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

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(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

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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

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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

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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

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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