Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Images of South Africa

After Mr. Mandela died, I decided to republish our book on our memories of South Africa from 1991-1995. We went to present Mr. Mandela his honorary degree from the University of Michigan after he was released from prison. It was a life-changing experience, and we returned many times to work with the universities in South Africa.  You can read the entire book online.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Character Surmounting Age

Earlier this week I read an article that reviews two movies that prompted me to think about how everyday we all fight to survive. Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave is fighting to survive slavery, and the nameless yachtsman in All is Lost is fighting to survive in a cruel ocean.

In the article, Denby states, Now seventy-seven, Redford is in great shape, (in the movie "All is Lost") and the cheekbones and the jaw, despite a wrinkled shell, have held up—a visual sign of character surmounting age. 

When I saw the phrase, "character surmounting age,"  I realized that's what we desire in our senior years.  Our character can surmount aging.  We want our character to be of such a high level that our age and wrinkles won't matter.  

My grandfather, James Terrell, born in Georgia.
While I want to see 12 Years a Slave, I have difficulty watching anything about slavery.  I am reading the book (a true story) and hope I can finish it.

My grandfather was born a slave, and his parents were slaves.  I feel their pain whenever the subject of slavery is discussed or shown.  I begin to sweat, thinking of them picking cotton.  I hurt and feel the beatings they suffered. My soul cries for the misery of their living conditions, yet their character surmounted their position in life.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Hello, Again

I miss my blog.  It's been several years (2010) since I wrote a post, and I miss my blogging friends, even though I connected with a few on Facebook. You added so much to my life, and helped me through a very trying time. Perhaps fear has kept me away.  The worst thing about being old (I'm 76) is that you lose so many friends and family members.  Sickness and death become constant companions.

Please allow me to return gently.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Taking a Break

Due to many issues, I have to take a break from blogging.

Thank you for visiting the blog.  I have enjoyed  your blogs and hope to visit those as often as possible.

Friday, January 29, 2010

St. Joseph's Altar

Photograph by Anna Maria Chupa
In March 1987, I had to attend a meeting in New Orleans and Moody accompanied me.  We went early because a friend, Al Gourrieu, invited us to a St. Joseph's Altar.  We had never attended one, nor did we know anything about St. Joseph, but we happily accepted.

According to an article by Sharon Keating, (from the tradition began at the end of the nineteenth century, brought to America by Sicilian immigrants. At one time, they were on the brink of starvation because of drought in their native country. They turned in prayer to St. Joseph, and soon, the rains came, the crops grew, and the people were saved. To thank their patron, they gave him back the gift they were given, in the form of a feast laid on an "altar." The altar features three tiers, representing the Trinity. A statue of St. Joseph presides on the top level, surrounded by candles, flowers, and of course, food.

Many families believe that having a St. Joseph Altar can bring good fortune. It is common to hear stories about favors received (a loved one’s recovery from an illness, for example) which are in turn attributed to the family’s dedication to St. Joseph.

Fava beans, used as fodder for cattle in Sicily, were consumed by the starving inhabitants prior to St. Joseph's intervention. They are now featured on every altar, as blessed "lucky beans." If you keep one, you will always have money, or so the saying goes, and we promptly put our beans in our wallets.

Everyone was given a sheet of paper, asked to write their wishes for the future, and then burn the paper in a large metal bowl.  Moody and I looked at each other, trying to hide our skepticism and questioning whether this would work. Our answer came the next day.

We had no idea that our fate was about to change, and to this day, we credit attending the St. Joseph Altar for transforming our lives.

The next day, Saturday, we met Ruth Love for cocktails. Out of the blue, I became very anxious.  For some reason, I was compelled to return home.  I told Moody and Ruth that I was going back to the hotel to pack and call airlines to check on seat availability for Sunday.  Moody reminded me that my meeting (the reason we had come to New Orleans) had not even begun and that we had non-refundable tickets.  I insisted that I could make it happen; we were going home.  With a quiet anxiousness, I walked back to our hotel, alone.

