Losing you was bittersweet for so many reasons, many only you and I share between us. Caring for you for the last couple of years now mark my greatest memories of you and how your tough love helped me grow into the person I am now. Spending those precious and compassionate moments with you cement the lessons learned from the challenging times in our relationship, giving me a broader understanding of what you were trying to teach me.
I remember you saying, “Feel your face”. That use to burn me up! I was so resentful because I thought you were not being compassionate about the emotional and physical pain I had suffered many years prior in a horribly abusive relationship that left me with broken bones in my face. I had forgotten about it until the day after you passed away and I shared it with mom and Rose and we laughed about it. I don’t think I fully appreciated that lesson until that moment. The scar on my face no longer reminds me of that horrific time in my life, it now reminds me of the greater lesson you were trying to teach me about thinking through my choices before I make them. (continued below images)
Our relationship was especially always challenged. We never seemed to see eye to eye and we clashed on almost every occasion. But God has a wonderful way of softening our hearts and tying us down to get the lessons we need. So, God put me in a position to be your caregiver because we are family, and family stands by family. I made the commitment to help my mom help you, thinking I was doing it for her, but in the end wanted to be there for every second to feed you, clean you, talk to you, and simply stand over your bed to look at you eye to eye like we always did when we silently pushed each other’s egos and hard surfaces back to reveal we were on the same page. The stare down was our thing. No one in the family understood!. We challenged each other like crazy. We chiseled each other. We were the iron sharpening iron, and I think in some way without us both consciously knowing it we were both better for it. I think on some deeper level we looked forward to challenging each other because we both knew it made us both stronger and better.
Reflecting, I am amused at how you gave me that look when I started calling you King Julian several years ago after your hip replacement surgery. You were stern like you generally are, especially when it comes to comments from me, until you learned it was a loving reflection to the “Move It, Move It” song in the animated movie “Madagascar” sung by the animated lemur King Julian. You then relaxed in the knowing that I was referring to you as the King of the family and owned that title proudly. The funny thing is that the rest of the family began calling you that too, so you became our King Julian, and I loved calling you King, or “KJ”.
The last two years with you have become my fondest memories because I got the opportunity to have some deep heart to heart conversations with you where we dialogued about our fears and discovered that we were seeing things on the opposite side of the same coin.
There’s so much more that I could say, so much. I miss my KJ and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to be with you throughout this whole healing journey and blessed to be with you when you took your last breath as my mom and I released you into your new experience. Happy Re-Birthday King Julian! I love you!
Your Daughter Diva
Life’s Story of Austin C. Moore, III
Austin C. Moore, III, son of Austin Jr. and Orgie L. Thames-Moore, was born in Jackson, Mississippi on September 17, 1943, shortly after which his family moved to Chicago, where he later graduated from Hyde Park High School. Although he enjoyed a rich family experience with numerous cousins and their siblings, he was the only child of Austin Jr. and Orgie.
Following high school, Austin attended Tougaloo College in Jackson, MS. After all, it was his father’s alma mater and that of most of his family. Haunted by the memory of the historical death of Emmett Till in 1955, Austin was passionate about working for change. He was only 12 years old when Till was lynched and murdered, but it never left his consciousness, bringing into focus the racism, cruelty, and inequality that dominated the landscape in his native Mississippi and throughout the South. When Austin arrived at Tougaloo College in Jackson, MS, he was determined to make a change and joined the resistance, working alongside Medgar Evers and Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). As a civil rights activist, he founded an organization called the Cultural-Artistic Coordinating Committee for Non-Violent Change and proceeded to lead his group to the integration of movie theaters, and large-group entertainment (i.e. concerts), which were staged for the sole benefit of the white citizens of Jackson. His work in this movement has been cited in several textbooks, including Watching Jim Crow, by Steven D. Classen, professor of Political Science at California State University (88-100), and The Revolution Wasn’t Televised, edited by Lynn Spigel and Michael Curtin. (307-322).
Austin was forced to run for his life after receiving death threats from the White Citizens Council of Jackson and the Ku Klux Klan. Safe from the perils of Mississippi, Austin went on to celebrate a 30-year career in Insurance Sales with Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company. Upon his retirement, he founded his own company, ACmoore Financial Services and provided valuable financial services to the Death Care Industry until his illness. His services included insurance factoring, fiscal management and consulting. Austin continued to study and learn more about his career as an Insurance professional. He enrolled in the American College and earned his Charter Life Underwriter (CLU) Designation in 1986, to demonstrate his standard of excellence as an Insurance Professional.
Austin held a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Metaphysics, a CLU in Life Insurance and was an ordained minister, scholar, and inspirational speaker. He studied under such noted teachers as the late Dr. O. C. Smith, Dr. Donald Curtis, Dr. Maisha Hazzard, Dr. Henrietta Smith, Dr. Barbara Parker-Hayes and Dr. Juanita Dunn. Reverend Moore continued his metaphysical studies and expected to receive his Doctoral Degree after completing his Masters. He provided pastoral counseling, practitioner prayer treatment and was a source of inspiration and joy to thousands of friends and family.
His only child Austin C. Moore, IV preceded him in death. To mourn his memory are his wife of 34 years Dr. Barbara Joe Verdun-Moore, his two daughters, Dr. Diva Verdun and Rosannette Verdun-Lyles, his grandchildren Crystal Lynn Gaynell Lyles-Polley, Ian McShane Verdun, Marvin James Verdun Lyles, Devyn Jo Kyleigh Lyles, his great-grandchildren, Aunt Edna Moore-Frisby, and a host of cousins and friends. Special thanks to Shun Newbern, and his staff at Metropolitan Mortuary for their professionalism and the production of this video.