Giving thanks in every season💕

In every season give thanks – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

This season of my life has been hard.

I have been challenged by loss and grief.

Waking up to my First thanksgiving without my father physically present on earth is TOUGH!

To say I miss you is such an understatement 💔

Arrival hugs the day before thanksgiving day 2021

I no longer have the casual opportunity to physically express my gratitude to him with my words, a hug,a plate of yummy thanksgiving cooking, or jocular conversations shared on a thanksgiving morning family walk on the trail to Stacy Parks.

Arrival hugs the day before thanksgiving day 2021
Thanksgiving day family walk 2021
Thanksgiving day 2021

My thoughts wonder deeply into an existential plane… What does your view from heaven look like now? Are you gathered in heaven with your parents and other family members enjoying great laughs with the communion of saints? Is food even a thing in heaven?

Now your image mostly exists in my mind and my heart. Your eyes always so full of love and I only imagine that this love is intensified from heaven now .

Therefore your love goes on.. even in death.

I am choosing to give thanks to God for this love and all the manifestations of that love in my life .

You see , because my Dad loved so freely, he also accepted and gave so freely this love.

My dad’s love and acceptance of my DH , despite our cultural differences, while some Naija parents would have given a side eye to an interracial marriage and therefore blocked blessings – he did not, and not only welcomed my DH with open arms but supported our union true and true.

Thanksgiving day 2021

This gift of love and acceptance has therefore abounded exponentially in my life in so many angles.

Kids table Thanksgiving Day 2021

Wherever I look I can see the manifestation of love in my life .

I see it in you my DH, I see it in my children, I see in my mother and siblings, I see it in my wonderful Oma and Opa and extended family and in laws, I see it in my Dedes and my Dadas, I see it in my cousins and their children, i see it in my dog Teddy, I see it in my sweet friends , I see it in my HOLLA group, I see it in my WOW group , I see it in my work and the ability to provide mental health services to those in need, I see it in the opportunity to be living in a beautiful country with my roots extended from the great continent of Africa.

Hanging out on thanksgiving day 2021

I see it in you ,my readers and I am grateful.

So yes, it’s a bittersweet thanksgiving , however I can still see so clearly the many reasons to give thanks.

I hope that you can look around you and your own unique circumstances and see reasons to be THANKFUL♥️🙏🏾

❤️

As always, thank you for reading my blog and of course I welcome your comments and any shared experiences .

Click on the “follow” icon, so you can get notifications on future blog posts via email and not miss out !💕

*DH ( darling husband)

*Dedes( Uncles ) Dadas(Aunties)

GOD(WIN) MOMENTS 🙏🏾♥️

It’s been one month and 8 days since I lost my earthily father Godwin Chukwuma Ogbuokiri . It feels like it had been a time warp characterizing both the longest and the shortest time period in my life.

Carving my Dad’s name into the rocks during our family hike through the Narrows at Zion National Park this weekend ♥️

The truth is most days I still cry from missing my Dad. I have since returned to practicing child and adult psychiatry, and ofcourse my job is centered on improving others’ mental wellbeing.

There are days my passion to help others fortifies me in those moments that I sit across from my ailing patients.

Then there days that I find others’ sadness and loss impacting mine – like hitting a healing scab and causing it to hurt perhaps even causing it to bleed all over again.

The truth is it’s not just in my practice that I am reminded of my loss , it ‘s literally everywhere!

Something happy happens and I immediately think “ oh I can’t wait to call and tell Dad”.

With GrandBaby♥️
Wearing the Chosen “People Must Know” sweatshirt ♥️
Wearing the Chosen “ People Must Know” sweatshirt ♥️

I get a condolence call from a less than familiar family friend , then I wish I could call my Dad to give me more context on that relationship, who’s that “ uncle “ again? Where do they live etc etc.

I am not sure whether these moments of longing to have conversations with my Dad will diminish with time or not , I just know that they take me by surprise and shock me right back into my reality- the one where I have lost my precious Dad to the ages💔

There have been comforting moments too , these moments that I am choosing to call “GOD (WIN) moments”.

These bring a loving thought , or a humorous memory to mind that automatically spreads a smile across my lips.

In those moments , not only am I reminded that he lived and loved us fully, but that his spirit is now with God and guiding us forevermore.

Some of these GOD(WIN) moments may feel like mere coincidences, however because I believe in the communion of saints – I know better.

Interestingly, whenever I experience a GOD(WIN) moment , I try to stamp it in reality by taking a picture, or having a conversation about it in real time with those around me. This helps me acknowledge what I am experiencing in real time and give it some level of validation.

