“I DON’T KNOW’
Not in a million years would I ever dream that my father’s final and farewell words to me would be: “I don’t know”. I found out later on in life as we grew together as Father and Daughter, that Dad didn’t know a lot of everyday intellectual things; but, one thing I was certain of is that he knew and loved our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Daddy LOVED JESUS with EVERYTHING THAT WAS WITHIN HIM! Dad loved his Mother to the moon and back and some. His mother was his pride and joy, and the feeling was mutual between them and it was evident to anyone that knew my Dad. He honored his mother! I pause right here to give a shout out to my grandmother, the late 🌹 Louise Thomas 🌹 who passed away at the age of 93-years-young. #restinlovegrandmalou ❤
Dad had several friends that he would introduce me to over the years. This one friend, and Pastor stood out amongst most. I encountered this particular Pastor and friend on the KTYM radio station, where his church in Lynwood would broadcast to the world their worship experience every Sunday evening at 8:30 p.m. I’m estimating this had to be around 1968 through 1976 which was the year that I finally got the opportunity to lay my eyes on the man that was my Father, whom his Pastor at the time, Pastor Willie T. Snead, allowed my Father the opportunity to pray and preach on the radio.
As a young girl, I was very smart. I had question-after-question-after-question every Sunday evening. WHY is that I can hear my father’s voice Lord, but I can’t NEVER see his face? I began talking to the Lord at the age of 6-years-old, and I remember telling God that he needed to make my father come through that radio. Every little girl and boy loves their parents, regardless. Yes, it was good hearing him, but I had question about what he looked like. Did he look like me? In my head, after hearing his voice over that radio broadcast when it was his turn to pray or preach, I got excited. There were many of broadcasts that he was not heard, but the fine Pastor would sing, pray and preach. I often wondered how the Pastor looked as well. I painted this picture in my head describing my relationship with my father with this particular friend / Pastor first because his radio show was the only real connection I had to my father growing up fatherless from the age of 0-10-years-old. It’s bizarre to me that this Pastor and friend would not only be instrumental to me as a young lad, but who would have ever thought he would be apart of the dyeing process as well.
As my Father laid on the seventh floor of Memorial Hospital, and of note, throughout the process after the initial biopsy at Los Alamitos Medical Center, our journey would begin and we would then journey to several hospitals and doctors offices along the way. After the surgery at Torrance Memorial initially, where he stayed forever so long, after being released downstairs to their rehab center for physical therapy and so forth. I watched everything from his Pastor coming at the the time, Pastor Thomas who would again tie in to Pastor Willie T. Snead again, years later. Dad explained to me that his current Pastor was one of his many of Sunday School students when he was on staff preaching and teaching at Pastor Snead’s church that broadcasted on the radio, that again was instrumental incognito me allowing me the opportunity to hear my father’s voice. He often told me stories about how proud he was that four of the young men that he taught Sunday School to in that ministry ALL became Pastor’s. He said he even had the opportunity to teach his nephews as well, who resided at the church with him. Let me paint this picture, because I’m going somewhere with this.
In 1976, I would lay eyes on my father for the very first time, and later on, after getting past all the accolades, and emotions of this ten year mission of my life without my Dad, he would take me to church for the very first time! Never in a million years, would I have thought I would meet these voices I had only heard over the radio, but I did!
You see, God had a plan, and what I thought was an excursion I had sent my mom on to find me this one pair of Mary Jane shoes would turn out to be the day God arrested my father and placed him on the scene at the cleaners that was next door to the shoe store that was the last resort to get a pair of Mary Jane shoes. Nope, I never to this day, got those Mary Jane shoes, but what I did get was the opportunity to meet my Father for the very first time in a parking lot of a cleaners in North Long Beach. Oh my God!! I’m going to say it again: He had been put under divine duress and I would finally put a face to the man I had heard pray and preach over the radio broadcast. My very first visit to my Dad’s home, I was 10-years-old, and during my stay, he took me to his church one Sunday evening, and that night, was the first time, I ever got the opportunity to meet Pastor Willie T. Snead live and in person. Before service, they had it going on. What stuck out in my head were them chili cheese fritos I got at the church before the worship began. I was finally there!!! God had answered this little girl and her mother’s prayer!!! Look at God.! This was the great, outstanding Pastor that gave my father, the late Rev. J.E. Thomas his first real break in ministry. Come to find out, he was the one who demanded my father to go back to school and get his G.E.D. in Lynwood, California. He then encouraged my father to go to seminary school to learn more about our God. He not only watched for my father’s soul, but he watched out for my father’s future. Dad, knowing one day that he would Pastor his own church which came to pass in 1996, where Dad would become the founding Pastor of the 2nd Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church, of Long Beach, and I would become his right hand, reader and writer, President and CEO of 2nd Corinthian Missionary to this present day!