All of the airlines I called said the same thing, no seats to Detroit.  On a whim I called Midwest Airlines and was told that they had only two seats available on an afternoon flight to Chicago.  I figured that if we took that flight, we could rent a car and drive back to Michigan, if we couldn't get a flight to Detroit. Midwest even agreed to take our tickets and just charge us a small fee.

After completing the arrangements, I started to pack.  The phone rang.  It was a student from the University of Michigan asking if Moody could return tomorrow, Sunday, because Black Action Movement III had started and the University was shut down.  Jesse Jackson was due on Sunday to help with negotiations and he needed Moody to assist in the discussions.  I told the student no problem, I had already changed our tickets.

Moody returned, shaking his head at my crazy impulse. As I was telling him about the call from the student, the phone rang again.  It was a Vice President of the University with the same request. Could we return to Ann Arbor tomorrow?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ten Things That Make Me Happy - Tagged

And now, I will tag ten other blogs to do this happiness post!  

When I read that statement from the blog, When a Woman Shakes Her Tablecloth, I was puzzled about what I would write. Reading her list I knew that it doesn't take BIG things to make me happy, if you don't count winning the lottery.  We are not rich people with money, we're rich in other ways, but I often tell my husband how happy we were when we had NOTHING.


1.  Someone with a baby.  I'm just happy it's not me. Of course it would get me some needed money since I'm over seventy.

2.  The look on a child's face when he or she finally "gets it."  Love that "light bulb" moment.

3.  Hearing from someone, or seeing someone I haven't seen in a long time, who remembers and reminiscences about a  special moment we shared.

4.  World War II movies and books, which is strange because I hate war. I used the movie, Twelve O'Clock High, to demonstrate leadership styles when I was conducting leadership workshops.

5.  Conquering a new recipe and adding my own touches.  I always try it just as written the first time.  Then I begin to make additions or subtractions until it is ready to serve my bridge club.  They are good cooks and I have to be at the top of my game.

6.  Meeting new people and hearing their stories. I believe that everyone has a compelling story. I think that's why I like reading blogs; you can learn something from everyone you meet.  

For example, we went to a jazz club with another couple and I saw an attractive woman, sitting alone with her eyes closed, singing quietly along with the band, while she tapped her fingers to the beat of the drums. She exuded glamour and loneliness yet I could visualize an intriguing past. The couple we were with, and my husband, thought I was crazy when I left them, walked over to her table, introduced myself, and stated that she looked like she had a riveting story to tell. "Please tell me your story." I said. "I want to hear it."  She stared at me for a little while, invited me to have a seat, and proceeded to tell me her story.  She was the first wife of Sammy Davis, Jr., and what a story she told about an "arranged marriage." 
Loray White, Wife of Sammy Davis, Jr Seeks Divorce - Jet Magazine, October 2, 1958 by vieilles_annonces.

7.  Star Trek. I'm a Trekkie, I watch reruns, wear Bajoran earrings, and read the The Physics of Star Trek

8.  A beautiful sunset over the mountains.  I don't see many sunrises because I don't get up early, but a sunset with breathtaking, muted colors is so calming.

9. My friends. I have some of the best friends in the world, even the ones as crazy as me.  Couldn't make it without them.  

10.  Last, but not least, my family.  They make me happy because they have allowed an eccentric woman, (sounds better than crazy) to do a lot of spontaneous (sounds better than impulsive) things and still support me, even when I'm wrong, which happens more than I would like to admit.

This list could grow, but I'll stop (except to add milk chocolate peanut clusters because I can eat one pound in one sitting and how having an iphone would make me happy, I think) and tag others.  

Get ready, you're tagged.
The K is no longer silent
b. vikki vintage
Chocolate covered daydreams 
Peeling an orange with a screwdriver
At Twilight
A Fabulously Good Life
Fifty and Still Figuring it Out...
A Woman's Life Stages

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Eighties - Part 2 Where is the family now?

We became "in-laws" and grandparents in the 80s.  I'm doing this posting because I can't believe how quickly children become adults and some postings of struggling, young parents remind me of our past.

There were days I wanted to give up and throw in the towel.  I want to tell them, hold on, this is a part of will get better.  One day you can laugh at your children when they struggle with their own family.

We've been blessed with the best daughters-in-law, sons, and grandchildren.

