Writing 101, Day Seventeen: Your Personality on the Page

Assignment

“What are you scared of?  Address one of your worst fears.  If you’re up for a twist, write this post in a style that’s different from your own.”

I do not fear death.  But, for years I really, really feared what would happen when I died — an open casket funeral and underground burial.

Open Casket

Lying in rest, while family and friends, pass by to view my remains in an open casket is not what I want for their lasting memory of me.

I want them to remember when I was living life to its fullest — at peace, happy, joyful, and with Hubby, the love of my life at my side.

james-and-yvonne-thomas.jpg

So, I would choose to have this photo enlarged and placed on an easel beside my closed casket.

Underground Burial

Some people fear heights, I fear being underground.  As a child, I feared going in the basement to help Mama with the laundry because it was wet, dark, and dingy.

When I was a pre-teen, I experienced a major panic attack during a school trip to an underground cave.

About ten years ago, Hubby and I went on a cruise, which docked for a day in Barbados.  Since, we were with three other couples, I reluctantly agreed to an excursion at an underground mine.  Holding tightly to Hubby’s hand, I got through the excursion, but I came close to having another panic attack.

Hubby and I decided shortly after this last experience, that we did not want an underground burial.

And, we broke a long-standing family tradition, when we purchased two individual above-ground crypts at a burial site designated for those who served in the military:

photo 1

photo 3

photo 2

Because I made choices, prior to dying, I no longer live with the fear of an open casket or an underground burial.

Writing 101, Day Sixteen: Serial Killer III

Assignment

“Today, Imagine you work in a place where you manage lost or forgotten items.  What might you find in the pile?  For those participating in our serial challenge reflect on the theme of “lost and found,” too.

What I Lost

I lost my decision-making power on May 13, 2014, when Western Union denied me the right to use the services they offer.

On May 19 , 2014, I received this letter from Western Union.

This will confirm Western Union’s business decision to cancel the above-referenced Money Transfer and to refund to you the principal amount and service charges.  Enclosed you will find a copy of our Consumer Fraud Brochure to assist you in recognizing some of the typical consumer fraud schemes so that you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of consumer fraud.  We strongly recommend that you use Western Union system only to send money to people you know.  Please remember that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”

Why I Needed Western Union

A close family member, living in another state, reached out for help.  She needed to take care of an emergency, within 24-hours, and asked if I could loan her $1500.00.

“Of course,” I said , “Let me check to see how we can make this happen.”

What Happened

First, I contacted my bank about a money transfer directly into her bank account.  The bank said, “No, because we banked at two different institutions.”

When it didn’t work out at the bank, I telephoned Western Union.  They were even able to handle the money transfer over the telephone with a credit card.  After completing the transaction, I called the family member and said, “Money is on the way.  You can pick it up at your Western Union office.”

Several hours later, Western Union called to say they couldn’t authorize the money transfer.  Frustrated, I asked to speak with a supervisor.  When connected, he asked:

  1. How old are you?  I am 71-years-old.
  2. Why are you sending this person money?  She is facing an emergency and needs the funds within 24 hours.
  3. How long have you known this person?  She is 60+ years, my cousin, and I have known her since she was a baby.
  4. Has she ever borrowed money from you in the past?  No.
  5. When did you last see this person?  Two years ago at our family reunion.  Also, we stay in contact on a regular basis through the telephone, e-mails and Facebook.
  6. Are you sure you were speaking with your relative?  Yes.

After, I answered his questions, he read several section of their Consumer Protection Policy; and, ended by saying, “The only way we can process this transaction is for you to go to a local Western Union office.”

I Googled, “where is the closest Western Union Office to …”  Fortunately it was only five minutes away.

Credit card and driver’s license in-hand, off I went to the Western Union Office.  Transaction completed, I telephoned the family member and said, “Money is on the way.”

Forty-five minutes later, I received a call from Western Union.  The representative said, “We cannot approve your money transfer.  You will have to return to your local office and they will issue a refund.

What the H…. is the Matter with Western Union?

As directed, I returned to the Western Union office.  But this is what angered me most.  Rather than crediting my Visa Card for the $1600.00, they issued issued a cash refund.  Why didn’t they tell me this over the phone?  Certainly, had I known, I would have asked Hubby to come with me.

While the agent was counting the money, I wondered, “How am I going to fit all of this money into my tiny wallet?”

Luckily, the Western Union Office is located within a grocery story.  So, I went over and asked one of the baggers for a plastic grocery bag.

