RED SPORTS CAR

1988 , “Ulo Nna” on Hospital Road, Aba, (old) Imo State was notorious for nostalgia and action .

Amidst all that trading action in Aba, sat our family (city) home.

There was never a dull moment on those streets of this bustling traders’ town in the eastern region of Nigeria.

Aba’s warm tropical breeze was stifled with the fumes from the engine exhausts of automobiles crowding the roads of this commercial city’s hustle and bustles.

Aba Ngwa! Is NOT a city for “mugus”(fools)

You have to be very “sharp” to inhabit this land and the children of Aba seem to be packed full of street smarts, straight from their mothers’ wombs.

My grandfather “Nna” was one of the first settlers from our village into Aba township, therefore he had choice property in the heart of the city’s trading posts- on Hospital road.

The house had been passed down to our father from our paternal grandfather Stephen , who moved from the rural village to this trading town Aba ,after becoming one of the first converts to Christianity , in order to pursue and expand his business.

The property on Hospital was really a “watering hole” for our family and so many others. The fronts of the yard were trading stores while the back of the building served as residence for our family and numerous relatives. There were several apartments but all shared a common “ yard” so everyone could easily be in everyone else’ business 😂

Relatives and family friends lived there until they were able to transition successfully to their own homes.

Hospital road had a buzz to it, with trading shops cramped next to eachother. There was always music blaring from record stores, cars honking in traffic and loud jocular conversations amongst traders.

Everyone seemed to always be in huge hurry in this West African town.

71 hospital road,Aba pic courtesy of ILO

The businesses were housed in “ sheds” which comprised of wooden stalls with brilliant artisans making incredible innovative goods for sale , automotive parts traders, import and export sheds, talented tailors creating traditional clothing while others were expert “okirika” traders **

There were always SO many varieties at the markets! A day spent at the local Ariaria market never disappointed, showcasing human interactions depicting life lessons in courage, resilience,humor , love and rivalry.

My Older brother would entertain for hours with these Ariaria market stories.

Aba picture from google

Most Aba roads were heavily crowded and there was a distinct smell of commercialism or maybe it was just those fumes from the over used , poorly constructed and maintained gutter drainage systems…eww!

Traders lined every street corners, forcefully hassling passersby to purchase this or that from them . Everywhere you looked some one was selling something!

Only very few areas in Aba attempted to prioritize residential plots. We felt lucky to have cousins in those suburbs. The irony is that we each likely fantasized about trading living spaces with one another, at times. The quiet of the suburbs with its’ loneliness and less mosquitoes, competed against the excitement of those crowded trading streets of Aba.

Aba
Picture from outdoors.ng

Living in these commercialized areas meant close interactions with loud mouthed traders. It was not unusual for traders to audaciously comment on outfit choices of passersby, at times cat calling the pretty women or detesting others inappropriately dressed asking them ,who exactly allowed them out of their gates that morning .

Some of these unsolicited comments were harsh and could cut deep into ones self esteem, while others were so complimentary that your ego swelled bigger than an ishi aki**

My sister and I are seven and nine year olds with neatly braided tight cornrows on our hair. Our younger brother, a boisterous five year old who was obsessed with the newest Mike Tyson haircut style would beg our mother to allow him to get same at the barber shop.

Our father had a never exhausting fountain of energy and fun stored within him. Dad always found a way to literally infuse FUN into even the most mundane activities. It was no surprise that he would offer us a JOYRIDE in his old red fiat convertible which we all fondly called “ THE SPORTS CAR” .

Dad with another red sports car – New Orleans 2012

Sports car was only driven on special occasions.

We especially enjoyed the ride when we were all piled high ,rooftop down, standing room only , as many cousins and siblings as could possibly pack into the small convertible.

Then it was showtime….let the fun and joyous screams commence!

We took the joyrides at dusk when the blazing warmth of the sun was gone , and took with it all those loud mouthed traders whose shops were now closed for the day’s hustle. The crowded streets became empty and creepily quiet.

Dad would thrill us with the car ride revving up his engine every once in a while, our hair tossing in the wind, specs of sand from the tarred road peppered our laughing faces as we held onto for our dear sweet life.

On some occasions, Dad gave permission for our driver DeePee to ride us around. Dee Pee drove EVEN faster😅

Life seemed so carefree back then as if it contained no real problems.

Now as I reminisce on these sweet carefree memories, I am forced to appreciate the imminent passage of time.

I am grateful to have had joyrides in the red sports car, for that patriarchal home on hospital road with its hustling neighborhood that help toughen my skin and has in turn made me more resilient.

However, you know what I’m MOST appreciative of ?…..my FAMILY – close and distant relatives whose lives have enriched my life and have contributed tremendously to these BELOVED memories 💕

Which sweet memories of your childhood do you have to share?

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

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

** okirika ( used clothing mostly from European countries for sale)

**ishi aki ( a large African fruit)

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

Alaska Calling

“ A girl like you should see the mountains” – those were the words he said to me while on our long telephone conversation .

