The Black Book

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My first job after graduating college was in the Admissions Office of a large hospital.

Talk about busy?

We were always busy.

Part of that busy-ness included keeping records on every patient that was admitted and discharged from the facility.

As you might imagine, there were a number of different routes and/or reasons that a patient might enter the hospital…

And there were a number of different routes and/or reasons that they could leave…

Now comes “The Black Book.”

You see, in general, most people, upon discharge, would either go home or be transferred to a different level of care–sometimes higher, sometimes lower.

Or…

They took what was often called a “celestial discharge.”

Need I say more?

Uh…I think you get my meaning.

Anyway, whenever a person passed away, the nurse from the floor where they had been would call a central office and report all of the relative vital information regarding that death.

Next, the central office would call the Admissions Office and convey said information to one of us to enter into the “Black Book.”

I can’t begin to count all of the times that I was responsible for adding a new entry into this unnerving ledger.

But it was part of the job, so I had to do it.

Well, in an effort to lift the air of melancholia associated with this task, Nancy, from the central office would always preface the call with “Gwin, get out the Black Book! We have another celestial discharge!”

Of course, we’d both laugh nervously but the fact remained that someone had died and most likely left grieving family and friends behind.

At any rate, the process always went thusly:

I’d follow Nancy’s request to “pull out the Black Book.”  I would then print off an admission sheet and record as Nancy dictated, “We have Fred Rogers, time of death 9:45pm, Dr. Seuss is the pronouncing physician and we’ve got Williams Mortuary coming to pick up the body.”

I’d then take that admission sheet and quietly add it to the front of the Black Book.

Even though I hated adding new entries, I somehow felt that in a minor way I was helping this person’s soul to close-out it’s Earthly busy-ness.

I guess that was my way of taking some of the sting out of the assignment.

In short, I had made my peace.

In fact, on quiet nights, I would thumb through this sobering book whenever I needed to get some gratitude.

Naturally, I had come to know some of the people in the book.

And, while I didn’t know them all personally, I often learned many of their stories.

From one page to the next I’d contemplate the ruddy-faced teen who took a full bottle of pills after concluding that the whole damn thing was way too much…

Or the middle-aged Sicilian woman who bid her newborn farewell while, simulatneously, taking her last breath…

Or the once bright-eyed 3-year-old whose father had not noticed that she was playing directly behind his truck as he hastily backed out of the driveway on his way to some important busy-ness…

And there was Marion, whom we called ‘Black Jesus,’ because his skin was smooth and dark as night.  His straight, long, flowing obsidian colored tresses were often neatly pulled back into a pony-tail that snaked down to his waist.

I really missed him because he was always determined to remain in good spirits despite having suffered from a lifelong painful chronic illness.

Yes.  That was them…

Each one an individual entry in the Black Book…all come and gone.

 

 

Even though I left that place over 20 years ago, I still thumb through those pages in my imagination.

Again, it’s my way of finding gratitude 💖

-LadyG

 

 

 

Get My Stuff

 

 

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Yeah, I know the title is short but the only other option was “Go getteth mine stuffeth!”

Of course, that would have been both improper and nonsensical 😉

And so…

Here goes…

I’ve been thinking about stuff lately.

No…I’m not talking about big stuff like houses and cars, I’m talking about little stuff like:

That figurine of a bearded alpine man in lederhosen leaning on a walking stick

The ceramic Raggedy Ann that holds a hodge-podge of unused cooking utensils

The glass genie lamp lighter that stopped lighting things some 35 years ago

The Aztec blanket from Cancun that really isn’t that comfortable

And the five hundred zillion other things that so many of us have bursting out of our closets, garages, rooms, shower stalls, storage houses, PODS…and so forth.

Uh, I’m sure by now that you’re wondering where I’m going with this crazy diatribe.

Well, all of this talk of stuff is the direct result of the fact that, lately, we’ve experienced and witnessed a great deal of loss including a Godfather and the beloved fiancé of one of my oldest and dearest friends.

And with that comes thoughts of stuff and the tasks associated with dealing with a person’s property after they die.

How does that all work?

Well, typically, a family member or a close friend has to decide how to appropriate or dispose of these things.

Trust me, it ain’t an easy job.

In fact, I very clearly remember sorting through all of my mother’s things after she passed away.

There I was, sitting on the closet floor, looking at my Mama’s winter coat thinking, “But I need to keep this, she’ll need it for the cold.”

No doubt, I’d temporarily forgotten to remember that Mama no longer needed anything anymore.

