Today I attended the funeral service for Bruce Ellington Foote, my friend and my niece Nia’s father. Bruce was a guy who truly loved God and loved his family! It was an incredible service of love, but of course was also filled with tears of sadness. I am thrilled that I was able to attend, as I was supposed to be flying back from Connecticut this morning and was worried that I wouldn’t get back in time. But due to the Coronavirus my event was cancelled and I was able to be there for my niece and Bruce’s wife Debbie who over the years has become my friend.
I have great memories of Bruce and his siblings, but my favorite memory is one he actually wrote about in his obituary (yes he wrote his own). I had my first ever concert experience when I was a pre-teen when Bruce and my sister took me and two of his sisters Elaine and Melanie to see the Jackson Five in Baltimore. At the time, Bruce and my sister were both students at Morgan State University. Poor Bruce was surrounded by all these screaming girls and women but he was a trooper and seemed to relish watching us have the time of our lives. Today, Melanie, Elaine and I talked about that memory and it still holds a special place in all of our hearts.
My other favorite memory with Bruce and his siblings occurred in 1998 when my Grandmother Alberta was dying. When Bruce heard about my Grandmother, he and his siblings who had a singing group called Wings of Faith came to sing as my Grandmother was bedridden in the home in DC I was born in. Our entire family was around her bedside, her eyes were closed and she was said to be in a coma. But as the group sang Grandma opened her eyes and began to sing along. Do I need to tell you that everyone in the room was crying? That room was filled with love, and it didn’t matter to anyone that Bruce and my sister were no longer married. It was simply pure love in that room doing an amazing thing for my Grandma, who died the next day. I will forever be grateful to the Wings of Faith and what they did for our family.
Today at Bruce’s funeral, his siblings, cousins and nephews who now make up Wings of Faith sang their hearts out. Thirty years after Bruce created the group, their song paid a very special and loving tribute to him. The entire church was in tears and many stood and sang along with the group.
The highlight of the service for me was the eulogy given by his uncle The Reverend Irvin Beverly! His entire focus was on how much love Bruce had for God and his family and how much love was in his heart. It was one of the funniest eulogies ever as he shared lots of Bruce stories! But on the serious side, he asked us the question “what was in our hearts” and asked us to think about that question in the coming days! So much is going on in the world today, most dominant being the Coronavirus, the pandemic which is in the process of changing life as we currently know it. I left the funeral feeling inspired and filled with the love shared by all who were in attendance! I also was focused on what is in my heart.
Those of you who know me well know that I am all about love, joy and hope! I believe that dominates my heart and how I try to live every day with God’s help! What’s in your heart? If there are grudges and hate and contempt I hope you can lay that down for now and forgive some of the things you may have been carrying around for years. I pray that even in our current state of uncertainty and fear, I can share love and hope with others using what I believe is my really big heart!! Until this crisis passes, I’m going to try to make others smile and laugh just as Bruce always did. While we are off from work and school for the next couple of weeks I’m going to call the sick and shut-ins and let them know that even though they may be home alone, there are many who love and care for them. Bruce would say “Seek God first” and we can’t go wrong. That was in his heart. Let’s be like Bruce, and may he rest in peace!