I want to honor the memory of an extraordinary woman who has left an indelible mark on my life - my nana, Loraine Byrd Fields-Latham, aka Smiley. She was a woman of faith, a promise keeper, and a beacon of love and compassion.
At just 18 years old, after a mishap involving her father's car, she made a promise to him that she would never drive again. She kept that promise until her last breath. This was the kind of woman she was - a woman of her word, a woman of integrity.
One of her most impactful teachings was "never look down on anyone unless you are extending a hand down to help them up." This phrase has not only shaped our lives but also inspired the creation of Love Thy Neighbor. This interactive children's book is a real-life reflection of the values she instilled in us - myself, my brother Jarrod, her daughter (my mom) Narda, and my dad, Curry.
Her influence led me to establish a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting the homeless. My brother Jarrod, inspired by her teachings, became an entrepreneur, helping others declutter and improve their financial literacy. My mom, Narda, founded a nonprofit aimed at uplifting women with low self-esteem and also started a catering and meal prep business. My dad, Curry, has always been a voice for the voiceless.
Love Thy Neighbor is more than just a book; it's a tool to teach children about empathy, kindness, and not judging others. As my mom always says, "we are all one decision away from their situation." The book offers fun yet impactful activities that help instill these values in our young ones.
Nana Loraine's legacy of faith, love, and compassion continues to guide us. We strive to live by her teachings and to pass them on to others. Her life was a testament to the power of faith, the strength of promises, and the importance of love and compassion. We are forever grateful for the lessons she taught us and the love she gave us. Her legacy lives on in us, and through us, it will continue to touch the lives of many others.
I want to honor the memory of Loraine Byrd Fields-Latham, affectionately known as Smiley. Born in Enoree, South Carolina, to Marie and Jurell Byrd Sr., Smiley was the second oldest child and the oldest daughter. She played a significant role in raising her younger siblings and, at the tender age of 18, migrated to Philadelphia.
Smiley was a mother to four children and three bonus children. She was a faithful servant of Jesus, an amazing cook, and the creator of the best sweet potato pies in the world! Her selflessness was unparalleled. Even towards the end of her life, when she was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and in severe pain, she would answer the phone with a cheerful, "Praise The Lord."
Her beautiful smile, her crazy loud snore , and her wise advice are just a few of the things that made Smiley so special. But it was her unwavering faith, her boundless love, and her selfless nature that truly set her apart.
No words could ever fully capture who Smiley was or the love she gave. She was a beacon of faith, a pillar of strength, and a source of endless love and support. Her legacy lives on in the lives of those she touched, and we strive every day to honor her memory by living out the values she taught us.