You may be wondering what exactly are some of these GOD(WIN) moments? Well I will share a few…

The first time I had a real assurance that my Dad crossed over to paradise , occurred the morning after his death. DH * and I had changed our original travel plans and instead made a trip on that fateful Thursday to New Orleans- part of our plan to spend our wedding anniversary with my parents .

DH * made reservations at a hotel with a balcony in the New Orleans French quarters , which meant music poured out of the streets. At first our arrival into this business as usual part of town felt awkward… I had just lost my most precious father and life seemed to be moving on, as if the strangers on bourbon street were so clueless to my biggest loss.

We arrived back to our hotel after visiting my mother and siblings at the extended stay place where my Dad spent his last 10 days post discharge recovering , or at least so we thought, until he went for a routine PCP visit , had to be called back frantically to return to the ER for a ridiculously elevated white count, ended up in the ER, finally gets admitted, only to aspirate , get transferred to the ICU where he continued the fight for his life for almost 6 hrs before he gave up his spirit at around 9:15 am on 9.15.22.

If there ever was a good day to die , I suppose this might be it.

That day also happened to be the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows day. Significant for the Catholic feast day celebrating when Mary received the body of her son Jesus from the cross.

I just wasn’t quite ready to loose my wonderful father. However I was grateful that our Lady will also bring home my Dad to heaven on her feast day🙏🏾.

Recently discovering my very first statue of Our Lady of Sorrows in my bag MONTHS after I purchased it while on last summer’s vacation.

Dad didn’t wait for DH * and I to get to New Orleans.

Anyways, as DH * and I tried to settle in that first night on New Orleans , I heard a knock on the door . I exhaustedly wondered who could be knocking this late at night.?

Too tired to bother, I fell asleep exhausted in my day clothes ( a very unusual thing for me to sleep in my day clothes)

The music outside the balcony had eventually stopped close to midnight and did not start up again until the next morning.

As I peered my eyes open to the world and the new day, my thoughts wondered which reality I was waking up into, the one where I still had my lovely Dad or the one where I was now fatherless? 💔

Just on cue, one of my favorite songs came on loud over the street speakers. The song is called “ what’s up ? , by 4 non blonds”

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6NXnxTNIWkc

Still laying on that bed , I began to tear up again.

Then there was this feeling of nostalgia – reminding me of my childhood days in my patriarchal home in Aba- Nigeria where I grew up on Hospital Road .

In that house, situated in a busy African street, early morning vendors greeted the new day with their loud music, as they opened their stores with songs like “ Good morning Jesus, good morning Lord”🎤

I immediately had this feeling that my Dad’s spirit was sending me reminders of my childhood days.

I cried some more.

Still laying in bed in my pool of tears , I Immediately began telling my DH * about this nostalgic feeling about my Aba home.

As I spoke , I saw DH have a puzzled look on his face , and asked me if I heard a knock on the door, before I could answer he opens the hotel door , looks up and down both hallways- no one!

Hmm”, he exclaims and returns to sit next to me in bed.

Then as if on cue again , one of the all time love songs Celine Dion’s “ My heart will go on” from the Titanic begins to blare over those street speakers – near and far where you are , I believe that the heart does go on…🎤DH and I look at each other and in that instant it was clear , these specifically chosen songs were not just coincidental , Dad was giving us a message!

That song was very dear to my DH *for an entirely different reason …

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3gK_2XdjOdY

I knew in that instant that my “ rascal Angel Dad“ just made it into heaven!!! He likely just rejoiced with Saint Peter who opened the gates of heaven to him, met up with his favorite saint St Rita , and his music loving self just found out where Heaven’s radio station was and was already requesting specific broadcasts for us to give us comfort, reassurance and yes a healthy dose of missing you tears.

Those early morning tears were cleansing. For me, they were a reminder of the communion of saints, a corridor open to believers, reassuring us that our blessed loved ones can still love on us from beyond this life.

There has been numerous other GOD(WIN)

Incidentally, my sister and her husband also had a lovely message sent to them once they landed in New Orleans on that same day that our Dad crossed into eternity.

Coincidentally found my Dad’s hat in our ole mini van on the way to the airport to go hike the narrows this weekend

Wearing Dad’s “EST 1939” hat in his honor

Theirs was in the form of an evangelical Uber driver who provided them support on their ride from the airport .

