Thursday, October 29, 2015

In Memory of Bernice and Helen

Grieving is the last thing I want to be familiar with, but I have come to accept that I have to be. Facing death is a reality of having a beautiful circle of senior friends in my life.

It was only one blog post ago when I shared with you about the passing of Gogo; I recently found out that two more of the seniors I have held the closest to my heart have passed away, Beatrice and Helen. They started telling me their stories in 2009, back when I started this group as a little six-week workshop during my lunch hour. Beatrice was there on the first day. Helen joined soon after and was the person who looked me in the eye and asked if we could keep the group ongoing because all of us loved it so much and couldn't imagine it ever ending.

There are many lessons that I have learned from the content of my senior buds' stories, but there are also lessons I have learned from simply being in the room with them and soaking in their presence. Beatrice was one of the funniest people I know I will ever meet; Helen was one of the most graceful people I know I will ever meet. I will never be half as funny as Beatrice or half as graceful as Helen. To me, in very different ways, they were rockstars. It made me feel cool just being around them.

There are many stories I have loved of theirs and many moments I have loved sharing with them. Here are some that will always keep their presence alive for me.

Bernice, I miss you.

Meeting Bernice

Black and White Grits

Different Like Flowers

My Aunt Massengill

On the Bus

Helen, I miss you.

Meeting Helen

One of the Happiest Moments of My Life

My Lovely Parents

I Have Happiness

Letter to Our Readers

Monday, October 19, 2015

Joan (Foolish Superstitions)

Halloween is just around the corner, and yes, we have a fun little black cat (among other fun things) story to get you in the mood! Oh, and don’t forget to answer Joan’s question! Tell us what superstitions you remember or believe in at: Can’t wait to hear from you!

Joan Bunting
Foolish Superstitions

Yesterday the Skip-Bo players were playing Skip-Bo (a card game) and while we were talking, the subject of superstitions that people believed in came up.
Do you remember some of these, and do you still believe in them?
  1. If you spill salt you throw some over your left shoulder.
  2. If you step on a crack in the pavement, you’ll break your mother’s back.
  3. A female is not allowed to whistle in the house.
  4. If someone is sweeping and the broom accidentally touches you, you will end up in jail. (When I would accidentally touch my husband with the broom, he would spit on it. That was what you were supposed to do. So one day the broom touched him and he spit on my broom. Of course I was furious. When I fussed with him he said he didn’t want to go to jail, so I told him that if he were to go to jail he would have been locked up long ago because that was about the fourth or fifth time I had touched him with the broom. I had no more trouble with him spitting on my broom.)
  5. Do not let a black cat go past you from your left side or you will have bad luck. (Well, one day when I was a pre-teen this black cat tried to pass by me and I chased that cat for about a whole five or six minutes. I can’t remember exactly what happened but I think that cat got tired of me chasing and ran another way.)
  6. If two people are waiting together do not walk between them, especially if they are married or dating because it will break up their relationship.

After I chased that cat is when I realized how foolish superstitions are. If you need to believe in something, believe what the Bible tells you. In other words, believe in God and you can’t go wrong.

Monday, October 5, 2015

In Memory of Gogo – A Life of Mirth and Joy

Gogo means “Grandmother” in Swahili and it’s what Jenny Williams always wanted to world to know her as. Gogo had been in and out of the hospital for a while now and I am sad to share that we said goodbye to her last week.

It means a lot to me that her granddaughter, Amber Llewellyn, reached out to me right away, and co-wrote this blog post with me. We had never met or talked before, but my senior buds’ families are truly my extended families, and despite the sad reason that brought us together, it is a blessing to be connected with a young woman who loves her grandmother so much.

It makes me so sad to see one more of my closest senior buds pass away. But with every death I have experienced, I have grown stronger and more determined to give the seniors I still can spend time with the absolute best time of their lives. With every passing, I find peace in knowing that one more senior's voice will live on forever through the stories shared in our group, that one more family will have these stories to hold on to as the senior's legacy.

Every single time I saw Gogo, she always greeted me with a laugh, a hug and a sparkle in the eye. It’s true what she wrote, that she’s been given a gift – a life of mirth and joy. Sparkle on, Gogo. I love you and miss you.

