Is This Time Forever?

Is This Time Forever?

by Udine C. Fontenot-Powell


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781491860816
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 03/31/2014
Pages: 438
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.97(d)

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Is This Time Forever?

By Udine C Fontenot-Powell

AuthorHouse LLC

Copyright © 2014 Udine C Fontenot-Powell
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4918-6081-6


During the fall of 8th grade, my grandmother passed away. She was my buddy. Affectionately known as "Bigmama", she was the rock of our family and I loved her to pieces. I spent every weekend, holiday and summer at her house. My parents used to bribe me to come home. They even went so far as to say that some other girl was sleeping in my bed and playing with my dolls. I went home long enough to be sure no one was messing with my stuff. Once I found out they were just pulling my leg, I made certain that they returned me to my Bigmama the very next day.

I enjoyed spending time with her. We watched soap operas and her favorite game shows—"The Price is Right" and Monty Hall's "Let's Make a Deal"—everyday before my Bigdaddy came home from work. While she cooked dinner, I sat on the porch waiting for him to arrive. When he pulled up in the driveway, I waited until he parked and turned off the engine of his yellow Dodge Station Wagon. As soon as he stopped, I ran over and helped him eat the remainder of his lunch that Bigmama prepared for him—either a liver's worth sandwich, green apple, peanuts or Lifesavers candy. Those were my most precious moments with him. Bigmama had to yell at us to come in for dinner. Bigdaddy always took his time coming into the house. He had to write down the mileage of his car and calculate how many miles to the gallon he had driven that day. I never understood why he had to do that everyday, but he loved to brag about cars that got really good gas mileage.

Bigmama suffered from cancer for years without telling the family. We all knew that she had high blood pressure, arthritis, and gout, but didn't realize her battle with cancer until it was too late. It became a common practice that when she got sick, she had to be admitted into the hospital for a while. Bigmama was a petite lady but when she retained too much fluid, her body would fill out a moo-moo lounge dress until it was bursting at the seams. It's not funny, but she reminded me of Violet Beauregard who turned into a juicy blueberry in the movie, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. After a few days in the hospital, she was back to normal. It's like they deflated her. That always amazed me. Later, I acquired a better understanding that when she consumed too much sodium, she retained lots of fluid due to the complications with high blood pressure.

As I got older, I often wondered what kinds of trials and tribulations she encountered in her life. She knew that she was dying for years prior to her death, but never told her family. Was she aware of her situation early enough to make changes to prolong her life? Or was she just tired and said, "Hell away with it! I'm going to live my life the way I want 'til the end." Did she really know that the end was so near? Bigmama passed away just 3 weeks prior to her 60th birthday. I can attest that she enjoyed herself until the last day. She spoiled the family with her Friday Night Fish Fries and Saturday Gumbo Nights for many years. Oh, and her rice puddin' was my absolute favorite. I truly miss her. She was the best grandmother anyone could ever have.

Early in the morning on Sunday, November 7, 1982, my Bigmama let go and went home with God. On the evening prior to her death, we had a lot of company at my house. Lots of cousins and friends were over and I was having a blast with all of them. Mama visited my grandmother at the hospital every morning and evening. I went almost every day to see her too. On this evening, Mama asked me if I wanted to go with her. My aunts, uncles and some of my cousins were going, but a lot of folks were staying at my house to visit with my dad. I debated for a moment because we were having such a great time listening to music and playing cards (like Black Jack, Tunk and I Declare War). But something inside me kept urging me to go, so I did.

Bigmama was alert most of the times we visited, but she was a little groggy. This particular evening, she was in a deep sleep and was perspiring heavily. Everybody kept trying to wake her up, but she was sleeping too sound. Mama and her brothers took turns wiping the sweat from her forehead. I held her hand for a little bit, while the others conversed amongst themselves. The nurse finally came in to announce that visiting hours were over. I gave her a kiss on the cheek and told her that I'd see her tomorrow. Then a weird feeling overcame me. A feeling that I'd never see her again. I kept trying to shake it off, but it wouldn't go away. When we arrived back home, I went straight to the bathroom, locked the door and cried uncontrollably. That feeling just got stronger and stronger. I didn't understand it. I must have stayed locked in there for at least a half hour. People kept coming to the bathroom knocking on the door because they wanted to get in there, but I couldn't come out. Finally, I was able to compose myself. I washed my face with cold water several times. When I came out of the bathroom, all of our guests had left. I put on my pajamas and went to bed.

