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  • Terrell Whitener

Finding Ms. Alberta

Throughout my life, I always felt very connected to my paternal grandfather. You see, my grandfather Mr. Ralph L. Howard Sr. was very much a product of his generation. In my mind, he was a very strong man, with an even stronger personality! My grandfather was the only man that I ever saw my father take a back seat to when he was present. Whenever he visited us from Detroit, Michigan where he lived, I was like a sponge. I wanted to soak up every word that he spoke and every move that he made when he was around. It was obvious to me that he adored his family and was always glad to be in our presence. His annual visit was one of the year’s most anticipated events.


Another important thing that I learned from my grandfather was the complexity of managing the loss of someone you love. You see my grandfather always mourned his divorce from my grandmother that had occurred years before. There was always a bit of wistfulness whenever he spoke of her that I always found intriguing. This wistful nature came to a head in the summer of 1973 when my grandmother passed away. I happened to be working with my grandfather that summer when her death occurred. I remember my grandfather receiving a phone call from my father informing him of her death. I remember my grandfather drinking a little more than normal that evening, but looking back, I can certainly understand that. However, we prepared to fly home for her funeral later that week. The morning we were supposed to travel home, I experienced something I will never forget. We were all packed and heading for the door with our luggage when he stopped and said these words to me, "Terry I can't do it, I can't see my baby dead!" I somehow immediately understood what he was feeling. We rode to the airport in silence where I purchased my ticket and headed home for my grandmother’s services.


I have come to fully understand the special nature that a deep and abiding love has on us as human beings. In many ways, it is timeless in nature. Though he had a very special affection for the woman in his life who I had come to know as Ms. Alberta, In many ways as I reminisce about my grandfather's relationship with Ms. Alberta, it gives me hope for the future. For you see, I am still trying to find Ms. Alberta in my life.

Will my Ms. Alberta be someone who may be widowed themselves? Will she be a self-assured career woman as my wife Robyn was? Will it be someone I already know? Or possibly I will never find my version of Ms. Alberta.


However, it works out, I am confident I will be just fine. I will continue to hammer out my thoughts in the articles I share with you and others. Or just maybe I will live in the wistful memories of days gone by. Could it possibly start with a polite smile in the aisle of the grocery store? One never knows were Ms. Alberta. The great thing my brothers is that I am confident in my knowledge of what love looks like, acts like and feels like. With that baseline of experience, if I find Ms. Alberta I will know it’s the real thing.


From the thoughts we have shared in the many posts of the Widowers Support Network, many of you have found your Ms. Alberta. To you I say congratulation! For others, it is way too soon. But for those like me, keep your eyes open, your manners on display and your faith intact. Who knows today may just be the day!

Terrell Whitener is an author, motivational speaker, and coach. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Terrell is the author of The First 365, Learning to Live After Loss. Terrell can be reached at twhitener@thedebriefgroup.net, LinkedIn @terrellwhiteneror through the Widow Support Network.

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