2020, The Grief and Broken Heart You Have Given to Me

Granny and Me in 2017

2020, The Grief and Broken Heart You Have Given to Me by Chellyz View_

– Granny this is dedicated to you

No matter how much you try to convince yourself you will be strong as you watch a loved one transition from their earthly form to evolving into a spiritual being, it isn’t easy. At some point, my family and I knew we couldn’t be selfish because we wanted her to stay. During one of my last visits, I whispered in her ear and assured Granny that we would be alright because we didn’t want her to suffer anymore. A couple of weeks before she left us, her last prayer was, “Father, take me to the Heavens,” with her hands lifted to the sky.

On November 15, 2020, at 2:13 pm, on a cold and windy day, my Granny took her last breath, tiptoed out of her bedroom of 62 years, and peacefully walked into Heaven. I know she was welcomed by the Heavenly Father, ancestors, and many individuals she missed so dearly.

One and a half years old with my Granny

I don’t know about you, but 2020 broke my heart and, at times, my spirit more than ever. There have been other years where I have faced heartache and pain, but this year’s rounds of ups and downs have been more severe. Thanksgiving was very different this year. We didn’t have Granny, but we had each other. My family is small, but we have big hearts. This holiday taught me the importance of what courage and love from family truly meant though we may not always agree. We understood without a doubt that we can lean on each other. We smiled, laughed, danced, cried, and created new beautiful memories despite our sadness. I know Granny is proud of us!

First Family Thanksgiving without Granny 2020

Grief is very draining, and it can deplete every bit of you. It was challenging to grieve during this pandemic. Only so many people could attend the funeral and no risk of having a repass because we wanted to be cautious. As a grieving heart begins to heal, there will be those painful times when things seem so heavy. A challenging moment occurred while I was trying to find a song for Granny’s slide show. It was dark outside, and the tears began to flow while playing a rendition of “Grandma’s Hands.” Suddenly, the sun peaked through my window for a quick second. It felt as if Granny stopped by and hugged me right then, and I felt a sense of peace and thankfulness.

I must admit one of the most important lessons I learned this year is to be grateful for every minute. Family members, friends, legends, and famous people have been leaving this Earth in record numbers; it seems this year. Show appreciation to those you love before it’s too late. Try to forgive others and ask others to forgive you. However, if the efforts of resolving old wounds and binding broken relationships go awry, then it is time to let things go.

I know you heard this a thousand times (probably in a previous post), but life is too short to hold on to bitterness and anger. Life is too precious to hang on to people who keep reminding you of who or what you used to be. You know the ones who don’t know how to let go of the past. The present time is waiting for you to live life to the fullest with your presence even while navigating through grief!

Granny at her 70th Birthday Party

We are moving closer to a new year. I can’t promise you that soon as the clock strikes midnight in 2021, everything will be perfect. So, don’t wait for 2021 to find peace. Find it now. Be grateful now. Search for what can heal you now. Grow through this now. Learn to find a moment every day to practice thankfulness now.

It’s ok not to be strong all the time. Please know it is alright to lean on others that can help you. Reach out to someone now. Take care of yourself now. Look to the Holy Father to help you renew your strength now. 2020, you might have broken my heart in so many pieces, but step to the side while I welcome Love, Peace, and Happiness. I know with time time my grieving heart will slowly mend!

-Let your heart be full of new ventures that will lead you to the possibilities of limitless conversations!

Jeff Lorber featuring Eric Benet. “Grandma’s Hands.” He Had a Hat, Blue Note Records, 2007.

“We Reminisce Over You” by Butch Ford

thinking back

 

“We Reminisce Over You” by Butch Ford

The title of this entry was inspired by a 90’s hip hop classic from Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth.  The thought behind it are feelings of love, loss, gratitude and pride mixed with a little bit of selfishness and some sadness sprinkled in too.  We’ve all lost loved ones at some point in our lives and admittedly…it hurts.

I remember watching my grandmother beam with pride and joy.  She loved family; her mother, sisters, aunts & uncles, daughters and most assuredly her grandson(s).  Holiday gatherings and family get-togethers meant everything to her.  I would marvel at the outpouring of love displayed at these functions.  It’s difficult to put it into words.  It was just simply incredible.  Boy…I really miss those days.  And then…the unthinkable began to happen.  We started losing our older relatives slowly but surely.

