It’s not LIFE that test families; it’s DEATH. -Damon Bryant

The above is a very true statement. Unfortunately you see peoples true character when you are down, sick and/or not able to do for yourself and that’s a hard pill to swallow especially if you were the type of person who was ALWAYS there for others.

It’s no secret.. my birth mother threw me away at a very young age.  Street life and drugs did not fit into the equation of being a mother to three children.  If it had not been for my father’s sister Joyce, my life would have turned out very different. I thank God everyday for the angel he put here on earth to watch over and care for me. She is technically my aunt but for all intensive purposes, she’s my mom. She was ALWAYS there for me and so many others.

Joyce T. Semper

On January 1, 2015 at 8:50 AM the lord called for his angel to return home. Her work here on earth was done. She was 83. I cry for her everyday because I miss her so.

The photo below, the girl with the pigtails and big teeth.. that’s me. lol  and the lady wearing the glasses with the big smile on her face, that’s my mom. That’s how she truly was..a joy to be around. The sweetest, kindest, most thoughtful and generous person that ever walked the earth. NEVER spoke a harsh mean word about anyone. She believed in the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would have them treat you.

She was a wonderful mother to me and an even better grandmother to my son 🙂


She told us she had never heard of “Grandparents Day”. I loved seeing her smile when we gave her gifts.

Grandparents Day


 We knew once we got to her house she would feed us whether we wanted it or not (LOL) because that’s the kind of person she was. We would help her with anything whether she wanted it or not because that’s how much we loved and appreciated her. We lounged around, relaxed and had lots of laughs and conversations about nothing really… just being there was all we needed.

 Holiday PrepHome2

Then October 29th 2014 happened. The phone rung 5:50AM. The voice on the other end was my mom’s neighbor and my cousin. The conversation ended when I heard the word “stroke”.  As I got dressed to drive over to her home I prayed it wasn’t that. I’m the medical professional and in my mind this wasn’t happening.  I needed to see the signs and symptoms in order for this to be real. When I arrived I knew indeed this was the real deal…….she had a stroke.  🙁


After several tests to confirm the heart breaking news there seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Doctors believed she could regain a lot of the function back she had lost on her right side due to the stroke. They recommended sending her to a rehabilitaion center and so we did just that!! Nieces, Sisters, Nephews, Cousins, Friends, Neighbors….we all rallied to support her in this tough battle she was facing. We knew she could do it AND she wanted to do it because she wanted to get back home and sit in her rocker on the porch.


With pooh

Unfortunately, while at the rehabilitaion center other health problems developed and back to the hospital we went but “that’s okay” I thought because this was just a minor set back and she would be back working hard at regaining strength and function of her right side.

Eventually she started to feel a little better and I was happy! So we spent most of our Thanksgiving Day together here in her hospital room. I retwisted my hair and she went through her mail 🙂

Hospital Round2

After some time she was able to return to the rehabilitation center and focus on her goal of trying to walk again. She was there for only a short time when the unthinkable happened. After leaving work I went over to the rehab center for my daily visit before going home. She was asleep when I arrived so I put away her laundry and sat until I woke her for dinner. Moments later she’s in distress; she could not breath. I get help.. as I held her hand I’m witnessing the ultimate panic on her face. Her body had gone into respiratory failure. 🙁

My heart was in my stomach. Knowing she had been placed on a ventilator was heart breaking. This machine was breathing for her because she could not do it herself.  I cried more during this period than I ever had before. We all knew this was not her wishes but we wanted to see what changes would come. Being a nurse I knew what was coming next. I tried pulling off my “nurse” hat and putting on a “regular” hat so that I could think everything would be fine and she would come out of this unscathed but in my heart I knew this would not be true.

She had developed pneumonia. This would be the toughest battle of her life.

My heart would not allow me to be any where else but with her. My husband and child understood completely; this is where I needed and WANTED to be. I feared these days could be our last.

Things were looking up…well, kinda. The ventilator tube was out; she still had some difficulty breathing and she was doing as well as she could considering…


But when the doctors and nurses call you out into the halls to discuss her prognosis you better prepare yourself to hear bad news. I guess that’s easier said than done because I wasn’t prepared to hear the words “hospice house”. Everytime those words were spoke I felt a flood of tears welling in my eyes. We all knew what that meant. The end of life is the hardest pill to swallow.

Hospice House

Tuesday December 30, 2014 we arrived at Melech Hospice House Tampa. As I looked around her room as serene as it was I could not stop looking at the time. TIME was not on our side. I wished I could have just turned back the hands of time prior to October 29, 2014.. that was my DREAM. I had hoped I could call that number on the wall and she would tell me “I’m doing better and I can go home tomorrow” but of course that was just in my head.. my DREAM.


Above are the last images I snapped as I left her there inside the hospice house. The door locked behind me. It was interesting they had blue lights on the Christmas tree. It described my mood since this whole thing happened…blue 🙁

I wear my wonder woman shoes often because most days I feel like I’m wonder woman  LOL… but as much as I tried to stay strong and “keep it together” most nights when I got home I drowned my tears with bubbles and a wine cooler. Normally I may have a wine cooler 4 times a year.

The goal was to walk again after the stroke. To go back home and sit on her porch. We all wanted to see this become a reality.

