Terry Allen, CEO 1016 Media, Columnist for Texas Metro News
My Grandmother, Lucille “Big Mama” Allen said many things to her children throughout our lifetime on her journey to heaven.
This particular statement, “My feet are paid for, just walk your walk for God and me: was uttered as she lay in a hospital bed and I had just arrived at her medical bedside via a plane flight from NYC to Dallas.
I was New York living in Westchester County and I spoke with Big Mama frequently. I mostly dialed her number making homesick calls disguised as “Big Mama give that recipe again” calls.
This time, I had gotten a call from my brother, the Bishop, the day before. He said, “Can you come home because Big Mama is in the hospital and this may be her last days?”
As we celebrate Black History Month, I tell this story. I remember Big Mama’s religious upbringing and what feet meant to her.
She would tell us that in the Bible, the mention of feet is a symbol for the traveling and effort required in bringing the Good News to others. Proverbs 4:26 Watch the path of your feet. And all your ways will be established.
I arrived at the hospital and one of my sisters said she had not been awake since she got there. She said she did not like the current doctor.
I began to observe the Doctor’s bedside behavior and agreed with her! So much went on those seven days in the hospital room.
During the week I was there, we all took turns talking to Big Mama. One night after my Aunt Mary and Uncle Charles came by I went to Big Mama’s side to rub her feet. I am not sure why because that is what my brother always did.
As I rubbed her feet her eyes opened and she said,” Baby don’t worry about them feet they are paid for, but you got to handle this for me.” And she went back into her coma.
Big Mama just told me I had to act but had no idea what. I was shaken! I called my sis in Houston. She was on her way. I called a “community aunt” and she arrived with 5-6 other “aunts.”
I then observed those ‘Aunts” gathering around her bed. They begin a 30-minute Bible toting “ring shout.” The entire hospital floor heard the wails, the moans and the chants. Nurses stopped working. Doctors stood by the door.
Then all of sudden, “Big Mama” woke up! She smiled! Five hours later, upon her demand, we took her home. She lived for a decade longer! Big Mama’s illness gave us a lesson in our African history and insights to our powerful cultural faith heritage.
The ring shout, rooted in the ritual dances of West Africa and forged by the Atlantic slave trade, is believed to be the oldest surviving African American performance tradition of any kind. I learned how to walk for God and Big Mama that day.
Acts 3:7 And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened
Terry Allen is an award-winning media professional, journalist and entrepreneur.