"We all we got!"

Stephen and Granny

Our Granny

From the time I was a little girl, my mother empowered me to have a strong sense of self-worth.

"We all bleed red blood, La-Shawn, even though circumstances are different and people come from different backgrounds. Always remember: you're special. There's nobody better than you - we're all made equal."

That's how I grew up. It didn't matter if you had a lot of money or not; we were all the same. That's something that's always stuck with me.

Once I had my own family, my mother's legacy became theirs. My mother lived in a high-rise complex directly across the street from my three sons and me. Granny helped raise them and my niece and nephew. She loved each of her grandchildren individually - they all felt they could go to Granny, and she would give them her undivided attention.

Granny was the epitome of unconditional love, an excellent comforter, and an encourager. You could talk to her about anything. "We all we got!" she'd say. "Don't let anyone come between you cause we're all we have in the end."

She didn't just say it. She lived it fully. That's how it was with her and Stephen.

"We all bleed red blood. We're all made equal."

"We all bleed red blood. We're all made equal."

"I won't get to see Stephen graduate, and I won't see you all anymore."

Stephen is my middle child - the one who always seemed to be in trouble. From the first day of Head Start at age three until he was seventeen years old and in the eleventh grade, Granny was there for Stephen.

It wasn't easy. There was a constant parade of conferences and meetings at the school, and Granny was at every single one of them. She was the mediator - the in-between person to calm everyone down and straighten out the situation. She had that peacefulness about her, a calm presence that made you feel like everything would be alright.

Stephen formed an extraordinary bond with Granny. She was the only person he would tell every deep dark secret to. Granny stood by his side and supported him. She pulled him through all the hard times. That's why it was so painful for him when she passed.

Granny's last words before she was intubated were her three fears about crossing over.

"I'm going to miss you all," she said. "I won't get to see Stephen graduate, and I won't see you all anymore."

Stephen was HER Stephen. He was her baby, the one she was there for every step of the way, and she was so sad she wouldn't get to see him walk across that stage and graduate.

Granny went home on May 23, 2015. Stephen graduated a year later.

"I won't get to see Stephen graduate, and I won't see you all anymore."

While taking his graduation photos, the photographer told Stephen to pose. He didn't know how to; that's not something we usually do, so the photographer said, "just extend your cap out like you're trying to place it on someone's head." That picture matched perfectly with a photo of my mother sitting in a wheelchair.

I wanted to surprise Stephen with something special and finally create the moment they both always wanted. I had both images merged in a painting to make it look like they took that picture together. The way she was sitting and Stephen was holding the cap over her, it was like she was there. It made me cry, seeing them like that.

She wanted to be at his graduation, and it hurt her so much that she wasn't going to physically be able to be a part of that, only spiritually. Bringing her dream to reality represents everything they missed together. This moment we captured is more than a graduation memory. It's Stephen saying, "Here, Granny, take this. It's yours because I couldn't have graduated without you."

Stephen is now a dad to a beautiful little girl. He is raising her as Granny raised him, instilling the same ideals he received from his grandmother in his daughter.

The other day, Stephen said, "Mommy, I know Granny's gone, and it hurts, but I have everything she gave me - she gave me everything I need to move forward."

"I know Granny's gone, but I have everything she gave me - she gave me everything I need to move forward."

"I know Granny's gone, but I have everything she gave me - she gave me everything I need to move forward."

Gracie Bell Beasley was born June 22, 1939, in a little town in McDowell County named Fairday. She was an only child. She moved to NY after graduating high school, where she met her husband, Thornton Beasley. They were married on October 28, 1961, and had two children, Cheryl Beasley and Alicea Beasley.

Gracie Bell was a devoted Wife, Mother, and Grandmother affectionately known as Granny to five grandchildren before her passing on May 23, 2015. Her grandchildren are Aaron, Tia, Stephen, Micah, and Michael. Newly added to the list after her passing is her Great Granddaughter Gracie, great-granddaughter Sophia and Granddaughter Jael. Even though the newest three didn’t get to meet her, they know who “Granny” is. Granny had a special bond with all her grandchildren, each in their own way. She would have loved the extensions that came after her passing. But she had a special relationship with Stephen, her third grandchild. Granny is truly missed in so many ways by all of us who remain.