Til’ Death Do Us Part: Chadwick Boseman, Colon Cancer and My Mom

“Do you know when you are going to die? If so, raise your hand,” the instructor challenged us. It was as if the air had been sucked from the room; no one dare even move and no one out of the 47 raised a hand.  The instructor shook his head, chuckled and he said almost mockingly, “well you all act like you do;  you put things off for sometime in the future as if you know how much time you have.”

The actor Chadwick Boseman died on Friday.  If you know of him and his work, you are in awe of what he accomplished. It is fitting that he was born in 1976, the year of the  US bicentennial. He portrayed iconic history making black men, Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall and James Brown. Even more amazing because he was a playwright who wanted to direct and pursued acting to hone his craft. Gone at the age of 43. A very private person that seems to have touched deeply all he encountered. Maybe he felt a profound sense of purpose and had a vow to do all he could in the time he had.

My mom, like Chadwick Boseman’s died from colon cancer¹. She died in August of 2005; just as the doctors had said when she diagnosed in November of 2004. OK, technically, she held on an extra week, refusing to die in July so she wouldn’t forever ruin my birthday. She knew when she was going to die. She got a letter from a family friend that remarked how her sweet potato pies were so good; following in the tradition of my grandmother. My mom realized she had not taught me how to make a sweet potato pie², so of course we had to bake pies. We had a huge fight.  We were yelling and screaming, I didn’t want her doing anything to strenuous and she refused to be an invalid. It ended when I started gesturing wildly forgetting I was holding the hand mixer and pie filling was flung over the both of us. At that point we laughed so hard we were doubled over and sitting on the floor.

The upcoming Labor Day holiday, is a good time to stop and reflect, what is your labor of love? There are 4 months left in 2020, have you accomplished anything you are proud of? Is there anything you’ve put off doing? Just do it.


¹To DC and Cdot…yes, I am still overdue for my screening.

²My mom’s version of my grandmother’s sweet potato pie recipe with my notes.  My grandmother at 50.










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