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Archive for the category “Non-Fiction”

Sundays Are Hard

I ask myself how many more will I count. Today as I start this piece I remind myself only 5 weeks have passed. I sigh in disbelief and exhaustion, knowing that if things remain as they are now, there are many more to come..

I was born at 5 A.M. on an October Sunday in 1959. Some 57 years later in 2016 Mom passed away at approximately  5 A.M. in October on a Sunday. The latest blow; my dear youngest son, Jay passed away on a Sunday morning in January of 2018, a mere 30 years old. Sundays are hard and lately they seem to be coming at me in an alarmingly rapid rate, or so it seems.

There is a poem called Monday’s Child… it came to mind because I  am seemingly having some difficult experiences on Sundays. However, according to the poem and to paraphrase I, as a child born on the Sabbath, am blessed. Well I will leave that idea open for review.

I tell myself, I am okay, I tell myself, I must go on.  I wonder from day to day, is any of this true. How can it be? Every tear that falls, and they are bountiful, reminds me of the pain I want to go away but it will not.  Sometimes I tell myself do what you used to do on Sundays. Do what you grew up doing, do what feels right. Let me share something with you..NOTHING FEELS RIGHT. Sunday is a marker, no matter how I try when 3 A.M. rolls around some how my eyes are fixed on the clock. My semi-awake state tells me 19 minutes and __ weeks ago my child floated away from life as I know it. Sundays are hard.


Jay Steven Russell -A Few Things You Need To Know

Born Friday February 13,1987 at 13:31 a leap year in Inglewood California’s Centinela Hospital.  He graduated from Northview High School in Duluth, Georgia May 2005 where he played Varsity football and was sought after by 37 colleges and universities including Princeton. Jay chose NOT to play football and in December of 2009 he obtained a dual degree in Politics and Sociology from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia where he ran cross-country track. He worked for the U.S Department of the Treasury as a Tax Examiner. On Sunday January 14, 2018 at 03:19 he departed this life in a way you would hope to, he was with the love of his life and he quietly slipped away without pain. He was healthy, athletic, and happy; his big strong heart simply stopped beating. We are told sometimes that just happens.

Jay was a good person who loved Jessica Howard, his family, and his friends.

Jay was right-handed.

Jay’s favorite color was yellow.

Jay wore a size 13 shoe.

Jay’s favorite bird was a crow.

Jay loved cold weather.

Jay loved to cook.

Jay had beautiful teeth.

Jay was a kind soul.

Jay was thoughtful.

Jay had a pet cat, her name is Kitt.

Jay’s favorite dog was a Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Jay was loved by his family and friends.

Jay loved and respected animals.

Jay also loved the Arts, the environment, and Circa Survive.

Jay was a writer and a critic; he had a lot to share for his short years on this Earth.

Jay was bigger than life in stature and presence.

Left to carry his memory in their hearts are his immediate family; father and mother Wes and Eileen; his big brother Carlton; his sister-in-law Destini; his niece Addison; his nephew Kai; aunts and uncles by blood and contact  notably Anna of Las Vegas and Arthur and Al of Los Angeles, “Aunties” Kim and Denise; His lady, his love Jessica Howard; his “grandmother” Momma Daisy  and his godmother Yvette. Additionally his cousins, a hosts of “other” family members, friends, colleagues and co-workers. Too many names to list.

If you look too closely at a star it’s beauty can blind you, Jay’s light will FOREVER shine within us.

Sometimes We Just Know

When my mother passed away there was sadness, but in her passing there was a sense of relief. Mom and I were close. When I became and adult we were friends. It was nice, she was my mom who I loved and respected, but she was the friend who knew things about me that I didn’t, things I had forgotten. Like one time we were out shopping and I laughingly told her how much my husband hated shopping with me and how nice it was to do something small like shop with my mom and NOT worry that she was bored.  I told her how he said I would be in search of a particular item and find it almost in the first place I looked but I would abandon it, in search of another one that might be better, then I would ultimately come back to that first item. She laughed and told me about a time when I was a little girl and she and I were out shopping for Easter shoes. She told me I tried on every shoe in the store that was my size that I did not like anything. She said she told me after all possibilities were exhausted she turned to me and said,” I guess you won’t be getting any new shoes for Easter..” she said I looked at her in shock and quickly grabbed the very first shoes I tried on and handed them to her. She said she did not know what my problem was and I said I have no idea, but I also wonder why SHE was being so gracious on that day, because Mom was not a game-player.  I do know with that little story she in effect told me that my shopping habits go waaaay back to childhood.

Now Mom would no longer be in pain, she would no longer be confined, she would no longer be confused, she would no longer be unhappy.  Yet, I remember thinking why she no longer  wanted to be here. What was it that made my mother give up, because she was stubborn and she was a fighter. I knew it was something and I knew it was something, SHE could not endure. My rock, the lady who taught me to be strong, there was something she did not want to face. So Mom left us quietly October 30, 2016 and while I managed to brush the question aside, it lingered just beneath the surface of my consciousness.

2017 rolled in; I had made it through my first Christmas without my mom, but February was on the horizon. We had so many birthdays in February, so many good times, so many memories. I wondered if this would be my breakdown point. It was not; maybe because I did not concentrate on the loss of she and my father, but celebrated the people who were still here with me that shared that February birth month my Godson, my youngest son and so many friends, friends who considered family from our street in Inglewood.