Now to fast forward to 2013 where I sat and stayed in my Dad’s hospital room on countless occasions. On this particular morning, bright and early, Pastor English came by to pray with our Dad and always left him with some encouraging words. Then, two friend’s he worked with at the City of Long Beach. I enjoyed all of his Friend’s and Family that came by to pay respect to him. On this morning, Pastor Willie T. Snead would walk through the door of my Dad’s hospital room, with myself and my sibling present. Dad lit up like a christmas tree at the glimpse of Pastor Snead’s face. In his final days, Dad didn’t have much to say, but this morning he blurted out:
“How are you Doctor?” Doctor Snead had entered the building.
Dr. Snead was a good looking cat. My God today. I promise you, I had not seen him going on 30-years, and let me tell you, he looked rich as cream, and his appearance alone commanded the room. I was excited to know, Pastor Snead was in the house, and we all prayed together as he prayed so passionately over my father’s life, and not only did he pray for Dad, but he prayed for my sister and I because he detected there was some issues about to transpire because she was mad that morning at me that I wouldn’t allow them to transfer him to a skilled nursing when Dad was clearly to me in an acute state after undergoing another surgery, taking the risk of if they couldn’t get to what that needed to to do in his neobladder, he was warned that he would end up with a colostomy bag, and sure enough that was the case. So, some tension was building and Pastor detected a little bickering between her and I, and this would be the first time she would utter out of her mouth: YOU take care of the MEDICAL and I’m taking care of the MONEY.
It didn’t dawn on me, but Pastor Snead felt lead to give us both, every phone number he could be reached at if we needed to talk to him and if any significant changes took place with Dad. When it was all said and done, Pastor Snead extended an invitation to my sister and I to his church, and he proceeded to give us a sample of how he took it home when he delivered the word of the Lord. I was too through, and dismayed at this man who would be around my Dad’s age preaching like he was still a seasoned middle age preacher. As I observed Pastor Snead, there was nothing old about him, and he possessed a vibrant, joyful personality. He gave us a sample of his preaching and told us he did his best preaching at his 9:30 a.m. worship. To this day, I wish I had taken him up on his offer, only to find out he transitioned suddenly and unexpected and took his flight home to be with the Lord recently. Although, I didn’t redeem the offer just yet to visit his church, I did call him when the road got really rough after I discuss further incidents that transpired that lead up to my Dad’s last and final words to me. I want you to know that Pastor Snead was a man of his word. When I called him, he answered, and not only did he answer, he gave me good spiritual sound council, and always ended our conversations in prayer. When my father actually passed away, Pastor Snead was my Dad’s ONLY preacher friend to call me and extend his condolences, prayers and deepest sympathy and gave sound advice to me, and that meant the world to me to this very minute.
Dr. Snead played a role in my first young years of my life as stated above, and who would have dreamed he would be the ONLY Pastor / Preacher friend of my Father to extend comfort to me. (tears). Out of all of Daddy’s Friend’s, Daddy thought his best friend whom he put his trust in would be there for his children and family. Not so for me. Only Pastor Snead. As I was in distress, I contacted Daddy’s best friend recently and shared with him with what my Father told his baby girl, and his best friend who Daddy spent countless years helping him at his church, and he was at my Dad’s bedside with me and our family up until Dad expired told me that he had nothing to do with Rev. Thomas’s family and I don’t’ get involved in family affairs. I was hurt and appalled at the same time, because my father put my trust in this other Pastor friend who he called his actual best friend. and at this point to me he’s not even name worthy. At least as a Bishop, you would think with all the drama between my sister and the other heirs, he would at least try to mediate for us or at least pray. All I can say is: “I wish Pastor Snead had survived, but heaven had a plan for him.”
He was a true friend and a gift to the body of Christ, his family and friend’s. What a legacy he leaves behind, and I’m so happy to know that only God can tie a story together like this from birth to death!!!
