Lost Memories of Mama

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Never Forgotten

My mother would have celebrated her 91st birthday on Saturday, October 17th.  Sadly, she celebrated her last birthday on October 17, 1967.  Two months later, following a lengthy illness, she passed away at the young age of forty-four.  Even though its been almost forty-eight years since her death, my mourning continues.

Onetha Burks

Lost Memories

In 1967, I walked away from my mother’s burial site and never returned.   The years passed, memories faded and I forgot the:

  • exact date of her death,
  • church where her funeral was held, and
  • cemetery where she was buried.

My memories of these things were deeply buried and forgotten.  Approximately thirty years after my mother’s death, one returned when I attended my maternal aunt’s funeral.  Sitting next to my husband, I remarked, “This is my first time in the new church.”  He reminded me that my mother’s funeral had been held there.

Searching for Lost Memories

On Monday, October 19, I began the search to recapture the lost memories of Mama’s death.

First, I went to the county’s online genealogy records where you can get access to records, by last name, of people who died in the county more than twenty years ago.  While I couldn’t find mama’s name, my father’s death was listed as June 30, 1978.  In the next week or so, I plan to followup with the county and found out why her name is not showing up in their genealogy records.

Having hit a brick wall, I telephoned the church and told my story to the woman who answered the phone:

“My mama died in 1967 and I was so traumatized by her death that I blocked everything from my memory.  I am now looking for closure and trying to find out the date of her death and where she was buried.”

She said the church didn’t start keeping records until the 1970s.  However, this kind woman gave me the name of three cemeteries that likely would have handled a burial from the church during the 1960s.

I telephoned the first cemetery and repeated my story to the woman who answered the phone.  She listened and, in an understanding and caring voice, said, “give me a few minutes to check.”  Within five minutes she came back on the line saying:

“Your mother was buried on December 23, 1967.  She is buried in Section K, Lot #4 and Grave #10.

When I asked if a headstone was on the grave, she didn’t know.  But, offered to have a groundskeeper check and said she would get back to me before the end of the day.

Late afternoon, she called and reported that there was no headstone.  I asked if she could recommend where one could be purchased.  She said, “right here at the cemetery and I can email you the information.”

The Search is Over

To honor and remember my mother, in death, I plan to:

  • get a copy of my her death certificate;
  • make sure her name is properly listed on the county’s death records;
  • buy a headstone and have it placed on her grave by year’s end;
  • visit her grave in July 2016 when I am in the Chicago area;
  • order flowers for mama’s grave on her birthday, Mother’s Day and Christmas.
  • send letters, expressing gratitude and thankfulness, to the two women who were so understanding and helpful in this search.

For the remaining days of my life, I choose to share memories of mama, through my voice and written words, so that my children, grandchildren and future generations know from “whence they came.” (James Baldwin)

I lost memories of my mama’s death, but I cherished and retained the memories of our life together.

 

Part 3: My Blogging Break – Hubby’s Hospitalization

(Links to Part 1 and Part 2 of this three-part series.)

During my blogging break, Hubby and I were blessed to spend quality time with our two granddaughters who were visiting from Wisconsin.  They were the distraction we needed to release some of our tension and anxiety as we awaited Hubby’s surgery scheduling date.

Hubby’s Medical Condition

More than seven years ago, Hubby was diagnosed with, Trigeminal Neuralgia, a very serious chronic pain  condition.  Despite different health care interventions and prescribed medications, his pain levels elevated to the point where they were no longer tolerable.

Hubby felt his only remaining option was the Microvascular Decompression Procedure, “an invasive brain surgery offered to patients who are in reasonably good health and are not to advanced in age.”

Hospitalization and Surgery

Hubby had the surgery on Monday, May 18.

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Pre-Operative

My stress level lessened during the surgery once I made the choice to wait outside on one of the hospital terraces, rather than the dark and poorly lit surgery waiting area.  I even took a few photos:

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Nature’s beauty brought peace and harmony into my space; and, thankfully my cousin, who was visiting from Mississippi, was at my side to support me.

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Cousin, Sharon

The afternoon Florida heat forced us to look for another tranquil space, preferably one with air conditioning.  We found just that in the Walt Disney Room leading to the children’s wing of the hospital.

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For years, I have used distraction as a self-management tool to control my chronic pain condition.  And, it was a blessing to have this skill-set in my tool chest as I went through Hubby’s first-time hospitalization and surgery.

