

-- Maxine Beck writes about the African-American community in and around Talladega County.