David and Karla's Wedding Picture

David and Karla's family 27 years later.
David owns a construction company in Atlanta that helped build the 1996 Olympic Stadium and is now working on the airport addition in Atlanta. Granddaughter, Karia, a graduate of Spelman College, is an aspiring singer and actress.  Grandson, Charles, a graduate of Morehouse College, works in the family business, but has decided to go for his Ph.D in education.

Corey (Middle Son) and Kim's Wedding

Corey and Kim's family, 23 years later.  Kelsey is a senior in high school, Katelyne is at Purdue, and Kourtney is at the University of Michigan.  On Friday, January 8, 2010, Corey will open his second CPA office in Las Vegas.  The first one is in Atlanta.  Kim is an administrator with the Clark County School District.

Cameron, the youngest, never married.  He is Director of Administration for the Executive Office of the President of the United States.  He lives the life, spending the last twelve years working for the Democratic Conventions (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008) and the Summer and Winter Olympics, and has lived all over the world.

Whenever I feel unsure and wonder if we were good parents, I look at our sons and their families and think we did OK.  When you are young, and the kids are driving you crazy, it easy to believe that you're doing something wrong.  This makes me feel we did OK.

It was worth all we gave up or never had.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why a Blog on Memories

Someone asked me why was I doing a blog on our life?  I'm just trying to make sense about where we've been and what's it all about.  We are ordinary people from humble beginnings with hopes and dreams for a good life.  We worked hard, even when we watched some of our dreams crash. We've been blessed to live in a remarkable time, from segregation to integration.

Dr. King's birthday offers an opportunity to write about the why. We were in Montgomery on a segregated bus the same year that Rosa Parks refused to relinquish her seat, and because of King's actions, our lives, and many others, have been transformed.

This blog is my attempt to offer a peek into the lives of a typical, middle-class family that lived and worked in America when, as Bob Dylan wrote, The Times They Are A-Changin'.

African Americans lived in the shadows. Our lives weren't documented or studied, except in some sociology texts where a deficit model was used.  Yet, throughout America's history many lived quiet, unassuming, unnoticed lives. Some were successful; others were not.  The Civil Rights Movement changed how we were viewed and the election of Barack Obama put a spotlight on the Black family.

Blacks moved from slaves to honored guests in the White House — President Abraham Lincoln met with abolitionists Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth in the White House — to indispensable parts of White House life. President Andrew Johnson appointed William Slade as the first White House steward, the person charged with running the domestic side of the White House.

Not only did Blacks work in the White House, they also started working at the White House. E. Frederick Morrow was the first African-American appointed a White House aide by Eisenhower in 1955;  (The year we married.) John F. Kennedy named Andrew Hatcher associate press secretary in 1960.

The progress was hardly smooth.

In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt formally invited Booker T. Washington to the White House for dinner.... Southern newspapers were outraged and publicly condemned Roosevelt after they learned of the invitation from an Associated Press dispatch. Roosevelt never invited another African-American to a White House dinner.

In 1935, Mary McLeod Bethune, was chosen as Roosevelt's special advisor on Minority Affairs. Now, today, an African American family lives in the White House. Many of us older African Americans are still processing this.  Because of our country's past history, we still find it hard to believe.

It is nostalgic as well as enlightening to rewind all these experiences, smile and remember them again.

I have to admit that I was unsure in the beginning if it would be of interest to anyone.  Many of you been very kind with your comments and I hope you continue to find our memories worthwhile.  One thing is sure--we have had some wonderful adventures.

One philosopher said ...When you create beautiful memories you get to enjoy them twice, once while doing them and again when remembering them...and it is not the number of breaths we take but the moments that take out breath away...that's the measure of your life... !!!

Please allow me to repeat a favorite poem of mine:

I am old and need to remember.
You are young and need to learn.
If I forget the words
Will you remember the music?
from Swaziland

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Salute to my Mom

Love you, Mom

Today is my Mom's birthday, it's either today or yesterday.  She wasn't sure which day but we usually celebrated on January 7. She was born in 1896, 114 years ago.  This is the earliest picture I have of her.