The surgery was successful and four days later, Hubby was discharged from the hospital

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Last Meal Before Discharge

Expressing Gratitude and Thankfulness

Hubby’s recovery is going well and he is scheduled for his first physical therapy session next week; and,

  • I am Thankful to all those who sent uplifting messages and prayers during this trying time in my life.
  • I am grateful, beyond words, for the healing hands of the neurosurgeon who performed Hubby’s surgery.
  • I am thankful and grateful to God for answering my prayers to relieve Hubby of his excruciating and debilitating pain.

 

 

Freedom Friday – January 23, 2015

On this Freedom Friday, I choose to exercise my right to express GRATITUDE and APPRECIATION to my blogging friend, Imani, for selecting me to receive the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.  

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About Imani

writer and poet, Imani encouraged me to write my first poem last year.  A major accomplishment for a poetically challenged 72-year-old.

I, especially, enjoy the  essays that she shares, which introduced me to the lifestyle, culture and traditions of her country.

I ENCOURAGE YOU TO VISIT HER BLOG

Award Rules

  • Provide the link to the person who nominated you.
  • Add the reward logo.
  • Answer the questions your nominator has asked.
  • Nominate five other bloggers and let them know via comments.
  • Ask your nominee five questions.

The Questions Imani Asked Me

  • Who or what puts a smile on your face and why? A young child or baby will automatically bring a smile.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a photo or face-to-face interaction, they are cute and funny. 
  • If you could change the world, in one sentence how would you achieve it? I would end the unjust and unfair treatment of people because of their religion, race, gender, age, ethnicity, etc.  I would encourage respect and acceptance of those who are different citing Matthew 7:12, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.  This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”
  • What is your favorite color and why? Pink.  Pink is my favorite color because tradition taught me this was proper for a young girl growing up in the 40s and 50s.  As a young adult, I identified  Pink with femininity and expressed it with the lingerie, gowns, PJS, and slippers that I wore. I dressed my baby girls in  Pink because it was expected in the 60s and 70s.  Diagnosed with Breast Cancer at 68, Pink was the color that designated me as a survivor. Pink is my favorite because I never took the time to pick another color. 
  • Would you tell your friends/family the truth if you felt it would hurt them?  No, if I felt it would serve no other purpose than to cause more hurt.  Yes, if it would have a negative impact on their health and safety.
  • Like Lucile asked me, “Are you mad at me because I nominated you for this award and you have extra work to do?”  Of course. not.  I am grateful to you for opening up this opportunity to meet new blogging friends and  even more exciting and enriching experiences.

I nominate the following for Advising Me, Informing Me, Guiding Me, Training Me, Uplifting Me, Inspiring Me and just plain old Making Me Feel Better.

My questions to them:

  • Who would you want with you if stranded on a deserted island?
  • Would you rather travel by plane, train, or automobile?
  • If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?
  • For what in you life do you feel most grateful?
  • If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to?

 

Sharing a Memory: Thanksgiving 2014

Hubby and I returned to Wisconsin to spend Thanksgiving with the kids, grands, relatives and friends this past year.  Since we decided to go at the last-minute one, our airline ticket prices were over the top.  (Side Bar Correction: The decision was mine and I bugged Hubby until he agreed.). 

Why I Bugged Hubby

For years, we postponed visiting Hubby’s last remaining Aunt even though, by car, she lived six hours away from our home in Wisconsin.  I remember reasons like “not enough time” or “maybe next year.”

Sadly, she passed away the first week in November.  There was “enough time” and we couldn’t wait until “maybe next year” to attend her funeral and show our respect.

It was an up-front and up-in-my-face reality moment. Our tomorrows with loved ones are not promised.  And, nothing short of my death was going to prevent me from spending Thanksgiving with the children and grands.

It was a short visit with a lot packed into three days, but I am grateful for the many precious memories including this one about my Little Girls.

The youngest members of our families are oftentimes the funniest.  And, these two were in hot water for their shenanigans during the after Thanksgiving Family Gathering.

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Cupcake (Black Dress) – Lyric (Plaid Shirt)

Our 6-year-old granddaughter, Cupcake, and great-granddaughter, Lyric, 7-years-old proudly announced to all that they were putting on a play later in the evening.  Everyone purchased a ticket.  The two girls disappeared; and, we all assumed they were pulling things together.  When the girls came downstairs a bit later, they started to play a board game, and the play was soon forgotten by all.

Several hours later, the Eldest Daughter answered the phone and the caller said, “Someone telephoned 911 from this telephone is everything okay?”  She assured the dispatcher all was well and said, “I can’t imagine what happened.”

My son decided to ask the girls and Cupcake admitted making the call.  He explained to her that 911 calls were for emergencies only.  She quickly said, “This was an emergency Lyric stole my money.”   Lyric piped up with “I deserved more money because I am older.”

