Update – Lost Memories of Mama

When we laid Mama to rest in 1967, I walked away from her gravesite and never returned.  The grave was a reminder of suffering and dying; and I wanted to hold on to memories of Mama being healthy and alive.  The years passed and the memories of suffering and dying faded.

Last year, I decided it was time to return to Mama’s gravesite; and, I shared why in a post on October 21 2016, “Lost Memories of Mama.

On July 5, 2016, along with hubby, son and two cousins, I visited Mama’s grave for the first time since her burial more than forty-eight years ago.

I planned for a prayer and viewing of the purchased headstone.  What a surprise to learn that  my sister/cousin, Rev. Dr. Gwendolyn Eloby Fleming had written an Unveiling of the Headstone Program.  She was able to do this without my input.  We were the daughters of two sisters, raised together as sisters, and she knew my Mama’s life story.

After sharing Words of Commemoration and leading us in reciting the 23rd Psalm, my sister/cousin read the written Statement of Purpose:

“We now fondly dedicate this headstone to the loving and blessed memory of Onetha Outlaw Burks realizing that her remains lie not only in this plot of ground but in every heart her life did touch.

We are grateful for the years we were privileged to share with her — years when she brought us so many pleasures and taught us so very much by example.  Years in which she gave her best and established the foundation upon which her sisters, brothers, child, grandchildren, son-in-law, family and friends stand.

As an African people, we believe that three generations are always present — the past, present and future. Our ancestors never leave us. Onetha lives on even though her physical body is not in our midst.  We know that she will never leave our hearts and spirits where she continues to bless us and future generations forever.

Her spirit is with us today!”

For years, I carried a heavy burden without realizing the heaviness.  I have released the guilt of staying away from Mama’s gravesite for so many years.  I have recaptured the lost memories.  I mourn in peace rather than fear.  I will continue, for the remainder of my life, to honor Mama in death as I did during her lifetime.

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Cousin: Rev. Dr. Gwendolyn Eloby Fleming and husband, David Fleming.

Thanks to Hubby, children, grands, and cousins, for your love and support throughout this journey.

 

 

 

 

Why I Choose to Live Beyond 75

One day last week, I had to stop, listen and process an interview on one of the cable news stations.

I was shocked!!  Why, was Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel saying he wanted to die at 75?

It was unbelievable.  And I asked Hubby, “was that the same Dr. Emanuel who shows up on so many national news programs speaking as an expert on health related issues, especially, the Affordable Health Care Act.”  He said, “yes, but didn’t recall the details.”

Because we both missed most of the interview, I wanted to learn more.  So, I went to my IPad and googled, “why I want to die at 75 Ezekiel Emanuel.”  My friend, Google, found a lengthy article featured in the September 2014 issue of The Atlantic written by Dr. Emanuel.  

Why I Want To Die at 75:  Ezekiel J. Emanuel, M.D.

“I am sure of my position.  Doubtless, death is a loss.  It deprives us of experiences and milestones, of time spent with our spouse and children.  In short, it deprives us of all the things we value.

But, here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist:  living too long is also a loss.  It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived.  It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world.  It transforms how people experience us, and most important, remember us.  We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.”

Dr. Emanuel is a healthy 57-year-old and does not plan to end his life at 75 either by assisted-suicide or euthanasia.  But, he does say, “At 75 and beyond, I will need a good reason to even visit the doctor and take any medical test or treatment, no matter how routine and painless.  And that good reason is not — ‘it will prolong your life.'”

He also contends that in America we are so focused on doing things “like exercise, strict dieting, popping vitamins, etc., in an effort to cheat death and prolong life as long as possible.  This has become so pervasive that it now defines a culture type – what I call the American Immortal.”

Why I Choose to Live Beyond 75

Dr. Emanuel says he only wants to live until the age of 75; and, I respect his right to make this choice.  But, two years from now, if I reach the age of 75, I will continue to make healthy lifestyle choices.  These choices will be made not to prolong life, but to live life to the fullest.

While physical ailments, dementia, feebleness, memory, problem solving and other health conditions, relating to the aging process, may occur; I believe, forecasting what may happen in my future, inhibits my ability to live authentically in the present moment.

Today, I am a relatively healthy, 72-year-old with several manageable chronic illnesses.  In 2008, at the age of 66, I was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer.  Dr. Emanuel contends if he were diagnosed with cancer, after the age of 60, he would refuse treatment.  Again, I respect his right to make that decision.  But, I chose treatment.

And, over the past six years, I have been gifted with being in the present moment when my:

  • eldest grandson graduated from college
  • eldest granddaughter graduated from high school;
  • eldest grandson graduated from high school;
  • youngest grandson, graduated from middle school; and,
  • youngest granddaughter’s birth seven months after my 2008 breast cancer diagnosis.

Had I elected not to pursue treatment, I possibly would not have lived to see these major family milestones.

Additionally, beyond family milestones, I would have never witnessed the election of America’s first African-American President.  Something that I never expected would happen in my lifetime.

So, if I continue to be blessed with sound mind and body, I plan on being an active participant in managing my aging process beyond age 75.

And, I will not:

  • wait for death;
  • refuse medical treatment; or
  • accept that living a quality life ends at 75.

But, in addition to as-needed medical care, I will continue to manage my aging process by:

  • Being Positive
  • Practicing Forgiveness
  • Staying Physical
  • Embracing Family and Friends
  • Loving Me
  • Performing Random Acts of Kinds
  • Living A Spiritual Life
  • Trying New Things
  • Exploring New Places
  • Blogging About My Memories, Life Experiences and Random Thoughts

Rather than attempting to “cheat or prolong life” I choose to live life to the fullest until God guides me down a different path.