I said all that above to say this: A real friend wants to see better for you, and a real friend will tell you what’s right. I’m going to reiterate again and say: Pastor Snead had a radio broadcast back in the 70’s on a A.M. radio station called KTYM. It was the ONLY connection I had to my father from the age of 0-10-years-old. My mom made sure we tuned in every Sunday evening because there was either a possibility he would pray on the radio or Pastor Snead would let him preach on air. Later on, at the age of 10-years-old, while sending my mom around the world to find that one pair of shiny black Mary Jane shoes I had to have. My mom searched high, and she searched low until she started asking people in Bullock’s department store, where could we find these shoes? Our last resort: Payless shoe store in North Long, Beach, CA. Really Mom? Now, I’m reconsidering not wanting them shoes because back in the day, Payless shoes didn’t last and you were made fun of as a kid if you came to school with some Payless shoes on. So my mom goes into the store while I sat in the car exhausted. I noticed my mom came out of Payless, but she was not holding a bag with my Mary Jane shoes, but she was happily holding a conversation with this man that was all smiles grinning from ear-to-ear. As she proceeded to the car with this happy, handsome young gentleman, and I looked at him really good, and I knew immediately even before she proceeded to the car to confirm he was my Dad that had just exited from the cleaners next to the shoe store. Holding in his hand were his work uniforms that were crisply cleaned, starched, creased and pressed. At the time, he was wearing a Orange shirt with a City of Long Beach logo on it! I thought to myself, could it really be him? Yes, it was and we remained Father-and-Daughter until 30-days before he died, December 30, 2013.
Of note, I was forced from my Dad’s bedside as respiratory unhooked him in my face as the Dr. Dermillo of Health Care Partners looked at me with 6 security hospital police surrounding my father’s bed because Dr. Dermillo said: “we no longer need you, and your father can now make his own decisions and verbally took it upon himself to change my father’s advance directives so I could no longer execute for my Dad.” After, he was disconnected, they waited until the discussion between Dr. Dermillo was finished. I asked Dr. Dermillo in strong tone of voice: “WHAT PART OF MY FATHER’S ADVANCE DIRECTIVES YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND? He never answered because this Registered Nurse took it upon herself to say: You can’t talk to the doctor like that and then she called their hospital security team to throw me out of the hospital after unhooking my Dad from the ventilator in my face, hoping he would expire (die) right before my very eyes. Then the hospital director, of Little Company of Mary named Sister Mary Ann Patton calls me on the phone to let me know that she advised her staff to hang the phone up in my face and she advised the staff who was caring for my father not to give me any information or update report whether my Dad was dead or alive. After all of that, her humanity kicked in and she was so kind to go to my father’s bedside and let me have one final conversation with my Dad via telephone with her monitoring the conversation, and my final words to my Dad was: “Why didn’t you protect me, and why didn’t you defend your Advance Directives choice you made to be comfortable and that’s what you wanted! You wanted your doctors to do everything within their power to keep you alive so you could exercise your FAITH, believing that God was going to heal you from bladder cancer. I began to yell. “why Daddy?” Daddy, why didn’t you protect your baby girl that did exactly what you asked her to do in writing witnessed by two separate people, their signatures and a notary.
Dad’s final words to me would be: “I DON’T KNOW” – I was livid!! I said to him: “If you wanted to change your advance directives, I would have gladly help you check off that “DO NOT RESUSCITATE” (DNR) box and it could have been done that easy. So, after I hang up the phone with Dad and Sister Mary Ann Patton, the director of Little Company of Mary in Torrance, CA, they contacted the Torrance police and the Torrance police contacted our local Irvine Police where I resided at the time to send send the police to my home for a well visit check. So, I hear a forceful knock on my door, and I answered the door with the phone in my hand barely hanging up the phone with my Dad and the director, of Little Company of Mary. I’m now looking at two cops who are questioning me about my well being, and of course I’m dressed to the 9’s because I was just about to walk out of the door to go to Lindora. I explained to the police, I was fine!!! I just needed to go get my vitamin B shot, and I told him I felt much better than the night before because I now knew my father was still alive. I noticed every time I tried to end the conversation with the Irvine police, they kept talking about anything, including my neighbor Tyrone who was my close friend and neighbor that Irvine police law were no stranger to Tyrone. I said to myself, something is wrong. So the Torrance police had our local Irvine police to “ENTERTAIN” me while they knew the Torrance police was on their way to “DETAIN” me because that same nurse who jumped in my face defending the doctor who verbally took it upon himself to change my father’s advance directives lied and told the Torrance police that I threatened her over the phone when I was calling the night I was thrown