Dallas Stewart (1943 - 2019)

My beautiful Aunt D.🕊 --
[Portions of this may appear in the Philadelphia Inquirer.]

Philadelphia (Philly) is a rough, not-all-the-time-pleasant place; perhaps living up to its sideswipe as the 'roughest city in America'. Interestingly, I spent an extended stay in the city for a nice portion of last year doing research for my opera, Easter, among other pursuits. I learned that the City of Brotherly Love has plenty to offer, if you're willing to look for it and keep an open mind.

Personally, my family has quite the reputation (good or bad) within the borders of that zipcode, and it's always interesting returning to Philly to hear people from different walks of life speak about my relatives and what they did in yesteryear (however exaggerated). I now know reputation certainly precedes a person, and that it's therefore wiser to get to know someone face-to-face before passing judgment. In fact, that's the only way to avoid a comedy of errors when dealing with other people. Anyhoot, within my own kin (not unlike yours, perhaps), there has been that one extraordinary individual who kept all of us from flying off the rails, and that is my Aunt Dallas. She's a caretaker in the greatest sense of the word; the matriarch who provided everybody (on her good side😇) with the intangibles of unconditional love, attention, insight/foresight, and sensibility that even the toughest/hardheaded😏💀 s.o.b.'s need(ed) to make it to their destination.

When I came home from the hospital🏥 after birth, it was Aunt D who was my first surrogate, placing my infant self in a basket (like Moses), feeding me, bathing me in the kitchen sink, and so forth. She even had a hand in naming me (as she did with just about everybody else in my family's generation). In fact, I'm hard-pressed thinking of a point in my timeline when Aunt D didn't contribute in some way to my development as a man. She was always available, reliable, and the best cook🍱🥗 (seriously!, that's also part of my family's lore).

Growing older has shown me that life is a miracle in itself, and that the so-called 'past' is nothing more than a string of memories as its own abstraction. It's also shown me that I have no interest in being old, per se, unless I have my health and something to look forward to concretely. Furthermore, Life has taught me that you can't really leave this world until you do what you are supposed to do, and not a moment sooner. Believe what you may, but, doing right by others is the best thing you can do for yourself. This was one of the few unspoken lessons I learned from my Aunt D. She would let people make their mistakes, rarely engaging in a directive (as she put it, "I don't tell people what to do; I just let people do what they are going to do.") knowing that you'll always end up where you are supposed to whether you're happy with the outcome or not.

It's not up to me, but if it were, my angelic Aunt D has definitely earned her wings👼🏾. God bless. Rest in peace, we release you and will take it from here.🎄

I love💚 you.
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