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 💔
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.
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.
This gift of love and acceptance has therefore abounded exponentially in my life in so many angles.
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.
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♥️🙏🏾
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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.
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.
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! .
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙏🏾♥️
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.
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”.
How do you respond to compliments about your children?.. Aww thanks, OR that’s sweet of you to say, OR yes we’re lucky they’re great kids, OR we thank God for his blessings? etc etc
All of these are appropriate response in my opinion, however I especially like to return the praise to GOD.
You see, last week a dear friend was going to be one of the leaders of the music ministry at a local Parish’s VBS (Vacation Bible School) . The theme of the VBS week was Champions For Christ.
This friend had inquired about having our oldest daughter assist her in teaching the VBS younglings. After I wrote her to inform her that she was already committed elsewhere that week, a lightbulb moment occurred to me!
It went something like this in my head…. “Well she couldn’t do it Buhhh , what if our younger three ALL could?.. I mean why not send our twin 12 yr old boys with very little dancing experience, to lead music and dance ministry at VBS?…..
“I mean ,sure , they played little Joseph In the musical Joseph and the technicolor dream coats years ago,that ought to count for something right? Besides, they will have their younger sister who is mostly a “grandma” with her 12 yr old wisdom and her fantastic dancethletics ( I know , I know it’s not a real word lol)😉 shepherding them.”
My friend jumped on the idea once I shared it with her, maybe because she was part desperate for helpers to help her teach those random praise songs and dances she was charged with teaching preschoolers to 2nd graders, OR just a lovely friend and a great supporter of our family. I personally vote for the latter.
In any case, she bought and loved the idea and I was thrilled to unglue my kids’ eyes off their video games and TVs and get my three tweens out of the house for a few hours each day that week!
A few hours after I dropped them off bright and early , the first morning, ofcourse not before I double checked that no one forgot their deodorant or water bottles. I began settling into my clinic when I got the most lovely surprise.
It was a text , filled with compliments for my kids! I have to be honest with you , my dear readers..I was glowing internally, because in my humble opinion… As parent , OUR Children can truly be OUR biggest compliment in life .
Throughout the week, the compliments kept pouring in, at times extended from people I hadn’t even met! , who told my friend, how much our children were blessing them, and how well behaved they were … HEAD SWOON☺️
Then came this layer of awakening, …I began to wonder whether I was surprised by the compliments?.. not entirely. Then I wondered if I too , give my children the evidence of my TOTAL belief in THEIR abilities consistently?.. hmm🤔. The truth is that as a mother , I find myself charged with DUTY.. duty to raise good citizens of the world. This is a duty I take very seriously, heck I even make my living (as a Child and Adolescents Psychiatris) helping others raise good citizens for our world.
However sometimes, DUTY can drown us from perspective. We forget to be PRESENT to all the good that is already around us, all the yield that our DUTY is already producing. We keep focusing on doing more and more, including inspecting for water bottles and double checking that deodorants have been applied lol.
It could be like missing the forest for the trees!
Well, this week’s Catheletics VBS at Incarnate Word Parish , reminded me to be MINDFUL of my yield as a mother . I am very grateful to be raising young citizens of the world whose inner light shines bright, even when I am not right there MOTHERING them. I am also grateful that they seem to be humble to their abilities too.
Therefore , I have received those compliments graciously AND return the praise to the one who made ALL of this possible…GOD!
Ultimately, VBS ended with a bang! Catchy songs and dances were learned by so many younglins ( and hopefully by some young at heart folks too), my lovely friend and her colleagues, did a fantastic job leading an amazing music ministry at VBS , our children got to spend more time together and grew closer this week – an unexpected gift all around!
I must say, I had hoped the week would go well, however I mostly trusted without any real evidence that our kids will emerge as real Champions for Christ. This was total bonus!
Of course they’re not perfect (yet)lol, but they danced , served as techno guy for audiovisual and bogeyed for Christ, all while mentoring young ones in the process.
