Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

You can see that I am cleaning house. I have 118 unfinished drafts in the WordPress folder. So this one is a few years old. But important messages don’t change. 

There have been a couple of deaths lately which have me thinking about things. Yes, about the afterlife. But also about the life experience on earth.

If I had that special wand I would make it all just slow down a little bit. I know that is not reality. But I haven’t always been a fan of reality either.

So, I will be writing, I think, on the subject of these deaths.

My sister-in-law’s father died in March. Without going into an old family history thing I need to explain that before the two families became one, Jim had already been a friend to our family. The friendship goes back generations in Ireland. Neighboring farms, ancestral village and all that.

One thing I am a big fan of is family and friends. I was tickled that the children of two old friends would marry each other.

So, I was a little sad at one more member of the old guard passing.

My sister-in-law has been sharing little stories about her Dad. And when I read them I smile. Or my eyes fill.

Here is one. This is important.

After Jim’s funeral we were gathered for a brunch at a nearby hotel.

It was lovely. Patty (my sister-in-law) spoke about her Dad. In a nutshell it goes something like this. She said he always repeated stories that she already knew. So this one time, she asked him to tell her something she didn’t know. It caused a pause.  In a sort of a “What do you mean?” moment. Anyway, he shared a childhood experience. About returning to Ireland as a young boy with his mother. His father saw them off at the harbor in New York.

Okay, my eyes were filling. Again. Like they did in the church. I know. I know. He was nearly ninety. But someone lost their dad. Doesn’t matter how old. I kept thinking happy thoughts to dry up the tears as I didn’t want anyone thinking I was a snuffling, secret love child of this man.

The important thing of the story is this. We tell the same old stories because they’re comfortable. They might be triggered by surroundings, experiences or holidays. We know our partner’s stories. We know our friends’ stories. We know the stories of our children.

But we really don’t know it all. And it is up to us. To ask the right questions. So, it’s not the same old stories.

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My eldest had Covid a few months ago. Not a bad case, thank goodness. But knowing she was somewhat isolated in her apartment I figured she might appreciate some love. I got busy preparing a care package.

I was mindful of not cluttering up her space and tried to keep the package thoughtful. Only my kids would (or would not) appreciate my bizarre amalgam.

So, I enclosed a handwritten note expressing good cheer, pride and love.

Then a new pair of black/gray leggings (with some leopard spots but not overdone) and three pair of cute socks. Individual cups of Kashi cereal for those “on the go” days. Face masks for pampering-not the Covid kind. Vitamins. Lens wipes. Phone holder necklace. Tea with laxative. Melatonin. Eye drops. Vanilla room spray and handmade soaps from my friend’s Dallas business “Abundantly Aromatic.” Stationery-some new and some she created as a child.

She’s thirty now. 🙂

So I carefully packed the box and headed to the post office.

After a few days, I asked if she had received it. Nope. I checked the tracking record and it showed that the package had been delivered to the door. I had her check with the landlord/neighbors. Maybe someone took it inside the house. Nope. I put in a query with the post office just in case there had been some mistake in address. I soon received an email letting me know that the investigation was closed. Nothing left I could do. The crazy thing is she was home at the time.

I was upset. It was not worth a ton of money. But it still bothered me. That people would go onto someone’s property and help themselves.

I might have ranted to my husband about New York not being my favorite place.

He might have said, “See, I told you.”

I might have replied that once my rant was over I would love New York again.

Apparently there is even a term for these folks. Porch pirates. Yes, it’s a thing.

Anyway, I had visions of the pirate dressed in an eye patch, leopard leggings, reading the personal letter to my eldest, cleaning their eyeglasses with the wipes and having a go at the rest of the contents.

I could only hope that they were enjoying a cup of tea after having a few extra strength supplements.

Am I twisted?

My advice for the day is this. Ensure that a signature is required for packages.

Have a happy weekend!

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Good morning! I hope everyone is doing well. At least, okay and hanging in there.

Big sigh, right?

It’s been awhile but I plan to take pen to paper more often. In reality, more like fingers to a keyboard.

I watched an episode from a series recently. Wasn’t crazy about it. But I am just one person with my own opinion.

I was, however, fascinated with the premise of this particular vignette. I’m not sharing the name or actress because you might want to give it a go and I do not want to sully your thoughts.

A woman, whose Mom has Alzheimer’s, peruses through the old family photo albums.

Who hasn’t done that when visiting our parents? Poking through boxes of photos, sitting on beds or sofas, in our childhood homes. Asking, “Who is this?” Or “How cute!” Maybe, “Remember that day?”

This daughter removes photos from the plastic sleeves.

Then she eats them.

And instantly a memory is evoked. She is transported back to the moment each photograph was taken. Brilliant.

