FEATURES AND TRIBUTES
I still cry burning tears for you Vivian, my love, my heart
By JARRETTE FELLOWS, JR.
Herewith is my deeply heartfelt tribute to Vivian Joselle Fellows, my wife of 27 years, who was lifted to glory on Sunday, July 18, 2021.
Before I express what Vivian meant to me and what I meant to her, I want to thank all of you—my family and friends for wrapping your arms around me and my children on our tremendous loss of a wife and mother. Your prayers and condolences have eased a difficult time of grief, and we will be forever beholden to you for your expressions of love and compassion.
Vivian was not only my wife, she was my soul mate. We were together 27 years and 6 months. We melded together during those years. She was my biggest advocate, cheerleader and confidant, the gentle breeze at my back, who held fast to an unadulterated belief in me that never waned.
My eyes fill with burning tears at the thought of her. I loved her profoundly for all she meant to me.
Vivian Joselle Fellows
Vivian’s name means life. Some might say she succumbed to death on that fateful, wee-hour morn of July 18 at 2:20 a.m. I beg to differ. Vivian gained freedom from the shackles of her suffering of the past several years, that day. My wife was a Christian soldier. Christ Jesus called her out of her physical brokenness and lifted her to glory where she suffers no more. She finished her race.
Our family prayed that God would lift Vivian from the sick bed where she had lay for 4 long years strapped by a host of ailments. The Lord heard our plaintive prayers and healed her pain. Vivian’s travails are over and her quality of life has sprang eternal, as confirmed by the holy scripture of 1 Corinthians 15:55; “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
No one knows how we will handle the loss of a loved one until it occurs. I have never cried or lamented so much. I am broken because I could do nothing to physically improve Vivian’s condition. Prayer for her renewal in this life wasn’t in God’s plans for her. But she is free now and I will celebrate with her On High, where she is embraced jubilantly now. And though we mourn, my son and daughter—Jharmaine, and Jaslyn, endeavor to remember the best of our beloved matriarch.
She was truly a regal and beautiful Queen. Fashion-conscious to the nth degree, Vivian had an exquisite taste for fashionable women’s attire and could dress with the best from head to toe. She loved trendy female head wear and exemplified beauty, grace, poise, especially for Sunday worship, her most active pursuit outside of work. Suits, dresses, skirts, and heels adorning her slender 5’11 figure belonged on the runway, to which she did grace at an earlier time in her life.
Everyone who knew Vivian will agree she possessed numerous admirable qualities. She laughed easily bearing a great sense of humor, loved singing and listening to Gospel music. Given all of this—Vivian never indulged her ego. She was the kindest soul you could ever meet. Never given to harsh words, she always exuded a gentle spirit.
Vivian was born into the world on Jan. 13, 1956 in Los Angeles, Calif. to Frank and Mattie Holly, the eldest of four children, reared in the church. She grew up singing Gospel music with her siblings, a talent that was passed down from her musically inclined parents — both of whom shared a passion singing Gospel music: Frank as a member of the “The Traveling Four,” a well-known Gospel quartet in the 1950s; and Mattie, as a member of the Jerusalem Church of God in Christ Mass Choir in Los Angeles.
I met Vivian in 1993. A mutual friend arranged for us to meet on a sunny weekday afternoon at the New Life Gospel bookstore in Los Angeles. Vivian and I both were the hazards of previous failed marriages. What did we have to lose?
I arrived for the meeting before Vivian did. When she walked through the door several minutes later in a fashionable two-piece suit that conformed perfectly to her, well, perfect figure, in two-inch heels, it was infatuation at first sight. It wasn't love at first sight because I didn't know a thing about her. But I was excited to learn who this exceedingly fine woman was. “She’s gorgeous!” I remember thinking.
We “clicked” immediately, exchanging small talk, trying vainly to play down our mutual attraction. But it was showing vociferously, something we would laugh about later.
Following a romantic courtship of six months—meeting for dinner, catching movies at the theater, attending her home church (which her father shepherded), and speaking on the phone for hours on end, where I often charmed her with original “poetic nothings,” (which I had done for females since my college days), we decided to take a giant step forward into Holy matrimony.
She walked into my life for one purpose—to be my Queen.
On Jan. 27, 1994, we became one, as Proverbs 18:22 confirmed: “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.”
Well, Vivian and I went on to enjoy one another’s love for 27 years and six months through both sunny days and stormy ones. Our love did remain. In February I fulfilled a promise to Vivian to publish a romantic anthology dedicated to her, titled Kisses Kindling, containing romantic poems I had written to her during courtship and thereafter. She received it while confined to a long-term care facility that was closed to public visitation at the time due to the COVID-19 threat.
I regret not being able to put the book directly into her hands. But through Facetime on our iPhones, I was gratified at how Kisses Kindling dazzled her, raising her spirits like a diamond ring. It infused me with a surge of joy to witness her response. It was priceless!
Like I said, for more than a quarter century, Vivian Joselle Fellows was the gentle breeze at my back. Even now I still feel her presence and encouragement.
As I conclude, speaking now to you Vivian; remember this dear heart: though we have parted through death as our vow said would occur—I will love you forever!