Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Orain Benjamin Reddick: 1 year later

August 1st 2016 I was asleep and my phone rang at 4:42 a.m. it was Kenneth Reddick. I missed the call but I remember thinking to myself that he called me in error. I picked the phone up and I called back Kenneth answered saying " Renata he gone" I can't recall much after that but sobbing on the floor. I called Neisha and she answered and within 15 minutes Nashira was in my dining room. I think I even called his phone to see if he would answer. The entire day was so surreal! I remember logging on to Facebook and my entire timeline was filled with rest in peace post. I got in the car and turned on the radio and his name was being shouted out! It was like the entire city mourned his loss. I was sad but also proud to have known someone who affected the lives of so many. We met officially more than ten years ago while getting my hair done at Carlos' shop then we worked together at a mortgage banking company. We used to have town hall meetings at work and in this one particular meeting the CEO of the company was expected to attend. I remember getting to work and Orain was dressed in a bright yellow sweater with a bow tie and slacks. Everybody on the team laughed because he was overdressed. All day long Orain told us how we would not be laughing when he became the CEO. Long story short at the end of the town hall he was talking to the CEO, shaking his hand and taking pictures. That picture ended up all over the company website and in print! That was classic Orain always making something bigger than it was and inserting himself and eventually taking over. Orain had a way of making everything he was involved in grandiose, it was the next big thing and if you knew him you had to support it or you were dumb! I have so many fond memories over the course of our friendship and I am going to capture as many as I can.

First on family anyone that knew him knew that he LOVED his family!! He often talked about his father Bill that preceded him in death and how he was tough on him. He said that people often told him that they were just alike. He also often talked about his sister who too preceded him in death. He adored his nephew Joel and admired him as a young father. If you knew him you knew how much he loved his big brother Kenneth and that he thought he was his daddy. Orain would always say "He ain't my daddy, my daddy dead"! lol. Anyone that knew him knows he didn't play about Ms. Barbara he would talk trash but he drove her to church and doctors appointments, he named her Jesus secretary. He shared with me that he had loved "Moni" since he was fourteen years old and that he had been pursuing her pretty much his entire life.

One of my fondest memories of him was his interactions with the kids Nazah, Selah, Judah and Jordyn. He loved challenging them he was extremely hard on them because he wanted the best. He was so proud of all of them in all their endeavors. He wanted Nazah to go to college and drive a brand new fuel efficient Prius. He attended all of her sporting events and was the loudest one cheering and after took other kids home who didn't have a ride. He believed wholeheartedly that Selah would one day be the best basketball player! He once ordered a huge life size cut out of her face and held them up at her game. He used to call Judah "The Big Hurt" his favorite son. He was hard on him because he thought he needed to prepare him for the harsh realities of the world. Finally Jordyn she could do no wrong in his eyes. He said she took after Ms. Barbara. She was his feisty fast track runner and he knew one day she would be an olympic runner.

On friendship Orain was an extremely supportive and dedicated friend. You didn't have to solicit his advice because he gave it without you asking. You could call him for a laugh, business advice or moral support. If you were working on a project and you went to him then it became his project too as if it were his creation and he took over the project. He made sure to tell everyone he loved them which honestly for me was weird but eventually you had no choice. He told me that the doctors told him he wouldn't live beyond his teen years due to sickle cell anemia. This was the reason he told people he loved them because it might be his last time. I saw Orain the Thursday before his death and I was in a meeting. He walked past the room I was meeting in and noticed me so he turned around to speak. I was seated at a conference room table and the table had files on it. He walked in shook the woman's hand whom I was meeting with and said boldly "Hi I am Orain Benjamin Reddick" then he picked up the file and asked "Who is this" I snatched the folder and we laughed. The following day we spoke by phone for about 30 minutes. Two days later he was gone. I have never lost a close friend especially one who I talked to almost daily. This entire experience has taught me to cherish life because it truly is precious. I now tell my friends that I love them with no inhibitions. Most importantly I live in the spirit of Orain. By that I mean nothing stops me he never made excuses that he couldn't do something because of sickle cell. If he had an idea he executed it rather or not he had the resources or not. he believed in himself and those around him. I partnered with him in 2015 to feed the homeless. Orain setup donation drop off locations and created a system where we passed out 250 bagged lunches for the homeless once a month.

Orain and 18 others protested the Sheriff's Office standing in solidarity with other cities who lose citizens to police violence. He and the others stopped traffic by shutting the Harts Bridge down. As a result Orain and the others were arrested. This was a bold move and it took great courage. Once he was released the next day he said "You're not an activist until you get arrested" and he began to compare himself to Dr. Cornel West. All the way until his last day on earth he spent it giving back to others. He went on a young male retreat with the Building Powerful Minds group. This group serves at risk black males ages 5 to 18. I told this story at his wake but he was also the Vice President of the Raines PTA association. He told me he was unanimously voted in at his first ever meeting. I later found out that there were only three members in attendance!!

No matter what capacity you knew him in you loved him. Orain was a husband, father, son, friend, Kappa, 21Q, Orie Gold, basketball coach, real estate agent, mentor, sickle cell warrior, bow tie designer, activist, follower of Dr. Sebi, The greatest debater and a bee keeper!!!!!!!!

There has not been one day over the last 365 that I have not thought of O or been reminded of him. Rather it be a bow tie, a political issue, hearing Outkast or simply wanting to have a debate about some world issue. Orain you are greatly missed. I can literally hear your voice tell me that life is chess not checkers and when I make decisions they are strategic and not based on emotion. I thanked you in my first book because I remember you telling me from your hospital bed "Either write it or shut up". So I did! I miss visiting the hospital and bringing you peach Nehi, sunflower seeds, watermelon blow pops and Zaxby's. I miss talking on the phone in the morning while you drop the girls off and they fist fight in the background. I miss the debates, the rants and the trash talking during football season.

Lastly speaking of the Jags the day before your wake I spoke with Gus Bradley's wife (former head coach of the Jaguars) and informed her of your passing she passed the message to him and as I exited your wake he was outside. That's the affect you had on people that at the start of the season an NFL coach came to say goodbye.

This was a hard year but we somehow made it. I have to constantly remind myself that legends don't die they live on through those of us that loved them. You will never be forgotten. I will carry you everywhere I go and I will tell everyone I come in contact with what an awesome friend and community leader you were. WE ALL WE GOT. Frick with no Frack. Until we meet again......

P.S. Nazah I know he is proud of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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