Imagine if we could actually relive or feel transported to a different time? When things were carefree. Or so fun and special. When loved ones were still present.

I have my memories (although murkiness does set in the older I become) but I’d gobble photographs up, in a second, to truly feel cherished moments from the past.

We could also take the opportunity to gnaw on the “not so carefree’ photographs. To remind us of the things we don’t want to feel or repeat. And learn from them.

I wish you all a weekend of cherishable moments.

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A couple of weeks ago, a woman I worked with back in the AT&T days, passed away.

Suddenly.

One evening she was posting loving birthday wishes to her grandchild on Facebook. The next day at noon I was receiving texts from friends telling me that she had died.

Fifty years old.

Shocking.

But that is not the message I want to share in this post.

One of our mutual friends posted a thing on Facebook. On March 18th.

“For those who still have their mother.”

“Got some gossip? Call your momma. Bad day at work? Call your momma. Huge accomplishment? Call your momma. Someone hurt your feelings? Call your momma. You’re sick? Call your momma. Can’t remember how to cook something? Call your momma. Etc. “

You get the idea.

B. commented, “I needed to read this today. My mother and I had an argument a couple months back and we haven’t spoken. I think I’m going to send her a note today.”

A few of us responded with encouragement. Do it!

I said, “Better yet-call her!”

B. loved the feedback and said she would.

I privately messaged her that evening. Asking if she talked to her Mom. And she said, “Yes, it’s all good now. Thanks for the encouragement.”

Without going into details she said it was over something silly. And that she needed to accept her mother as she is and that she loved her.

And then she said, “My mom is 84 and lives in Florida so I would hv hated for something to happen and not hv reconciled.”

😦

Who would ever have thought that the fifty year old would be the one to leave so soon?

Another reminder. Life is very short. If you need to reach out to a loved one-there is no time like the present.

Because we don’t want to wait until there is no time.

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As the young folks say, “It’s been a minute.”

This means that it’s been an extended period of time. And I haven’t written anything since July!

It wasn’t malaise. Although this country (world) has truly been on some kind of a roller coaster! Politics aside for the moment.

I hesitate to blame it on writer’s block.

Some type of low grade depression?

Maybe. My friend Karla figures most of us are experiencing a touch of that in the past year.

Anyway, whatever it was, today is the day.

This past Wednesday I was very busy. Three things that day had me thinking profoundly.

They are three very different stories and deserve their own space. So, another time!

But I was thinking about the fragility of life. One day someone is here and then they are not.

A childhood friend and I were messaging the next day. We had a mutual friend who had died suddenly Tuesday/Wednesday at the young age of fifty. Someone I worked with many years ago and one of her high school friends.

We chatted about life, families, acceptance, etc.

S. works at a nursing home and told me about a recent interaction.

One day, she sees a resident just wheeling around in his chair. Eyes closed.

Asks him, “J., buddy, what’s up with your eyes closed??”

He replied, “I’m exhausted but I am not sure how many days I have left on earth so I can’t spend them in bed.”

Bang. There it is.

She told me that he has arthritis and is in pain 100% of the time.

Also told me he smiles 100% of the time.

None of us know how many days we have left on earth.

If we wake up in the morning we are blessed with a choice.

How do we want to spend this day? This gift?

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Happy Father’s Day.

My dad died five years ago and I think of him all the time. Many folks are experiencing the first Father’s Day without their Dad. It’s tough. And a lot of us know exactly how you are feeling today. Sending big hugs.

One of the many things I miss about Dad is our frequent conversations about family history and genealogy.

I became obsessed with genealogy more than a decade ago. Mine and anyone else’s family history! I was completely fascinated with so many narratives. Reading old newspapers and veering off into the stories of strangers. As a result I learned. So much. Still learning.

Came across this story during my research.

It’s about a woman named Charity Palmer Southgate who lived in Falmouth, Pendleton County, Kentucky. Not a story you hear every day in the African-American narrative.

Most of the Black population of Falmouth descends from Charity. I was fortunate to correspond with one of her descendants who is an African-American playwright and author.

I copied the following excerpt from a history site.

The story of Charity Southgate is based on information compiled by Pendleton County Circuit Clerk Marvin Sullivan.

The story starts about 1806 or 1807 in Louden County, Va., where a woman named Patsy gave birth to a daughter.

Patsy, whose last name was spelled various ways in legal documents as Parmer, Palmour and Palmer, had been living in the home of her brother-in-law Robert Foster.

The birth was treated as a family disgrace. Not only was the woman apparently not married, but the father of her child was apparently a black, a house servant of Foster.