Now we’re the grandparents, the great aunts & uncles, the matriarchs & patriarchs of our families.  But times have changed.  Things are very different now.  The world just ain’t the same anymore.  Don’t get me wrong…we’re all blessed to still be among the living, but it’s sad watching the day to day occurrences in these dark and scary times we live in.  We gotta stay prayed up and watch out for one another.  Hopefully better days are ahead.  As the song says, “A change gon come.”  We need a change…BAD!!!

Thinking back on how my grandmother loved on all of us…that smile, those hugs and the loving, nurturing words of encouragement…makes me wonder if she missed her parents, grandparents, great aunts & uncles as much as I miss her?  If she did, she didn’t show it.  But gauging the void in my heart…how could she not?  Her focus was obviously on everyone else’s happiness.

I still smile when I think of my grandmother’s strength and courage.  The way she held everything together was nothing less than amazing.  Her memory still lives on today.  Mainly because my mother stepped up in her absence and filled those shoes remarkably.  I’m just expressing myself, but I know there are others with similar stories, right?  The message today is simple.  It’s for our loved ones who have gone on to glory…to continue watching over us while we reminisce over you.

Butch

Let’s Start Anew by Butch Ford

start anew photo
Let’s Start Anew by Butch Ford

As we come to the close of another decade, there are some things I’d like to see change within our community.  As a people, we have really lowered our standards and expectations of one another.  And as a society we have come to be too accepting of mediocrity.

Professional sports are all about marketing dollars and network ratings.  Gone are the days of good sportsmanship and integrity.  It’s so much pressure on these kids nowadays.  Bring back the days of playing for the love of the game(s).  

Social Media has taken over as our main source of communication.  There’s no one-on-one interaction anymore.  Everything’s so impersonal.  There was a time when we had to talk to one another, meet up, ask someone out or just getting to know people.  Now everyone’s just typing away.

Which brings me to the education system, or the lack of emphasis placed on learning.  This one’s self-explanatory, but perplexes me nonetheless.  Generations past took pride in being the best at tasks at hand.  Millennials couldn’t care less.  They just want, want, want.  No concept of working to achieve goals.

And last…the lack of family dynamics.  We once ate meals together, taught each other hobbies & skills, supported the dreams of our relatives, asked how each other’s day was, etc.  Now everyone’s out for themselves.  Fathers are absent from their children’s lives, which forces the mothers to carry the load.  But they must be mature and responsible enough to take on the duties of parenthood.  Again…we must do better.  

We need to own our own businesses, invest in our communities, teach our youth and overall be better as African Americans.  We owe it to ourselves and to our future.   WE NEED CHANGE…LIKE YESTERDAY!

               

                                Butch Ford

Reflections of the Dining Room Table at My Grandparent’s House by Chellyz View

dining table

Reflections of the Dining Room Table at My Grandparent’s House by Chellyz View

I was scrolling through the gallery in my cellphone and the picture featured above held my attention.  A table.  Not just an ordinary table, but a decorated table that reminded me of one of my maternal grandmother’s tablecloths.  Some childhood memories are clear like looking through a freshly wiped window cleaned with window cleaner.  I accurately see the reflection of dinner time at my grandparent’s home.

My grandparents resided in a small modest home with a round dinner table. Dinner at my grandparent’s house was a ritual.  The main course of the day was done by 4:00 p.m.  My grandmother enjoyed working for a brief time, but life circumstances summoned her to become a stay at home mom.  I admired my grandma for watching over me while my mom worked.  I am displeased with myself because I didn’t pay attention to her nor my paternal grandmother’s recipes made from scratch.  I felt cooking wasn’t my calling.  Therefore, cereal and grilled cheese sandwiches became my specialty as I grew older, but that’s another story.

Yes, the dinner table at my grandparent’s house was sacred.  Hands washed.   Fresh produce.  Homemade Ingredients.  Life was at a slower pace back in the day.  At least that is how I envision grandma’s kitchen.  I can recall the aroma of greens, black eyed peas, the snapping of peas or green beans, and sweet potato pies (no strings found).  Watching flour and yeast being rolled by hand with a wooden rolling pin then left to rise a few times before being baked in the oven left me amazed.  The scent of roast beef or a whole chicken that appeared to be roasted without the rotisserie machine contraption lingered in the air.  This was a time before anyone thought or knew the definition or lifestyle of veganism or gluten free.

