ON A JOURNEY: TO LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST

Took a six month break from blogging; and, I return re-energized and re-invigorated.  Grateful for this break.  It allowed me to reconnect with family and friends as well as SELF.

While away, I spent a great deal of time BEING STILL, GOING WITHIN and SEARCHING for the right path to follow in order to LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST. Not sure what will cross my path on this journey, but I am open to those things that bring LOVE, PEACE,  and HAPPINESS into my life.  Though 74-years-young, I believe there are still new:

  • things to learn;
  • people to meet;
  • places to visit, and
  • past memories to record.

I plan to use this blog as the platform to:

  • Share life experiences; and
  • Store memories because some are fading.

I LOVE TO CAPTURE NATURE PHOTOS

Two years ago dissatisfied with the photos captured on my IPhone, IPad and Canon point-and-shoot camera, I gifted SELF with a Nikon 5200 Digital Camera.  Some in my family, I am sure with good intentions, didn’t see the value in a 72-year-old grandmother purchasing, “such an expensive camera.”

Since then, I drifted through online photography courses as well hours of reading through different photography books including, “Nikon D5200 for Dummies.”

Last week, I attended a three-hour class, Photographing Camellias, which was  held at one of our local botanical gardens.  I went to the class with our 25-year-old granddaughter, who is with us for an extended visit,

Fessing up! I was a bit intimidated by the other attendees.  I came with my granddaughter and Nikon 5200 Camera.  They came with their camera along with a lot of different  equipment and supplies. Things that I had never seen before.

Minutes into the class, it became clear:

  • My skill set was far lower than the others attendees, including my granddaughter; and
  • This class was too advanced for my skill level.

Determined to make it a positive learning experience, for over three hours, I:

  • Enjoyed the beauty of the Camellia flowers;
  • Captured photos;
  • Observed the instructor and other attendees;  and
  • Questioned those things that I did not understand.

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Whle I enjoyed the photography class and the beauty of the Camellia flowers, watching my granddaughter as she took photos brought so much LOVE, PEACE AND HAPPINESS INTO MY LIFE.

CHERISHED MEMORIES

PHOTOGRAPHS BY: SeasonedSistah2 (Yvonne)

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY: Chelsea Yvonne King

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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.

 

 

 

 

Family Memories: Miss Mattie and George

I want to create an identity for those family members that came before me.  For my family history has been lost, misplaced and forgotten.  I will begin by searching for information, asking questions, and recalling memories.

When information is found, I will write.  When I recall memories, I will write.  When I get answers, I will write.

I want to leave written words for my children, grandchildren, and future generations so that they, “know from whence they came.” 

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So, I begin this journey with fond memories of my maternal great-grandparents.

George and Miss Mattie

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George and Miss Mattie – Wedding Photo

During my childhood, I assumed George and Miss Mattie were only good friends.  After all, they worked on the same plantation and lived in close proximity to each other.

As the plantation owner’s family cook, Miss Mattie, lived in the big house with the plantation owner’s family. I recall a large white house surrounded by huge shrubs, sitting on lush green lawns, with peacocks walking around spreading their colorful wings.

George worked as the driver  who supervised the sharecroppers working in the plantation fields.  Therefore, his house was a bit larger, painted a bright red and better maintained than the sharecropper homes on the plantation.  Sitting directly behind the big house, it shared the big house’s lush green lawns, huge shrubs and the peacocks even wandered by George’s front porch spreading their colorful wings.

Growing up, I knew George was the driver on the plantation.  Unlike the drivers described during slavery, the sharecroppers on the plantation respected and trusted George.

Even though slavery ended in 1865, its remnants remained in the south and its replacement was sharecropping.  

I am not sure when George or Miss Mattie began working on this plantation located in the rural Mississippi Delta.  For certain, George worked as the driver throughout my mother’s childhood as well as mine.

Miss Mattie and George married sometime around the mid-1950s and were together until George passed away in 1971. Miss Mattie died several years later.

Though. I refer to George and Miss Mattie as great-grandparents, we shared no bloodline.

George the Single Parent

My mother rarely talked about her past. But, she did tell me how George became my great-grandfather  He married my great-grandmother, Minerva, around the late 1930s. She was raising four grandchildren after the death of her daughter and only child, Minnie.

Several years later, when Minerva, died four of her sisters offered to take one child each.  George rejected their offer.  He did not want to see them separated.

George was very protective of the children.  He stressed getting an education and their moving up north for a better life.  When other children on the plantation went to work in the fields, my mother and her siblings went to school.  When the two girls were ready for high school, he sent them both off to boarding schools.  I remember mama saying, “We wanted to go to the field with the other children, but George wouldn’t allow it.”

The two boys were with him until they enlisted in the Navy during World War II and the two girls left when they married.  All eventually moved north as George wanted.

I have many, many memories to share of times spent with this compassionate, loving, and generous man as I continue down this path of discovering “from whence I came.”