Me and My Mamma Faye

This little girl turned Mamma and I shared a special bond from the day my grandmother put me in her arms,I think. I was her quiet sideman, her road dog, store cart pusher, confidant and later in life her cherished treasure whom she lifted up with praise every chance she could get. 

Letter Writing with Love

Every once in a while I'd get a multi-page letter from my Mamma Faye. She'd talk about life and praise God for being alive and for giving her us, me and Leander, her son. All these things are what bring us to love. She never spoke a cross word, she loved, never required or asked for a thing, even while suffering with a debilitating disease.  I'd read about the hospital staff and their names, and when I met them once I understood. My aunt wrote with love, and it was uplifting in my life.

The Life of the Party

Mamma Faye taught me the art of enjoyment, even though I didn't understand it then. At six, I'd be in the background of the best card parties, and even knew what beer smelled like. Most of all, she knew how to enjoy people despite the trouble of life. We'd roll up at Cato, shop for a great outfit and look sharp on a Friday night with no regrets, and she'd be at work Monday morning like it was nothing. Then Lupus came, and the party was lost.

Caring for You, Caring For Love

In the 90's, with the help of my parents, my Mamma Faye figured out she had Lupus by some of the best doctors in the country. After months of care, and figuring out what life would be life back in Chester, she was put on a waiting list for a lung transplant, that now, 24 years later she was still on that list until yesterday, while the disease progressed, and other things while in the hospital attacked her. She cared for my grandmother while she was dying and worked through many issues, but really, she, like most of us, learned to live with a life of changes.  Loving and caring for others saw her through most of that. We all make mistakes through these journeys, and she and I talked about these long into the night during these last years since we found each other again.

Dealing with Chronic Disease

My Mamma Faye's disease has no real cure. No real breakthrough has happened to fight Lupus, and she fought it as long as her body could. I think that someone with her economic strength did better than others, and some others die earlier, but chronic illness hits hard, and this was eye opening for me. Without knowing she had a home and a family support with a crippling disease, where might she have turned?  These are things I learned in watching what could happen to my Aunt in systemic healthcare. 

All Goes Back to Love

My Mamma Faye is my laughter (or some of it), the origin of my signature snort for sure, my life of the party, and my secondary heart of motherhood because she saved me from so much pain on so many days I could have suffered. And she and I know that. And so it goes.

Lynne and Me

Missing You...

I turned on the TV for first time in a long while a few nights ago and of course, I switched to Bravo. I saw some women who were facing ADD, dyslexia and just life battles and turned it off. I remembered how much you fought for my child, when I didn't know how to. I was reminded of what you meant to our lives.

Reflecting on the life of a lost loved one can bring up feelings of loss, especially when that person was a bright light in your life, who is now gone too soon. One of my dearest sister friends passed away after a quietly fought battle with cancer. She was selfless, resilient and loyal.

Going Home

It was another grey day in Rochester, NY when I arrived for the home going of my friend. It's something that I never thought I'd ever actually do.  I never imagined a day when she would not be here. As I drove through my old hometown, I was reminded of all of the late night restaurant dinners and many adventures I had with Lynne.  Before I walked into the funeral home, I was preparing myself to say goodbye. I sat in the parking lot and watched all of the people walking in, some stopping to wipe their tears before they walked in. I found may self doing the same, and attempting to be strong, while knowing that my heart was heavy with sadness. Throughout her illness, her optimism never faltered, and she never wanted anyone to worry. There was never a hint of suffering in her voice, even through the tough times. 

A Life Well Lived

When we talked, we could talk for what seemed like hours. There were photo memories all around the room, and flower arrangements of all varieties in pink, her favorite color. It was great to be reminded that her life was full of joy. She was one of my greatest teachers, and my daughter's too. We shared life's ups and downs and she always gave me some of the best advice I've ever had. She was my source of encouragement and unconditional kindness. 

Taking Time to Heal

During our friendship, my girlfriend lost one of her longtime friends suddenly. I'm not sure if she ever really healed from that, as she continued to run around taking care of everyone, including me. I think she spent more time doing that than taking care of herself.  Her selflessness was overwhelming. I think we all deal with life's tough times differently, and much like Lynne, I tend to keep running, and pleasing everyone except myself. With this loss, I will take the time to heal. 

Continuing to Find Joy in Memories

Over this last several weeks I've found myself laughing and crying in my memories at the same time. Our intimate friendship lended itself to lots of laughs and tears, and good times. Her life brought so many joy, and I am grateful that I was one of them.

I love you Lynne, and you brought me so much joy and peace... I will forever miss you.

No Regrets in 2017

Hope and No Regrets in 2017

Living a life without regrets is difficult for many of us. I've caught myself doing the "if only" thing many times this last year and I had to stop myself, with intention. Being real, we all know that  "If only" isn't our current reality, so why contemplate something that couldn't really happen. It's as trivial as wishing you bought the winning lottery ticket at a gas station in West Virginia after you find out who the West Virginian winner is. This kind of stuff doesn't really happen in real life, hence, there are no do-overs, or "wish I would have's."

Believe in Second Chances

We know we can't turn back life's clock, but what we do know is that when our hearts and minds are right, we can receive opportunity. Often from unexpected sources, and people we encountered along this path. I'm a believer that God or the higher power in our lives tends to create pathways, many that we never imagined. Those are the chances I'm talking about.

The world has dealt us an interesting hand in the last year. Many have suffered dissatisfaction and disappointment, and I have felt disheartened many a night as I lay my head down to sleep. I can't say I'm not worried, or fearful, but I know that I did my part this year and I'm grateful that my voice was heard. Do I think it made a difference, yes, but no matter the outcome I don't regret trying.  The reality we face today as a nation and a world is a confusion we created through the vulnerability of humanity. I can only pray for more acts of kindness, light, unity and love in the coming year. And I believe in it and I won't let go of hope.

So back to no regrets.. we should make a promise to ourselves to do our very best to treat others as we would want to be treated next year, and that we should exemplify kindness and hope as much as possible. Nurturing your relationships and being open to new friends is a beginning.  I believe that sharing ourselves could counter our fears and change things. Let's not wake up in 2017 with any regrets, but with hope for a personally prosperous and present year ahead.

Suffering Silently

We are living in dark days. We can't seem to get past the past. Those who have been silenced are emerging in anger and rage. Those who have been improperly empowered by privilege are doing the same. 

Turning Pain into Progress

Last week, a soul sister of mine reached out and asked me to help someone who needed my advice and wisdom. This reminded me that we need to focus on paying our gifts forward. Progressing despite the pain is the only way to make the old wounds heal. Most of us know that there are good people of many colors who do great things. We are blessed by coats of many colors. We of like mInded hearts will perservere over this struggle, and be well.