I left the Western Union Office alone with $1600.00 in cash, which I carried in a plastic grocery bag.

For the first time, throughout this entire experience, I needed protection.  In their attempt to protect me from consumer fraud, Western Union put me at a higher risk to be mugged or robbed.

What I Found – This Didn’t Have to Happen

Had Western Union bothered to ask whether this money transfer related to any of the “fraud scamming scenarios” listed in their Consumer Protection Brochure; I would have answered:

  • I was sending “money to a family member.”
  • It was for an “emergency situation.”
  • It wasn’t an “internet purchase.”
  • It wasn’t for an “employment opportunity.”
  • It wasn’t to “claim lottery or prize winnings.”
  • It wasn’t for a “rental property.”
  • It wasn’t for a “credit card or loan fee.”
  • It wasn’t from a “check deposited in my account.”

From this experience, I found, within, strength to protest a possible discriminatory practice that took away my decision making right, as a 71-year-old, based on “elderly profiling.” 

What do you think?

 

Writing 101, Day Thirteen: Serial Killer II

“Earlier in the course, you wrote about losing something. Today, write about finding something. For your twist, view day four’s post and today’s post as installments in a series.”

I lost my best friend, Rose. to breast cancer more than six months ago. Once, I reached closure and accepted Rose’s death, I realized:

“As I grow older, my circle of girlfriends grows smaller. Reconnecting with those girlfriends that I have disconnected from is one of my top priorities.” (Day Four: The Serial Killer)

I recently reached out to reconnect and re-establish a relationship with two girlfriends from my past. One, I separated from due to a disagreement; and, the other neglect.

Disagreement

More than twenty-five years later, I still have no idea what caused the disagreement that severed the seven-year relationship with Danny. It just happened without even a departing argument. The disagreement was serious enough for Danny to “no-show” at our eldest daughter’s wedding on June 25, 1988. But, her husband did attend along with their 13-year-old daughter, who served as a wedding hostess.

As I look back, Danny’s failure to attend the wedding angered me more than a disagreement. But, apparently, the disagreement angered her enough to decide not to attend the wedding.

For the past year, I indirectly re-entered Danny’s life through a Facebook Friendship with her daughter. Periodically, Tiffany posted videos and photos about her 7-year-old daughter and parents. Finally, I decided to inbox message and ask for her mom’s contact information.

It took me three weeks to telephone Danny. I was nervous. Was she still angry? Was I still angry? Was either one of us ready to forgive and forget?

When I telephoned, she was not home and I left a brief voice mail message saying, “This is a long-lost friend from your past. I follow Tiffany on Facebook and just wanted to touch base with you again.”

She called two days later, explaining they had been in the process of relocating from Arizona to Florida. We spent hours talking about our husbands, children, grandchildren, places lived, jobs held, etc. We both had faced life threatening illnesses and survived, since last seeing each other.

We ended the conversation agreeing to stay in touch to rebuild our friendship. We never talked about disagreements or failing to attend a wedding. I think the two of us were just happy for our lost girlfriend reunion.

Neglect

I have no idea when I first met Dorothy. Our mothers were best friends. Her grandmother was a friend to my grandparents. Our family roots connected in the small Mississippi town where Dorothy grew up; and, I visited every summer. I was closer to Dorothy’s sister and cousin during those summer visits as a child. But, when she married and moved to Chicago in 1963, our relationship grew and a true friendship emerged.

In 1969, both our families relocated to Madison, Wisconsin. Hubby, Dorothy and I were accepted as students at the University of Wisconsin. After graduating, Dorothy returned to Chicago; and, we remained in Wisconsin.

We didn’t visit; but, periodically connected by phone. Our personal contact was limited to school reunions, retirements, funerals, and weddings. Though, I did follow what was going on in Dorothy’s life as a friend of her son’s on Facebook.

Through neglect, Dorothy and I allowed our friendship to disintegrate. When I reached out to Dorothy, we affirmed how important it is for us to work on rebuilding this life-long friendship. Agreeing that the problem was our false belief that we would always be there for each other, when needed.

We now understand the need to stay connected. Because each year, as we grow older, our girlfriend population is growing smaller.

Grateful that I found two lost friends. While they won’t replace Rose, with proper girlfriend nurturing, we may become best friends forever.

Happy Fathers Day: Daddy, Hubby and Son

photo

Happy Fathers Day, Daddy

Recently, I forgave my father for his years of emotional and verbal abuse, which regrettably, stayed with me for far too many years.  Through self-awareness and self-love, I l learned not to let this abuse define ME.

