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Dear Mama

(My sister Jennifer)

Happy birthday, Ma. I know I didn't do for the kids the way you would have, but I think they know that I love them. It hasn't been easy, but then again, I'm not you. You made everything look easy. Whatever they did to be helpful to you, I don't think applies to my house. We all wanted to please you. But we're still learning how to be decent to each other. And since I'm thinking about it, how did you get us to all get along? I know how to make peace, but how do you get someone else to think about the other person, when they're making peace? You really made everything make sense.

I pray that I have instilled in my kids the same faith that I saw you exercise every day. Undaunted, irrepressible, when-the-chips-are-down-and-you-still-have-a-praise faith. I want them to know that nothing is impossible, no matter what anyone says, or what the situation looks like. I want them to know what their legacy is. Because of you, they know who Jesus is. Rest well, because we will see each other again.


(My Nephew Ben 'BeBe')

On this very day 66 years ago God blessed my great grandparents with a beautiful healthy baby girl by the name of Barbara Jean Campbell Gear well back then she was a Campbell but now she was a Gear. One of the things that I remember about my Nana is that she was a prayer warrior a worshipper a good singer a good southern cook great scrabble player who taught me how to play and though she didn't make it to college she had the brain smarts of a college student. Though she had endured heart break pain and she took ignorance from others she had those who liked her and really loved her and it's hard to not love a woman of God. When things went crazy the first thing nana did rather then show her emotions she went to God in prayer and regardless she knew God had her best interests. The talks we had about school women anything she was the one just like mom who counseled me and shaped me into the man I am today. When mom died you stepped up and took care of us up until your last breath. I miss you a lot and know that you are watching us as we pray for you. We may have disagreed on certain things we made up and laughed together and cried so Today we celebrate your life and the legacy you paved the way for us to live the life you wanted us to. You said congrats on your endeavor go out and make it so. Next month I start school and this degree is for you and mom. I for one am blessed to not only have your initials but is proud to call you my Albertina. RIP Barbara Gear also known as my Albertina July 24,1951 -November 17, 2013. Grace and Peace RunTellit!!!~ Benjamin Gear

(My sister Jewel)

I never let myself imagine Mama passing. All I could see, when the thought fleetingly entered my mind, was me going to bed one day and just never getting out. Not that I wished to disappear, I just did not see myself existing without her. She makes me make sense. She is my better angel. If you ask anyone who knew me then and knows me now, they would say the difference in me is the loss of her. Some people are able to focus on the good life their loved one lived, but all I see are all the things that I miss without her here. The loss of her is like an open wound that, even if it's mildly grazed, starts to bleed profusely. Most days, I have to push thoughts of her from my mind because I would just break down. I love my mama with everything in me and she loved me the same. And I know no one will ever love me like that again. I have said she is my soulmate and I mean it. And I am lost without her. I think the only saving grace is that she had me as her executor. If I didn't have that, I probably would have curled up into a ball and died. Thank God for his strength to get up every day. I miss my mama. I would give anything, trade anything to have her back.

I will go on, as I have every day since she left us. But today is just really very hard.


Today would’ve been your 66th birthday and almost four years since you’ve left us. I don’t think my thoughts and feelings differ much from that of anyone who has lost a parent. My experience behind those feelings, however, is specific to me and me alone.

As the baby and only boy I got a special kind of love from you. You saw me through eyes I will never fully understand. When you and dad split I became a pretty bad kid. I remember times you telling how you hated when the phone rang at night because you always feared for my well being. Many nights I did call you, needing a ride from jail. I remember when I left the state and got locked up in New York for ten days and didn’t call or say anything until I needed you to come save me. You got to New York two days later and was there when I was led into night court in Chemung County. My DUI’s and/or unpaid child support that wound me up in jail, you’d come save me. When I thought life wasn’t worth living and tried to kill myself. I can’t imagine what I’d do if I had to take that call about Keyah. With zero judgement you came and saw me, welcomed me home...you always saved me.

You always told me I was favored by God and that you were praying for me. I didn’t understand why. I saw the situation you were living in and through. I never understood how you could be so devout to a God that partnered you with my father for almost twenty years. Once freed from him you had to struggle with day to day obligations. I resented God for this. Your faithfulness to the church and God knew no bounds. I apologize, I never made anything in your life easier. How you maintained a smile is amazing. Though I have a better understanding of your faith it is still awe inspiring.

Your commitment to family was huge. I know I never showed up for pretty much anything, unless a girlfriend made me, but you were never not there serving as the glue for our family. I have a son, Noah that I am getting to know now. I struggle hard, so hard to connect with him given he is now 5 and I’m just now participating in his life. I want so much to tap into the emotion you so freely and authentically gave every time I popped with a new girlfriend with a kid in tow. God and family were your true joy and so whatever else was going on outside of those things you really didn’t pay any mind to. To me now, that is still such an amazing thing.

Your faithfulness to God through it all and your unconditional love for me (through it all) are why I am alive today. You never stopped praying and those prayers are being answered. Because you couldn’t see me suffer I never was going to be uncomfortable enough to grow. I don’t have you to save me from myself anymore and that has backed me into a corner where I have to go where you’ve been trying to steer me all along, to God. It breaks my heart to think that I could only become a better man after you were gone. But I know it broke your heart to live and see me not being the man you know I could be.

My relationship with you was clearly different than with the girls. Your frequency and type of communication was so much more personal with them. I hated myself for many months looking back at how I’d spent my entire time with you not building that relationship that a mother and son should have. I feel like the girls miss you from a place of who they lost from their life. I miss you from a place of who I never let into mine and that hurts so bad. How many times I’ve played back your battle with Cancer and how Jewel and Jen were missing work to be in town and with you every step of the way. How I lived IN the same town as you and only came to the hospital three times. How selfish I was to say “I don’t want to see her like that.” as though that was a valid reason when you were fighting for your life. I’m so so so sorry. How I used your pain to justify more drinking, more familial separation, and more self-destruction. It’s disgraceful.

I will never get to fuss at you for washing paper plates or sweeping the carpet. I’ll never get to hear you sing while washing your hair. I will never get to hug you or hear that octave jump in your voice when I came over unannounced and you’d yell “My baby!” BUT: Today, I am not the person you last saw. Today I am sober. Today I actively love my sisters and my kids. Today I’m not lucky to avoid a charge, today I just don’t do illegal things. Today I have a relationship with God that is my source of all. Today I write, I pour my heart out on every page to try to put good, light, and hope back into a universe I have so greedily taken from. Today, I care.

I didn’t make it easy but you loved me through it all. Who you are, what you wanted for me, why you believed, and how you made it makes so much more sense now. My goal is to live a life you can be proud of and I try to make strides in that everyday. You are forever missed and forever loved.

Always (your favorite child),


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