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Life Must Go On

17 Dec

On June 21, 2018, my life…my world shifted. My mother passed away quietly in her sleep late in the evening of July 20th and was declared dead in the wee hours of July 21st. I will never forget the sound of her last breath. I will never forget the sight of her dead body being carried out of the house. After seven years of caring for her and watching Lewy Body Dementia ravage her body and her mind, my heart was stunned by the reality that she had died right before my eyes.

I’m still grieving the loss of her presence in my daily life. Being my mother’s caregiver is how I have defined myself for the last 7 years. Now I’m not just a motherless child, I am a parentless child…an orphan of sorts and I don’t like this role.

When my father died very suddenly in 1995, I was also stunned…as was the rest of the world. Mom was still with us. She marshaled us through some dark days. She carried us through learning how to live without Dad.

It appears that it is now the job of each member of my family to figure out how to live without our matriarch and patriarch. We will come through this stronger, wiser, and equipped to help others. God is with us and on our side. I have a lot to figure out. I must move forward. Life will go on. Life MUST go on. LET’S GO!

Mother’s Day Tribute 2017 #6

12 May

I celebrate my heritage because of my mother. My mother is proud of her Jamaican heritage. My parents’ deep love and loyalty to the land of their birth was palpable. They grew up in a Jamaica that was still a colony of Great Britain. Becoming American citizens took nothing from their love of Jamaica.  To this day, Mom does not take kindly to any one speaking ill of the British Royal Family or Jamaica…especially if the person speaking is not Jamaican. Just hearing or seeing the word “Jamaica” makes her smile with great pride. She celebrated her heritage through her cooking, her clothing, her belief in hard work, her belief in strict discipline, her high standards of excellence, her British shaped grammatical rules, her beautiful accent, her dedication to help others, her love of the ocean, her traditional religious values and so much more. Jamaica was home…is home. We had an annual cookout at the house to celebrate Jamaican Independence Day. I cannot find the words to tell you how good the food was at this cookout. I would look up and see my friends from the neighborhood with a plate full of food. It was quite the event and EVERYONE was welcomed!  Fellow Jamaicans would come from near and far to join in the weekend long celebration..some even came in their RVs!  The weekend included LOTS of patois, sightseeing, rehearsals, cooking and eating, a cookout, so much laughter that my stomach would hurt, some serious dominoes matches and card games, stories of Jamaica and updates on friends and family still there, and a worship service on Sunday with many of the guests participating in the choir and other aspects of worship. It was held and the beginning of August and kicked off the family’s month long vacation for the month of August.  I didn’t matter how tight money was, this cookout happened year after year. It was a celebration of family, friends, history, culture, God, and Jamaica (the pearl of the West Indies)! I knew the words to the Jamaican National Anthem and Pledge as well as I knew the American National Anthem and Pledge. Want to win my heart? Bring me a platter from Pimento Grill, a milkshake made with Sangster’s Rum Cream and have some Bob Marley playing!

I was born in the US and I am proud of that but let’s be clear, there is nothing but Jamaican blood (with all the cultures and nations that come with it) running in my veins and I am equally proud of that.  I celebrate my mother for passing on her pride in her heritage.

The Jamaican National Anthem

Eternal Father bless our land,
Guard us with Thy Mighty Hand,
Keep us free from evil powers,
Be our light through countless hours.
To our Leaders, Great Defender,
Grant true wisdom from above.
Justice, Truth be ours forever,
Jamaica, Land we love.
Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica land we love.

Teach us true respect for all,
Stir response to duty’s call, strengthen us the weak to cherish,
Give us vision lest we perish.
Knowledge send us Heavenly Father,
Grant true wisdom from above.
Justice, Truth be ours forever,
Jamaica, land we love.
Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica land we love.

The Jamaican National Pledge

Before God and all mankind, I pledge the love and loyalty of my heart, the wisdom and courage of my mind, the strength and vigor of my body in the service of my fellow citizens; I promise to stand up for Justice, Brotherhood and Peace, to work diligently and creatively, to think generously and honestly, so that Jamaica may, under God, increase in beauty, fellowship and prosperity, and play her part in advancing the welfare of the whole human race.

