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Letter from the Publisher

\'Nanny\'... the best coach I ever had.
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One day early in June as I entered my home, my wife met me at the door and told me my "Nanny" had passed away. Nanny was the elderly African-American lady who raised me from the moment of my birth until well past my high school days. Nanny was my coach for life.

It is an unfortunate part of the human experience that we cannot recall the things that happened to us when we were infants and small children. It seems that the earliest memories most of us have begin when we are about 6 years old.

What a shame it is that we cannot remember these times when psychologists tell us the most important part of the shaping of our minds and souls is taking place. The greatest teachers we will ever have are those people, who guide our lives at the time we are learning to talk, walk and feed ourselves along with the hundreds of other things we take for granted. I wish I could remember my earliest days; the days when Marietta May held me, loved me, changed my diapers and instilled in me a sense of security, self-worth and dignity that shaped my life and helped me throughout the valleys I have been forced to struggle through and to the mountaintops from which I have been fortunate to look out from. I know I am a better father, husband, friend and son because of the values Nanny instilled in me at a time before I even knew she was doing it.

I was lucky I had Nanny there for me. I have lived my life hearing the stories of how the first word I ever said was "Nanny." And how I used to stand up in my crib, look out the window and begin to jump up and down yelling Nanny as Marietta entered the backyard gate.

I guess if my other Mom was an insecure person she may have been jealous of the fact that her youngest child said the name of someone else before hers, but I am certain that thought never entered her mind, in the same way it would not have bothered her if I had said Daddy first. Mom just knew that I was saying my third parent's name.

For as long as I can remember, Nanny treated my brothers, sister and me as if we were one of her own. Never once did she treat me any different than any of her own children. And now that I have children I know the reason. It is very simple; she did not see us any different; we were her children. I thank Nanny's other children for sharing her with us.

But, memories are more than a few scant images and recollections. Memories live on each day in the lessons I teach my children and in the things I say and do. I have made more than my share of mistakes in my life and, yet, in each of those times when I was forced to make a decision, I knew in my heart the difference between right and wrong. I did not always choose wisely, but I knew the difference. I knew these things because of the values instilled in me by Nanny.

My children will never know her, but they will forever owe her a debt of gratitude because without her and the infinite goodness she bestowed upon me, I would not be 1 percent of the father and man I am today. My children will grow up not seeing people as black or white, but as human beings because of how Nanny raised us alongside her own children.

Throughout my life I have had at least 100 coaches, role models, and mentors. In each case, I can say that I learned something from these people and I am better off as a result of my relationship with them, but I know Nanny was the best coach I ever had. I'm not sure she ever saw a sporting event in her life. Yet, she taught me about fairness and not giving up in the words she spoke and the actions of her daily routines.

I guess some people may have a hard time understanding my feelings for Nanny. Yet, my whole relationship was summed up for me when I heard what my father said when her learned of Nanny's death, "What else can happen to someone in our family." That is what Nanny was to us... our family.

Goodbye Nanny... I'll miss you and love you forever.

Sincerely yours,

Barry Terranova


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