Ah, but when I did remember to remember, I immediately started to cry and my mind began to wander to the day when someone would have to go through my stuff and decide what to do with it.

Within an instant, oodles of clothes and shoes and books and what-nots flashed in my mind’s eye.

And then…

I “saw’ all of  my journals and diaries.

Who would be looking through that?

My hopes, dreams, and confessions!

And it hit me!

I need a plan…lest my sensitive, private and confidential thoughts come out of the dark 😉

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing diabolical in there but some things need to remain unread and unspoken—they’re just too personal.

Anyway, back to my story…

That day, after exiting Mama’s closet, I decided that I needed to hand-select someone to go get my stuff after I die.

Someone trustworthy.

Oh! But what happens if that person dies before I do?

What to do?

What to do?

What to do!?

LOL!

Ironically, I remember comedian-disc jockey, Tom Joyner rhetorically asking, “Who went to get Bob Hope’s private stuff?”

No, seriously…

Who?

Well, that got me thinking some more.

Maybe I should start paring down and destroying some of this stuff BEFORE I die.

I mean, do I really need all of this junk anyway?

Hey, God already knows about the other part.

LOL!

What do you think?

I know that it’s not necessarily a pleasant thing to ponder but, I ask, who’ll be sorting through your stuff once you’ve taken a “celestial discharge?”

Meet me in comments…Let’s discuss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not Thinking About It

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Lady J’s Godfather died the other day.

Unfortunately, I was responsible for breaking the news.

After telling her what had happened, I wiped my eyes and braced myself for an impending breakdown–I just knew that my dear daughter was going to fall over into a puddle of tears.

I put my arm around her…

Ready to catch her fall.

And I waited…

And I waited…

And I waited.

But there was nothing.

No response.

Just silence.

Now, in an effort to be proactive, I decided that I should help her to get in touch with her feelings.

In my mind, she needed to process the seriousness of what had occurred.

So, I assured her that it was okay if she felt like crying.

Again, nothing.

Not wanting to force the issue, I simply decided to drop the subject and keep a close eye on her.

But, to my surprise, Lady J never said another word about the matter.

In fact, she proceeded as if nothing had happened.

I kept thinking to myself that this was strange.

Lady J was very close to her Godfather.

This just didn’t seem to make any sense.

So, again,  I broached the subject and asked, “How do you feel?”

“What do you think?”

To which she responded, “I’ve decided NOT to think about it.”

So I let it be.

Well, a couple of days before the funeral, Lady J’s Godmother requested that we come to her home in order to take pictures with the family.

So we went.

Naturally, after arriving, we greeted children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters and friends—Each one engaged in play, pleasantries and recollections of warm memories.

People were talking and becoming more acquainted.

Several conversations were occuring at once.

And all seemed well.

But there, on the sofa, apart from the chatter, sat Lady J, silently holding her Godmother’s hand…

NOT thinking about it.

 

 

Rest in Peace KRB (aka Godfather)

We love you and we will miss you always!

 

Fifty Shades of Black

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Mama (Eva) holding Tack, that’s me on the right with my mouth wide open!

 

Random Woman:  Hey Brenda!

Brenda:  Hey girl, how are you?  I haven’t seen you in some years!

Random Woman: I know!  It’s been a long time.

Brenda:  Yes it has, by the way, let me introduce you to my friend, Eva.

Random Woman:  (Very dry, cold and nonchalant) Hey Eva.

Random Woman: (Directly addressing Brenda) Ooh Brenda, your little girl is so pretty, how old is she?

Eva: (PISSED) That’s MY child!

Random Woman: (Slightly Embarrassed but still chilly) Oh, I’m sorry, she just looks more like Brenda to me.

Eva walks off with child (ME) in tow.

Yes friends, my mother, Queen Diva Lady Eva, was tee’d off!

Why, you ask?

Because ‘Ms. Random Woman’ assumed that I was Brenda’s daughter based solely on the fact that we shared the same skin complexion.

She never thought for a moment that I could belong to my mother–who was a shade or two darker.

It simply didn’t occur to her to ask.

Sadly, this type of attitude was nothing new to Mama.  As a child, she had received whippings from a lighter skinned uncle for being “too black.”