The next morning, I woke up around 7:00 with my two nephews (Lydal, 4 years old and Lamar, 1 year old) beside me. Mama must have put them into bed with me long after I fell asleep. We laid their giggling and playing around before it was time to get ready for Sunday School. Then I heard the front door open. I wondered who was coming into the house at this early hour. Usually, Mama is up cooking breakfast and waking everybody up to get ready for church. It was Mama coming into the house. She stood in the doorway of my bedroom and, before I could ask where she had been, I noticed that she had been crying. My heart sank to my stomach, making me feel nervous. She told me that Bigmama had passed away.

"When did it happen?" I asked her.

"Around 5:30 this morning."

I was devastated, but not surprised. Instantly, I knew what that overwhelming feeling meant that I experienced the night before. That was so bizarre and "Twilight Zonish" to me. I knew before she died that that was the last time I'd ever see her. Just think, I almost didn't go visit her. Oh, I am so glad I did. I would have regretted that moment forever. Tears started rolling down my cheeks and I felt numb. It was so surreal.

"Auntie, why you cryin'?" Lydal asked.

"Because Bigmama just died." I answered solemnly.

Lamar hugged me and wiped my tears with his little slobbery hands. He had been sucking his thumb and immediately took it out to wipe my tears. It was a cold November morning, but the sky was clear and beautiful. Mama said we didn't have to go to Sunday School that day, but we all went to church. Lamar didn't really know what was going on, but he was really fretful and whiney. Usually, he's so good in church, but that day he wouldn't sit still and just kept fussing. He must have known that Bigmama was gone. Maybe he saw her spirit floating around—who knows.

During that next week, all of the family got together to plan the funeral. I was too distraught to go to school. It was still too bizarre for me. I couldn't fathom the idea of never seeing Bigmama again. My whole life will change now. How can I go visit Bigdaddy without seeing Bigmama? I didn't know how to handle this. Mama had me excused from school for a couple of weeks. She picked up my homework assignments so I wouldn't fall behind because she knew I'd be a basket case. I didn't sleep for days after Bigmama's passing and definitely didn't sleep after the funeral. I was always afraid of dead people and death, in general. I guess I watched too many zombie and vampire movies. Now, death had hit really close to home and I didn't know how to handle it.

Mama sat up with me many nights talking and watching TV. She made it fun though. We popped popcorn, made a big pitcher of KoolAid, camped out in the living room with blankets and pillows and watched my favorite TV shows, Creature Feature and Tales From the Dark Side, until I fell asleep. Most of the time, Mama started snoring long before I went to sleep. I stayed awake until the sun came up. Mama got up and went to work and left me with my list of duties-homework and chores.

During the planning, Mama asked if I wanted to go to the funeral home to drop off the clothes for Bigmama. Of course I said, "NO!" I was too afraid. I knew that I had to go to the quiet hour and funeral, but I couldn't do all of that other stuff. I now realize that Mama was just trying to help me accept the fact that my Bigmama was gone forever as well as acquire a level of comfort with death itself. Naw, that tactic didn't work for me at all.

When we went to the quiet hour, I was so nervous. I sat out in the lounge area for a while. Everybody else had been in to see Bigmama. They kept coming to get me, but I wasn't ready yet. A little later, I walked into the chapel. Everyone looked at me to see if I was okay. I was very quiet. I stood for a moment staring at the shiny, white and gold casket. I slowly walked closer. The isle way of that chapel seemed so long. I finally made it to the front pew. My Uncle Jr. was there, stroking Bigmama's hand with the back of his.

I walked closer and Uncle Jr. said, "Come on, it's okay, niecy-pooh."

