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!

 

Mama’s On The Tree!

 

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My Mama

2016 marks the 5th Christmas without Mama.

So, as you might imagine, this can be a very difficult time of year for me, my brother, and my kids-not to mention my Dad who misses her terribly.

Of course, the first Christmas without her was extremely difficult as she had not been long gone.

Oh yes loves, please believe, that first Christmas, Lady G was a hot mess!

You see, Mama loved Christmas and she adored Christmas Carols!

And because those freaking Christmas Carols were being played EVER-Y-WHERE, a hot mess got even hot messier!

Let me affirm that it was not unusual, that year, for Lady G to find herself running out of Publix with snot and tears flowing North, South, East and West!

Maybe ‘mess’ is NOT the best word to describe the resulting mayhem!

Anyway…

No matter where I went, I was forced to listen to all of her favorites, including:

“Merry Christmas Baby” by Otis Redding

“Please come home for Christmas” by Charles Brown

“The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole

“Everyday will be like a Holiday” by William Bell

“Christmas just ain’t Christmas” by the O’Jays

“Santa Claus is comin’ to town” by The Jackson Five

“Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” by The Temptations

And of course, the ‘Tempting Tempts’ version of “Silent Night.”

Baby, every time I heard one of these little ditties, I melted in tears like Frosty!

And so…

One day, after the 78th Christmas carol meltdown, I went shopping for some holiday decorations when…lo and behold…there appeared Mama in the form of a beautiful Black Christmas Angel!

Y’all, I think I trampled some folks in my haste to grab that Mama-esque heavenly body!!!!!

Best believe I grabbed her, purchased her, took her home, place her atop my Christmas tree and proclaimed:

“Look at Mama on the tree!”

And from that Christmas to this one, Mama sits proudly on the tree watching over us all!

Christmas has been pretty good ever since!

Merry Christmas to you all!

With Love,

Lady G 😘💋

 

 

P.S. I still have to wear headphones at the store in order to keep my composure!

 

Musical Affirmation: 10/20/2016

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“Another Park, Another Sunday” by the Doobie Brothers Released in 1974

THIS!

Yes, that!

Talk about a groove that’s smooth and sincere?

A beautiful composition without a bit of pretension.

Baby, it’s nothing short of DIVINE!

Real instruments and harmonies?

Whaaaaaa?

That GUITAR is speaking to my heart y’all!

Peep that bass towards the end of this jam!

Lawd, it’s going all around town!

YAAASSSS!

You know what’s up!

Anyway, on a serious note, from time to time I catch myself feeling a bit blah.

The kids call it “feeling some type of way.”

Basically, it’s one of those emotions that you just don’t quite have words to describe.

Well, whatsoinever (Southern Black colloquialism alert)  you decide to call it, you best believe that there’s an underlying reason for it.

Sometimes more than one 😉

I’ve found, when I take a closer look, that my mood tends to wane whenever I poke around too much in the past AND when I worry too much about the future.

What a nonsensical and impractical approach to time travel 🙂

It goes NOWHERE!

Anywhats, one thing’s for sure, if I allow myself to ‘feel some type of way’ for too long then I’m guaranteed to begin ruminating over all of my life experiences with:

Grief

Loss

Anxiety

Depression

Envy

Jealousy

Being overly sensitive

Regret

Hurt

Resentment

Anger

Sadness

Shame

Guilt

And on and on and on and on….

Don’t get me wrong, I know that as a human being I should display a full range of emotions.  However, ruminating over them is never a good idea.

What’s funny is that some of these emotional states didn’t even necessarily originate with me. In essence, at some point, I wasn’t paying attention so I inadvertently picked them up along the way.

Can you say, “Relationships?”

I think you feel me 🙂

And so…

In order to cut this madness off at the pass, I allow myself to indulge those lowly feelings—ever so briefly.

How long you ask?

Oh…for about five minutes–you know, about the length of an average song 😉

And so…

Today’s affirmation:  Right now, I choose to envelop myself in peace!

Now, you and I are going to take the duration of this song to sulk and coddle our inner wounds.

After it ends, I suggest that we promptly get into that place of peace–you know, over there with the Lord.

LOL!!!

Give it to ’em Doobies!

Video Credit:  stlblair

My friends, what do you do to find peace?

I’m open to suggestions!  Meet me in comments 🙂

Much love to you-as always,

Lady G 😘💋

 

If you’re an R&B/Soul music fan please check out the “My Jams” series under the Category “Music.”  In that series, I highlight my favorite jams from 1966-1996.  Beware, it contains strong language, adult situations and controversial observations.

Solidarity

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***For all of those who are grieving the loss of a loved one.

Today, I learned that my friend Paula’s mother passed away a couple of days ago.

If you haven’t already please take a moment to click on this link to show your support for her at this difficult time. After you click on the link, look for a post entitled “Grief.” In that post, Paula shared about her mother’s love of music. She also shared a video of one of her mother’s favorite songs.

Naturally, after reading the post, I offered my condolences and shared that my mother, who is deceased, was also a huge music fan.  I told her that I can vividly remember Mama playing records and singing when I was just a toddler.

At first, Mama sang to me.

Then I found my own voice and began singing back to her.

One of the first songs that we sang together was “Someday We’ll Be Together” by Diana Ross and the Supremes.

I haven’t played that song since she passed away because I knew it would be way too painful if I ever did.

But tonight, in order to show solidarity for my friend in her loss, I will listen to it for the first time since Mama died.

So, for all of you who are missing someone who has made their transition.  Please find solace in knowing that we will all be together again–someday.

 

For Paula and all of those who are grieving.

Always,

Lady G

😘💋