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 reason 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!

 

Walking Dead

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This morning while cleaning up, I overheard Oprah on TV asking her guest, John Kabat-Zinn, what happens after we die.

I immediately put the dishrag down and turned toward the TV because I wanted to hear this.

Surprisingly, Kabat-Zinn flipped the proverbial script by answering her question with a question.

His question was, “Is there life BEFORE death?”

Okay, for those of you who just woke up, let me try that again.

The man asked the woman if there is life BEFORE death.

Hmmm….

He went on to say that he’s known many people who appear to be alive but who have, figuratively, died a long time ago.

Wow! I thought.

I know people like that too!

You’ve seen them!

They’re easy to recognize because they tend to walk around carrying on and on about their reasons for hating, resenting, ranting, railing, worrying, mourning and not forgiving.

Where is the life in that?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that we’ve all had these experiences/emotions, but there comes a time when we must process them, let them go and begin living life.

If we don’t, we become the walking dead.

And so…

If you fear that you may be an animated corpse, consider changing that.

Frankly, it may take professional help to return you to the world of the living.

There is nothing wrong with going that route; in fact, I think it’s admirable.

In the meantime, whether you need to be resurrected or simply reminded, consider living by Paul’s advice to the Phillippians:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.–Phillipians 4:8

Have a beautiful week!

Love and light to you all!

Lady G 😘💋

 

 

 

 

 

Musician Gone Home

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Good night dear friend.

 

We’ll miss your beautiful smile.

Your kind and encouraging words.

And above all…

Your love of MUSIC!

 

Indeed, God called you home with a masterful melody.

Here’s to a life well lived!

For you Mr. E.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May you rest in peace 🌷