“Like a comet blazing ‘cross the evening sky gone too soon. Like a rainbow fading in the twinkling of an eye gone too soon. Shiny and sparkly and splendidly bright here one day gone one night, like the loss of sunlight on a cloudy afternoon gone too soon. Like a castle built upon a sandy beach gone too soon. Like a perfect flower that is just beyond your reach gone too soon. Born to amuse, to inspire, to delight here one day gone one night. Like a sunset dying with the rising of the moon gone too soon.”-Michael Jackson 

It’s something about the sudden death of Baltimore native and former NFL safety Keion Carpenter that left my mind troubled, remembering that in the blink of an eye we can be transformed. A time to remember that it’s time to put away foolish issues and petty disagreements, it’s a time to remember that life’s short and in the words of BB King, “I don’t care if  you young or old let the good times roll.”

The last time I saw Keion, he was at Colin’s Restaurant having dinner with his daughter. He called me over and said, “Ms. Val I want to introduce you to my daughter.” I can’t remember how old his daughter was but I doubt if she was ten years old. It’s what he said next that I will never forget. “Her and I go to dinner “just the two of us” because I want her to know how a man should treat a woman when on a date,” he said. We laughed and I remarked, “You are really starting early.” He responded, “It’s never too early.” They say that we know when our end is near because we move with a quickness in getting things accomplished.

I received the text on Wednesday evening saying that he had fallen while running with his son and only a few knew because they hadn’t told his daughter and didn’t want it on social media.  Immediately I thought about his relationship with his daughter and the last time I saw him and I wondered if he knew he wouldn’t be around to protect and show her how she should be treated.

The word of his fall and subsequent death hit social media in the way the death of a King or mighty warrior does. No one used his name for the first 24 hours but prayers lit up the airwaves. “Just pray” as if mentioning his name would bring reality.

“…May the service I give speak for me. When I’ve done the best I can and my friends don’t understand may the service I give speak for me. The works I’ve done, they seems so small, sometimes, they seem like, seems like nothing at all. When I stand before my God, I want to hear Him say, ‘Well done.’ May the works I’ve done, speak for me for me.”-The Consolers

What a legacy he has left his daughter and his family. What a legacy he has left his friends and the city.  He gave back to his community creating several foundations to help the fatherless children develop into adulthood. At the age of 39 Keion is “gone too soon” but his legacy will forever remain as the hometown kid who came back and gave back.

“What’s so good about goodbye? All it does is make you cry.”-The Miracles

The death of Keion during Christmas week left a sadness among his friends young and old so George Ray and I decided to have a get together at my house on Thursday and he would host a party on New Year Day to say goodbye to 2016.

“There’s no yes in yesterday and who knows what tomorrow brings or takes away. As long as I’m still in the game I want to play for laughs, for life, for love. So here’s to life and all the joy it brings. Yes, here’s to life!”-Shirley Horn

I immediately called Dante at Colin’s to see if he could prepare a simple menu for the next day. He walked in my home with mounds of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, string beans and cornbread; I ordered platters from Old World Deli. I took the leftover hambone from Christmas, fixed a pot of black-eyed peas, went down to Lexington Market, and brought pounds of Chitterlings from Angie that I season to perfection and the party was on.

They were there from age 18 to 80 and who said young people don’t eat chitterlings. I made one mistake. I tried to invite people using group text needless to say I won’t do that again. Special thanks to Mildred Harper, Doobie, Kim, Sheryl, Donnell and my son Keith for making a last minute party seem like it was planned for months. Roxy and Fred “set it off” providing cigars for the guests who joined them around the pool. New Year Day we gathered at the home of George and KB for fun drinks and more food. The menu consisted of turkey salad, salmon, pasta dishes, seafood and more. Chef Irvin prepared several specially dishes.

Happy birthday Elexis Wylie, Dwight Taylor, Donnell Moses, Dorothy “The Queen” Williams, Michaun Carney, Reggie McCray, Antoinette Ford, Camay Murphy, Deborah Ferguson, Sara Gray, Wayne Nichols, Candes Daniels, Wendell “Pete” France, Adrian Harpool, and Monte Sanders.

“Hey girl I think I want to marry you.”Bruno Mars

Jasmine Imani Hampton, daughter of Sheila Dixon and Thomas Hampton said yes to “Native New Yorker” Adrian Brooks, son of Adrienne Brooks-Bryant and Dana Blocker while on vacation in Dubai.

Get well wishes to Leah Goldsborough Hasty.

Stay tuned for the grand opening of Slate, Randallstown’s newest restaurant.

“Oh, Baltimore man, it’s hard just to live. Oh, Baltimore man, it’s hard just to live.”-Nina Simone