A new gift, Forgiveness, empowers me to discard the baggage of an unhappy childhood; and, I sincerely and with a loving heart for the first time in my life can say, “Happy Fathers Day, Daddy, Rest in Peace (RIP 1978).”

1960's (Not Sure of Date) Chicago, Illinois - Daddy
1960’s (Not Sure of Date) Chicago, Illinois – Daddy

Happy Fathers Day, Hubby

To the love of my life, the father of my children, and my bestest, bestest friend ever, I honor you as a father.  You exceeded my expectations both as a father and husband.  There are so many things that show your love, dedication, and commitment to our children.  But, I am most proud of your:

  • undertaking the responsibility to wash our babies soiled cotton diapers, which I hated to do, those many, many years ago.
  • choosing to further your education.  You were a high-school dropout when we married.  But through hard work, perseverance and the desire to succeed, you went on to obtain a GED, which was folioed by earning both Bachelor and Master degrees at a top-ten university.  You did all of this to provide a better life for your children.
  • agreeing to a long-distance, commuter marriage for two years so that I could provide full-time child care for our eldest daughter to complete her medical residency and fellowship training programs.
  • relocating from the city we lived in for more than thirty years, to assist our eldest daughter in setting up her medical practice.  You worked diligently for more than sixteen years to build a successful health care practice that allows our three adult children to work together in our family-owned business.
  • writing your memoirs and publishing a book to record different stages of your life, which will serve as a reminder to our children, grandchildren, and future generations about their familial roots.
1961:  Gonsenheim, Germany Hubby and Eldest Daughter
1961: Gonsenheim, Germany Hubby and Eldest Daughter

 

Hubby's Book Cover
Hubby’s Book Cover
IMG_6739
Milwaukee, WI, May 2014, Hubby and Youngest Grandaughter

 

Happy Fathers Day, Son:

To my one and only son, my Halloween Baby, I honor you on this Fathers Day.  There were times, as a child, when I thought you may have been my “trick” but, I always knew you would evolve and become one of my greatest “treats.” First, I commend you for your efforts in reconnecting with your adult son, Ethan, who I value and love dearly as my first grandchild. IMG_0022

But most of all, as a the full-time, sole custodial parent of your five-year-old daughter, your strong parenting skills dispels the myth about the failures of  African-American fathers.

In fact, you are a phenomenal father.  This is most demonstrated by your ability to easily transition between the dual parental roles that requires you to provide both “paternal and maternal nurturing care” to your daughter.

And, I especially commend you for:

  • meeting her daily requests for a different hairstyle;
  • honoring her right to choose the clothes to wear on non-uniform school days; and
  • creating an environment for her to develop socially, academically, morally and spiritually.

photo

DSC01521

Happy Fathers Day to the “Fathers” that have played an important role in my life and to all the fathers who may come across this post in the Blogosphere/Cyperspace world.

Staying True to My Purpose as a Blogger

Yesterday, I completed the assignment for my Writing 101 class, which was to “Go to a local cafe, park, or public place and report on what you see.  Get detailed and leave no nuance behind.”

After spending an unbelievable amount of time writing, what I think, was an adverb-free post, I pushed the publish button. Then, I received this comment from a very loyal and supportive follower:

“These writing assignments are good, but I miss

the blogs that you post —

just because you just want to share

an experience with us that is

meaningful to you.”

I signed up for the Writing 101 Class to improve my writing skills.  But, this follower’s comment stayed on my mind.

374468_10151337900440488_604377116_n

This class would improve my skills as a writer; but, was becoming a better writer high on the list of my blogging priorities?  The answer was, no.

A statement in a post that I published on April 13, 2014 confirms this:

“I am neither a writer nor an author, but I wish to blog about my life.”  

The class took time away from my true purpose as a blogger, which was to share my life experiences with those who might have an interest in the past, present, and future thoughts of an African-American female living in this season of her life.

Even before writing my first blogpost on January 13, 2013, I spent months looking for just the right words to express why I chose to create a blog.  I came up with this:

“During this last season of my life, I am going on a journey to define ME.  Opening up and going outside my comfort zone to redefine my life.  Exploring and pursuing new interests that will lead to personal happiness, serenity, and tranquility,”

I plan to audit the on-line daily writing assignments as well as review the recommended readings; and, I may even write a post.  But, I must stay true to my purpose for blogging.

