“Alicia, you can’t go forward in life looking in the rear view mirror!”
“Alicia, even if I don’t want to wear make up one day, I know I have to do it for Roe because he’s the one looking at me. And if you don’t want to wear it, you better rethink that, because there will be others that are going to be looking at you and you want to look your best!”
“Alicia, if I don’t like what someone is wearing, I just smile and say nothing at all.”
“Tammy, what do you think of my dress tonight? I wore it in high school. Isn’t it amazing that it still fits?” She responded, “Alicia, can you help me open this car door?”
I laughed. There was my answer!!
All of these pearl essences of divine wisdom were shared with me by the one and only, Goddess Tammy Faye Bakker Messner. I was blessed to work with her on the documentary we made called “Tammy Faye: Death Defying.” Award-winning filmmakers, Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey, the brilliant creators of World of Wonder Productions, Inc. – who made the legendary documentary, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” – together with Tammy, they conceived of the idea of filming Tammy’s journey through her experience with cancer. Tammy wanted to help other people who were going through a similar challenge. It was brought to life for the WE Network in 2004. Wonderful, talented Chris McKim directed and I produced.
Day after day in Matthews, North Carolina – Chris and I would film Tammy as she set about her various forms of treatments. We did yoga together. We sang songs at her organ. We ate frozen yogurt and chased after her little Yorkies when they ran out of the house. Tammy and Roe listened to old records and danced throughout their home.
When we would drive to locations, Tammy would positively exclaim, “Stop the car! We have to go power shopping!” or “I want to go see my friends at the house.” She directed us right to a group of people living in a nursing home, struggling with AIDS. She would sit with them, hold their hands and talk with them. We would shoot for a little bit, then the crew just waited on the porch, watching the sun start to set until Tammy had finished her visit. There were days when Tammy didn’t feel well enough to film. The next day she would get her strength back, make a pan of her famous fudge and tell us to keep shooting. Goddess bless her heart, but she kept on marching forward.
She would say to me time and again, “Alicia, my grandmother Fitzgerald always said to me, ‘Tammy Faye, we have no pity parties! You put on your bootstraps and you keep on walkin’!’”
Goddess Tammy Faye’s birthday is this coming Saturday, March 7th. If she were alive, she would have been only 73 years young. I miss her dearly. The day my husband Eduardo asked me to marry him, it was the morning I was going to see Tammy during the last days of her illness. Ed and I said at the same time, “Let’s ask Tammy to marry us!”
The ring was antique and needed to be reinforced – so not wanting to risk damaging it traveling, I flew to North Carolina wearing the most gigantic, colorfully brilliant, sparkling, fakest purple ring I could find and said, “Look Tammy, Ed asked me to marry him!” Tammy screamed with excitement! (Tammy loved faux, gigantic jewels!) Immediately we started crying. She loved Ed.
I asked, “Will you come to Los Angeles and marry us?”
“Oh, I would love to! I’ve never performed a wedding! It will be my first!”
Tammy hugged and hugged me, sweet little frail beauty that she was at the time. Then we put on her favorite leopard-print dressing gowns, climbed on top of her bed, her husband Roe ordered us cheese pizza, and we laid there with her little dogs and watched Sandra Dee in “Doctor, You’ve Got to Be Kidding!”
It was the last time I saw her. She went to Heaven just about three weeks later.
Thinking of Tammy, I am reminded – we cannot face life without having the seed of belief and faith.
We cannot experience the journey of transformation without taking the first step.
We cannot know what God has in store for us, so we must march forth.
“Tammy, I am in fear because I don’t have a job right now.”
“Alicia, pray to Jesus. Ask him. Tell him exactly what you want. He is with you, every step of the way…”
Tammy would start praying right there over the phone for me ~ flowers of light and beauty and loveliness came forth from her, flowing over the mobile towers of Los Angeles as I walked down Larchmont Boulevard…tears flowing through me, joy overtaking fear ~ because Tammy shared her faith and made it so!
March is the month of FAITH. Tammy had tremendous faith. She never waivered from it. Even in her darkest moments, she BELIEVED and DECLARED that GOD WAS WITH HER. Jesus, her dearest friend, was always by her side. She new she would be taken care of. She knew she had a higher purpose. She had total belief that God was showing her the way, day after day.
I didn’t set out this morning to write about Tammy. I did set out to write about faith. The faith we all need to help get us through the day. Sometimes, we just need a little burst of LIGHT to encourage us, “March forth, Darling ~ You can do it!”
But I sat here in the sunrise and I could feel Tammy all around me. I wish I could hug her and say, “Gorgeous, THANK YOU! It’s because of you, TAMMY, that I don’t let fear grip me, I just put on my bootstraps and I keep on walking!” We all march forth!