That evening , they told us the story of the stranger who not only was their Uber driver but also a gospel musician , complete with a record deal signed by an even more famous gospel musician , who coincidentally plays concerts in Nigeria of ALL places , oh and by the way lives an hour away from New Orleans but just enjoys driving Uber in Nawlins in order to meet people…. Coincidence ? Or a GOD(WIN) moment? …. You get to decide!

I am choosing to keep my spirit enlightened by the HOLY SPIRIT to receive ALL that God is sending my way these days , especially in my time of grief and sorrow .

My brother’s revolving picture coincidentally stuck on this pic of Dad for most of the morning one day 🙏🏾♥️

This weekend we were led to leave the hustle behind and hike almost 20 miles with our children through the Canyons of the Narrows at Zion National Park.

My legs may be exhausted but my spirit of adventure and tenacity is refueled!

DH and I hiking the narrows a second time , this time with our Four Loves💕

God knows what my soul needs and I am grateful he is feeding my soul to bring me healing and strength 🙏🏾

On this trip , we also got to see the Michael Jackson ONE show as a reward after our long hike !

Seeing Michael Jackson One Show in Vegas♥️
Seeing Michael Jackson One Show in Vegas

Finally, there was also one more special coincidence this weekend that allowed for an unexpected reunion with dear friends from my high school , who happened to be in Las Vegas this weekend and seeing and hugging them brought my heart JOY.

I grew up in Aba with this dear friend💕
Meeting our Nigerian/Canadian friends
Hiking and camping at the narrows with my loves 💕
Hiking and camping the Narrows with my loves

As always, thank you for reading my blog and of course I welcome your comments and any shared experiences .

Click on the “follow” icon, so you can get notifications on future blog posts via email and not miss out !💕

*DH ( darling husband)

Hiking the Narrows – fall break 2022

Our Fallen Iroko Tree…

Chief’s Mona Lisa

I am writing through my tears.

I am writing again through courage

I am writing through my deepest grief … I have lost my father of 83yrs to the ages💔.

God called him home on the feast of our Lady of Sorrows ( the day the Catholic Church celebrates Jesus mother Mary receiving the body of her son from the cross)

I have lost the one whose existence added sauce to my life . Now the world seemed more bland without him.

Dad absolutely giddy at receiving this gift of a T-shirt on his 80th birthday ♥️

DH*and I landed in New Orleans airport on that day that he was called home to God. Even the air seemed to stale and lack spice. It was like being given food without any salt.

Typically, our landing at Louis Armstrong Airport is filled with the anticipation for a wonderful family reunion , with my Dad at the center of all the excitements.

My Dad knew how to take his job as a great fun father and grandfather seriously.

Dallas Texas

We called him “Chief” and he was regal in so many ways even though he was also the most humble human I ever met…

Our family trips to New Orleans were filled with Chief planning this or that, all in an effort to ensure that WE all had the very best times! They were organized bus tours , just because- with his clinic staff as our make shift bus driver lol, nighttime boat cruise on the Mississippi River with all his grandchildren, catered local Cajun cuisine at thanksgiving, tourist tours to visit the alligators in the swamps of New Orleans, big fun parties thrown in their home just to welcome their first grandchild, or parties just in celebration of his family coming home.

Every visit to New Orleans was memorable and filled with JOY! .

New Orleans with grandchildren
Dallas with grandchildren
Washington DC with family
Touring Washington DC with grandchildren
Breakfast in Eziachi Nigeria with grandkids
50th wedding anniversary/80th birthday party celebration in New Orleans
South Africa visit with grandchildren
Capetown South Africa with grandchildren
Twins’ First holy communion St. Louis

Memorial Day vacation with family, Florida may 2022
Visiting him at Downman Urgent Care Clinic- a place he absolutely loved and gave his life’s work as a physician
Owerri with grandkids
With his beloved sons in-law

My Dad was truly the bagpiper , always finding tunes to bring us Joy and we , his children and grandchildren enjoyed dancing to the tunes of the pure joy he brought us.

My Dad seemed to have life’s manual in hand- and he lived to the fullest! My mother now reminisces on how it was not unusual that they are the last ones on any dance floor. I always loved how easy going my father was, he fit nicely into ANY room, and always had the right words and mannerisms at ANY time. If there was a cramped car during our full family gatherings, he would volunteer to be the adult sitting in the back of the minivan with the kids, just so everyone can fit for the ride to church or wherever.

Chief was adventurous and carpe diem*ed) the heck outta life .

Dad and I , New Orleans
Dancing completions you daughter Ginika

At 19 yrs old, he left the comfort and familiarity of his homeland in Nigeria, to land on the American shores after he had been awarded a scholarship geared to attract brilliant African minds to the USA in the 1960s.

