You A’da Know…It’s My Re-Birth Day!

A year ago today I almost left this life. Literally. My organs were shutting down, I didn’t have enough blood in my body to sustain life. After numerous communications  from my brother and multiple medical professionals, my mother in Oakland, California received a call at 3:00 a.m. from an ER doctor telling her that she needed to get to Los Angeles immediately, but he could not say that I would still be alive by the time she arrived.

Plot twist. This was during the time when all of the Boeing 737 airplanes were grounded due to electrical errors so there were absolutely no flights to be booked unless tickets had already been in the system on a flight that was delayed or canceled.

Let’s rewind… The afternoon of March 13, 2019, I had met a friend for lunch. While we were in line at a popular restaurant to order, I started feeling lightheaded. I told my friend I needed to sit down and headed to an open table. Before I knew it, I was hitting the ground, my head having banged quite soundly on the hard tile ground while I was in full collapse.

Immediately, a crowd of people were around me asking if I was okay and coming to my aid, the most concerned of which was my dear friend. I was helped to a table, with many kind faces doing their best to assist me. 9-1-1 was called as a stranger with a phone to his ear earnestly asked me what day it was and who was the president of the United States. “Don’t remind me,” I believe I murmured.

To be honest, in that moment, what I was feeling most was embarrassment. The group of wonderful strangers who were actively trying to assess and help my situation wanted to call an ambulance. I refused. I just wanted the attention off of me and my (to my thinking at that moment) fluke of a mishap. I feigned that I was okay, when I really was not.

It’s moments like these that you realize that there are more good, kind, honest, genuine and loving people in this world than not.

The Head of Security (HOS) had been called and I repeated that I was fine. By that time, the restaurant manager, who was deeply involved and attentive, had offered me and my friend free lunch. Most of the busyness around me had settled and I was doing a good job of faking that I was okay and out of crisis. Spoiler alert…I was not.

The HOS wrote down his number and insisted that I call him when I was ready to leave so he could escort me to my car. I promised I would mainly to get him to leave.

I conned my way through “lunch” (which consisted of me pushing food around my plate) with a throbbing head from the hard bang during my fall. Had I been a cartoon character the stars would have been circling above my head.

Although my friend wanted to stay with me to make sure I got to my car, I insisted she go back to work, knowing it was her last week at her job at CAA. She was moving on to bigger and better things! I swore I would call the HOS to help me and she reluctantly gave in and left.

I did call the HOS. He came back to get me and walk me to my car. He gathered my things for me and all I literally had to do was walk. However, as we were going out the door with me just two steps behind him I felt myself falling again and seconds later I was on the concrete ground face down blood streaming from my busted lip.

This was the moment that I really got scared. I did not know what was going on with me. Why couldn’t I even walk a few feet?! I was fine when I got there! What. Was. Going. On??!!! I felt like a failure at the very basics of life.

Through a series of events that included:

1) The HOS somehow getting me to my car where I refused an ambulance again and said I’d rest in my car until I felt strong enough to drive;

2) Calling my mom panicked and still being stubborn and hard-headed until she basically said, “Girl, get the ambulance!!!” (I must note here that those of you who knew my dad know that particular term was in addition to being a beloved nickname of endearment, also — with a shift of tone — what he would call me when he was exasperated with me, though those times were rare);

3) Calling back the HOS to tell him that I WOULD like the ambulance as I was increasingly getting weaker and weaker. I simultaneously was receiving a voicemail from my manager about an audition for the next day;

4) Begging my mom to call my manager to let her know I had received the message about the audition, but at the same time let her know what was going on because…what’s an actress to do?

5) Two ambulances, including a horrific initial ambulance experience with the LAFD paramedics team, and two hospitals because my primary hospital didn’t have any beds available initially and I had to be taken somewhere else first to be triaged and have my immediate crisis managed;

6) In the wee hours of the next morning, finally being transported by another ambulance to my primary hospital…

…There I was in the second Emergency Room literally hovering between life and death.

