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Berdine's Corner

The Importance
of Being Intentional

by Deborah E. Dennard

berdine dennard
Berdine Dillard Dennard

Life Lessons from a Matriarch

Berdine Dillard Dennard with her daughter Deborah Dennard

Stevie Wonder once penned the song, "I Just Called to Say I Love You." The tune was wonderful, but even more so, the words were beautiful. "I just called to say I love you; I just called to say how much I care, I do; I just called to say I love you; And I mean it from the bottom of my heart." These words embody one of the most important lessons anyone could ever learn, the importance of being intentional.

Many believe actions speak louder than words. I agree, but I also believe that words are necessary as well. My mama made sure we all knew she loved us. Her actions showed us everyday, but one of her greatest acts of intention was the love letters she left for my daddy, my brothers, and me. As sick as she was, my mama wrote us each a letter telling us how much she loved us as well as giving us advice on how to live. She gave us one last gift, even after she was gone. We already knew we were loved, but I remember being so very excited about opening the letter after she died. I can't count how many times I have read my letter during the last two years.

Another example of intentional actions happened during the last week I spent with my mama in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She called me into her bedroom to have a talk with me. As I reflect on it now, I think she wanted to be sure she said certain things to me before she died. She intentionally began talking to me about who I was dating, my relationships with my brothers, my spiritual life, my finances, and other topics that most adults don't care to discuss with their parents. She praised me for some things and chastised me for others. There were some things I thought she didn't perceive correctly. I remember wanting to explain or defend myself, but as I heard her labor to speak with me (It had become difficult for her to breathe because the cancer had spread to her lungs), I remember intentionally being quiet and listening. I tell my younger cousins all of the time that there is wisdom in shutting up, and this was the case now. This was important to her. Furthermore, this was probably the last real conversation of advice I would ever receive from my mama. Even if everything she thought wasn't true, she was right about most of it. She was doing her job as a mother to talk to me about it, and I was doing my job as a daughter to be quiet and listen.

Berdine Dennard, if nothing else, was an intentional person. During her life, she made a point to lift people up, to try to make them feel better or empowered. She was always asking people about their lives. She really did listen when they talked to her. She would go out of her way to give to those who needed it. She was purposeful in letting us all know that we were loved by her through her actions and words. This is a lesson we can all use.

We make memories everyday, whether good or bad. It is up to us that the way people remember us is positive. We do this by being intentional.


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