Colorism 
col·or·ism
ˈkələrˌizəm/

noun

Prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group–Oxford Dictionaries
What the Oxford folks failed to mention is that this phenomenon is a ‘carry-over’ of Slavery; having been birthed from the actions of slave owners.
In essence, slave masters created division among their chattel by treating them differently based on skin complexion.
The darker slaves were treated far worse than the lighter slaves.  Because of their color, dark skinned men and women were forced to engage in heavy labor while the lighter skinned slaves were treated better–relatively speaking.
Naturally, the lighter skinned slaves were told that they were superior to their melanin rich brothers and sisters and both groups bought into that belief.
And there we have it!
A lifelong mutual animosity between darker slaves and lighter slaves…which sadly continues with their descendants today–albeit to a much lesser degree.
Come now!
Let’s re-evaluate the scenario that I offered at the beginning of this post.
Notice how dismissive Ms. Random Woman was toward my mother.
She all but ignored her darker skinned ‘sister.’
‘Ms. Random’ never imagined that chocolate Ms. Eva could be the mother of a caramel colored daughter with long pony tails.
Of course, at the age of 3, I was too young to notice or understand the larger implications of this woman’s attitude.
I had no clue what was really going on.
Little did I know, I would continue to experience some form of this lunacy throughout my life as my father’s racial identity was, to the average onlooker, perplexing… to say the least 🙂
Lord, I got all kinds of questions like, “Is your Dad Mexican?”

Puerto Rican?

Cuban?

Arab?

West Indian?

East Indian?

Native American?

And everything in between….

Oh, and then there were the really stupid questions like:

How did your Mom get a handsome man like your Dad?

Ok, that’s when I got rowdy!

All bets were off!

Seriously?  What do you mean?

Do you not realize that you’re talking about MY MOTHER?

You better back the hell up!

I’m sorry guys but that mess really got under my skin!

Oh and if you think things got better as years passed…

Think again!

My Mama often recalled a time when an associate of my Dad’s came by to borrow a drill.

Apparently, he peeked past my Mom, who had answered the door, in order to get a better glance at me and whispered, “That must be Jim’s daughter.”

Mama said, “Yes, and she’s my daughter and we have a son too!”

What an idiotic thing to say!

“That must be Jim’s daughter.”

It rolled right off his ignorant ass tongue without a bit of thought attached to it.

The fact that he knew that my parents had been married for 100 years added insult to injury!

Ah…but here’s an even more egregious example.

One day, back in 2012, I had been sitting in the hospital room with Mama for most of the morning.

Well, this black nurse, who had been in and out, and who had seem me sitting there the whole time, asked, “Has any of her family come by yet?”

What the hell do I look like?

Chopped liver?

Of course I didn’t say THAT but I did say, “Well I’m her daugther.”

Naturally, the nurse apologized.

I thought to myself….Here we go again…after all this time.

Still dealing with issues of color.

Mama caught hell for being too dark and Daddy caught hell for being too racially ambiguous.

Good grief!

 

 

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Daddy and Mama at about age 15

 

Inspiration for this post came from comments between myself and these great bloggers:

Kelley at Gray Suede

Dr. K. E. Garland

Ron Brown 

 

 

 

 

 

On Grandparents, Sages and Ancestors

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Granddaddy (My Dad), circa 2004, watching over my son at a school camping trip. (Excuse the imperfections in the image.)

 

Every time I see folks taking care of their grandchildren, I always make it a point to say to them, “Thank God for Grandparents!”

No doubt, Grandparents can be a child’s guardian angel materialized on Earth.

Trust me when I tell you that I enjoyed interacting with my own Grandparents–when they were alive–and I’ve enjoyed watching my children do the same with my parents.

Grandchildren:  Always be a blessing to your Grandparents, just as they are or were to you!

Ah, but wait, I can hear somebody in the ethers hollering, “But Lady G, I’ve never had a relationship with my Grandparents.”

To that, I say…

Seek the Sages!

Sages are easy to find–if you’re willing to look around you.

Sometimes they are sitting next to you on the bus.

Other times, they are standing next to you at the library.

Or in the line at the coffee shop.

Interactions with Sages need not be unnecessarily long.

Sometimes, Sages offer a quick word of advice or wisdom that can take you ten steps further down the road.

Sadly, many Sages are slipping away in:

Nursing homes

Back bedrooms

Small apartments

Unattended to…

So…

Find the Sages I say!  Talk to them!  Learn their stories! Take pictures of them! Bestow them with accolades!

(It should go without saying that this advice also applies to Grandparents.)

Treasure them…they deserve it!

For tomorrow you will look and they’ll be gone.

Finally, let us not forget…

The Ancestors!

For the purposes of this post, Ancestors are defined as all of the Grandparents, and Sages who have ‘shuffled off this mortal coil’…having ascended to higher realms.

Remember and honor them!