out of the hospital, to see if my Dad was still alive after after observing a respiratory technician pulling my father from the ventilator. She filed a complaint and said, I said over the telephone 50 miles away that I was going to to “GET HER”. Really? Get her what, a hamburger? So after Irvine police entertained me for 2-hours, here comes the Torrance police driving 50 miles to my home and get out of their police car and rush me and throw me to the ground forcefully and began to pouncing and beating on me in front of my 10-year-old son with autism, and the two Irvine police as they stood back and watched this one bad black Torrance cop brutally abuse me with excessive force. Then, I was thrown to the ground and handcuffed in front my baby, Irvine police and the other Torrance police by the name of officer Bessie who stood back and watched his partner beat on a woman. After the 50-mile drive to the Torrance police station, I was manhandled and rushed by 10 Torrance Police in riot / hazmat gear and masks in the holding cell. After which, the black cop who came to my home and beat me is now punching me in the head, and the other 9 officers back off as he continued punching me in the face. All they wanted to do was put me in a electrocution style chair with wheels so they could wheel me over to do fingerprints. Did it really take 10 officers to do that? Surely, I could have gotten in that chair free willingly. Now, another officer came in and said he just talked to a family member and they had the unmitigated gall to advise the Torrance police that I was mentally ill, and I was bipolar and I suffered from schizophrenia. So, after all was said and done, I was released from the jail, placed in an ambulance and admitted to the UCLA Harbor General Hospital psychiatric ward where my Dad’s ex-fiancé was the psychiatric charge nurse on the night shift. She would later on care for me after I was treated horrible by the staff. Her name was Della, and she was there for my Dad from day one, until the last time I laid eyes on my father which was 30-days before he expired.
To fast forward to today, I have not gotten a shoe or a penny from my Father’s estate, but on the other hand my sister walked away with all of his liquid cash, bank accounts, life insurances, retirement and all of his possessions and it hurts. We’ve been going back and forth to probate court for 3-years and only verifiable assets that are left is the proceeds from the sale of his property, and I’m ready to take what I can get, NOT what I actually deserve and end this situation all so my Dad’s name can rest in peace. I lost my whole paternal side of the family. but I have new relationships with my brothers and his conservator, which she is a beautiful woman who has become like a second mother to me. If nothing else transpired good, the people I have now that I didn’t know before is the blessing to me at the end of the rainbow.
I’m sure, this too shall pass, because truly I realized the other day that all the things that happened in between is no more than a distraction to kill, and steal my joy! Daddy taught us too hard about Jesus and Faith that will move mountains to live my life these past three years in distress. I gave it to God, and now I’m able to close this out hoping I never have to encounter anything EVER of this nature!
The moral of this story is to KNOW who your real Family and Friend’s are!!! Those three final words Daddy uttered to me: I DON’T KNOW haunts me to this day. All I know is he may have not known, but we serve a God that is ALL KNOWING and he has never lost a case. We call on his name today, and his name is JESUS, my alpha and omega, our beginning and our end. I’ve learned to trust and rely on him more than ever these past three years, and I want you to know the minute I casted my cares upon him and acknowledge that I can’t do NOTHING without God. Without God, we would be nothing, we would be like an old rugged ship without a sail!!!
I have one request: Pray for me, my sister, and my entire paternal family that we can at least be peaceful like it was before Daddy died. My Dad loved each and every one of his children whether he did something for them or not. In his heart in the end by his which to have his sons come forth is enough for me to know there was good in him and I acknowledge that it may have took him a long time, but he DID whatever it took to make everything right, including calling in that notary and saying I WANT BOTH OF MY GIRLS TO HAVE MY MONEY! His final sober words in person versus the final words over the phone!
I pray someone was blessed by this true bitter-sweet story, and know if you are going through something similar, give it over to Jesus and let him work it out for you!!
Minister Evelyn Diane Thomas
November 2, 2016
p.s. – To this day, those three words are very sensitive to me: I DON’T know!! I do know that our savior, Jesus Christ hung, bled, and he died for our sins, rose again and he yet lives! I do know that!! #praiseourGod! Also, I do know that the grievance process is taking place in my head and my heart. This is a journey I would not wish on my worst enemy..
#God, please help us to be better Christians and learn how to love one another unconditionally! I had to forgive them all, and forgive myself for being distraught and angry for quite some time. Worry is like poison, it will kill you! It’s amazes me to this day that I was wearing the potent perfume poison during this process in 2013. As I was in Nordstrom on yesterday, I had to smell it to remind me of how far I’ve come! I didn’t buy it, but I was tempted. lol