I reluctantly reached inside the casket to touch her hand. She had white gloves on. Her hand was hard. I gently rubbed her cheek with the backside of my right index finger. It was cold and hard. The whole thing was weird to me because she looked so different. Bigmama didn't wear a lot of make-up and the morticians put a lot on her and fixed her hair differently. However, I did like her dress—long with shear sleeves in her favorite color, baby blue. I realized that she was dead, but for years after that it was like she had gone on a long trip because the lady in that casket was not my Bigmama.

Going to the quiet hour allowed me to handle the funeral much better. I was okay because she did not look like my Bigmama, so I pretended that it wasn't her. Nonetheless, reality hit when I saw Mama and Pops crying. Pops took it extremely hard. That was the first time that I'd seen my father cry and he was bent over crying in Mama's lap. Seeing that made a lump of sorrow develop in my throat and then my heart began to ache. I was trying desperately to be strong and not cry, but when they closed the casket and wheeled Bigmama down the isle, I lost it completely. It was at that moment that I knew I'd never see her smiling face again or smell her sweet scent of Jean Naté when I hugged her or eat her delicious rice pudding. My Bigmama is dead. We're all about to form a line and march back down this long isle to go bury her. What is going on? The matriarch of our family is gone. What's gonna happen to the family? Bigmama held everything together—who's gonna do that now? Oh well, gotta deal with one thing at a time—to the cemetery we go.

My brother, Ricky, drove Mama's 1966 Pontiac Bonneville. I rode with him and we followed right behind the limousines that the funeral home provided. I continued to cry the entire way there. By the time we made it to the cemetery, my eyes were bloodshot red and slightly swollen from crying. After the graveside ceremony was over, a few of us stayed behind to watch the gravediggers lower Bigmama into the ground. Once again, the feeling was surreal. I knew and understood that she was gone forever, but a part of me was still expecting to see her when we gathered at her house for the repast. The worst part was walking down the hallway to the bathroom and not hearing her in her bedroom at the opposite end. Oh, just too much to deal with.

Bigmama, wherever you are now, please know that I have never forgotten you. Your spirit still lives within my heart. I love you and miss you dearly. I promise to educate my future descendants on what a great matriarch you were to our family. Hugs and Kisses!


After a couple of weeks, I returned to school. It was good to get back into the routine of things—laughing with my friends and all. It took some of the focus off of my grief with losing my Bigmama, but it's still gonna be a while before I overcome this tragic experience.

Suddenly, Paul started speaking to me—A LOT! During passing period (going from one class to the next), I saw Paul heading down the stairs to his PE class and he turned around, smiled and said, "Hi Olivia."

"Hi." I smiled.

During the next passing period, I saw him again and he said hello with the biggest smile. Then, again and again. I thought this was really strange. I never saw him so often before. And, now I'm seeing him every time I turn around. Even while I was in class, I saw him walking by in the hallway. He stopped, waited until he got my attention, smiled and waved. I shyly smiled and waved back. Then he took off running to his class before he got caught and assigned detention for being out of class without a hall pass. I just couldn't understand why so unexpectedly he's going out of his way to speak to me.

Later that day, Shanay made a comment just before school ended that someone liked me and was going to ask me to be his girlfriend. Boys weren't even on my radar back then. Of course, there were guys that I thought were cute or even had a crush on—like El Debarge, Ralph T from New Edition, and of course, Billy Dee Williams—HEY! I used to wish that time would stop for Billy Dee Williams. I didn't want him to age anymore until I became an adult so I could meet and marry him. My favorite movies are Lady Sings the Blues and Mahogany just because of him. Diana Ross is superb in those movies, but Billy Dee is off the damn chain! I watch the movies every chance I get just to hear him say, "You want my arm to fall off?" and "Success means nothing unless you have someone you love to share it with." I get goose bumps every single time.

Shanay left me hanging until we talked on the phone later that night. She kept telling me that there was a boy who thought I was cute, but she couldn't tell me who. She promised the boy that she wouldn't tell me. Well, I kept bugging her. I desperately wanted to know. Finally, she told me to get my yearbook out and turn to a certain page. I scanned that entire page. There were mostly girls on that particular page. As I examined further, I asked if it were this guy or that guy.

