Cherish The Day

 It’s been a long time. So much has happened and been happening in my life. I was all geared up to come back to blogging with a vengeance last week and update you all with all my exciting news, career moves and so on and so forth when I got word that my beloved Grandmom had passed away. Obviously, my completing any sort of blog post became the furthest thing from my mind. The world is such a strange place. Just yesterday, I placed a rose on my Grandmother’s casket and held my mother up as we watched her be lowered into the ground, and today I’m thousands of miles away, on stage singing and dancing in front of an audience who are all expecting me to deliver their moneys worth.

I’m holding it together but I want to scream, kick and cry. My costume feels like it’s suffocating me, the lights are hot and blinding, and the music is so labored and lifeless. I just want to go home and be with my mother.I just want to take care of her and ease any pain I can. I had to leave her the very day her mother was buried. I regret that already. But career, contracts and responsibilities all have a way of forcing life to go on. I guess I should just be glad they released me long enough to get to the funeral. 

But more importantly, I want to share with you all some things about my Grandmother and her life, some of which I knew and some of which I recently learned. My Grandmother, Janet Lee Raitano was not a fancy woman. She didn’t travel the world, she didn’t like fine jewelry, and she didn’t have a lot of money. She was 16 years old when she got married and completed her schooling up to the 7th grade. She lived in a small home with her two cats, Pumpkin and Midnight. She loved any kind of trivia or card game especially poker and would take even the kids’ money. She loved old movies and anything and everything that had to do with Elizabeth Taylor.  And she welcomed everyone into her angel figurine filled home, with a smile, hug and kiss, warm meal and a delicious dessert.  She never seemed to worry or stress or at least she didn’t let her grand children know about it. She had a very easy way of being about her. In fact, it was summed up in the opening sentence of her instructions in the case of her death, “Once I die, wait two days before doing anything so you kids can get your shit together”.

She gave birth to, nurtured and raised 9 children… 6 girls and 3 boys… who then gave her 17 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren with one on the way. Her husband, my Grandfather died when she was only 46 years old. At that time she still had 2 children in middle school, 1 child in high school and 2 children in college. She was a strong yet warm women.  A woman who would stop at nothing to keep her family tight knit and together. Till the day she died she was center of every family function for all 31 of us- every birthday, christening, communion, wedding, holiday (even valentine’s day) and baby shower, graduation, dance recital, play and summer picnic. Her entire life was dedicated to her family.

It would be impossible to count the number of tears she wiped, scrapes she cleaned, bruises she kissed, hearts she healed, babies she rocked, teeth she pulled, minds she comforted and memories she gave.

She would always ask me to sing and for whatever reason I never would. I regret that now. I should have sung for her every day. I should have called her more. I should have realized earlier how short life is, so that we could have had more moments. Lesson learned. But at the very least, I recorded some music earlier this month and I sent her some of the songs. From what my family tells me listened to them quite often. Her last words to me were in a Facebook message where she wrote:

She passed 12 days later.

Cherish the day y’all. With the heaviest of hearts-

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14 thoughts on “Cherish The Day

  1. “Once I die, wait two days before doing anything so you kids can get your shit together”….Words only a Grandmother could say. God Bless & keep your family.

  2. May the love of family and friends embrace you during this time. All of the things you shared about her speak to a life well lived, and one that has enriched the lives of so many others. If all is as it should be, a mother is our first and best example of love. May your mother’s sorrow be softened with the blessing of being born into the world of this wonderful woman.

    You and Shani are giving us these soul searchers lately….hadn’t even gotten my coat off yet and I’m in tears…..

  3. Antoinette,what a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. I’m so sorry for your loss. You and your family are in my prayers and my thoughts. Hugs xoxo


  4. Sending your way love, light, and warmth. I am sure your mother understands. Smile to the life she had, a life full of love. May she Rest In Peace

  5. Antoinette, I’m sorry you can’t be with your mother during this time of sorrow and I hope your mother is also reading this blog post to know that there are people here who wish her daughter all the best the world has to offer. This sadness and pain will not go away but it WILL help you strive to be the talented songstress your grandmother knew you would one day become. I wish you and your mother peace during this painful time and I thank you for allowing us to listen to your sorrow so we can hopefully lift you up.

  6. Antoinette, this is truly a wonderful tribute to a woman who obviously meant so much to so many. I’m happy she got to hear your singing before she passed and that she was able to let you know how much she appreciated it. Know that she will always be alive in your hearts. You and your family are in my thoughts. Thank you for sharing this.

  7. Thanks for sharing this personal story with us. I know it’s tough to lose a loved one. What a wonderful grandmother you were blessed with. She’s smiling down on her family now.

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