My Gratitude Journal – March 2017

As I write this post, I feel relaxed and at peace.

A 45-minute early morning walk, joined only by a self-shadow, opened up space to reflect on what has been GIFTED in this season of my life.

This is the first in a series of planned monthly posts for 2017, where I express GRATITUDE for the GOOD in my life, which I failed to acknowledge and appreciate for far too many years.

Gratitude Journal – March 2017

Thus far this month, I have been  abundantly gifted with the GOOD and I am, especially GRATEFUL for:

  • FaceTime with my 8-year-old granddaughter. This is our special time to talk, laugh, listen share and bond.  Despite  being physically separated by more than 2,000 miles for the past seven years, FaceTime keeps us connected face-to-face for the entire year.

  • Dining Room Table which was an unused piece of furniture in our home for more than  seven years.  When the youngest daughter relocated to Florida last summer she:  (1) purchased the house next door; (2) moved from an on-site business office to an off-site home office; and (3) decided our dining room was the perfect workplace because there were too many distractions in her home.  So glad she made this decision for my days are happier and brighter when I walk by the Dining Room Table and know THIS IS WHERE SHE SITS.

  • Healing Garden and it has been my nurturing place for more than five years.  It is now the  learning, sharing, healing, working and bonding place that I, happily, share with the eldest granddaughter.

 

 

NEW YEAR – NEW ME

 

 

Though the  first post on this topic, I  started this new journey to uplift the BODY, SPIRIT and MIND at the beginning of the year.

Thus far, I have brought several things into my space as I meander down this path of becoming a NEW ME in this NEW YEAR.

UPLIFT THE BODY

I am grateful for a strong support team of likeminded FAMILY MEMBERS, FITBIT FRIENDS, and FELLOW FACEBOOK 70 DAY CHALLENGERS who strive to follow a HEALTHY LIFESTYLE regimen. I interact with one or more of them on a daily basis. This keeps me informed, motivated, inspired and challenged to stay on track in my efforts to UPLIFT THE BODY.

I have a FITBIT and 70 DAY CHALLENGE goal of 10,000 steps daily and, with few exceptions, met and/or exceeded this goal.

 

UPLIFT THE SPIRIT

To uplift the SPIRIT, I confiscated Hubby’s abandoned and ignored MAN ROOM to create a space, for me, to BE IN STILLNESS  and MEDITATE. 

In the pre-dawn hours, I retreat to the  SERENITY ROOM. It is the place, for me, to build the solid foundation, which always seem to sustain me throughout the day.

UPLIFT THE MIND

Always open to learning something new, I agreed to go to a WATER COLOR PAINTING CLASS with the 25-year-old granddaughter.  I enjoyed the quality time spent with my MINI ME, but made the CHOICE to not return for a third class.

I am grateful that the NEW ME felt empowered enough to walk away, without carrying the burden of guilt, to something that no longer served to UPLIFT THE MIND.

However, I plan to keep the two partially-finished pieces as a reminder of a wonderful bonding experience with my MINI ME.

Summer Family and Friends Gathering

The big smile on my face is in anticipation of a fun-filled day at our Summer Family and Friend Gathering, which is held every July in Milwaukee at our youngest daughter’s home.  Separated by thousands of miles, I look forward to this gathering to reconnect and create new memories with my Midwest family and friends.

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As soon as we arrive the first game begins.  Everyone is given a strand of beads with instructions not to cross their legs or arms for the entire day. When you see someone with a crossed leg or arm, you can take their beads. I am a leg and arm crosser and someone always takes my beads within 10-15 minutes.  At the end of the day, Damien had the most beads won the prize.

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Miles, Justin and Damien

The teenagers practicing to play a basketball game scheduled for later in the day.

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Cameron
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Cameron and Kaleif

Before the golfers arrive to takeover the putting range, this little guy asked his mom, “How do you play this game”?