He embraced his new land and thrived, becoming a surgeon, marrying his bride from his homeland, becoming a father and grandfather , a cultured man, a philanthropist, an author , a man of God and friend to so many.

Dallas 2021

Now, I find myself waking up each morning to the reality that he is no longer with us in the physical form. The pain is so real in numerous moments of the day, when I reach for my phone to make a call to tell him of this experience or the next, only to be reminded of the rude reality that he is gone.

Mexico with grandchildren

Even if he lived another 100 yrs it will not feel like enough, because he embodied so much Love. However, I also know that he was only a gift from God and has returned to the giver of life. Indeed we are all on borrowed time.

A reminder to make the most of our lives on earth.

The condolences keeps pouring in and I often find myself consoling tears on the other phone line.

So many stories of people whose lives he touched, as a physician, an Uncle, a mentor, a friend etc etc.

Celebrating a surprise birthday gathering for him at his clinic
Mardi Gras New Orleans

Now there are the moments that I now choose to call “God-Win” moments where I am convinced of his reunion with the communion of saints and smiling down on me. I am so grateful that I have so many wonderful “ make you smile” memories of my father. Those are my gifts to hold on to now and I hope to keep these always.

I see him in the legacy of his family , his children and grandchildren. He hasn’t left us completely, because his spirit and legacy are alive in us.

The other day, I had a God win moment as I dropped off one of my twins to football practice ( DH dropped the other twin as we always divide and conquer with this parenting gig)…

Anyways as I watched one of our twin walk away from the car in his football gear looking so grown up , hair flowing and handsome, this thought came to my mind and literally spoke out loud to myself – “Well Dad , there goes YOUR legacy “and that was comforting.

Thanksgiving New Orleans
Mexico

The reality is that OUR big Iroko tree who was our healthy , never sick , never demanding has indeed fallen, and all the cover and protection is lifted and we , his mourners are feeling the lack of shade and comfort that this giant of a man provided us all.

We must now try and readjust to our new reality without his strong protection , along with the wonderful qualities that his life added to give our life more sauce, making life so much more sweeter.

Thankfully I am consoled with the belief and reminder that he is now in the communion of saints and will keep his love and care on us now from heaven – for all eternity.

Even in death he keeps blessing us 🙏🏾♥️

Capetown South Africa

Joining the club of those who have lost a parent is such a hard club to be belong to now. Especially when you had an amazing father like I have had all my life . I am now choosing to mourn him while remembering to honor his legacy in those that I have left .

Pastor TD Jakes talks about “ strengthening what remains”even in losses. I am choosing to do just that one day at a time . My tears will flow and at times stain my face, but I will choose to love all that remains , in the example that my father has given me throughout his life .

In my Igbo custom, I was the reincarnation of my father’s mother and so he called me his “ Mama Janet”. A term that has always been endearing and also allowed me space to share so much humor with him, as I would in our later years teasingly call him “ Odi ishi okpukpu” like his sisters nicknamed him.

Dog lover all his life
Florida with grandchildren
Rollercoaster with grandson at almost 80yrs!
Hanging out with Chief St Louis

I am so grateful that we really shared So much laughter and fun together. Chief inspired so many and in his presence, he had a way of making you feel seen, like YOU mattered.

Thank you Dad for always SEEING me I will forever be grateful for your love ❤️

Poet and philosopher Kahlil Gibran says, “To live in the hearts of others is not to die”.

Rest in God Chief Omenka, my dearest father🙏🏾♥️

New Orleans La
Lagos , Nigeria
APA conference with his best friend/brother in Law, Atlanta Georgia.
Our wedding 2005
My father daughter dance at our wedding
Seregenti, Tanzania
With his son, Nigeria.
Buffalo, New York
Tree house, St Louis
St Louis MO
Enjoying simple things in life like this ice cream cone on the beaches of Anna Maria island
Adieu Chief Omenka🙏🏾♥️

(*DH =Darling husband)

(*carpe diem is Latin for seize the day )

Long live the Queen !( In our hearts)♥️

Photo credit: Jonathan Brady/AP

Today is one of those days that we will remember for the rest of our lives… The day that Queen Elizabeth II was lost to the ages.

What were you doing when you heard the news?

It’s a news that we knew was inevitable but still it stings us with surprise and sadness.

I mean she was the longest reigning monarchy! 70 yrs of rule🙌🏽 and yet that doesn’t seem quite enough.

Most of us have known her as Queen of the commonwealth for all of our lives.

It just feels weird to have that reality be different now.