Late in 2017 things became complex. Illnesses came from out-of-the-blue and they were illnesses that would likely bring about loss. By the time the anniversary of my moms passing came around I was too preoccupied with the business of living to fall apart. There were millions of questions, where did this come from, could we have done something different to avoid this condition.  The answers were vague and really rather pointless. Things are never as they seem, we can almost never make plans, for the way we think it should be often turns on a dime.

We prepared to do battle now and there were going to be tough ones ahead. Two rounds of chemo therapy,  test after test, clearance after clearance for surgery, low and behold it was Christmas again. My dear friend told me to make this a good one, take lots of pictures and video. A polite way of saying this may be the last one like this for “someone” would not see another. We always had great Christmases this would be no different. I would heed my friend’s warning, but not interfere with the mood of the holiday. I was prepared for the change to take place; I did not know the exact time, season, or manner but I was fairly certain I knew who.

I was wrong in focusing on who, that when the loss came it was beyond devastating. 14 days into the new year, after a fantastic holiday, after a wonderful vacation, after things were ready to move forward, they came to a screeching, abrupt halt. We were all looking for/ looking at something, we were all aware of something but we were misdirected. We all knew something was going to happen, we just did NOT know what.  Was this what mom could not live with/through? Was this why my friend told me to make this the best Christmas ever? Something turned on a dime for us all, but the truth is sometimes you do just know. Even when you don’t want to.



For as long as I can remember, she was tall and strong. She commanded respect, you had better NOT cross her. She was my mom/our mom.There are four of us and each of us had a unique experience with her. So we can think of her collectively and as individuals. I know a great deal about her, yet there are mysteries that I will never be able to explain.

I watched her work by my father’s side, even though her wanted her to stay at home. She put the family first;  if he needed help he did not have to look far and it was the same for her. When we had cookouts, he manned the pit, but she was in the kitchen doing prep work.If he was under the hood changing the oil, she was holding the tools. If he cut the grass, she had the edger. She told many clients where they might go, when they tried to be unfair or avoid paying them. And her words were not empty/idle threats. A woman who only went to Jr. College in Kansas City, she knew her way around law and business. I could see her holding off  the klan with a shot gun ( for imaginative purposes only). She and my dad taught us what a marriage should be, and made the standard pretty tough to live up too by virtue of exposure to theirs.

Mom taught me things without ever saying a word, but I understood the lesson. I could tell her anything and  I did.She told me I was independent and self assured, I merely followed the example she set forth for me. Even when I did not believe I could do something I tried because I knew she expected that from me. I had never seen anything different from her and I knew she was watching me, if only in spirit. I tried to make her proud of me because I loved and admired her more than I have words for.

We lost her last year on October 30th 2015. I have not stopped crying, though I am told I will. I know I will forever miss her. I try to be happy and move on because she clearly thought I was strong and brave like her, but that was an illusion. I could be as she imagined I was, when she was here nearby here on Earth. More of the illusion. Now I am left to fly solo, and if you think that just because you are 50+ years old you do not need your mother you are grossly mistaken. Therefore, on what would have been her 83rd birthday I would like to pay tribute to my mom, Lorene Cates. You were the smart, strong compassionate, loving and beautiful woman I aspire to be. To this day, Mom I am in awe of you, my love is everlasting.






Still Explaining Himself

Okay, our President was in Britain this past week.The Mayor of London, THE MAYOR remember this, criticized OUR President for something he is so obviously ill equipped to address, beyond personal opinion. Britain’s possible departure from The            European Union. This “mayor” suggested that President Obama should not be urging Britain to stay in the EU because (and I am paraphrasing here people) he removed a bust from The Oval Office. Wow. That makes perfect sense for a “National Enquirer, tabloid style remark. He went on to suggest The President being part Kenyan makes his dislike for Britain clear. Our President once again demonstrated why He is The President and the likes of Mayor Boris Johnson is NOT!  Take time to view The Presidents remarks regarding the Churchill bust.Winston Churchill’s very own grandson stated Boris’ remarks were inappropriate.   Once again racism knows no bounds. When challenged or even if it is just a simple opportunity to TRY to be relevant the small minds of racist jump at a chance to be seen. Too bad “The London Fog” could not mask it’s mayor’s  narrow mindedness and stupidity.


And You Appear To Be Normal

I think one of the more challenging things about having a loved one with dementia        ( trust me there are a host of them) is their appearance.  We are so arrogant in what we deem to be basic knowledge;  when a condition or disease or situation presents itself to you and when you are personally involved, the logic flies out the window. You reach for anything that will help you feel better, because you are hurting. You are hurting when you don’t even know it. One day you will , and chances are it will come crashing down on you.

I was scanning through some very recent pictures of my mom, and while she did not look great she did not look like the person she is now.  She has help with personal things like dressing and hygiene. Little things like combing her once beautiful hair, has to be assisted or she will INSIST, her hair looks fine.

I am not dealing with it realistically, I can escape reality because I am not right there. However, when I am there physically, I am still not where I should be. I am putting on a strong face, because when I think about what is happening, when I allow myself to  accept my mom is not going to get better, it makes me so very sad and I weep. I cannot allow myself to sink into that place, because the business of life must go on.  I am grateful she is not deathly ill in a hospital. I do question quality of life matters. She is able to stay in her home with the help of my younger brother. You must understand there is so much more going on though.

Therefore, fair warning and a reminder “Things are not always what they appear to be.”


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