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The younger children waiting for the ready, set go with hopes of winning the Fastest Runner Prize.

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One of the most popular games of the day is the three-legged race, enjoyed by the younger children, teenagers and adults.

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Lyric and Ava
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Kertaeja, Tianna, Kaleif, and Cameron
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Tiyawn and Leslie

Twister is a game that my adult grands played and it still is a favorite with the younger kids.

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Justin, Savannah, Miles, Damien, Lyric, and ?

We also recognized newlyweds, Tiyawn and Leslie Walker.  They tied the knot on June 16th.

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Leslie and Tiyawn

I couldn’t end this post without a HUGE THANK YOU to my BEST FRIEND FOREVER and CO-GRANDMOTHER, CEBBY.  Knowing how much I rely on photos to remind me of times spent with friends and family throughout the year, she captured and surprised me with some of these photos and many, many more.

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Bonnie and Cebby

 

Bucket List: Checked Off Two Items

In the summer, I  look forward to taking a break from Florida’s hot weather to visit family and friends in Wisconsin.  This year, Hubby and I extended our vacation from four to ten days. I needed the extra time to check off two items on my Bucket List.

Visit Mama’s Gravesite in Chicago

I set aside one full day and traveled to Chicago about 90 miles from Milwaukee to visit Mama’s gravesite.  In two earlier posts, I shared:

  1. Why? – Lost Memories of Mama, and
  2. What Happened?Update: Lost Memories of Mama

Solo, 2-Day Mini Vacation in Madison, Wisconsin

I lived in Madison, Wisconsin for more than thirty years.  A solo, 2-day mini vacation, without Hubby, freed up space for me to: (1) spend quality time with my “girlfriend” family; and, (2) re-visit several of my favorite places.

I spent many quiet afternoons and evenings at a local park looking out over Lake Monona. To recapture this experience, I booked a room for two nights at the Hilton-Monona Terrace Hotel with a window view of Lake Monona.

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Because I wanted to spend time with as many family members as possible, I invited my grand-nieces and step great-granddaughters for a two-night sleepover at the hotel.  Sleepless in Madison is my best description of what it’s like to share a room with three teenagers and a nine-year-old; but, I enjoyed every minute with my girls.

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Avi and Tianna
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Avi, Lyric, Tianna

The next day, I, along with my girls, meandered through one of my favorite places in Madison, Olbrich Botanical Gardens.  

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Lyric, SeasonedSistah2, Avi, Tianna, Tierra, Kertaeja

I couldn’t stop the camera from clicking and capturing memories of a beautiful afternoon spent in the presence of nature and family.

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Tierra (Step-Granddaughter); Lyric (Step-Great-Granddaughter); and Avi (Great-Grand Niece)
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BFF and Co-Grandmother – Cebby.

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In the evening, I went to dinner at one of my favorite eating places, Paisan’s Restaurant.  It was my first visit in twenty-six years and I enjoyed a girlfriends night out of lively conversation and sharing memories with thirteen of my favorite friends and family members.   The highlight of  the evening was meeting my newest family member, Miss Jaelah.  She traveled from arm to arm throughout the evening.

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SeasonedSistah2 and Jaelah
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Jaelah
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Cebby
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Tierra, Cathy and Jane
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Hershey

The 2-day solo, mini-vacation in Madison, Wisconsin was awesome; and I am happy to have checked of two items on my Bucket List.

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.

 

 

 

 

Memories: The House on Wentworth Avenue

 

Aunt LD and Aunt Baby Ruth

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At an early age, God gifted me with two beautiful women, Aunt LD and Aunt Baby Ruth.  My Aunt LD was married to my Great, Grand Uncle Buddy; and, her sister, Aunt Baby Ruth lived with them on the second floor at the House on Wentworth Avenue.  I lived with Mama in the attic apartment

Because we didn’t share the same bloodline, legally, we were not related.  Love, which is more powerful, made us family and kept us together from the mid-1940s until they passed in the mid-1970s.