My drawing of Mom

Every year she had a big party.  The entire family, and all of our friends, were invited. You were expected to bring a gift even if you were broke from Christmas.  She cooked all of the food for her party and after several beers would entertain us with her way of dancing.  We would play Keno, knowing that she would cheat, and take all of our money.

Mom with her beer.

When we lived in Chicago it was easy to make her birthday party but after the move to Michigan the weather could cause problems.  I remember our struggling through the snow, hoping we would make it. Many times we went to Chicago early, if snow was predicted, to make sure we attended the party.

She raised the seven of us the best way she could, without a husband.  My youngest sister will be 70 this year and my oldest sister would be 95, if she were alive.   Three sisters were married when I was born so she never had seven children in the house at one time.

She was so strong.  What was she like when she was young?  A beauty, we know for sure.  Petite, slim, and vivacious, with long, flowing red hair.  Many men found her irresistible.  I imagine her as a carefree, young woman, teasing men with her flirtatious smile.

Then reality takes over.  She worked many hours in a cotton field and could drag a bag that was at least half her weight.  She sun must have been merciless in Georgia.  There were no pretty clothes for my Mom to wear to parties and parades.  Instead there were many floors to scrub, innumerable dishes to wash, and an abundant stack of diapers for the children she raised.

We would often ask her about our fathers, there were several, but she refused to discuss it.  We never told her how much we discovered from other family members, nor did we ever tell her that we knew that our grandfather, who I never knew, was not her father.

Yes, she was the Queen of the family.  Anything she wanted, she got.

We were on welfare and she did daywork, cleaning homes, but she taught us that any work is honest work.  She had one wish, that none of us would end up on welfare, and none of us did.  That was very important to her.

She left home early in the morning to clean homes.  No matter what the weather, she rode many buses and streetcars to homes that were far removed from us on the South Side of Chicago.

Mom would come home, tired and sore, but proceed to the kitchen to prepare dinner.  She bought "good" meat from the stores in the white neighborhood.  Her cooking warmed the heart, as well as the spirit.

Education was also important to her.  She went to elementary school and was one of the smartest woman I knew. She would go to downtown Chicago, to the most expensive store, look at a dress, come home and sew an exact copy.  She never liked anything cheap.

Everybody in the family, and I do mean everybody, has a afghan she made. Whenever someone mentioned that a baby was expected, we had to take her to the yarn store so she could make the afghan before the baby was born.

She lived 97 years, over twenty years after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer. She refused to believe she had cancer and never let it stop her from doing anything.

Even though we loved her, we still discuss how she was an enigma to us, a mysterious beautiful woman with a past, that none of us knew or would ever know.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Eighties - Part I

"It's time to start living the life you've imagined" - Henry James 

We are without children.  We have an empty nest.  We have three children in college and no children at home.  Did I mention that we have an empty nest?  How quickly it came.

Now, we could get about living the life we've imagined.

Us in the late '80s

The '80s were frantic because our careers were in high gear. Writing about the '80s and '90s is going to be difficult because there was so much going on.  Perhaps I'll just do tidbits.

At the beginning of the '80s I was working as Coordinator of Staff Development and Multicultural Education for the Ann Arbor Public Schools.  In the middle of the decade I left the Ann Arbor Schools and was working at Eastern Michigan University in the Student Teaching Office.

My husband was Director of the Program for Educational Opportunity at the University of Michigan. In the late '80s, he was promoted to Vice Provost at the University and our lives and experiences would soar. (More about that later.)

Our hours were long because most workshops took place after school.  We downgraded to one car, (couldn't afford two with those college bills) didn't take any vacations, and bought very little for ourselves.

Both of us also traveled as consultants so we did stay on the road.  NABSE (The National Alliance of Black School Educators) was growing and we were active, he as Founder, (NABSE was an outgrowth of his dissertation) and me as Historian.  This meant traveling not only to the National meetings but also to local meetings as there were now over 100 affiliate chapters all over the USA, Canada, several Caribbean Islands, and in Germany.

The Past Presidents of NABSE with the Founder, Charles D. Moody, Sr.
The lady in the middle, Dr. Deborah Wolfe, was one of the most dynamic women I've ever met.  She knew George Washington Carver.  I don't know why that fascinates me.