Because of the grounded airplanes my oldest brother had to drive my mom down to get to me, but she was on speed dial with my brother down here and the ER team throughout the night sharing crucial information and frantically receiving updates as she was trying her best to get to my side.

When I woke up later that morning much of what had happened the night before was a blur after I was put in the first ambulance. However, I do remember waking up in the first hospital and my older brother being there advocating for me and my needs nonstop like a confident, no-nonsense boss in those uncertain moments.

But in my mind I was feeling fine. So, OF COURSE, the first thing I did was find my phone and email my manager to tell her I woke up much better and was sure I would be released in time to make my “STATION 19” audition.

Cue the next phone call from my mom where she informs me, “GIRL, you are in the ICU!!! You aren’t making any audition today!” (Again, copy the note above regarding my dad’s usage of the term.) I reluctantly emailed my manager back to say, “On second thought…”

Also, during that phone call my mom would tell me how fervently everyone had been praying for me. She told me that she, in addition to praying incessantly, had been in conversation with my dad on the other side. That, in fact, she was fussing and telling him, “Don’t you take our daughter! We will all be together again one day, but don’t you take our daughter now!!”

She then chuckled and said to me that she guessed my dad was up in Heaven saying, “This woman just won’t leave me alone!” That made me laugh so hard and for so long that it was the moment that she really knew I was going to be okay.

A year later this all still feels a bit unreal and surreal to me. But it is events such as this one that remind you of the blessings you have and the people who REALLY love you and have your back…as well as those who say they do, but don’t.

I’m so grateful for the people in my life who got me through this terrifying and unsettling time.

In this ordeal, which turned out to be Septic Shock, I did not have a death experience, at least that I recall. I wish I had. I would have loved to have seen my departed dad and precious family and friends again. But I am glad that I get to continue this life experience and am thankful for those special people who make it such an incredible journey.

From now on I will view March 14 as my Re-Birth Day. It also happens to be my Godson’s birthday who is one of my biggest blessings. Most importantly, this is a day to be thankful and celebrate life because we never know when it may suddenly slip away.

The board from my hospital room on the day I was released after 3 days in ICU and 3 days in the regular hospital ward.

You A’da Know…It’s My Dad’s Birthday

This is one of those mornings that I wish I could get a hall pass to slip into heaven to give my dad a big hug and kiss. We’d go bowling, talk and laugh over dinner and then dance the night away to his Motown faves.

Who am I kidding, though? If I had that option I would abuse the privilege and spend all the time I could with my loved ones that are so very missed. Jesus would see me and say, “You’re here AGAIN?!”

I know in my heart that Leonard Woolfolk still feels my love and all of the hugs and kisses that I wish I could give him. And I feel his too. Happy Birthday, Dad!

With love eternal from your Girl. ❤️

You A’da Know…You MUST Vote!

If your vote weren’t so powerful why would they try to suppress it?

If your voice was not so important why would they try to silence it?

So much is at stake so please do not let your voice be stifled. If you don’t vote you have no right to complain.

Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Democrats Abroad, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia let your voices be heard today.

MAKE SURE TO GET OUT AND VOTE!!!

#supertuesday2020

#VOTE

#vote2020

 

You A’da Know…Eliza!

Eliza!

My grandmother Elizabeth Goodwin Jamerson Jones Jamerson. How incredibly blessed I am to have her blood flowing through my veins.

That beauty? That strength? That independence? That power? That fire? That fight? That spice? That persistence? I get it from my mama who got it from her mama!

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Grandma! You are eternally loved and forever missed. 🌹

I am working hard to bring her incredible life story to the screen. Hopefully one day soon you too will love Eliza as much as I do!

#Eliza #BayArea #SanFrancisco #Louisiana #BlackGirlMagic #BlackWomanMagic #Grandmother #Granddaughter #ActressLife #WriterLife

You A’da Know What Love Is…

When my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, my mom did what she does best. She circled around him and lovingly became his staunchest advocate; she became even more powerfully the backbone of our family; and she rolled up her sleeves and got to work. That work locally with our branch of the Alzheimer’s Association led to her being asked to serve on a federal council. At the time she was nominated to the NAPA Advisory Council, my dad alerted her of his knowing and approving of her accepting that great honor.

