Happy birthday my darling!
I love you yesterday, today, forever… just like it said on our wedding cake.
I know that some little part of you wished to make it to the 100th birthday milestone, not because you reveled in rituals or awards – everyone who knew you knows better than that – but I know you wanted that centennial happy birthday letter from Obama! Again, all who knew you are keenly aware that the value of that letter lies not in it’s Presidential nature, you have letters of thanks and commendations from prior Presidents, but because Obama is America’s first African-American President.
I will never forget inauguration day – a day you thought would never come. We hosted a small breakfast party in our living room. You, your son Michael, and friends Washington Rucker and John Mitchell – representing three generations of Black men – partaking of scrambled eggs with grits, bacon, and biscuits while talking about history and watching it unfold.
When the swearing in ceremony was to begin, plates were left behind and you four moved to straight-backed chairs much closer to the television. You could have heard the proverbial pin-drop and if someone had been able to gather up the tears of joy that were shed around the world when Obama was sworn in, mankind would never fear another drought.
During the hours we were glued to the television I saw other emotions as well — concern for Obama’s well-being, fear for his life, and fury when he and Michele got out of their car and walked down The Avenue…and oh yes, a great deal of pride. I am so glad you lived to see that day.
I am glad, too, that you lived to see some more personal milestones, growing closer to your children and grandchildren, and holding in your arms your one and only Levy great-grandson who will carry the Levy name forward.
Before you left, you got to read the many 100th birthday messages that people sent, and I saw how touched you were by their words. The only message I really wish you could have seen was a condolence letter I received from a total stranger — Sally, now an older woman and a jazz fan for decades, wrote “Mr. Levy was a great man (not only as an artist himself) but for his recognition of all these great jazz artists!”
You see, my darling, your legacy lives on in oh so many ways….