 

Mother’s Day Tribute #4

10 May

My mother taught me to celebrate the freedom and power of submission and surrender. Whew! Now let’s all breathe. Submission has become a word associated with weakness and antithetical to empowerment.  My mother is many things but weak and lacking power are not words that anyone who has encountered her would use to describe her. So much so that when her nurse came to check on her she commented that mom is the strongest woman she’d ever seen. NOTE: Mom was asleep and was still exuding strength.

My mother and I have had many discussions about submission and surrender. When you boil it all down to low gravy here’s what she taught me. Submission and surrender to God and her husband freed her to soar to great heights as a woman, as a Christian, as a mother, as a wife, as a leader in the workplace, as a professional, as my father’s partner in ministry. She made it clear that one cannot run around submitting and surrendering to everybody all over the place. There are levels to this thing! LOL She was submitted to God 1st and then she submitted to her husband who was also submitted to God. I believe the phrase was, “Submission to your husband is simplified if you and your husband are submitted to God and you are pursing God together.” The caution was always stay or run away from anything and anyone to whom submission and surrender equals pulling you away from God. Submission and surrender should increase intimacy with God. Now when you put it like that, it’s something that’s worthy of pursuit. Go ‘head Mom! Bring submission and surrender back! Is my mother a feminist? NOPE! My mother submitted to God and her husband and that set her free and gave her the power to soar!

Mom and Dad at Church Anniversary Celebration

2017 Mother’s Day Tribute #3

9 May

My mother taught me that intelligence and resourcefulness are aspects of beauty. Now don’t get it twisted. Mom was a Saks 5th Avenue, Neiman-Marcus, Lord & Taylor shopping queen. She liked to dress well and look good. She also made it clear that all of that was meaningless if when you opened your mouth there was nothing. Beyond that she made it clear that intelligence was not something you hoard. Intelligence should be used to serve others and increase your ability to be a resource in any and all environments.  In talking about their days of courting, my parents consistently mentioned how large a role intelligence played in their attraction to each other.  The look in their eyes when they talked about it made it clear that intelligence still played a big role in their marriage. They knew that they could rely on each other’s intelligence and resourcefulness.

I grew up in that era where asking questions or not being able to answer a question often meant that one was about to spend some time with their head in the Encyclopedia Britannica (the actual books…no internet access back then). I remember doing research and preparing reports (written and/or oral/) on what I had learned. Once the report was shared with mom, she would often give me a big hug, a kiss, and then say, “That was beautiful, Miss Del!” Want to impress Mom? Be brilliant and look good doing it! Want to dazzle her? Apply what you had learned to help someone or to improve a system or process!

Mom - smiling mouth closed

2017 Mother’s Day Tribute #2

8 May

I believe in love because of my mother. She taught me about love by how she loved (and still loves) all of her children and grandchildren, including the ones that weren’t her’s biologically. She taught me about love by the way she loved my father…her crush, boyfriend, husband, lover, best friend, soul mate, and confidante. She taught me about love through the way she loved her friends. She taught me about love through the way she loves people when it wasn’t easy or convenient to love them (including me!). She taught me to be passionate about love through the way she lives and loves. She taught me about love by how she loved and still loves God.  Thank you, Mom, for instilling in me the belief that love is a powerful choice that I should make all day…every day.

Safety in the arms of Mom

Safety in the arms of Mom

2017 Mother’s Day Tribute #1

7 May

I am who I am because of who my mother is. I am grateful for having a mother whose example makes me know that better is possible and makes me want to be my best self. 

We’ll See What the Lord Will Do

5 May

Whenever closing a conversation where the ultimate conclusion was yet to be determined, my mother was sure to say, “We’ll see what the Lord will do.” She said this so often that almost everyone who knows her ends up using this phrase from time to time. As we journey through the late stages of Alzheimer’s with Mom, I find myself saying it often.

I’m not sure how others move through this part of the journey but my family and I are fully leaning on God’s everlasting arms. We are doing our work and moving through these days knowing that ultimately, we will simply see what the Lord will do…and that’s the best and right thing.

Praying for all us on this journey…this winding road…this rollercoaster…this beast called Alzheimer’s.

You can make many plans, but the Lord's purpose will prevail