NABSE took up a great deal of our time.   We had such high hopes with a membership of over 6,000.  From 1970 until the middle 1990s it was flourishing and the possibilities were endless.  Our mission to improve education was the most important reason for the organization. Our national convention was the highlight of the year where we greeted old friends, enjoyed dinners, workshops, and deep conversations. We met and mingled with the "stars" and worked hard to improve education for African Americans.

Earline and Dr. Jerome Harris, (He is a former Superintendent of the Atlanta Public School.) The Moodys, and Dr. and Mrs. Thomas (He is a former Superintendent in Illinois.)

However, in the 2000s, many factors contributed to the decline of what should have been a stellar organization.  I won't go into the reasons, but NABSE was important because it was the biggest focus of our life during the '80s and now it is our biggest disappointment.

And what a ride it was.  We thought we would change the world and help all of the "diamonds in the rough."  The friendships we made and the ones we did help made it all worthwhile.  We, and the early members (those who are still living for we have lost so many) who really wanted to make contributions, are now all old, tired, and frail.  We're tired of fighting, but we still try to help others.

Us with Andrew Young at a NABSE meeting

Our life has been full.  We've soared with the eagles and fought with the chickens.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year - 2010

Happy New Year to all.  Hope you had a wonderful, joyous holiday.

No explanation for my eye problem--just continued medication and a visit to the doctor scheduled for February.

I hope my friend, Pat, who fell in July and is now paralyzed, walks again.  She made the beautiful jewelry that she's wearing but does not have good use of her hands now.

Will I make resolutions?  No.

What do I want?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Back to the Past - 1980

Thanks again for all of your good wishes.  I return to the doctor on the 17th but wanted to do just a short posting.

The '80s and '90s are going to jumbled because I lost my momentum with the eye problem.   I think it was the end of the '70s and beginning of the '80s when I left off.

For us, the most memorable event of 1980 was the celebration of our 25th Wedding Anniversary, a snowy day in March.

We awoke the day before the celebration at 6:30 a.m.  The weatherman forecast 1-2 inches of snow.  I began to panic as I looked out the window and saw the snow flurries softly covering the street.  My sister, Ruby, called from Chicago and said it looked bad there, also.

We arose and began our preparations and trips to the bakery, rental agency, florist, airport, train station, and bus depot.  The snow continued and blizzard conditions were obvious.  We had many tasks to complete and the snow had already reached three inches.

My nerves were frazzled as we heard the travel advisory.  When we returned from the bakery at noon, the prediction was seven inches and visibility was down to 30 feet.  My tears began as I realized the impossibility of it all.  What a disaster we faced.

There was no way our relatives could get through from Chicago and Louisiana and the people in town were snowbound.  I began to worry about having dead relatives and friends all over the highway because they were trying to make it to Ann Arbor. I was inconsolable at that thought.

Suddenly, I heard a grinding in the driveway.  I looked out and our son was stuck.  We finally dug him out while the phone rang continuously.  Prayers were being offered for the snow to stop.

My friend, Barbara, called to see if we were canceling the rehearsal.  I hesitated and suggested that we wait.  One son finally arrived from the airport with guests, another son left to pick up guests from the train station and someone else picked up relatives at the bus station.  Several relatives called at 3:30 p.m. alerting us that they were at Exit 52 on I-94 and should arrive in Ann Arbor in two hours.  I knew then that everything would be OK.  Let's get it on, Barbara.

Our prayers were answered as the snow stopped in the early evening with close to 10 inches of snow.  We skidded all the way to the church.  The organist, soloist, best man, and a couple of ushers and attendants were still trying to make it, but I no longer worried.

Someone found a snow removal service to help up get to the rehearsal dinner which was a beautiful affair.  Back home and then another trip to the airport to pick up our son, Corey, at 10:00 p.m.

The next day, Sunday, the sun glistened on the silent snow. When we arrived at the church for the Renewal of Vows, over 200 guests had made it through that dangerous storm.

The Anniversary Party

By the time we made it to the Open House at our home, the snow was melting at a furious rate.  The elegant buffet would not go to waste.