Amber Llewellyn
Tribute to My Grandmother
My grandmother Jenny Williams (Gogo)  honestly meant the world to me. I always knew she had a gift for writing and I received confirmation through reading her writings. I can still hear her saying, “Amber get on that site and look at my stories!” This was truly her passion, writing and storytelling. One of the pieces that stood out to me the most was “ Let Go and Love”. I was overwhelmed with tears as I read that beautiful piece. Gogo and I almost always debated on forgiveness. Despite how people may judge, treat, abandon you…you must FORGIVE! You don't have a lot of time to hold bitterness in your heart but instead let go and allow the love to flow as she said in her writing. It means so much knowing that Gogo lived by her own words. I was truly blessed by her wonderful spirit each and everyday. I have spent the last two years caring for her and one of her biggest goals was to get back to the senior center. She loved being there every Thursday with friends making memories. Seeing her happiness through the pictures made me smile.  Miss Jenny Williams did not go in vain. She loved and cared for all of you! I want to personally thank all the people she has touched for accepting her bright, beautiful spirit.

Gogo Jenny Williams
Let Go and Love

Advice and wisdom from someone who has lived several decades:

No… I don’t reside up in the attic among used relics and such… you will not find me in my bed under a blanket scared and afraid of vampires and witches.

I love children and find myself more patient with yours than the ones I raised.

So what of this great wisdom? I do so want to impart the key word is “live”.

Time, especially in this modern age comes in running. When you are young, time is a deceiver and waits for no one.

Oh yes, advice and wisdom. You must stop and take assessment of what is going on around you…don’t take people too seriously…let go of things that weigh you down. Forgive parents, siblings, friends, and foes. Let go and allow love to flow from your heart…

Gogo Jenny Williams
Out of the Mouths of Babes

Every day when I wake up—first I’m so thankful to see a new day, as I’m growing older my expectations are growing.

If you see me there is not much to see, a short grey-haired lady.  Kind of round for lack of a nicer word than my hospital charts say.  This self-assessment does not bother me.

I’ve been given a special gift, along with thankfulness, expectation, there is mirth and joy or, to sum these last two, laughter.  Even when trouble and sadness pay me a visit, something deep down inside that tinkles and bubbles and escapes in spite of me. 

Today at my senior center, someone shared a story about one of her grandchildren—she said, “Grandma went to daycare today.”  After the laughter died down, we decided, yes, we get to hang out with people our own age, we go way back.

We are well taken care of, a safe environment, good food to eat, even when we complain.

Gogo Jenny Williams

The exciting thing about getting older is adjusting to changes. After hitting the legitimate age of adulthood (21), there are many changes. Becoming a wife and mother was an unexpected change that, for me, was unlike the books and movies I’d seen. There were no scripts, there was no one to map out scenes and prepare me for the next scene. No longer answering to what my parents expected of me, now my life and daily experiences molded and shaped me into a person I did not recognize. How strange: when did it happen? The extrovert who grew up as she guided and loved her children; the woman who burst from a cocoon of traditions and taking charge to one who embraces life, who is not afraid of change. 

Gogo Jenny Williams
My Best Days Are Now

I meet people daily who are overwhelmed with the complexities of life in the 21st century. People are rushing around like a colony of ants without the intent and purpose of ants. Ants know where they are going. What’s wrong with me? I sometimes wonder. Aha, that’s my predicament, wonderment, the excitement of the moment. Each day is a new day, when I wake up it does not yet appear where it will go.

Gogo Jenny Williams
The Best Thing I Have Learned in My Life

It took many years and it seemed that I kept butting my head against hardened walls. I learned that you can begin again; you can forgive, turn around, pick up the pieces, and learn from your mistakes.

Bad decisions – I’ve made a few. Missed opportunities – yes, I’ve missed a few. Trusted the untrustworthy – yes I did. Experiencing encounters the 3rd and 4th kind made me a better human being – the so-called failures became stepping stones to my success, the backbone that enabled me to stand up and face life, not hide in a corner when it seemed that my world crumbled.

What a chain breaker. What a feeling of empowerment.

The process may be quite fragile. It might be missing people and components that were so very important to your life. But if you are still breathing, you can begin again.