In A Year Marked By Loss, One Waterbury Woman Remembers How Her Godmother Lived
Finding a godmother
Patricia Sands grew up in Waterbury. She started going to church on her own at age 7, because her parents weren’t church goers.
She met Darlene Riddick at the Macedonia Church of the Living God. Riddick was assigned to watch out for Sands. She taught her how to ride the bus, invited her over for sleepovers, and fostered her faith.
Sands recalls when Riddick became her godmother. Riddick approached Sands’ mother and said, "I love Trish, I want to be a part of her life, more than I’m doing right now." Riddick asked if she could be her godmother, in part because she’d never had godparents of her own. She wanted to be there for Sands.
And that’s just what she did. When Sands got engaged, Riddick was the first to know. And she got down to the important questions fast.
"What kind of ring is it?" Sands recalls her asking. "It better be real, it better not be no Cubic zirconia."
Riddick took Sands to get the ring sized and appraised. The jeweler handed Riddick a piece of paper, and she looked at Sands and said "Oh yeah, he did good Trish, he did good."
Riddick also took Sands to try on wedding dresses. Sands said "'No, I’m gonna do that with my mom.' And she said 'You’re gonna do that right now with me and I’ll let [your mom] know.'"
When they found the dress, the store owner asked how much they wanted to put down as a deposit. Riddick put down half.
"So I knew within myself she had planned it—she planned it. And I found out later that my mother knew...Darlene wanted to buy my dress."
Leaving A Legacy
Darlene Riddick called her mother every Sunday. But in July, two weeks went by without a call. Members of Riddick’s church were also starting to wonder. Riddick was found soon after. She’d died at home alone, in her recliner.
"What hurts the most is that, if she did suffer, she suffered alone," said Sands, who found out about her godmother’s death later that week. No one knew Riddick was sick. The autopsy showed she had died from the coronavirus.
"She shouldn’t have died alone," Sands said, holding back tears, "She didn't have no children, she didn't have a husband, so she don't have a legacy to leave behind."
Riddick was a school teacher, a Sunday school teacher, and a graduate of Kennedy High School in Waterbury and Blue Ridge Bible College.
Sands admired how her godmother was able to easily let go of anger. And how she believed that if she had to go through struggle, she might as well do it with a good attitude.
"Love is what you do, it’s what you show," Sands said. "In the times that you feel like you can't show it, that's when you got to show it more. And she was like that."
Darlene Riddick passed away on July 19, 2020 from the coronavirus. She was 53 years old.