Every weekday, Georgia “Rita” Mosely woke at 4 a.m.
After getting ready, she’d leave her two-bedroom home on Dixie Drive and walk a little more than a mile across the railroad tracks in Dade City to Jones Nursing Home.
Ms. Mosely, who didn’t drive, took that walk for 29 years.
The route didn’t change, but she made sure her career did. She instilled that same work ethic in all her grandchildren.
Ms. Mosely died May 14 from natural causes, but she was by then infected with the coronavirus. She was 73.
At Jones Nursing Home, Ms. Mosely worked as a cook, a housekeeper and in the office. The facility is thought to have been the first home in Pasco County to care for white and Black residents.
Growing up, Chasity Chandler and Tashika Moore remember visiting their great-grandma, who lived at Jones, and seeing Grandma Rita at work.
Ms. Mosely ultimately studied to get her nurse’s aide certificate and worked as a shift leader.
Get an education, she told her grandkids. You’ll have to work 10 times harder than everyone else, but no one can take it from you.
Ms. Mosely herself kept at it. She was studying to become a registered nurse when a kidney transplant forced early retirement in 1994.
She still woke at 4 a.m. each day.
Ms. Mosely helped raise her granddaughters while their mother worked. One day, when they were about 10 and 14, she sat them down and tore out checks from the back of her checkbook.
Write the date here. Sign your name here. This one’s the routing number, this one’s the checking number. Now record it and make sure you’re balanced.
Mind what you earn, she taught them, and you can take care of yourself.
Her grandkids, and later her great-grandkids, could earn a dollar or more by rubbing Grandma Rita’s feet and painting her toenails.
Nothing is free, she showed them. But work will be rewarded.
Ms. Mosely taught her granddaughters how to care for their hair and bodies, how to iron their clothes and how to present themselves. But none of that meant they should cover up their true selves. Her loud voice carried. She loved to joke. She was fluent in swear words.
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She was always authentic, Chandler said.
“My life’s work is helping people without shame and embarrassment,” said Chandler, who’s a sex therapist in Port St. Lucie.
Her sister, Moore, is a social worker, an actor, a plus-sized model, a travel agent and the host of a podcast in Lakeland.
“She was always super proud of us for going for our dreams,” Moore said.
Both Chandler and Moore are mothers. And every year, until this one, each grandkid and great-grand got a birthday check in the mail from Grandma Rita.
Be thoughtful, she showed them.
Ms. Mosely, who was recovering from surgery in a nursing home when she caught the coronavirus, had multiple health issues. She leaves behind two children, four grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
With a slew of family birthdays this spring and summer, the little ones are missing those small checks, and her granddaughters are missing the woman who shaped them.
Since Grandma Rita’s death in May, Moore has woken up each day at 4 a.m. She doesn’t have to rise and walk more than a mile to work, though. Grandma made sure of that.