I marvel at how the orderer of the universe knows EXACTLY what we need and when. We certainly ALL needed the JOYS and WINS that came from this week’s VBS.
My DH * and I very proud of our kid’s hard work and service to others this week.
Dear reader, when was the last time you took a chance and leaped with trust? How do you respond to compliments of yourself or your children , if you have them? Where is your perspective taking lens these days? I sure hope it’s PRESENT to all the blessings around you , versus muddled with DUTY.
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 finding and clicking the follow icon, makes it easier to share these musings with you and ensures that you can get notifications on future blog posts and not miss out !💕
Those were the words I exchanged in a text with a long time friend who informed me that my younger sister had just called to check on her. She said that they had literally stayed on the phone with eachother for almost 4 hrs, the whole time while my sister drove from Dallas to Houston. Ofcourse hands free, …uh..thank you fancy car Bluetooth phones!😚
Some of you know that I attended an international boarding school in Eastern Nigeria, West Africa from age 11 yrs to 16yrs. Our pioneer class comprised of about 120 other, same aged coed peers literally released into the jungles of Uturu to fend for and find our selves in life through education and social growth. Life brought us all together when we were “ green”. For most of us , this was our first time sleeping away from the security of our family homes.
I still recall my first night at the international boarding school, the memories so vivid in my mind’s eye. The school had officially started March 1st , but I didn’t get back from our family vacation in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia , till about two weeks after the school had commenced. So technically I was a “ pioneer “ in quotations..shh!
My father and our driver De Peter dropped me off close to the dusk on that day , settled me as quickly as they could , and bid me farewell to make their almost 2 hrs car ride back home to the town of Aba, through many bad roads.
I was surrounding by lots of same aged girls in my Dormitory C, but I was already starting to feel lonely. Perhaps something about night time already approaching and me having to set up my bed tent before it was “lights out “ felt daunting to me.
As I made my bed in this open concept dorm hall, friendly eyes met mine. Some initiated small talks, some asked if I needed help, one girl even had such a high emotional IQ to inquire whether I was homesick..wow! ( hopefully she became a physician too)
Quickly we all took to each other , you see with our shared experiences it was easy to bond in this jungle away from the comforts of our homes.
My first night in boarding school, there was raucous sizzling in another nearby girls dorm . A girl was being bullied for expressing she had a crush on a handsome mixed race boy, which clearly was a NO, NO because you see, that boy was already “ claimed” by another girl. A girl much bigger than most of us. I suppose that automatically gave her first dips on Guy Crushes 🤷🏽♀️.
They eventually settled the qualms and folks settled on their crushes (mostly nicely) without stepping on too many toes , and life continued…
I spent five intriguing years in the jungles of Uturu , with boys and girls who have become the best of my friends through the years. We grew from our simple young selves to become sophisticated adults , enduring numerous adversities including managing ourselves without electricity and running water . One of our most endearing hardships was having to hike miles to bath and fetch buckets of water from Lake Chinyere.
Our bonding occurred across genders, there were even marriages that came from these friendships. Some of these girls have became like my own sister for life!
Personally, I was blessed with only one birth sister, and she IS truly my best friend, a sister worth a million sisters! ❤️
Therefore, I have a very high taste in sisterhood lol, which means that the women in my life whom I consider as sisters are truly SPECIAL beings. I have also appreciated the value of having sisters across races and spanning many ages, as I get to be nurtured by others’ wisdom , and in turn give back to my younger “ sisters” too.
As adults we now gather as Mothers, Doctors, Lawyers, Financial experts,Social workers, Nurses, Actresses etc. We mostly gather as sisters , supporting , loving and celebrating each other through life’s struggles and triumphs.
My community of sisterhood is a pivotal support in my life. Since my boarding school years, I have added numerous valuable gems as sister -friends in my life. My heart is so grateFUL❤️
Life is best lived in community! Find YOUR community and allow yourself to truly belong to it , giving yourself permission to be vulnerable and authentic.
Thankful for all those sisters in my life. You know who you are!😘
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💕