The Reverend Clementa Pinckney
I comment today because my heart is broken because of the tragedy at Mother Emmanuel AME.
I grew up in Emmanuel and it’s been a part of my family for generations. I’m so sad for the victims, their families, my Emmanuel family and my family in Charleston.
They are torn up and they all have some connection to the people that were killed. Although I’m on the other side of the country and can’t be there during this tragic time, my heart and soul is in Charleston.
Also, I want to share my story and brief moments with Rev Pinckney and Rev Simmons. I thought people should know how these two kind and thoughtful men helped me during a sorrow time of my life.
My mother passed away and her funeral was held at Emmanuel AME on June 1st. Before she passed, my mother was in & out of the hospital since March. When she first went into the hospital she was diagnosed with kidney failure. At that time the doctors wanted me to decide to either put my mother on dialysis or to place her in hospice. I wasn’t ready and couldn’t make that decision for her …..
Knowing my mother’s health had gotten worst, I became scared, upset and heartbroken. I didn’t know what to do. The next morning, I woke up thinking I should call my mother’s church and speak with the pastor; he would be able to help me.
I don’t know why I had that thought, but something in me said to call. I haven’t communicated with Emmanuel since I left Charleston over thirty years ago.
When I called that morning, I reached the church secretary. I told her that I needed to speak with the pastor about my mother who was a long time member and I gave her little background of why I was calling. She said she knew my mother and she was going to contact the pastor as soon as possible.
…. my phone rang and it was Rev Pinckney. He greeted me with his strong voice and said he was so sorry to hear about my mother. He had just visited her at the hospital the week before. He said that they had a good time talking and she made him laugh. He also went on to say that he understood my dilemma and asked was I ready to make the decision, did I talked to the doctors and family members?
I told him, I had not made a decision and yes I spoke to my family, but they left it up to me. I cried and told him I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t want to let my mother die, but I also didn’t want her to be in pain or suffer.
He told me it’s going to be alright and he prayed with me. He said overall, he couldn’t tell me what to do, it’s up to me and the family, but he would be there for me anytime day or night.
My family and I eventually decided that we couldn’t let my mother suffer any longer so we put her in hospice. When I arrived in Charleston I called Rev Pickney and told him we made a decision and it would be a matter of time. Again, he prayed with me and asked if I needed anything.
A week later she passed.
Rev Pinckney called me and told me Rev Simmons will be contacting me about the service. I met with Rev Simmons at Emmanuel. He greeted me with open arms and told me that he was there for me.
While planning the service, Rev Simmons knew I was too distraught, so he guided me through the process. There were a few times I called Rev Simmons for some reason or another and without hesitation; he took the time to talk.
Last week I received a voicemail from Rev. Simmons checking up on me. I called him back and we talked briefly. He asked will I be coming back to Charleston and I told him not anytime soon, but I was so grateful for his help and thanked him for everything.
The Saturday before my mother’s funeral we met with Rev Pinckney. It was a very busy day for him, he had a wedding to officiate and family events to attend, but he texted me to let me know he would be running late but would come to the church and he’ll meet with my cousin and I shortly.
We waited for only a few minutes. When we finally met face to face, he greeted us with a big smile and hug. He told me it was great to finally meet me and again asked if I needed anything.
We prayed and talked for a while about our decision, his eulogy and my mother.
While in his office, I noticed he had a picture of Rev Pinckney and Vice President Biden, I smiled to myself and realized we had a lot in common. I didn’t ask him about the picture because it wasn’t the place or time, but I assured myself that mom’s eulogy would be in good hands and it was.
He gave a beautiful eulogy and after the services, he greeted the family and I gave him a big hug and thanked him for everything. After the burial, although he was very busy, he stayed, chatted and laughed with us at the repass and that was the last time I saw him.
I will never forget Rev Pinckney and Rev Simmons.
They helped me get through a very difficult time in my life and I deeply appreciate it.
I know it is part of their jobs to be there for families when a church member passes away, but I didn’t perceive it that way.
The time they took with me and my family was genuine, sincere, generous and thoughtful.
God bless them!
Annie Simmons, wife of 24 years of Daniel Simmons Sr., holds a photo of her husband at her home in North Charleston
Endless thanks to TOD ‘lurker’ Gretty for sharing this with us today, the kindness of Rev Pinckney and Rev Simmons shone through in her words.
May they and all the Charleston victims rest in peace.
And may Gretty’s mother rest in peace too.