Aunts, cousins, uncles, dad, friends, etc., all took turns sharing examples with the girls of the right and wrong times to call the 911 emergency number.

The money collected was equally split between the two girls with the promise they would put the play on at our family’s July 4th Celebration.

Once everything settled down with the girls, the party activities continued. Then, the doorbell ring, a police officer came down the steps and entered the lower level.  Cupcake looked up from her card game, saw the police officer, and quickly ducked behind the ottoman.

Her dad called her out of hiding.  And, she meekly stood before the officer as he calmly explained to both girls that 911 calls were for emergencies only.

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Cam’ron (Play Grandson) – Police Officer

Something positive came out of this 911 incident.  After all the negative publicity about policemen and their negative relationship with the African-American community, it was good for our teenage family members to witness a police officer interacting with these two little girls as well as our entire family in a kind, professional, and respectful way.

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L-R: Avi, Tianna, Cupcake, Taeja, Lyric and Chelsea

 

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L-R: Cameron, Kertagje, George, Kaleef

 

 

 

 

2015: Blogosphere and ME

It’s A New Year

I am excited to begin 2015 focused on:

  • improving the quality of this blog, and
  • uplifting ME spiritually, emotionally and physically.

Blogosphere

Because of the holidays, family member illness, and the death of Hubby’s last remaining aunt, I had to step away from blogging for the past several months.  Life is getting back to normal and I am happy to reconnect with my blogging friends.

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This month, January 13, I will celebrate my second anniversary as a blogger.  This blogging experience has opened the door to new experiences, new places and new people both in this country and other parts of the world.

Virtually, via blogging friends, I:

  • traveled to other countries as well as different places throughout the United States;
  • received helpful information on nutrition, meditation, exercise, alternative health care; and
  • entered a new world of books, poetry, religion and music.

Thank you, blogging friends, for uplifting ME spiritually, emotionally and physically these past two years.

Finally, thanks to the information shared in a WordPress recent post,“Make 2015 A Great Blogging Year,” I have the tools to take my blog to the next level.

ME

Hubby, family, friends, and bloggers have all served to improve the quality of my life.  I am grateful.  But, recent acquired self-acknowledgement and self-awareness skills, guided me to the recognition that this responsibility is solely mine.

To improve ME in 2015, I will:

  • Nurture my Healing Container Garden as it brings peace, bliss, and tranquility into my space.

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  • Write daily notes to place in My Gratitude Jar, to express gratitude for the good things in life.

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  • Seek out those things which serve to keep ME grounded and directed in a positive way.

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  • Hone my photography skills because it is always good to learn something new and interesting.
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Camera Purchased Two Years Ago – Still a Work-In-Progress
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Upgraded Camera – Gifted to ME – Christmas 2014
  •  Incorporate healthy recipes into my menus and “go to” the healthy eating cookbooks purchased over the past five years and are never used.
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A Small Sampling of Healthy Eating Good Books
  • Research and explore different options to address my health issues.

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  • Continue to value and appreciate the love of my life, Hubby, as we approach our 55th Anniversary on April 11, 2015.

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  • Remember there are always new things for ME to explore.   

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2015, Here I Come Ready Or Not!

Photography 101, Day 1 – Home

Today’s Assignment

“To kick of this course, let’s introduce ourselves, share an image that means home, and get to know our cameras.”

I love every inch of my home both interior and exterior.  However, when the Florida weather allows (not too hot), I spend most of my waking hours on our rear lanai.

In this space, surrounded by my Container Healing Garden and the towering green trees of the Rear Conservation Area, I find peace, joy and happiness.

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My Home – Facing Street
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My Container Healing Garden
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Rear Conservation Area

 

 

Handbook for Life

While purging files last week, trying to declutter my office space; I, came across the Handbook for Life (author unknown).  A breast cancer support group friend sent it to me several years ago.

Rather than filing this document again and sending it back into hiding for another two years, remaining unseen until the next filing purge, I chose to share the 39 tips in this post.

After the last tip, I give an honest assessment of where My Life is in relation to the four categories presented in the handbook:  (1) Health, (2) Personality, (3) Society, and (4) Life.

Handbook for Life

Health

  1. Drink plenty of water.
  2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
  3. Eat more food that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
  4. Live with the 3 E’s — Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy.
  5. Make time to pray.
  6. Play more games.
  7. Read more books than you did last year.
  8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day — Meditate.
  9. Sleep for at least 7 hours.
  10. Take a 10-30 minute walk daily.  And while you walk, smile.

