To Uncle Wo-Wo, With Love

Uncle Wo Wo

By Dawn Onley

Watching someone you love slip away is one of the most painful things we will ever experience in this life. It’s the downside to love – knowing that someday we will lose our loved ones in the physical realm.

One day they will break our hearts, or we will break theirs. That’s the way love goes.

Then the memories flood our minds and we are assured that no one who is loved deeply and completely is ever truly gone – they remain with us as permanently as DNA is imprinted in our genes, permeating our cells. Our hearts always remember.

The raucous laughter. The conversations. The jingling of pocket change to fund an afternoon treat. How family gathered around the piano as my grandfather made magic, and the singing that ensued with my uncles, aunts, cousins and anyone else who could carry a tune.

As their numbers dwindle, we cling to the memories to keep them alive in spirit.

Memories like what kind of candy to buy at Mr. Barnes’ corner store. I would stare at the display case hoping the candy would choose me. Usually grape or apple Now & Laters won out, but I was also fond of Lemonheads and Alexander the Grape box candies. I had a serious sweet tooth.

Uncle Reggie would sometimes foot the bill.

Broad in size and gregarious in demeanor, his whole body shook when he laughed. It was impossible for you not to laugh along with him. He was the family storyteller – lively and animated in his delivery. In some ways, Uncle Reggie — whom my siblings and I affectionately called Uncle Wo-Wo — was the heart of the family. He shows up in many of my childhood memories over at my grandparent’s house. He lived just down the street from them and he would drop by daily. I thought he was cool.

He would put the radio on and grab me up to dance. He always had the latest dance moves. I thought he was fun.

He wore his hair in a ‘fro for much of my childhood. I remember his wide collars and 70s pants, along with the Lavar Burton/Kunte Kinte poster that hung proudly and unapologetically in his basement.

As a young child, I spent a lot of time around him at my grandparents but also because my parents and he sang on the same church choir – the Quinntones. He often sung lead and was known to walk right off the choir loft and down the middle aisle of the church before his song was through – getting the whole church waving and swaying along with him. Man, he knew how to drag out a song! He was a local celebrity in his own right — vocally gifted, highly regarded, whom everyone knew and loved.

Yesterday, he made his transition to a new life where the old spirituals teach us there’s no tears or sadness. He joins his son, Tony, his mom and dad, his brothers, Uncle Darryl and Uncle Dickie, his grandparents, aunts and uncles, and a host of other relatives and friends.

I know he’s smiling again. And singing. He’s in no more pain. And like those who went before him, he would want us to keep loving and to cherish the family and friends who are still here with us.

We will do that. To honor him, and to heal ourselves.

When death comes, as it has several times in the past 17 months for my family, we hug a little tighter and a little longer until we know we will be alright.



10 Comments Add yours

  1. Shel says:

    My prayers are with you & your family as you mourn & celebrate the life of your Uncle.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ann says:

    Great post, Dawn. You captured the essence of what he was about. We all can take out a pencil and pad and take notes on how to live your life by the example he set without even knowing it. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. womenwhohope says:

      Thanks Aunt Ann. We sure could model our lives by the example Uncle Reggie set. I thank God for all of you guys. You each add something unique and beautiful to the family pot and I feel richly blessed to have been born into this family. Love ya.


  3. Juanita White says:

    A lovely tribute to your uncle. This also brought back fond memories of my family as I was growing up. I love reading this blog (WomenWhoHope) because it is so inspirational and encouraging.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. womenwhohope says:

      Thanks Juanita. Family is special. Memories are treasures.


  4. Karen Hall says:

    Dawnie, you’ve done it again. This one truly touched my heart because of my love for my brother Reggie. Thank you for sharing a bit of who he was soooooo beautifully. This blog is amazing because of you and Samantha. May God continue to bless you two as you pour out your thoughts and feelings to inspire and uplift others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. womenwhohope says:

      Thanks Aunt Karen. Our family is truly special. We have faith, love, laughter, and joy. I feel immensely blessed to have been born into it, with all of you — grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. — all of whom helped me to become who I am today. Love ya.


  5. Deborah Hill says:

    Dawn your words, thoughts and memories of my child-hood friend, Reggie and your Uncle Wo-Wo was right on point! Your words were beautiful written! I want to add, myself, Ann, Reggie, and Brown along with other friends as young adults we use to hang out together on the week-ends, we had such a great time dancing, and laughing until our sides would ache, of course Reggie would be the one to start it! We had such a good time, we all were so innocent, I can remember when we all use to go out on a Saturday night dancing late, but we would get up to go to church and we would laugh about the night before how much fun we had, while putting on our robes to sing on the choir! I loved Ann and Reggie as if they were my brother and sister, I was at their home as much as mind. I may have lost touch with him and his family, but I would see him at the hospital/Emergency room, he was a guard at the window. We would laugh and talk and I would ask him about Ann, etc… He was still the same happy Reggie!


    1. womenwhohope says:

      Thanks for the beautiful memories, Mrs. Debbie. I’ll add them to my collection of memories to reminisce on when times get sad. Uncle Reggie was certainly the life of the party, with a smile wide enough to light the sky.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s