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.
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.
The teenagers practicing to play a basketball game scheduled for later in the day.
Before the golfers arrive to takeover the putting range, this little guy asked his mom, “How do you play this game”?
The younger children waiting for the ready, set go with hopes of winning the Fastest Runner Prize.
One of the most popular games of the day is the three-legged race, enjoyed by the younger children, teenagers and adults.
Twister is a game that my adult grands played and it still is a favorite with the younger kids.
We also recognized newlyweds, Tiyawn and Leslie Walker. They tied the knot on June 16th.
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.
Two amazing people, over 60 years old, living life to its fullest.
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:
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.
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.
The next day, I, along with my girls, meandered through one of my favorite places in Madison, Olbrich Botanical Gardens.
I couldn’t stop the camera from clicking and capturing memories of a beautiful afternoon spent in the presence of nature and family.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks to Hubby, children, grands, and cousins, for your love and support throughout this journey.