MomGod had other plans. She had done what she was sent here to do. She was and will always be an angel. I hope she continues to look over me and guide me in the right direction. I’m thankful for every moment we shared. The greatest gift she ever gave me was the opportunity to have a life. She provided a safe, happy and healthy environment to grow in.

Joyce T. Semper

…and for that I’ll be eternally grateful for the woman I grew to know as my mom. She’s irreplaceable. I miss her so much.


  • January 4 - 4:20 pm

    Tora Carter - So sorry for your loss. May you and your family be comforted during this time.
    Stay blessed sis

    (You captured some beautiful images.)ReplyCancel

  • January 4 - 4:33 pm

    Eugenia - Sending you Hugges Hugges and more hugges. ❤❤ReplyCancel

  • January 4 - 5:21 pm

    Danielle Jones - The beauty in her shows through you. I feel all the love through the pain in your words. I met your aunt as a teenager and she was so sweet (just like you). I know life won’t be the same but thank God for wonderful memories. I know you have captured so many amazing moments not only through memory but also through the lens of your camera. I know she is at peace now. I just want to give a last thank you to her for raising a beautiful spirit that became part of our family. Remember the flesh may leave us but the love and spirit never dies. I love you Trenia❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ReplyCancel

    • January 12 - 1:49 am

      Latrenia - Aww THANK YOU! Yes you’re right…I know she’s at peace but I’m surely going to miss her 🙁ReplyCancel

  • January 4 - 8:26 pm

    Ketsia Chery-Pierre - My condolences to you and your family. I pray for strength for you and your entire family.ReplyCancel

  • January 5 - 12:47 am

    Debbie Chien - You are Super Wonder Woman Bryant! I don’t know your mom, but I bet she must of been so proud to have a beautiful, kind, and passionate daughter like you. She must being an amazing woman to have past it down to you. I am so sorry for your loss, and oddly it is in death we put our differences aside and truly brings families, friends, and neighbors together. I wish I can give you a big hug from Chicago, but no worries it be coming soon. – ChienReplyCancel

    • January 12 - 1:50 am

      Latrenia - Awww..I love you super Chien (clough) lol… Thanks girl!ReplyCancel

  • January 5 - 4:39 am

    Shanika Neal - I’m so sorry Latrenia. This story seems like me all over again. Your Aunt, My Grandmother! The same exact timeline almost. My Gma came home from the rehab center after being a double amputee. Then developed pneumonia and then stroke so I know exactly How you feel. The pain is indescribable at 16 and even now at 32. Your Mom had a stroke 8 days after my natural Mother passed away suddenly so now both are gone. I will keep you lifted in prayer my sister and ask that you do the same for me. We never forget but it will become easier to cope as time passes. Thank you for sharing your life with us ans being so transparent! Be blessed Love, she’s in a better place. We love these women but God loves them best!ReplyCancel

    • January 12 - 1:52 am

      Latrenia - Thank you love! You’re right, we’ll never forget but the pain of not having them here is heartbreaking. I know each day should bring some peace to the ones they left behind.ReplyCancel

  • January 5 - 5:15 am

    Ava - Im praying for strength, comfort and peace for you. I lost my mother over a year ago and understand all of the thoughts that you mention in your post. Staring at the clock, trying to psych yourself into believing things improving,etc. I agree that your mom’s purpose on earth has been fulfilled. Peace and blessings!ReplyCancel

    • January 12 - 1:54 am

      Latrenia - Yes, her work here on earth has been done 🙁 Your words have comforted me and I thank you for that!ReplyCancel

  • January 5 - 11:04 pm

    john - Hi Trina i am very sorry for your loss but i know you are inspired by much more than watching our lives fade to blackness because your pictures inspire-great life-growth-joy-and love-so keep your head up-your heart strong-and your dreams moving forwardReplyCancel

  • January 6 - 1:14 pm

    Bruce Hendricks - I’m so very sorry for your loss! In the fall of 2013 I watched my Mom die of Cancer for 9 horrible weeks. The only plus side is I had time to try to get used to the idea of losing her. I had bonus time with her even though it was very difficult for her. Try to look at you Mom’s time after her stroke the same way. Though it was not easy for her you got bonus time with your Mom. She knew how much you loved her and your dedication to her during this horrible time only proved it time and time again. Though I’m told you never get over losing a loved one I’m living proof that it does get easier on you as time goes by. The devastation you feel right now subsides. Take care.


    • January 12 - 1:45 am

      Latrenia - Awwww THANK YOU SO MUCH BRUCE!! your words bring comfort. As time go on I’m hoping the pain will lessen. I know I’ll have the memories always 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 10 - 6:50 pm

    Latonya and Jayvon - Sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. May the memories you have of her give you the strength to go on…May you find comfort in knowing that GOD makes no mistakes..Love you guys and GOD bless!!ReplyCancel

    • January 12 - 1:46 am

      Latrenia - Awww… I love you guys too! and thank you. I know she’s in the best hands now. You’re right, God doesn’t make mistakes 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 12 - 4:52 am

    Simone Reddick - Trenia, this was so thoughtful and heartfelt. It touched me. Thank you for letting me inside the most precious memories of your mom. I remember meeting her years ago. She was the epitome of love! She did a tremendous job with you, you are awesome!! She lives in you always. Keep her memory alive. #RIPMrs.JoyceReplyCancel

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