On Saturday evenings the aunts would prepare Sunday dinner.  I believe it was an enjoyable meal for them to cook because:

  • working as live-in domestics, what they cooked and how they cooked was controlled by the people who employed them;.
  • living in the House on Wentworth Avenue, they were empowered to cook what they wanted and how they wanted for their family and friends.

Aunt LD and Aunt Baby Ruth were excellent cooks.  They created traditional soulful southern dishes, which were familiar to me. Occasionally, introducing us to some of the dishes they cooked at work.

I loved to watch them cook, especially the desserts.  They always baked several cakes and/or pies.  After patiently waiting for them to finish, they gave me the empty mixing bowl and spoon.  Eating the leftover cake batter was my Saturday night snack.

On these Saturday nights, the youngest one in the room, I was introduced to family bonding, sister to sister love, and two women working together toward a common goal — placing a soulful meal on the Sunday table for loved ones to share at the House on Wentworth Avenue.

In my next post, I will share even more memories of my maternal family.

 

Maternal Family Ancestry Search – The Children of Gilbert and Mary Shegog

 

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Last year, I started a journey in search of “from whence I came.”   I uncovered new information since writing the first two posts, “From Whence I Came:  Gilbert and Mary” and “Family History: New Information-New Questions”.

New Information

A review of the Census Reports from 1900-1920 revealed new information about the eleven children of my great-great-grandparents, Gilbert and Mary Shegog.   According to the:

1900 Census Report there were seven (7) children in the household:

  1. Minerva (13-years-old) – My Great-Grandmother
  2. Tommie (13-years-old) – Uncle Buddy
  3. Abbie (9-years-old) – ????
  4. Lily (8-years-old) – ???
  5. Roxie  –  (4-years-old) – Aunt Roxie
  6. Willie – (8-years-old) – Aunt Willie
  7. Johnnie – Uncle Johnnie

1910 Census Report there were four (4) new children in the household.

  1. Sallie (6-years-old) – Aunt Sallie
  2. Walter (5-years-old) – ?????
  3. Josie (3-years-old) – Aunt Josie
  4. Robert (0 years old) – Uncle Robert

New Questions

  1. I didn’t know about, Abbie, Lily and Walter.  What happened to them.
  2. What was my Great-Grandmother Minerva’s first husband’s name?
  3. What was my Great-Great-Grandmother Mary’s maiden name?

 Dead End

I reached a dead-end searching through Census Reports because:

  • I could not find verifiable matches for Gilbert Shegog in the Census Report for 1870, 1880 or 1890;
  • The name of slaves were not recorded on Census Reports until 1870.  Only their age, gender, race, and the slaveholder’s name were recorded.

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I hope to find more information about those who came before when I visit my cousin this summer.  She is the keeper of our family Bible and photo album.

In the meantime, I plan to:

  • write of times spent with the children of Gilbert and Mary ShegogUncle Buddy, Aunt Roxie, Aunt Willie, Uncle Johnnie, Aunt Sallie, Aunt Josie, and Uncle Robert.
  • search for information in public records and other documents.

I began this journey to find out from “Whence I Came.” for me, my children, grandchildren, future generations as well as others who may have an interest in following me on this journey.

 

Six-Week Blog Hiatus

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I am so, so happy to reconnect with the Blogosphere World after taking a 6-week hiatus in mid-November.  During my absence, Hubby and I traveled to Wisconsin.  We enjoyed the face-to-face time with the children, grands and friends over the Thanksgiving Holiday.

We came back home to face the monumental task of  decorating the inside and outside of our home for Xmas.  It was not an easy task for two people on the other side of 70 to:

  • dig out Xmas decorations and lights stored randomly in closets when space ran out in the garage.  I so miss my Wisconsin basement and attic space;
  • separate tangled lights, haphazardly pulled down and thrown in red containers when the season ended last year;
  • setup the 5-year-old artificial Xmas tree, which is becoming more difficult as we age and it ages; and
  • figure out how to work the new fangled laser lights purchased to heighten our holiday visual experience when focused properly.  We were not able to get the proper focus.