The family moved the child, named Charity, to Bardstown when the girl was 2 or 3 years old. She lived there with the family of a man named Asher Pullen until about 1822 when Jonathan Reid appeared, armed with a power of attorney papers signed by Philip L. Palmour. The letter authorized Reid to take possession of the girl, which he did. He moved her to Falmouth where she was placed in the custody of Samuel Wilson.

The girl, who apparently had not been treated as slave up to that point, was treated as a slave by Wilson. With the aid of a friend, Joshua Powell, Charity filed suit in 1824 asking the court to declare her a free woman.

That began a 26-year court battle with several legal issues raised.

Among the legal issues was the question of exactly who her parents were. If the accounts of second-hand witnesses were true about the birth to a white woman than the issue was raised as to whether Charity was born a free woman because her mother was white.

It was fairly common at the time for children to be born with a white slave owner as the father and a black slave woman as the mother. In those cases the child was usually considered a slave because the mother was black. But the situation was reversed in Charity’s case.

If Charity was legally a slave, there was the question of testimony that her “owner or guardian” had declared Charity was to be held as a slave only until she reached the age of 28.

While the court battle waged, Charity apparently was sold twice – once to Andrew S. Hughes and then by him to Martin Willett. Records also mention a daughter, Lucy, who was sold as a slave.

Charity apparently had another daughter by a black man and a son by a white man. Then she apparently married a black man named Allen Southgate, with whom she had several children.

Those relationships explain the differences in the way some of her children are listed on a 1850 Pendleton County census.

In that census her oldest daughter living at home, Rebecca, 25, is listed as black; the oldest son, Elsey Hughes, 23, is listed as a mulatto like his mother; while the other children, all with the last name of Southgate, are listed as black like their father, Allen Southgate, who was identified as a 45 year old laborer. Charity at the time was 42 years old.

The Southgate children were listed as Charlotte, 20; Amy, 18; Lucinda, 16; Polley Ann, 14; John A., 12; Abraham, 10; Edmund, 6; and Minerva, 4.

Also listed as living with the Southgate family in 1850 was a white man, John Morgan, who was 70.

The records are confusing but the courts apparently eventually declared Charity a free woman. She died in the spring of 1868.

Next two paragraphs were written by her descendant.

Charity was born a free woman of color (she was sold into slavery (illegally) at the age of 16 by someone representing her white maternal family. (Charity was the daughter of a white woman and a man of color).

Charity (with the help of a white attorney friend) pleaded her “legal free status” for years until she won. She won the case because it was proven she was the daughter of a white woman in Virginia. (Not that she was simply half white). Charity knew that children of color born to white women, by law, were considered free because white women were free. Charity got her freedom back because she was specifically the daughter of a white woman.

Very interesting case.

History matters and while much of it can be painful every one needs to learn it.

Right?

There is, in my state, a curriculum on African-American history that was created by a commission five years ago. Just sitting there waiting.
The curriculum is not just about slavery although that is how the story begins for African-Americans. I have written, as others have, to my Representative in the House, asking for support. It is just a matter of providing legislation to authorize RIDE (Department of Education) to include this. The Representative has already responded and said she has taken the issue up with another House colleague. A woman of color and a Providence teacher. Will keep me posted.

History matters.

It is really difficult to hear so many ugly things being said in this current environment. I am here to tell you (no surprise) that racism is definitely out there. Make no bones about it. Everywhere. North. South. East. West. So there needs to be a change.

But can racist adults change their way of thinking? One person told me there is absolutely no way racists can change. 100% guaranteed me. I don’t know if that’s true but….

If not-then how do we combat this? So people do feel safe. So their children feel safe. So they feel like valued members of their communities.

Maybe, just maybe, teaching every child in our Public School System the history, trials, tribulations and contributions of African-Americans will allow those little people to grow and embrace (not just tolerate) our differences. And be adults who appreciate inclusion and not divisiveness.

Here’s hoping!

It’s definitely worth a shot.

Note: My support of the curriculum was as a result of listening to the voice of someone who was on the commission that created the curriculum.

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I trust that you have all established some type of routine in this time of Covid. I sincerely hope that you are all healthy and well.

Today is “Juneteenth.” This unofficial holiday commemorates the day, in 1865, that a proclamation was finally delivered in Texas. It was announced that the slaves were free.

When I say slaves I mean Black people who were taken from Africa and brought to America.

Taken.

They weren’t packing their bags for the long journey, double checking their itinerary and looking forward to exploring a new place.

These people were stripped of everything. Their homeland. Their families. Their Moms and Dads. Their children. Their religion. Their culture. Their language.

And then abused in a foreign land for decades and decades.

I am currently doing research on a family that had ties to a town called Falmouth in Pendleton County, Kentucky. The amount of “Mulattos” in any one family (on census reports) is astonishing and sickening. Because we all know what that means. We are not talking about love stories. Women were raped and impregnated by their owners or other white men. That’s a fact.

