Lee Family Choir, Mrs Lee's Homegoing
Choir at Mr. Wither's Homegoing
So it’s been a minute.
This is the beginning, of sorts and too maybe the end.
It’s interesting cause today I searched the name Alversa Williams Lee on Google and came up with the blog for the descendants of mandi, of which I am one, and a link back to this site I was not expecting in the least, but no matter.
Hmmm… I had some things to say here.
One, right now I’m sitting on the bed here in Memphis.
My name is Intisar Sobenna Abioto.
And I guess a big thing would be that I’m alive here.
Or I’m here.
I’m here right now. There are a couple of things I’m trying to get across.
Perhaps I should start quite simply that Alversa Williams Lee, my grandmother,
96 years old, born 1911 the year the titanic sank, last living of the 4th generations of Mandi, mother of 14.. 7 boys and 7 girls passed away last week on
Tuesday, October the 9th at her house in Binghampton Memphis.
Quite simply and easily she sat down on the couch, heaved a great breath and passed away. Her heart stopped.
As the story was told to me.. before this she said to the caretaker, whose very first day it was,
“ In case you did not know, my name is Alversa Williams Lee.”
That was around 12 pm and I was crosstown.
Hmm..perhaps this won’t really be long. You know I figured I’d have something to say on here about that.. I don’t know.. something poetic or moving or honest or true.. not really though. Some things come later you know.. or just after.
Its not so much words on this one but feeling or change. When I got the call ..something was different..felt so. I had to step into a new place in my living. Some part of my physical living self is gone. Like the mother root. So maybe in my living, my own living I’m in a new place or will be. But I started fasting during the daytime the next day all the way up into Saturday. It was an interesting time. portals opening and such..
that Monday I had been looking for a copy of a book of photography by Ernest Withers, a great Memphis photographer, legend, and family friend.
And that great person too passed away, just this very past Monday. There are many things to say, not all of which will be said right now. He was 85 years old. And was there to make the largest photographic documentation of the civil rights movement known, many Memphis people, civil rights activists, many music legends.
And you see both of these people were storytellers.
And both of these people were historians.
And both of these people were dreamers, active dreamers, dreaming a new way
And a new life.
And this makes me wonder about who we are.. you know I’m 21 of sorts.. whatever 21 means.. I won’t get into all but.. there are questions inherent in 21.. sometimes dare I even say doubts..
If these people could be so great.. if they could be so great.. what business have I to pretend to be anything else.. I mean honestly
Anywhere that I go
Speaking to anyone anywhere in the world.. what business have I to not speak aloud
And continue to tell the story and the many
And mine and myself and everyone
What business have I to do anything other than exactly what I was meant and am making myself to do
What business have you?
I accept nothing less really I think than this kind of excellence.
I accept nothing else really.
This is what I want.
That’s what I got.
Alversa Williams Lee
Ernest Withers Sr.
More on the life of Alversa Williams Lee
More on Mr. Withers in NY Times