In between these tasks we readied the house and shopped for enough food to host our three children, five grandchildren, two cousins and one nephew for eight days.

When everyone arrived, seeing them and knowing that I would be in their presence for more than a week was the greatest Christmas gift.  The preparation tiredness disappeared and in its place happiness and joy entered my space.

Rested, Relaxed, Restored and Ready to Re-Start Blogging!

 

 

 

Family History: New Information, New Questions

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As I continue to uncover New Information about my maternal family history, New Questions arise.

New Information

A recent Ancestry.com query by my paternal niece revealed this unknown information about my maternal great-grandmother, Minerva.  She was born about 1888, in Mississippi, and was one of 13 children, seven brothers and six sisters.  Her father, Gilbert, was 22 and her mother, Mary, was 13.

Minerva had one child, a daughter named Minnie, born in 1905.

New Questions

  1. I know about five sisters, Roxy, Sally, Willie, Minerva, and Josie.  What happened to the sixth sister?
  2. I know about three brothers, Thomas, Robert and Johnny.  What happened to the other four brothers?
  3. When and where did Gilbert and Mary get married?
  4. When and where were Gilbert and Mary born?
  5. When and where did Gilbert and Mary die?
  6. When and where were the siblings born?
  7. When and where did the siblings die?
  8. The name of my grandmother, Minnie’s, father.

Answers to these questions will provide New Information,  leading to New Questions and  my maternal family search to “know from whence we came” will continue.

 

Let’s Talk About Family: Aunt Roxy

Several weeks ago, I embarked on a journey to create an identity for those maternal family members who came before me.

Seekers Dungeon Prompt, “Let’s Talk About Family,” opened up a new door to share my memories.

 

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Aunt Roxy

I grew up surrounded by a large group of maternal aunts and uncles who nurtured and cared for me in their own special way.

All of my aunts filled in the space vacated by a:

  • Mother who worked a full-time job, six days a week; and a
  • Grandmother and Great-Grandmother who died before I was born.

Aunt Roxy, one of my great-grand aunts, cared for me during the day until I was about  12-years-old.  She and her husband, Uncle RV, were childless.  They lived on the third floor of a Victorian Style building on South Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

Aunt Roxy and Uncle RV used the front living room as their bedroom.  Her two sisters, Aunt Willie and Aunt Sally, stayed in the other two bedrooms.  They were special, too, and I will share memories of them in future posts.

There were two common areas in the apartment — a kitchen and a small open space off the stairwell which housed two comfortable chairs and cabinet style-radio that sat on the floor.

Aunt Roxy and Uncle RV also had a small 12″, black and white television in their bedroom where everyone gathered to watch their favorite shows.

On Saturdays, the aunts came together in the kitchen to prepare the weekly, after church, Sunday dinner.  They always seemed to cook enough to feed anyone who came by.  The two tables in the large kitchen rarely had an empty seat on Sunday.

I had my play and napping place in Aunt Roxy’s bedroom — a separated corner area of the room, surrounded by windows where I spent many hours playing, dreaming and pretending.  As an only child, I didn’t have a problem entertaining myself.

Though, I have fond memories of Aunt Roxy and the many hours I spent under her care, I —

  • Disliked taking the daily dose of caster oil after lunch.  Even though she followed this up with one whole marshmallow, it didn’t erase the awful taste.
  • Feared the dead bodies that regularly entered and exited the funeral home on the first floor and the embalming center in the basement.  It was not unusual to see a body laid out in an open casket for viewing in the entryway leading to the apartments upstairs.

Because I cannot recall when Aunt Roxy died or her married name, I will search for this information.  You see, there is no one left who remembers.