For two terms, totaling six years, my mom would travel quarterly to Washington DC to attend meetings and work towards changing the trajectory of Alzheimer’s disease while giving other families hope who deal with this devastating diagnosis in the future.

Late this July, just one week after burying her cherished sister, my mom returned to Washington DC to attend her final meeting after terming out. She has been an important voice on the national stage and, as always, we are extremely proud of her.

These were her closing remarks to her colleagues. It is worth a listen. On this day of celebrating the love that my parents shared (this would have been their 51st wedding anniversary), I can’t think of a better way to demonstrate how deep that love flows.

Congratulations, Mom! You are my shero, my angel, and my ultimate role model.</p>

#ENDALZ

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You A’da Celebrate Friends!

I believe that in this life you are nothing without your community. So, when your friends do amazing things you need to cheer them on.

Today I celebrate my friend, Jeremy D. Howard, who debuts tonight as a cast member of the brand new MADtv revival television series on the CW!

Jeremy has a blessed and beautiful story that I will be bringing to you real soon here on You A’da Know. We had a blast chatting, if you can’t tell from the snaps I took of my computer while playing back footage of our interview.

Be sure to watch Jeremy, and the rest of the amazing cast, tonight and every Tuesday night, on the CW at 9:00pm EST/PST, 8:00pm Central, or check your local listings.

Congratulations, Jeremy D. Howard!

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Shaking Up The World 

 

 

Watching Muhammad Ali’s funeral procession last Friday was quite a remarkable and beautiful experience. All along the 23 mile route, there were thousands upon thousands of people lined up cheering, crying, mourning, chanting, throwing flowers, touching and kissing the hearse. Thousands, wanting their own moment to honor, thank, offer expressions of love and say goodbye. Poignant images, first a young man, and later on a little boy, ran alongside the hearse. Each in an Ali training stance next to the slow moving vehicle. Another was the shower of flowers being thrown. So many that the driver had to turn on the windshield wipers multiple times to regain visibility.

The greater beauty of this moment was the diversity of people who participated and shared in this ritual. People of all colors, races, religions and walks of life gathered in one accord to honor a man who touched their lives. A black man, a man of Muslim faith. A man who literally shook up the world and made it better. There was no fear, no hatred, no venom or vitriol, no divisiveness or ugliness lining those streets; just an energy of love and peace. This is the America that I grew up in and the America I want to see again.

The election season has kicked up a negative and hateful spirit, creating a scary time in this country. It seems we are at a tug of war for our values and what we as a people will stand for moving ahead. After seemingly taking steps forward in the election of our 44th President, there are some who would prefer to take us back to an uglier time in America. A time that many of our greatest voices stood against and fought with all they had to shake up America and the world to make the culture change. Some sacrificed their lives to do so, but America became greater because of it. Like Ali when he would take to the ring to fight his toughest and meanest opponents, we are in a serious battle for the very nature of who we are as a people. It’s time for this generation to come out fighting and, like Ali and other strong leaders in trying circumstances when up against the ropes, shake up the world. And make no mistake, the world is watching.

Ali extended his great legacy through what he accomplished outside of the ring once he hung up his gloves. A once controversial figure for standing up for his convictions, Ali became a symbol of inclusion, peace and love throughout the world. At home in America, he became a hero. A legend. An icon elevated even more by the grace and dignity with which he fought Parkinson’s disease for the last 30 years. He truly was The Greatest. And he is a product of America, who in spite of some ugly and shameful bruises in our history is great.

Seeing such a diverse group of Americans come together in such a seemingly disheartening time gave me hope. This is the America I grew up in and the America we need to fight tooth and nail to preserve. Not one person can be absent, or apathetic in this election cycle.