Thank you to The Librarian, a loyal follower, supporter, and most of all, a close friend.  You saw me heading down a path, which you knew was taking me away from my planned my journey.

Me and The Librarian - Cocoa Beach, May 2014
Me and The Librarian – Cocoa Beach, May 2014

Writing 101, Day Eight: Death to Adverbs

“Today’s assignment is to go to a local cafe, park, or public place and report on what you see.  Get detailed:  leave no nuance behind.   The twist is to write an adverb-free post.”

Last week, I went to the local farmers market and surprised by a long line of people, that extended for more than two blocks before the entrance.

As I walked pass the line, I saw a:

  • baby boy or girl with skin the color of dark chocolate, the brightest eyes, and curly brown hair, sitting in a stroller, surrounded by stuffed animals, quietly sucking on a pacifier.
  • beautiful little girl in a pastel blue, ruffled, princess dress, wearing a small gold tiara asking her mom, in a sulky voice, “How much longer, now?”
  • two toddlers, playing quietly in a red metal wagon with Radio Flyer printed on both sides as the mother quietly read her Kindle.

A short time later, I began to smell burning wood and the air filled with smoke.  My eyes began to water, the nose was itching, and the coughing started.  I reached for the blue inhaler, that I always carry, and took two puffs.  Better, the airways opened up, and breathing was no longer labored.

Then, I saw the culprit.  A red wagon on wheels, similar to the wagon used to transport circus animals, absent bars on the windows.  Huge masses of smoke billowed out from the windows consuming the air outside.  People, who had waited in line, were now able to crowd around the wagon windows and place their orders for smoked turkey legs.

I entered the farmers market, without a wait, and purchased farm-grown vegetables, handmade crafts, grained-raised chicken, and fresh honey from Florida bees.   Who needs a turkey leg?

 

Writing 101, Day Seven: Give and Take

Sitting comfortably in Betty’s kitchen, I asked, “what’s this special thing you planned to do for me today?”

“Oh, it isn’t that much, girlfriend.  I’m just preparing your favorite dessert,” she said.

“Betty, you know I’ve been on a new nutrition program since the beginning of the year,” I said.

Betty, laughed and said, “Girl, it’s your 72nd birthday.  And, I want to do something special just for you.

“Just spending the day with you is special,” I said.

She smiled and said, “I know you are not going to turn down my homemade lemon meringue pie.  It’s always been your favorite.”

“Girl, a slice of your lemon pie is tempting,”, I said, “but I’m gonna stay on this program.  I know me, I won’t stop at one slice.”

Perfect_Lemon_meringue2

Betty, said, “No, we won’t let that happen, we’ll each have a slice and I’ll put the rest down the garbage disposal.  I promise one slice.”

7593lemon-meringue-pie-450x351

 “Are you trying to sabotage my diet?,” I asked.

‘Okay, okay, I have another plan,” Betty said, “what if, we eliminate the glass of wine and replace it with lemon shooters.  That way we’re killing two birds with one stone.”

tumblr_inline_mlqbhfDhnj1qz4rgp

“I’ve got a better idea, why don’t you let me make my newest lemon treat.”

DSC_1661blog

Betty said, “Well I don’ want you to think I was trying to sabotage your diet.  I was just trying to do something nice for your birthday.”

“I know you were,” I said, “but I am spending time with you and that’s special.”

Well, I am proud of you for staying true to your new nutrition program, but what are the benefits of drinking lemon water?” Betty asked.

“Lemon water improves our health, “I said” “and, I’ve got some of the benefits right here on my IPAD.  Let’s look at them right now.”

health benefits of drinking lemon water

 

Writing 101, Day Six: A Character-Building Experience

Within the past year, I met two new people. Real, live people whose names I choose not to divulge. Though it is unlikely they will read this post, I am not ready to communicate with them on this level. But, “I do know for sure,” our “acquaintance relationship” will never develop into a “real and trusting friendship,” until we have an honest conversation about what I have shared in this post.

If our eyes met in the Exercise Room at the Y, on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., Georgia Hubby and I would share a nod and a brief smile. For three years, Georgia Hubby and I followed this ritual; and I saw no reason to do anything more.

image

In all honesty, satisfied with the status-quo, I would silently say, “I know who you are,” but, “I really don’t want to know you.” On the surface, Georgia Husband seemed like a nice enough man, but, I had already formed my opinion of him. Based on two things, Georgia Husband is a:

WHITE MALE from GEORGIA with a SOUTHERN ACCENT

Georgia Hubby and My Hubby’s “acquaintance relationship” upgraded a teeny-bit to a “small talk relationship;” and; I eventually entered the “small talk circle.” Late last year, Hubby and Georgia Husband, scheduled a date for us to go out to dinner and meet his wife.

