I write a weekly newsletter. I have done this for the past seven years. My readers range in ages from 18 – 97. I write about life with Cathy. Rita was a big part of my writings. When she had the time, she would text snippets from her busy life. My readers loved her accounts. Her writing style was like Erma Bombeck.
I am sharing my newsletter dated May 9, 2015 with you. This was written 3 months before Rita was murdered.
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. It has been a few years since both Sara and Abby and their families have been here to celebrate our motherhoods together. Also arriving will be Phoebe and Gino. This will be their first time together as puppy cousins Sniff, sniff, woof, and woof.
I imagine that when I write to you at this time next Saturday, I will have oodles of things to share with you. I can hardly wait!
Many of you continually ask me about my sister Rita. She is so busy with eight children, two adults and dogs, that she rarely finds time to text me or answer mine. I have bugged her for so long. I don’t know how she found the time but she wrote the most wonderful letter sharing how each of the children are doing in her witty, charming account. You will find it at the end of this letter in its entirety. If you are like me, you will read it more than once.
To understand Rita, you should know about our wonderful one-of-a-kind Mother. Her name is Nellie. She grew up in a large, poor family. Her compassion for children never waned. We would often come home from school to find a baby in Mom’s arms. She nurtured them for a short time until the parents could take over again. There was one little boy that we thought was going to be our little brother; however, that did not work out and we were all heartbroken. Our parents also raised their great niece.
Mom knew exactly what Rita and I needed. She was able to feed our hearts, souls and minds. We were very different in our personalities, but she knew how to nurture us into the caring adults we are today.
When Rita’s husband died and her grown daughter moved to New York City, it was no surprise to me that at the end of her education career, she would find a multi-rational family to raise. Boy is she good at it.”
Happy Mother’s Day Rita. Mom would be so proud of you, and so am I. Cathy
Their father has been talking to the older kids about being entrepreneurs and saving money. Chasity, who is now 12, took her first step toward financial independence by boxing up her outgrown clothes, listing them on Craig’s list, and selling them for $35. Not bad for a day’s work for a 12 year old.
Christian, 11, decided to do his monthly book report on a Bill Gates biography. He, like Bill Gates, has declared he will be a millionaire by the time he is 20. So he is selling his Xbox games for outrageous prices. (Don’t bother to give him gifts. He’ll sell them as soon as he get them.) Whey they have saved a tidy amount, they will try their luck at buying stock. We’ll see…the candy counter still has enormous appeal.
James is almost 9 and continues to move through life and the house at lightning speed. At first I thought his trail of clothes and school debris was forgetfulness or just plain laziness. But it might be that his clothes fly off as he whip around. Track and field is definitely in his future.
Christina is 8 and growing up fast. She can very capably get both baby boys into the tub, bathe them and get them ready for bed. She can be quite amazing. And clean house??? Like a professional. So it’s rather amusing that she can never remember what day it is or how to tell time.
Angelisha and Blessing are finishing kindergarten. I have never been able to spend much time in their classroom, but I know exactly what goes on there. Nearly every day the dolls are put in chairs ready for their lessons. Apparently a couple of them are little pistols as I hear their teachers say, “I can’t keep reading if you are going to talk.” Or, “Max, I’m going to have to ask you to leave the carpet.” They teach the dolls songs, sight words, and how to make letters. (Every ‘S’ I make is a curvy little snake.) I feel I have been to school with them.
General will be 2 next week and has emerged as dominant dog. He pretty much rules the house. Most families spring into action when they hear “The bus is leaving!” or, “There’s a fire in the oven!” At our house the call to arms is, “HE’S GOT A CRAYON!!” He is a budding artist and no matter how many huge pieces of paper we give him, he considers the walls his canvas. We have a program of Adopt a Wall. The older children have a section of wall for which they are responsible for graffiti removal. When they begin buying stock, it will probably be in Mr. Clean Erasers.
Genesis is now a happy robust 10 month old. Still toothless (not even a nub!). He gums French fries with the best of them. He gets his food via meals-on-wheels. His high chair is a baby walker, so in between bites, he cruises down the hall or backs into the living room. He hangs his arm over the side and looks over his shoulder like he is backing an 18 wheeler. It lengthens feeding time, but I get to grab a few bites while he is out an about.
This is beautiful. I was blessed to work with Rita and the Tyler children at First Presbyterian Church of Flint. She was immersed in keeping these children’s lives filled with meaning and the Lord. She was a constant presence, and I cannot imagine the empty space in their lives. I cared for baby Genesis from birth, Rita asked us to please give him plenty of one on one time and we gladly did so. The loss of these precious souls is still haunting us today and I hope that the murderer is caught soon.
Wonderful. Thanks for sharing. It is so good to read what Rita wrote, and hear her voice and her humor. I really do think of her often. She was the literacy coach at the school where I worked…Washington School, in Flint. She was a wonderful educator. I got to know her better through working with her at school. I introduced her to the P.E.O. Sisterhood, and she became one of my P.E.O. sisters. She was active until she became really involved with General and his family. But, we still kept in touch. I saw her at church and usually caught up with her then. And helped out with a few other things, as needed. I really miss her.
I see the kids often and are growing like weeds. I watched as Rita would be out working in the yard with all in tow. Could never figure out how she was able to do it. I asked her and she said because she loved them kids. Hard to look over there and not see her anymore. Harder to see her van over there sometimes and she’s not the driver.