I never felt closer to friends and family.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Getting Better?

Well, I thought I was better until this morning (at 4:30 a.m.) when the pain returned.  I started my eye drops again and should see my doctor in the coming week.  But I'm OK.  Thanks for caring and stopping by to visit.

I miss you, I miss reading your blogs, and I miss blogging.

Who knew how therapeutic blogging was or how close you feel to people you don't see physically?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanks Kass

Kass, thanks for checking.  No I am not OK. I cannot sit at the computer too long because I'm having trouble with my eyes, severe pain and red eye, which the doctor thinks might be related to something else. Her gave me some eye drops, which I'm taking every two hours, and I'm doing better.  I do hope to get back to blogging.  I try for a few moments to check some sites, but as I said, the time has to be short.

Also, I've been very low, lately...just trying to get through each day.  I really appreciate your concern.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thank You, Ann Arbor

“We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, 
already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.”
— Anne Lamott

Our life in Ann Arbor was often idyllic.  The unspoiled charm of a small town is the polar opposite of our beloved, crowded, noisy Chicago. There are people in Ann Arbor who never want to leave town because they think there is nothing else for them to see. Often we took several of the boys' friends to Chicago with us and they were terrified.

We knew two men, one Black, one white, both in their 60s, who had never left the county and never wanted to leave. Both had the funds and ability to leave; they just could find no reason to visit anywhere else.  I could never wrap my mind around this no matter how hard I tried.  To them, Ann Arbor wasn't the center of the universe, it was the universe. I tried to understand how they had no interest in the outside world, but I couldn't.

We had mixed emotions about the city. It is a beautiful, tree filled city. The town and gown metaphor is appropriate.  Perhaps that is why our emotions were mixed.  We weren't used to being identified with only one group, and we refused to be restricted. There were speed bumps along the way but we survived.

Memories of Ann Arbor include the many conferences and seminars we developed, consulting trips, dinners, luncheons, more meetings, and learning to golf. We were active in clubs and fraternal organizations, served on charity boards and mentored many students.  I shouldn't forget Hash Bash.

In early April the campus is flooded with thousands of pot smokers who smoke in broad daylight. The atmosphere is festive for Ann Arbor is know for being tolerant of pot.

In spring, the blooming forsythia, crabapple, and redbud trees encircle the city and you are dazzled by the beauty.

In summer the town feels deserted.  The students are gone and you enjoy the empty spaces even though you know visitors will flood the city for the Art Fairs, a group of five award-winning art fairs that take place annually, the Summer Festival, and the Blues Festival.

Over 500,000 visitors attend the Art Fairs each year, which always take place during the third full week of July, running from Wednesday through Saturday.  Many locals leave the city because it is so crowded. In addition to art exhibits, the fairs also feature music performances and children's activities.

In a twinkling students return and the city comes to life again.  Soon, all too soon, the leaves begin to change.

Brilliant reds and audacious yellow leaves are everywhere. There are so many leaves that the city sends trucks to gather the fallen leaves.  By Halloween, you know that winter is coming and you pray for just one sunny day a week.

Cold winds and drifting snow are on the way.  Hurry, hurry, spring.

Did I like Ann Arbor?  Yes.  Am I glad to be gone? Yes. Do I miss it? Sometimes, I miss the intellectual stimulation and our friends.  It was the perfect place to raise a family and perhaps that's the problem.  It can dull your senses to the rest of the world.  Because of Ann Arbor we were able to travel all over the world.  We had dear friends and neighbors, an exciting lifestyle,  and incredible professional opportunities.  So, thank you Ann Arbor, for 31 endearing years.

Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, 
and grow old wanting to get back to. 
 ~John Ed Pearce

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Diamonds in the Rough

One of the joys of Ann Arbor was the large number of students who came to our home.  While many have done well, I have to mention two who spent so many years in our home that we think of them as "ours."

Rosalyn was a foster child in Detroit and once you finish high school you are out of the welfare system and on your own.

When she graduated from high school in 1992, we had formed our own foundation and was looking for someone to give a scholarship. I didn't know her but she applied for our scholarship for future teachers.  When I read her essay, I stopped and declared her the winner.  There was no need to read anymore. Her writing, about her childhood and ambitions, was that powerful.