Georgia Wife is petite, barely five-feet tall, probably weighs no more than 120 pounds, still in her forties, and very focused on her career as a health care provider. I was surprised at her striking contrast to Georgia Husband, who is at least 6 feet tall, retired, 69+ years, and a happy house-husband who is quite comfortable in this role. Something, I have rarely, if ever seen.

But, again I couldn’t see Georgia Wife and my relationship going beyond a casual “couples dining out” because she is a:

WHITE FEMALE from GEORGIA with a SOUTHERN ACCENT

As we begin to have deeper conversations with the Georgia Couple other questions arose; politically, Hubby and I are as far to the left as they are to the right.

Perhaps, I can overcome the “differences” when I feel comfortable enough to express that a “difference exist.” Georgia Couple is probably assuming that Hubby and I share their views because we have failed to offer a counter-argument or voice our opinions. Politics, poverty, race, and other social issues on unfair conditions and unequal treatment, are difficult conversations to have.  Especially, with those who see things differently.

Summer vacations, as a girl, spent with my grandparents in rural Mississippi was the training ground that taught me to fear WHITE PEOPLE from the SOUTH who spoke with a SOUTHERN ACCENT. Yes, my grandparents were guilty of stereotyping, but their lives were self-programmed to fear based on the inhumane and often vicious attacks against black people in the south during their lifetime.

Compounding this, I lived through a period when scenes like the following were occurring in the south.

538776

0

19560414_No_Integration_Photo

 

fd_02

civil_rights_02

animoto-sit-in-charlotte

images

 

Overcoming my stereotypical views of the Georgia Couple will take work. I do not fear them; but, my perception of their past life experiences as well as knowledge of their current beliefs creates a major barrier to our entering into a “real and trusting friendship.”

But, I have not given up.  This could very well happen when I decide to have an open and honest conversion with the “Georgia Couple” about my current values and beliefs as well as open up to them about my  past life experiences.

 

 

Thank You for the Nomination: Very Inspiring Blogger Award

very-inspringawardHeartfelt appreciation to Karuna who blogs over at Living Learning and Letting Go for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award nomination.  Karuna has opened many interesting and exciting doors for me to enter.  Ones that I never knew existed.  One example is the post, A Place for Me, where she poses the question, “Why do I want to be in Amritapuri?” she gives us 20+ answers to this question.  I urge you to visit Karuna’s blog.  It’s an interesting place to go.

Seven Facts About Me

  1. Some may describe me as old; but, I am a SeasonedSistah and view age as merely a number.  At the young age of 71, I make a choice everyday to live life to its fullest — letting go of the past, worrying about the future, and focusing on the present moment.
  2. I have health issues, but I choose not to let Breast Cancer, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Peripheral Neuropathy, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or Sleep Apnea define and/or control my life.  I choose to follow the path leading to peace, happiness, and love.
  3. I took my first Yoga, Zumba, and Aqua Zumba classes when I was 70-years-old.
  4. I started practicing meditation two years ago — 5:00 a.m., daily is my meditation time.
  5. I have collected over 300 healthy eating cookbooks since 2010.  Last year, I tried my first recipe and since then — nothing.  I will add this to my bucket list.
  6. Surrounding me in love is my nuclear family — Hubby, Three Middle-Aged Children, Five Beautiful Grandchildren; as well as my large extended family and friends.
  7. For the past six months, I have moved toward a plant-based diet.  But, it’s still a work in progress.

My Fifteen Award Blogging Nominees Are:

  1. Angela’s Accurate Administrative Services
  2. Another One with the Cancer
  3. IMANIKING
  4. Kentucky Mountain Girl
  5. Lights Cancer Action
  6. Misifusa
  7. Lymphnode Transplant
  8. Peace Love Great Country Music
  9. Rectal Cancer My Ass
  10. Tammy Carmona
  11. Walk with Me On My Journey to the Road of Happiness and A Life of Fulfillment
  12. Cancer:  My Journey Back to Health-Kicking and Screaming the Whole Damn Way
  13. Kentucky Mountain Girl News
  14. Beyond Breast Cancer
  15. Furious Curious Cancer Survivor