So today is a day which should be a cause for celebration. Weirdly.

And yet, the African-American experience is not even taught during the academic year in all U.S. public schools.

I am going to continue to write about this issue in each posting. It is time for me to reflect and figure out how I personally can take action to promote positive change.

It is time for all Americans to reflect.

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

To my Black friends and fellow Americans-I hope this year brings positive change in your lives and the lives of your families. I stand with you.

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One thing that I am sure you all noticed once this pandemic hit. The amazing amount of emails sitting in your in-box. Basically businesses sending a “How we are responding to COVID-19” message.

Started off slowly. I received an email from the following:

The Optometry Center in Texas where my daughter (now twenty-eight years old and hasn’t lived in Dallas since she was in ninth grade)once had an eye exam.

A mom group selling spirit wear. Also from the grand old state of Texas when my daughter was in Middle School.

Tempo Air. Again from our Dallas days. Those fellas were in high demand at our house and regularly scheduled.

Realtors from our Southern California years. Left there in 2012.

And then came the onslaught.

Megabus. Airlines. Parishes. Restaurants. Delivery services. Theaters. Groceries. Charities. Department of State. Blogs. Blood Banks. Social media sites. Tourist spots. Hotels. Inns. Travel sites. Local shops. Schools. Universities. Sports teams. Cultural groups. Gyms. Genealogy sites. Museums. Petition groups. Social justice causes. Voting information. Banks. Craft sites. Auction houses. Utilities. Book stores. Clubs.

Etcetera!

Not just me, right?

I’ve received correspondence from anyone (and everyone) I might have nodded at or greeted in the last fifteen years!

Honestly, why does the government even need an app to track our whereabouts? Here’s my email address. This is a contact tracing of my life. Just gonna leave it right there.

There is a positive side to this. Besides taking me on a trip down memory lane! It provided me with an opportunity to get organized. I unsubscribed from many of these lists and then deleted the mail. Took the time (a little bit each day) to bang these bad boys out, resulting in a much tidier in-box. Saving me time in the future.

Feeling better already!

Have a lovely weekend and stay safe.

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Hope everyone is enjoying their Friday and looking forward to the weekend.

Of course, you might be at home like me and the weekend looks alarmingly like Tuesday or Wednesday. I am sure, one day soon, the days will once again define our weeks in a real way.

In the meantime, release your inner artist! I know there are some who are reading this and thinking, “I don’t have an artistic bone in my body.”

I’m not talking about whipping out supplies and painting a beautiful landscape.

It could be as simple as crayons and a coloring book. Painting a flower pot. Making stakes for an herb garden.

You will find moments of peace.

We chose rocks. I know my girls probably thought it was goofy at first. But they later said it was therapeutic.

First we painted some for a friend of ours who recently lost her husband. We made plant markers for the garden that he once tended with his little grandsons.

rocks1

Then I painted a bunch for my garden so I will actually remember what’s what!

rocks

I know that there won’t be any prizes for “Artist of the Year” awarded but it was a nice, calming way to pass a little time.

So, release your inner artist. Have a lovely Tuesday! Oops! Have a fabulous weekend!

Stay safe.

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When the youngest, Hannah, was home during the month-long winter break she had the forethought to bring her plants home. Didn’t want to leave them to die a slow painful death in the cold dormitory.

One was a philodendron. A very green and healthy plant. Was growing like crazy as philos are wont to do. I told her it needed a haircut. To spruce it up a bit. So I did.

Then I took the cuttings and plunked them into a glass vase filled with water.

The kid returned to her university with her newly shorn plants at the end of the holiday.

Meanwhile, the cuttings were thriving at their new homevase (just made that word up and keeping it) and shooting out little roots everywhere. All I ever had to do was top it off with a little water as needed.

This is what it looks like now.

philo

There are now probably five or six individual plants. From one plant.

My daughter is currently home with us. She left university the first week of March and arrived in Rhode Island to spend the short Spring break. Never imagining that she wouldn’t be right back at school in ten days. So her only accompaniment was a big basket filled with dirty clothes. Everything else, including her green little plants, remains locked up in her inaccessible dorm room.

Poor little plants. Also casualties in the pandemic war.

The good news is that when she does return to her university she will have five new plants. All from the original Mama.

This is something simple we can all do. Whether we live on a ranch or in a city apartment. Take a cutting from one of your plants. Then drop it in a glass jar or vase. When it roots share with a friend, neighbor or family member. Rinse and repeat.

It’s healthy for the indoor environment. Where many of us happen to be spending every minute at the moment. It’s super easy. Cheerful to look at while also spreading cheer.

Things will get better. Hang in there. Be safe.

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