She came to Eastern Michigan University, where I was working, so that I could watch over her. When I retired she transferred to the University of Michigan and watching over her was transferred to my husband.  She worked several jobs the entire time she was a college student yet there were days she would come over, despondent and depressed, needing only a couple of dollars to make it through the semester.  We would give her what she needed and away she would go...another semester down.

One summer we sent her to Atlanta to live with our son and his family.  She babysat, worked in his office and became a "sister" to our grandchildren. This was a new experience, an intact family unit and it gave her more hope and determination.

Rosalyn with the granddaughters she baby sat one summer at our
50th Wedding Anniversary in 2005

Long story, short, she finished college, taught school in Detroit, bought her first home, and is completing her doctoral dissertation this year. Her new husband finished his doctorate this year.  We are so proud of her.

Us at Rosalyn's Wedding in 2007 in Detroit with daughter-in-law, Kimberly

The other student I must mention is Tony. He began staying with us when he was in 5th Grade.  My son told me about a boy who was staying alone in public housing.  I sent him to fetch Tony and asked him about his circumstances.  His mother was in the hospital so we called her and asked if he could stay with us until she was released.  She cried and said yes.  She was suffering with cancer so he spent many months with us.

She died when he was in middle school so he moved in again until his family could find someone to take him.  After he left to live with his older brother, he still spent a lot of time in our home because he was one of Corey's best friends.

He completed college in four years, (1983) always working 2 or 3 jobs.  We encouraged him to travel so he get out of the safe environment of Ann Arbor and see the rest of the world.  He was so close to our family that our sons and my husband were groomsmen in his wedding.  When we put our house up for sale in Michigan, he told us we couldn't sell his family home.

Again, to make a long story short, he received his Ph.D on his 30th birthday and is a Department Head at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.  Check him out, Janie, if this is close to you.  Click link to see his page.  Anthony Troy Adams

Tony in his office at Arkansas State

Both were without parents, both worked hard in school, both never gave up, both always had at least 2 or 3 jobs, both had outgoing personalities, both never felt sorry for themselves, and both achieved at a high level. They are my favorite Diamonds in the Rough.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Days with my Sister

My sister had a good trip.  She wanted the trip because a few months ago they removed part of her lung.  Lung cancer. She will know about chemo when she returns to Chicago.

Shirley, Sister Mary, and Lorraine (My right hand)

Because a Keno game has only twelve cards and I had two other guests, she played in my place and won the final coverall.   It was all of $11.00 but that is the largest pot we've ever had.  You would think that she had won a million dollars.

The Keno Club
We call ourselves The Forgettables because no one remembers anything. I'm on the far right. Without friends, old age must be unbearable.

We didn't grow up in an affectionate family.  Hugging and kissing were not something we saw or did.  Our feelings were kept under wrap, only discussed in our heads.  She is the sister who helped me through college.

Even though I had a scholarship I still needed pocket money to buy necessities, such as toothpaste. In 1953, at the age of 18, she earned $1.07 an hour and sent me $5.00 cash each week, enough to get me through.  I didn't realize it at the time but she worked almost a full day just for me.

Sometimes another sister would send a few dollars and I was grateful for every cent. What memories surface when we're together, many are in earlier sections of this blog.

We shared a bed when we were children. She was the beautiful, popular sister and I was the skinny nerd.  I was such a nerd that I started a Trigonometry Club and was President.  Two people so different could not have been closer. She always had scores of boyfriends but I was lucky if I had one at a time.

When we moved from Chicago in 1970, I made my husband promise me that he would not fuss about the telephone bill because it was imperative that I always have access to her.

We're old now. She's 75 and I'm 72. Where did the years go?  I still think of us as silly children sharing our thoughts and dreams.  She wanted the glamourous life of a movie star and I was interested in academics. She's the only person who knows my deep dark secrets and yes, Jonas, my regrets.

This is rambling because I'm still processing the past and how it affects the future. I'm processing.