Muhammad Ali’s interfaith service was representative of his inclusive, peaceful and loving nature. There were many beautiful statements and remembrances to encapsulate the life of such a special man. Billy Crystal’s statement was markedly appropriate for such a time as this.

“Ali forced us to take a look at ourselves, this brash young man who thrilled us, angered us, confused and challenged us, ultimately became a silent messenger of peace, who taught us that life is best when you build bridges between people, not walls.” Billy Crystal at Muhammad Ali’s funeral service on June 10, 2016

You A’da know I am for tearing down the walls that continue to try to divide us. We certainly don’t need to build any more. Instead it is time to continue building bridges. Only then can we finally achieve our greatest good.

Where are my world shakers?

 

 

When The Greatest Loses The Fight …

My heart is really with Laila Ali, her siblings and the entire Ali family this morning.

I know all too well what it feels like to see your daddy who had always been your hero and a symbol and figure of strength for your entire life fall victim to a horrible illness that ultimately makes his body betray him and the image of that physical strength.

To see your dad deteriorate over the years is a horrible thing, but to see the fight that he musters to come against the illness that is doing everything to overcome him and in that to see your father fight it with dignity, beauty and strength of character makes him even more heroic ultimately.

Even under those circumstances, maybe especially so, to lose your father totally takes the wind out of you, makes you lose your footing, catches you completely off guard and grounds you to the mat. I guess that is very much what a knockout feels like in the boxing ring, only you never recover from it.

Whenever I hear of someone that I know my dad admired or loved passing on, I wonder what my dad says when he sees them walking through the Pearly Gates. This morning I imagine my dad seeing Muhammad Ali walk in and I know he got that twinkle in his eye, made that special grin, chuckled and walked up to the Champ and welcomed him home.

Rest in power, Muhammad Ali. Strength and love to the Ali family.

I miss my dad, my Champ and Greatest of All Time, so much. Continue to rest in power, Dad.

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The Diluting of the Birthday Wish…

I used to be the birthday queen! I can remember people’s birthdays like it is a superpower. To this day I remember a couple of ex-boyfriends’ birthdays that I wish I could forget, believe me.

prince-side-eye

I would always make a visit to drop off a gift, send a card, or make a call, drop an email, or sometimes a text. It was significant and it made the birthday person feel special, important, and cherished. People frequently wondered how I could always remember. I don’t know, I just do.

Then, Facebook came along and the art of the birthday wish became cheapened, base and anti-climactic. Anybody and everybody could now remember a birthday because they had a cheat sheet courtesy of Mark Zuckerberg. Gee, thanks.

That special crown I imagined on my head as the undisputed royal birthday wisher became as common as the paper one that you could get from Burger King with the purchase of a kids meal.

More recently I’ve taken on a new persona – The Birthday Grinch. Don’t get me wrong, I still remember birthdays. Within a week of the actual day, the designated person and their birthday will come to my mind. However, I find myself slacking more and more in making the effort to get online, go to the appointed page and type in the words. It’s become too much of a chore. As a result, I’m not as diligent on the empty, drab, obligatory “Happy Birthday” anymore. Sometimes I do it, but more often these days I’m likely to skip it.

That’s not right. I know that I need to dig deep down, break this new bad habit and find the birthday magic that I always loved to spread around to those I love. It’s time to  begin to renew that personal birthday connection that always brought so much joy to those who were on the receiving end of it.

Oh, and to the ones whose birthdays I’ve missed in my new rebellious phase let me take the opportunity to say:

Happy Birthday, (insert your name here)!!! Wishing you a (insert meaningless platitude here)!”

I’m sure you will eventually weed through the overindulgent birthday posts from the multitudes of people you don’t even know to get to my genuine greeting. A greeting from someone who you mean something to and who actually knows you. I’ll be looking forward to your general thank you to everyone who took the time to remember you. Most whom only did so after the notification popped up on their screen.

But, hey, you got three hundred birthday messages on your page! Love you…mean it!!