Again , we are reminded of the seasons of change , for change is the only thing constant about life.

Change always happens.

Truth is Queen Elizabeth was beloved by so many!

My dear friends and I are even more grateful that we made our first trip to the London Buckingham Palace during our spring break circa 2002. I am also grateful that DH* and I visited again during our very first international trip as a couple

Queen Elizabeth embodied courage and loyalty which are human characteristics that inspire us .

So where were you when you heard the news today?

My kids heard it during the 6th period at school today.

I heard the news of her passing while I chatted on the phone with my MIL ( Mother in law) during my after school activities mom taxi runs😅

My MIL and I connected (yet again ) on our common admiration of this queen of many decades. My MIL is really is our local STL Queen with her many wonderful qualities ♥️

Truth is that, we need Queens in our lives , people who inspire us to be courageous, graceful, have impeccable taste in clothing and jewelry , loyal and above all , LOVING.

Queens with those qualities bring HOPE to humanity, no matter the seasons of our lives.

I am grateful for all the Queens in my life.

Rest in glory your royal highness 🙏🏾 Queen Elizabeth II.

As always, thank you for visiting and reading my blog and of course I welcome your comments and any shared experiences .

Just find and click on the “follow” icon,, enter your email address so you can get notifications on future blog posts via email and not miss out !💕

(*DH Darling husband)

Football Nail clipping

Our 13 yr old twins now play football!

Yes “American “ football! …Complete with tackles and hits😳

The interest began last fall at the invitation of the football coach after they participated in the school’s summer football camp.

I reluctantly agreed while swallowing my nervousness about my own fears of them getting hurt, since football seemed to me like such a physical sport😏.

I mean you have people literally charging FULL throttle and throwing their bodies FULL on at one another , in quest of this brown and white oblong shaped object ,prized on the football fields.

I conceded and they have played and loved every minute especially all the way to winning the championship game last year!

Of course once they tasted a winning team , naturally they wanted to continue playing football this year.

So we signed them up.

More 7th grade boys apparently felt the same and the team has now amassed so many new members this school year.

Some whose parents could no longer resist their young boys’ pleas to let them play. They too threw up their white flags and braced themselves for the football rides.

The excitement for the football team at school has been building all summer !

Football practices began and our boys have been playing daily since the latter part of summer break and are still loving this crazy physical sport … their football passion is honestly competing with their long term ice hockey commitment.

We’ll see…

Finally this morning was the day of the football jamboree!! It’s the official unofficial first games of the season.

So this morning we woke up early and I drove with our boys all the way down to Washington Missouri for their first football jamboree while DH managed the score boards at our youngest daughter’s ice hockey game in town.

We really have to divide and conquer with our busy family schedule😅

My muse for this blog post was really what occurred as soon as I announced to our sleepy sons who had fallen asleep on the ride that we had reached our destination for the jamboree about an hour after we set out for Washington Missouri.

As they got out of the car and began to gather their protective chest pads and helmets, I noticed one of them grab a nail clipper he brought along with him and started to trim his nails.

Since we were in a hurry, I offered to help him to speed us along.

While I trimmed A’s nails as we both stood in the parking lot facing the car’s open trunk, I was moved by his reasons for needing to trim his nails right before the football jamboree.

A said he wanted to make sure he didn’t scratch anyone with his nails during the games. A beaming smile came across my face as I was grateful for this child’s caring heart!♥️

Even though he was about to go out on that field to make tackles and hits (or whatever other physical tactics is involved in this game of football that I am still a learning novice at , lol), …..his good natured self wanted to make sure his nails did not accidentally hurt other players?

There in that parking lot, dressed in all that football padded and almost taller than me now, he was still my baby !

He was letting me help trim his nails, which for he and I , was one of our bonding activities for so many years until his preteen self felt that he had “ outgrown” needing his mother’s help with nail clippers.

I loved helping him trim his nails and I absolutely love his caring heart!

They both had a great time on the field and I cheered excitedly for good plays and winced when players got sacked 😳

I prayed for protection for ALL the babies turned preteens and teens out there on the fields and ice rinks or whatever other sports folks are playing.

And Yup! We’re still playing American football 🏈 🤷🏽‍♀️🙌🏽🙏🏾🥰 and loving it!

Do you have any special bonding traditions with your loved ones?

Feel free to share if you’d like, and if you don’t have any, it is never too late to start some 😍

As always, thank you for reading my blog and of course I welcome your comments and any shared experiences . Please feel free to also “follow” by clicking the follow icon, so you can get notifications on future blog posts and not miss out !💕

*DH ( darling husband)