Giggling, she quickly responded, "I can't tell you."

When I got to Paul, she got quiet. I asked again if it was Paul and she kept dancing around it.

I started feeling anxious and blurted out, "It is Paul! Oh my God, he likes me?"

I started to turn red, sweat, and stutter. I was so beside myself. She told me that Paul thought I was cute and he wanted to know if it was okay to call me on the phone.

"He asked for my phone number?" I screeched.

"Yeah, so is it okay for him to call you?"

"Well, yeah", I said so matter of factly. "When is he going to call?"

"I don't know", Shanay bluntly stated. "I haven't given him your number yet."

"Well, get off the phone and call him. Give him my number!" I demanded.

"Okay, okay, bye." She laughed.

"Call me after you talk to him. Okay bye!" I said anxiously.

We hung up and I sat on my bed eagerly awaiting a call from Paul or Shanay. My stomach was full of butterflies. I couldn't believe that Paul O'Connor was interested in me—little ol' me. WOW! About ten minutes later, the phone rang. I answered on the second ring. I had to gather my composure. I was still so nervous and stupid with excitement.

Taking a deep breath, I said, "Hello."

"Stop tryin' to sound all sexy. It's just me." Shanay laughed.

"I wasn't trying to sound sexy", I said with a quivery voice.

"Yes, you were", she said.

"Well, did you talk to him?" I asked anxiously.

"Yeah, but he's eating dinner and he said he'll probably call you tomorrow. He's got to finish up on some chores before going to bed."

"Okay, that's cool", I replied more calmly.

Shanay and I talked a little more and then hung up. I turned on the radio and started getting my clothes together for school the next day. Approximately 30 minutes later, the phone rang. I was standing at the closet and reached across the bed to answer the phone.

"Hello." I answered.

The voice on the phone replied, "Hi, can I speak to Olivia?"

My heart fell to the floor. It was Paul, y'all! I was lying on the bed and slid down to my knees. Although my heart was racing rapidly, I responded with composure, "This is Olivia."

"Hi, it's Paul. Are you busy?"

"No", I answered, knowing good and well that I needed to get my clothes ready and have my butt in bed before Mama made her nightly rounds.


Excerpted from Is This Time Forever? by Udine C Fontenot-Powell. Copyright © 2014 Udine C Fontenot-Powell. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments, xi,
PART I: The Beginning, xv,
Prologue, xvii,
Chapter 1, 1,
Chapter 2, 8,
Chapter 3, 18,
Chapter 4, 22,
Chapter 5, 26,
Chapter 6, 35,
Chapter 7, 38,
PART II: Life Without Him, 47,
Chapter 8, 49,
Chapter 9, 61,
Chapter 10, 67,
PART III: Is This Time Forever?, 73,
Chapter 11, 75,
Chapter 12, 90,
Chapter 13, 97,
Chapter 14, 104,
Chapter 15, 108,
Chapter 16, 112,
Chapter 17, 116,
PART IV: Get Out!, 121,
Chapter 18, 123,
Chapter 19, 130,
Chapter 20, 138,
Chapter 21, 157,
Chapter 22, 168,
Chapter 23, 172,
Chapter 24, 179,
Chapter 25, 186,
PART V: Celibacy, 191,
Chapter 26, 193,
Chapter 27, 205,
Chapter 28, 213,
Chapter 29, 222,
Chapter 30, 227,
PART VI: At Last!, 233,
Chapter 31, 235,
Chapter 32, 246,
Chapter 33, 250,
Chapter 34, 255,
Chapter 35, 272,
Chapter 36, 288,
Chapter 37, 294,
Chapter 38, 299,
Chapter 39, 317,
Chapter 40, 329,
Chapter 41, 352,
Chapter 42, 370,
Chapter 43, 379,
Chapter 44, 387,
PART VII: Forever I Do, 391,
Chapter 45, 393,
Epilogue, 413,
Photography & Art Credits, 417,

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