Mattie Luvenia was born to the late Mittie and George Covington on February 4, piercing her warmth into a cold winter’s day of 1937 for two sharecroppers in Marshville, N C. One spring day 15 years later, she met Zeb Hue Gillespie Sr., whom would be her husband and father of her 5 beloved children, Born to their union was - Linda Luvenia Gillespie -Thornton, Zeb Hue Gillespie Jr. (sadly deceased), Debbie Ann Gillespie -Lewis, Ruth Elaine Gillespie -Blakney and John Dennis Gillespie. She wanted her daughters to be strong and confident women – to accomplish more than she ever could. She wanted her sons to be noble and considerate men. And although early in their life, she could not be present in the way she wanted to be – this was always her prayer for them. It was her sincere hope that knew that and that they know that. After overcoming a tumultuous marriage, she took a monumental step and made her way to a new city. What she discovered there, was more trauma and an almost crippling loneliness – almost crying herself to sleep every night without her children. Undaunted and ever fearless, amid a people of radically different cultures and in the heart of what was an alien land to her; she found her sense of self -respect and the gumption to begin pursuing a career in nursing. She saved every dime she could to buy her dream house. Her blood, sweat and tears are in every brick of the home she would purchase in 1971, at the age of 34. She took great pride in her little garden in front of her new house. Luvenia had a “green thumb.” She said “there is a satisfying feeling in seeing your labor grow. There is a peace that can come over you as you nurture the flowers and plants in a garden”. I think that for Luvenia, working in the garden was a way to be the nurturing person that she always wanted the chance to be. She always said her secret ingredient was “sprinkling a little love in it.” Shortly after reuniting with her children, she gave a tremendous deal of her time, effort and energy to her grandchildren. She said “my grandchildren are my second chance”. Her final lesson to her children and grand -children, in her words would likely go something like this: “It feels like I’m giving you something you already know. But that’s it. Life is about humility and common sense. Go with your first mind, even if other people don’t get it. Be humble enough not t o just question other people, but also yourself. The comb o of common sense and humility will help you find the answers and know this: the truth will set you free, but it will make you miserable first. Finding the truth is only half the battle. Living the truth is the hard part and that takes thick skin.” On October 27, 2019 she fought her last fight, when she passed away after suffering significant health challenges. It is hard to for us say goodbye. She is survived by her 4 living children; 2 brothers Wilson and James; and 2 sisters May Ruth and Sarah. Sadly, her grandchildren Angela and Winfield are deceased. She is survived by her grandchildren: Jairus, John Jr, Jerome, Elvira, Tiffany, Jesse, Jeffrey, Serena, Quentin, Kevin, Robert and Zena Luvenia. We wish that we had more time, and perhaps that during the time we did have; that we had spent more of it together. We wish that so much of her life had not been lost to pain and illness and that things could have been different for her, and for us. While we know that she is at peace and that her struggles are at an end, there is sadness. But even though she is gone, she has left the legacy of her love and of her perseverance in each of us. The ways she touched our lives will remain always and forever.
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