I guess my point is just love each other.  Show affection.  The end comes before we know it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The '70s - One by One They Leave Home

This will be my only post this week, the boys graduating high school and leaving home, because we have several out-of-town guests and I'm hosting my Keno and Bridge Clubs.

Old folks are busy in Las Vegas. We do volunteer work and have many social activities.  We have one goal--enjoying the last years.  We understand that this is not a dress rehearsal. A few friends have died and many have serious ailments. Those who can, help those who need some support and some of us have driving problems.  I'm blessed to have some younger friends (50-65) who help me.

For example, tomorrow Lorraine will drive me to the strip to pick up my sister from Chicago, take her shopping, lunch in Henderson, NV with friends visiting from Ann Arbor, back home to finish dinner (Chicken Creole that cooks all day in the slow cooker), take sister back to strip, and start cleaning for Keno Club.  I'm tired just thinking about it.

One by one, the boys became men and began to leave home.

I was not one of those mothers who was upset about the empty nest.  However, I did make one mistake. It was August. David left for Howard University in Washington, DC on Saturday. Corey and Cameron left on Sunday for Morehouse College, and my husband and I planned to meet them in Atlanta on Monday. Yes, we had three children in college at the same time.

Since it was Sunday I cooked my normal BIG, BIG Sunday dinner (including a cake and 2 pies) and my husband never said a word.  I cooked and cooked and cooked.  When I set the table for five he finally spoke.  He reminded me that it was only us.  What did I plan to do with all that food?  I looked at the table, fell into my chair, and cried for all of 15 minutes.  I couldn't believe it.  We were alone.

We had a tradition.  In 1970, our kitchen table had five seats.  As each child left, a chair went to the basement, to return only when that son was home.  Now, our table had only two chairs.


David as a youngster

David graduated from high school in 1974, finished his degree from Morehouse College in 1978, and then went to Howard University where he received two degrees in architecture.

David and his prom date.  Can you believe that suit?

Cameron and Corey as youngsters

Corey graduated from high school in 1979, went to Morehouse College on a track scholarship, and received his accounting degree.  

Corey and his prom date

Cameron graduated in 1980 and went off to Morehouse.

Later he transferred to North Carolina in Greensboro, graduating with a degree in engineering. This move also helped him become active in the Civil Rights Movement and politics because two of his classmates and friends were Jonathan and Jesse Jackson, Jr. and he traveled with them and Jesse, Sr., on many missions. 

I couldn't find Cam's prom picture, but I found this one of him escorting a deb.

Hope to see you next week.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Is That All There Is?

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

We live in an age restricted, guard-gated community that is built around a golf course.  It's a lovely development of single story homes with great views of the mountains and the strip.  We have a beautiful community center, an exceptional fitness center, a friendly beauty shop, and a bistro for quick meals.  It's a perfect place to live the golden years.

The view from our back patio

Husband and his golfing buddies after winning medals
at the Senior Olympics

We read the obituaries in the newspaper and count how many of the recently departed are younger than us. We speculate about how many years we might have left.  We remind our children what things in the house are valuable  so they won't throw them away.  We are conscious of the fact that "once you're over the hill you pick up speed" so "we dance as fast as we can."

Last week a neighbor told me that a coroner's car was parked down the street.  We knew this meant someone had died.  We didn't know who lived in the home and our sadness reminded us of our limited stay here on earth.

Because of the ages of our residents, death is a frequent visitor.  There is generally a short discussion of who died, who are the survivors, and are any services planned in Las Vegas? And then, we move on. Life continues.

Earlier this week I was driving down the street and saw this big, red dumpster in the driveway where the coroner was seen.  There were two younger adults in the garage scratching their heads and moving items into the dumpster.

My first thought was "and this is what it all amounts to."  All the stuff we accumulate over the years may be just a bunch of junk to those we leave behind.  How sad that we spend tons and tons of money on stuff, and when we die, others might see trash.

What memories did they trash?  Who lived there?  Did they have a good life?  Are the people in the garage sad? How often did they visit the people who lived there?  What will happen to the house?  Did they put everything in the dumpster and were some things important enough to take with them? A song recorded by Peggy Lee floated through my morbid state of mind as I slowly drove away.

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is