The most important part of the dinner routine was setting the table.  My grandpa would become irritated at times because I would start singing at the table.  I didn’t sing on key, but I always had a song.  I don’t know if this was a habit because the food was so good or I just felt like hearing him telling me to stop all that sangin’.  I knew we were to sit down at the table together.  No eating in the room.  No preparing separate meals.  Whatever was cooked you ate or you starved. Currently, I don’t know if that would be considered unfair treatment to children or not.  Paper plates, and plastic ware was not allowed at the dinner table.  Cups made of foam, oh no!  My grandma said she felt like she was about to choke when she drank out of a foam cup.  When she did finally break down and accepted paper or plastic goods at her dinner table, you were only to purchase Chinet or some other brand that resembled resilience.

Today, I feel guilty as a mother.  Don’t get me wrong, my children don’t starve.  However, they didn’t experience the same dinner time rituals I did as a child.   I am thankful their dad has mad skills in the kitchen.  So, they always get excited when dad prepares the meals.  We don’t always consume our dinner at the same time due to work schedules or extracurricular activities.  I am known for stocking up on paper and plastic goods because it’s an “easy” way of life in my home, but I know it isn’t good for the environment.  There are times when we have carry-out meals a little too often or the frozen section in the market conveniently saves time instead of having everything freshly prepared.  Electronics such as tablets and phones are supposed to be banned at the table when we have an opportunity to dine together.  The children ask, “Why?”  I respond, “Cause my grandpa said no singing at the table.”  Also, I tell them it’s important because it gives us a chance to talk about life.

A few years ago, before I realized the impact dementia was having on my grandmother we got into an argument.  It was about the details of the dining room table.  I wasn’t folding the dinner napkins correctly.  Grandma exploded and I left the room muttering, “I ain’t having another holiday dinner over here.”  I think she felt it would be one of her last holidays preparing a home cooked meal at the sacred dinner table.  A sadness overwhelmed me because I knew grandma was changing and this portion of our lives wouldn’t be the same.  Now, she enjoys the meals my mom and aunt prepare for her. She always sit by the window in her comfy chair.  Her dinner table consists of a small foldable wooden dinner tray.  Of course, she asks what time it is throughout the day, because she never wants to eat dinner after 5:00 p.m.

As families we need to find time to gather more at the table.  Even if time doesn’t allow for it to occur every day, we should commit to making the time at least three to four times a week.  It might not even be dinner, but maybe you could enjoy preparing an evening snack or dessert together.  Have at least one “good tablecloth” and a set of nice dinnerware you can find on sale.  Maybe even splurge on the fancy paper ware but remember to recycle.  LOL, I even invite singing to the dinner table as long it is a song, we can all sing and is appropriate.  Yes, our schedules can be rigorous at times.  Yes, we often find ourselves overworked and trying to manage the bills.  However, try to find a few moments to create some reflective and comforting memories at the dinner table .

MOTOWN: Yo Town & My Town by Butch Ford

motown

MOTOWN: Yo Town & My Town by Butch Ford

What is Motown?  Now that’s a loaded question.  And we’d probably hear several dozen responses of varied degree, I suppose.  Some may agree that it’s a majestic little white house at 2648 W. Grand Blvd. on the west side of Detroit.  While others may take the “hit making factory” approach.  If you answered either way, you’re definitely not wrong.  But that’s not the narrative this time.  The journey for me started towards the latter part of the 60’s, continued throughout the 70’s and was nurtured in the 80’s.  These were times where society put emphasis on family, love and unity.  Churches, schools, neighborhoods and community centers all had a hand in our upbringing.

“It takes a village” right?  Maybe it was a naive perspective, on my part?  Or was I just looking at things through rose colored lenses?  But something happened.  In fact…several things happened.  We could talk for hours about the collapse of the African American family, the failed education system, or the lack of pride and self-respect as “a people.”  But I’m more interested in solutions to these problems.  What can we do to right these wrongs?  Where do we even begin?

I don’t like to speak on politics or religion publicly.  My grandmother Mattie Mae taught me that at a young age.  But something has to change.  And I’m sure I don’t just speak for myself here.  It’s going to take a village AGAIN…if we want our pride back.  If we want our self-respect back.  If we want our dignity back.  And if we want our Motown back!  Let’s make a change my people!