Personality

  1. Don’t compare your life to others.  You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  2. Don’t have negative thoughts or things you cannot control.  Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
  3. Don’t overdo it.  Keep your limits.
  4. Don’t take yourself so seriously.  No one else does.
  5. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.
  6. Dream more while you are awake.
  7. Envy is a waste of time.  You already have all you need.
  8. Forget issues of the past. Don’t remind your partner of his/her mistakes of the past.  That will ruin your present happiness.
  9. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.  Don’t hate others.
  10. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
  11. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  12. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn.  PROBLEMS ARE SIMPLY PART OF THE CURRICULUM THAT APPEAR AND FADE AWAY LIKE ALGEBRA CLASS BUT THE LESSONS YOU LEARN WILL LAST A LIFETIME.
  13. Smile and laugh more.
  14. You don’t have to win every argument.  Agree to disagree.

Society

  1. Call your family often.
  2. Each day give something good to others.
  3. Forgive everyone of everything.
  4. Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.
  5. Try to make a least three people smile each day.
  6. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  7. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick  Your friends will.  Stay in touch.

Life

  1. Do the right thing!
  2. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
  3. God heals everything.
  4. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  5. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.
  6. The best is yet to come.
  7. When you awake in the morning, Thank God for it.
  8. Your Inner Most is always happy.  So be happy.

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My Life in Relation to the 39 Healthy Living Tips

Of the 10 tips related to Health, I gave a positive response to 8 out of 10.

I didn’t fare as well with Personality, of the 14 tips, 9 still are a part of my life.  In this area, I continue as a work-in-progress.  But, less than five years ago, I lived with the negative thoughts and behaviors cited in all the 14 tips.

Of the 7 Society tips, I have overcome 5 and 2 still remain.

Only 1 negative remains of the 8 Life tips, I live peacefully with the remaining 7 positive thoughts.

Finally,

  • responding to the statements in the Handbook for Life;
  • acknowledging the negatives in my life; and,
  • establishing a plan to reduce and/or eliminate my negative behaviors

brings me closer to living life to its fullest with a healthy mind, body and spirit.

 

 

 

Freedom Friday – October 24, 2014

Blogging friend, Iman, last week launched Freedom Friday writing, “It’s Freedom Friday, so I reserve the sole right to say what I have to say … .”

I decided to participate.  After all, I needed a day to freely express, WHATEVER!!, and why not on Freedom Fridays.

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So here goes….

Oops I Missed the Sign-up for Blogging 201

It’s Freedom Friday and, according to one definition, freedom means:

“I have the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.”

Though Blogging 201 was closed when I attempted to sign up, I choose to exercise my right on Freedom Friday to complete the first assignment, which was to:

“Consider what you want to accomplish with your blog.  Write down three concrete goals you want to achieve.”

This assignment, hopefully, will lead to an improved blog before I begin my third year of blogging in January 2015.

Why I Blog

Almost two years ago, I initially decided to create this blog for:

  • Self-Education to access information shared by other bloggers who were living with either breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, or fibromyalgia.
  • Self-Management to distract and re-direct my attention from negative thoughts, emotional stress, and physical pain.

Blogging also helped, as a fill-in, for the lost of family and friends when we retired and relocated to Orlando in 2010.

Though, I have friends now and enjoy spending time with them, I still blog to:

  • Interact with diverse people;
  • Tour different places around the world; and,
  • Learn new things above and beyond my wildest expectations.

Because either my IPad, MacBook or Blog are always within reach; I have the ability, when I want, to:

  • Express Thoughts
  • Rant Opinions
  • Expand Awareness
  • View Events
  • Explore New Cultures
  • Visit Different Places
  • Meet New People
  • Network with Bloggers
  • Share Memories

All of the above satisfies my needs as a blogger.  And, I have no interest in gaining notoriety, becoming a leader in the field, or self-publishing a book.

My Ultimate Blog

I decided to take a critical look at my blog layout in preparation for completing this assignment.  I concluded that my blog needs a makeover to improve both the look and flow.  I hope to acquire new ideas and techniques, when I participate, in the Blogging 101 Class beginning November 3.

In addition to revamping this blog, I want to add photos to my posts.  So, I registered for the Photography 101 Class which, also, starts on November 3.

I am not concerned about the number of followers, but would like to keep the current ones.  I now see them as my blogosphere friends.

I plan to continue publishing three times per week.

Four Specific Goals

  1. Publish three times each week during November, December, and January.
  2. Spend 2-3 hours each week visiting my followers’ blogs, reading their posts, and commenting on their work, from now until April 1st.
  3. Establish a new weekly feature on my blog by December 31st and publish each week through June 30th.
  4. Create an editorial calendar for the next three months by November 1st.

Finally, I am grateful to:

  • Iman for inviting me to take part in Freedom Friday.
  • Blogging 201 for this assignment, even though, I crashed the course.