They are watching!

Make them proud!

Love and light to you all!

Lady G 😘💋

Dedicated to My Grandparents:

Mary

Leroy and Annie Maude

And to my Parents, Sages and Ancestors!

Happy Birthday to Us- Pt 1

 

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Lady J (October 2016)

Greetings friends!

January is a month of birthdays around here!

First up is Lady J.  

She turns 11 this week.

If you guys follow this blog then you already ‘know’ her as my youngest child.

Talk about a spirited chick?

That’s our Lady J!

Not only is she feisty, but she’s a smart and witty one who enjoys cooking, crafting, writing, reading, drawing and playing piano.

Wise beyond her years, Lady J is, as many of you know, a self proclaimed “Protector of the Animals.”

That said, she knows just about anything that can be known about pretty much any animal you can think of.

Trust me on that one 😉

I’ve heard it all!

Naturally, she wants to be a Veterinarian.

Of course, some of you may remember this post where she staged a school bake sale to raise money to help support dogs awaiting adoption.

Poor baby, I think the final tally was only about $25.00…

But hey, it’s the thought that counts.

Anyway, please join me as I celebrate my sweet daughter, Lady J.

 

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Baby Lady J
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Lady J creation (age 7)
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Lady J’s current work (in progress):  A hand knitted winter’s scarf
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Practicing for Winter Recital (2016)
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Baking Brownies
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One of Lady J’s many sketches

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LADY J!!!!!

With love,

Mom 😘💋

Listen to Mama…

 

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Mama throwing serious side-eye!

My 22 year-old son and I are very close.

We always have been.

From the moment he was born, he and I were inseparable.

I can remember turning down plenty of opportunities to go hang out with friends; opting instead to stay home with my baby boy.

People would say, “I know the perfect babysitter.”

To which I would respond with something along the lines of, “Well, I don’t know that person and neither does my son…so there’s that.”

Sounds harsh doesn’t it?

Oh well!

Anyway, suffice it to say, whenever my son (or my daughter) would ask to do things that were borderline ‘iffy,’ I’d think long and hard before deciding whether or not I would allow them to partake.

And, whenever I decided NOT to allow them to do something, I would explain, sometimes ad nauseum,  why I came to the conclusion that I did.

Then I would punctuate that explanation with the following statement, “Baby, you are extremely valuable and you cannot be replaced.”

That said, Mama watched them babies like the proverbial HAWK!

But then…

My son graduated high school and went away to college.

At that point, all bets were off!

He was his own man and I had no control over his choices.

My only saving grace was the fact that I still had influence.

Luckily, my son and I had always been able to talk about ANYTHING…and I mean anything.

He valued my opinion and often sought and listened to my advice.

YAAASSS!

He sought and listened to my advice…

Until he didn’t.

And that’s when I had to come to terms with the fact that this dude was now an adult who was more than capable of making his own decisions.

In short, I needed to fall back!

So nowadays, when he tells me that he’s leaving to go on a tour of the Moon and Mars, I just have to say a quiet prayer, be still, and know that God is watching over him wherever he goes.

Now…

Having said all of that, I recently told my son, “Listen to Mama…but just not too much.”

Friends, I said that because I want him to benefit from my wisdom and experience but not be paralyzed by my fears.

He got my point.

I hope you do too.

But just in case you didn’t…

Remember, whether you are seeking advice from Mama, Daddy, or whomever, use your own discernment.

Take what’s useful and kindly leave what’s not!

***Said the woman who has been white-knuckling her way through motherhood!

LOL!!!

Love and light to you!

LadyG 😘💋

PS:  This is dedicated to my children, R and J, and for ALL of my “babies” in the blogosphere!  

You guys know who you are 🙂

This is also for every parent and child, no matter where you are in the process 🙂

 

Come to the Light

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Remember that old saying, “You are what you eat?”

Trust me, that ‘proverb’ is true on so many levels.

It’s not always about what you physically consume with your mouth–though that’s very important.

It’s just as much about what you decided to bring into your life via your eyes and ears.

Think about the things that you look at and listen to all day.

Are those things adding value to you as a person?

Do they add value to others?

Do they uplift?

Do they bring joy?

Do they inspire?

Here’s my take…

There comes a point when you must take responsibility for what you consume.

Why?

Because, on some level or form, you recreate all of the things that you ingest.

In a nutshell, if you mindfully ingest positive things, you will produce positivity.

Conversely, if you mindlessly ingest negative things, you will recreate more negativity.

Don’t believe me?

