On Monday on Facebook, I made the following post… My dear friends…one of my dearest friends in the world, Adrienne passed away at last night…A strange feeling of joyful sorrow…Please remember me and her husband in your prayers
Adrienne was my friend. And I don’t mean friend like you call someone every once in a while and say hi, I mean Adrienne was my FRIEND!
I met Adrienne in the 1980s when she started dating a guy I worked with, Big Rick. We call him Big Rick because his name is Rick, and that’s what he is, big. Rick goes about 6’7, 340 pounds. Big Rick started dating Adrienne at that time, all 5’2 of her. They were an off-size pair, with Rick being a foot and a half taller that her, I used to call them Mutt and Jeff. Rick is as dear to me as my own family and so was Adrienne.
Adrienne had one of those kind of spirits that are rare in life. There was nothing or no one that she did not believe she could not conquer. Her husband affectionately called her “Shorty”, but she was anything but that. I think that inside she believed she was bigger than Rick. While Rick may have called her “Shorty”, I affectionately called her Mike Singletary. For those of you who do not know who Mike Singletary is, he was one of the greatest linebackers in the NFL to ever play the game.
Adrienne was built like a linebacker with her wide broad shoulders. Those shoulders bore the weight of her husband as she loved and cared for him as she nursed him back to health after he had a crippling back injury and surgery. Her shoulders bore the weight of my struggle when I was a drug addict, it was Adrienne who loved me after the Lord and I beat that addiction, as she fed me and nursed me back to health.
It wasn’t just those shoulders that made me nickname her Mike Singletary, it was this “thing” she had inside that players like Mike had. That over-the-top, Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, Nolan Ryan, Mohammed Ali, Arnold Palmer, Venus Williams, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, or Kobe Bryant…..that… “I am going to win attitude”.
As I was driving home yesterday, I was thinking of the character she was, and I smiled. She made me think of Pecos Bill. Pecos Bill is a mythical cowboy legend with superhuman abilities. He is the embodiment of superlatives: and he once even lassoed and rode a tornado, yep that sounds like Adrienne. She would lasso a tornado and ride it; at least she would have believed she could have.
She was solid in her beliefs and unforgiving in her convictions. She as a friend could tell you she loved you, and tell you to go stick your head up a tailpipe in the same breath, meaning both of them completely, and yet you would not be offended. Adrienne to me was famous for her one liners, as she used them consistently in day-to-day conversations. As I am sitting here writing this, I smile thinking of them. She would say things like…I aint playing…You know that’s right…..It aint nothin…It’s all good…..Allright…..O.K. (with attitude and emphasis on the k)….Ricky (100 times a day, again with attitude…lol)…Trust me…You can believe that……Whatever……Period……Come on now……and my all time favorite “Don’t get it twisted”. If you knew her and they way she expressed these words in her vocabulary, they take on a whole new meaning in the Adrienne dictionary, you would just have to hear her say them to understand.
Fate dealt her a deadly blow the last few years as her health began to deteriorate. Adrienne had battles with controlling her blood pressure, fighting extreme diabetes, going blind in both eyes, losing vision in one eye completely, lost both of her kidneys, had open heart surgery, and spent over 200 days in the hospital, just last year. But all along her attitude was…It aint nothing. Her over the top “I am going to win attitude” was amazing to behold.
But the last six months things began to change, her hospital stays became longer, her blood infections became more severe, she began to lose weight drastically, and her struggle to stay alive became harder. I wish her fight for life could have been on a baseball field, in a boxing ring, on a basketball court, or in a sports venue somewhere. If she had been given the body to match her heart, she would have without a doubt in history been mentioned alond side the great athletes I have mentioned.
About a month ago I went to California and spent a couple of weeks with Rick and Adrienne. It had been about a year since I had seen them, and the most time I had gotten to spend with then in about 8 years. Much of the time was spent with Rick and me up in the hospital with her as she was only home two days while I was there. At we laughed together, it was as if time had not passed and we were all young again, joking about the times of the past and the love we all shared that had bonded us for life. But at times the reality began to sink in as I realized the gravity of the war she was fighting just to keep breathing.
A few days before I left California, while Rick and I were in the hospital lobby, one of the nurses made a racial remark to Adrienne, and by the time we got up there, it seemed that half the 4th floor and the whole security force of the hospital was there. I could hear her from way down the hall yelling “I aint playing”. After things calmed down, I remember telling Rick,… still has the fight of a lion in her.
The next day she was feeling better, and the hospital let her leave on a 2 hour furlough to get out of the hospital for a minute. We stopped off to get her something to eat that wasn’t hospital food, but by the time we got back to their house, she realized they had messed up her order and she wanted to go back and get it right. Rick offered to go back, and Adrienne and I sat on the front porch and had a conversation that I will never forget. It was the first time she and I had been alone without Rick being there. I wanted to talk her personally.
I asked her Adrienne, do you think you are going to make it? She answered me,” I haven’t said anything to you with in front of Ricky, but no I don’t, I am slipping. I asked what you mean slipping. She said to me, slipping, OK! I knew what she meant. You know it’s strange, I have shared the Gospel all around the world, and Adrienne had seen the miracle that God had done in my life,but we had never had a sit down heart to heart Jesus talk. Sometimes it is hardest to have that discussion with those you are the closest to.
I asked her are you ready? Ready for what she said? You know what I mean Adrienne…..Ready? I don’t , Darrell, I don’t know, she said. I took her hand in mine and asked if I could pray with her and told her to pray with me if she wanted to. I prayed and asked the Lord to touch and heal her frail body. I prayed with her as she mumbled quietly with me. I prayed, Lord we do not know what tomorrow will bring. Please forgive us for the things that have separated us from you. Forgive us of our sins and we accept your love and your sacrifice for us, and the blood you shed for us. We accept and believe in our heart that you are Lord. Give us the strength to endure and the comfort of knowing when the time comes, if it does come, that our heart is pure before you…as I prayed, I began to weep. We continued praying for a few minutes more….
As I looked up…and there she sat, tears rolling down both of her cheeks, and it occurred to me that in the 25 years I had known her, I had never seen her cry. Are you OK, I asked….Oh yes, she exclaimed…..”I promise you, it’s all good, it’s ALL good. That was all that needed to be said. For Adrienne that was a mouthful and then some.
I remember the last time I saw her, the day I was leaving she walked downstairs with Rick and I (against Doctors orders) to tell me goodbye. It was a struggle for her to walk but she did not want to tell me goodbye from a hospital bed. Adrienne did what Adrienne wanted to do, period. There was a cool California breeze blowing and I placed my jacket around her frail 95 pound body, and told her I wanted her to have it, that way every time she wore it, she would think of me. I hugged her kissed her and told her goodbye. That was the last time I ever saw her.
Three days ago, Rick and Adrienne were sitting in the hospital on the bed together. As Rick is a mountain of a man, she told him” Ricky move over, you are taking up the whole bed”. He moved over gave her some room, and moments later, as he was sitting beside her, her body fell limp and she was gone. She was absent from her body, but present with the Lord. Things will never be the same here on earth with Adrienne gone, but I can just hear her now telling an angel, I want to talk to the Lord, and “I aint playin”….And if she is anything in heaven like she was here on earth, things are a little more exciting there, I guarantee you that…as Adrienne will tell you when you meet there…..”Don’t get it Twisted”