Go watch a ‘reality show’ or a ‘news’ program and see if your mind doesn’t start to entertain some of that junk.

Next thing you know you’ll be cussing out your spouse, mate, sibling, roommate, parent, landlord, boss, teacher, dog, bird or cat–all the while writing a hate filled comment on a random website.

Oh, I hear some of you out there in the ethers saying, “But Lady G, I want to be informed, I want to be in the know about all the goings on.”

I get that.

But it’s important to remember that you don’t have to be INUNDATED to be aware.

Do realize, that this whole concept of the 24-hour news and TV programming cycle is a relatively new creation.

There was a time when folks watched the news TWICE –at best!

Once from Walter Cronkite.

Then, again,  from the local 11pm newscast.

That was it!

Wanna know why?  Because not long after that the freaking TV shut down!

What?

Yes baby, there was a time when all of the TV stations signed-off around midnight.

They did not resume activity until the next morning around 6am.

Fancy that?

Oh yeah, by the way, there were others who solely got their news in written form–the newspaper 😉

SERIOUSLY, how many times do we need to see the film, listen to the audio or be verbally assaulted by a myriad of wannabees and talking-heads pontificating about a whole lot of nothing?

What more do you need to know?

Nothing.

You already know everything you need to know in order to formulate an informed opinion about local, national and international events.

Believe me, you do!

And, as for TV programming, do yourself a favor and incorporate other forms of entertainment into your life.

Look for things that improve your intellect, wisdom, knowledge and spiritual understanding.

Get off Facebook and put your face in a book!

Get off Twitter and go listen to some real birds tweet!

For real!  Let’s do it!

So, here’s an invitation to you to come run with Lady G!

Step away from that electrical hearth you call a TV, computer or smartphone and let’s escape to the light 🙂

Any takers?  Meet me in comments 😉

 

😘💋

 

Fun with Symbols

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**Alternate title:  One of 10,000 random stories wandering around my limbic system.

In my neck of the woods, the Caduceus, pictured above, is associated with all things healing, health and medical.

Notice the two snakes intertwined around the Greek God Hermes’ magical winged staff.

Ah, but pretty much everywhere else in the world, the Rod or Staff of Asclepius represents the aforementioned concepts.

While  I refuse to engage in an exposé on the origins, confoundings and controversies surrounding these two symbols, I should, at least, acknowledge that the Staff of Asclepius depicts one snake on a rod–sans the wings.

Whew!

Yes, babylove Google is a helluva drug!

Get into it!

Anyway, for clarity’s sake, I ask that you forget everything I just told you about the Staff of Asclepius and focus your attention solely on the Caduceus.

Why?

Because, the Caduceus is the symbol I wanna talk about 😉

In fact, it is the symbol that I associate, not just with my pediatrician–Dr. Bennett, but also with cheeseburgers, Sears, and pecan caramel chocolate cluster candies–in that order 😉

What the hell?

Let me explain.

When I was a child, my pediatrician’s office was housed in a tall brick professional building that sported a large silver Caduceus on the side.

And, believe it or not, whenever I spotted that magical symbol, my senses would come alive!

Oh yes, it was, indeed, Pavlovian and you, I pray, are about to understand why.

Let me continue to explain.

You see, as soon as I saw the Caduceus from the parking lot– my memory would perk up and I could immediately ‘see,’ in my mind, my dear Dr. Bennett’s handsome smile.

I could ‘hear’ him say, “Hello Gwin, how are you?”

But, best of all, I could ‘smell’ then ‘taste’ the cheeseburgers that Mama and I would, no doubt, eat in a small diner located on the first floor of that building.

Let the mouth watering begin!

Oh, but the fun didn’t end there!

I thought about how immediately following our double date with the cheeseburgers, Mama and I would walk down the street to Sears to buy a bag of pecan caramel chocolate cluster candies– which we’d nibble all the way home.

Delicious!

Remember friends, I experienced all of this before we could step foot into the building for my appointment.

Oh, I can hear you guys asking, “Lady G, what the hell is the point to this story?”

To that I say, “I’m not sure…Do we need one?”

Maybe not.

But isn’t it interesting that a symbol that was meant to represent ideas of healing and medicine could be hijacked by the senses to represent things that are completely unintended like cheeseburgers and chocolate candy?

Our world is highly personalized, don’t you think?

And, on that note, Lady G never looks at a Caduceus without craving a damn good cheeseburger and some chocolates.

What say you about symbols- hijacked or otherwise?

Feel free to go a bit deeper.

Meet me in comments and let’s discuss 🙂