You see we had just starting dating ,after our chance meeting at Ohare airport but we were separated by distance for the next several months until graduation. He was doing a sub internship in Alaska and I remained at my school in St Louis.

Not withstanding our busy schedules and the time zone differences, we made time for our evening long distance phone calls. This was before the days of cellular phones popularity , and he had let me borrow his bright green telephone with the longest rippled cords I had ever seen . The long cord allowed me flexibility to be able to walk around my townhouse while we chatted the night away.

We conversed about any and everything! This is one of the beauties of a new relationship. Each conversation is magical and everything is so brand new and intriguing. It’s a wonder we both were able to keep up with our personal daily obligations!

It was also during the Lenten season and as Catholics, it is commonplace to choose “ a Lenten obligation “- that year I decided on the challenge to say my rosary nightly. This was a complicated by my more natural inclination and enthusiasm to converse with my favorite human nightly .

I had shared my Lenten quest with him , and he decided he’d join me in praying the rosary nightly. I didn’t quite expect this , although I wholeheartedly welcomed his offer to join my nightly prayers.

Praying the rosary (a beautiful meditative prayer by the way, typically takes about twenty mins and is filled with many spiritual rewards . Most nights , we started strong and finished together.

However, there were also nights that my tired self was lured to sleep with the repetitious prayers, only to be awakened by the louder voice on the other end, announcing that “ we “ were done praying the rosary and it was indeed bedtime. You mean, you just let me “ finish “ the rosary and hopefully getting some credit for keeping “my” Lenten obligation for the day, all while catching some zzzs?.. wow! thank you!

I was starting to fall more and more in love with him!.

On a recent trip out west, I was exploring the google maps of the states as we drove our now family of six across many state lines. I remarked at just how far across the world Alaska seemed on the map. You see, incidentally I did take him up on his invitation for me to see the mountains of Alaska – over a weekend!

The truth is that I had Nooo idea that I had just agreed to travel almost half way around the world just for a weekend🤨

He was living and working in a remote part of Alaska , which also meant that he had to drive 8 hrs just to come pick me up from the Anchorage airport . Our reunion and time together was magical albeit too short , but totally worth it . We whale watched, hiked, listened to music, saw more wild life such as mountain goats , visited ski slopes and cliffs, dined and it all was pure bliss!

We packed a lot into barley 48hrs together and my only wish was that I could have seen the heavenly magical dance of the Aurora borealis too.

Almost 20 yrs later , and with our growing family, I would still make this “ crazy” decision to travel across the world to see mountains with you because you’re right … “ a girl like me should see the mountains…with you♥️

What “ crazy” gestures have you made for love – both young and old love?

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 !💕

Re Gathering

The world seems to have “ RE OPENED ”!

Regardless of whether you’re in the camp of believing the pandemic is over or not. It doesn’t seem to matter these days as Life goes on .

I have spoken to many people who are marveled at how full their social calendars are becoming PACKED again. Some are thrilled with excitement, while others had still a healthy dose of apprehension at all the upcoming reunions. In some ways, we have all lost some of our social muscles” from lack of use… we may even feel awkward at reconnecting, do we hug , shake or just nod in acknowledgment of the other? Hmm 🤔

Well, just like just like they say in show business – the show must go on! Ready or Not.

And so it did for us this past weekend!

You see , our oldest daughter was receiving her Confirmation into our Catholic Faith, a major milestone in the life of a Catholic . She was choosing to say YES to her faith-in her own way, as a young Catholic adult.

I must admit getting ready to host our first major gathering since the pandemic brought up interesting emotions. I had to prepare and talk about menus with caterers, get home ready, maybe finally make out time to plant my Lillie’s in the yard?.. after all it’s Spring for heavens sake lol.

Oh, and I didn’t forget to pick up the cake. Yes the one I didn’t order ahead of time but hit the jackpot in the refrigerator display of La bon bouche, with the perfectly decorated “Catholic” cake complete with even a rosary on top!!

To say the least, I was excited to have our home even more FULL with family and friends warming the rooms with their laughter and chatter.

Time does what it does best, it flies and by the time I knew it , It was Friday evening and I was on my way to picking up my parents from the airport. Unlike some people, we had been blessed to see our parents during the pandemic. We are very grateful and don’t take this for granted.

Ada’s confirmation was beautifully orchestrated by the hand of God! Details that only God could manage himself fell right into place … her sponsor ( my cousin by marriage n love) drove almost 7 hrs to arrive just in time – thanks to a surprise time zone change, she was actually EARLY!

She got prettied up after her drive and graciously offered to take our celebrant to church while we gathered the rest of the crew.

Church was PACKED! Parking was crazy but the cathedral basilica never fails to draw my AWE with its majestic bizantine architecture. You automatically feel closer to God in all the history so delicately narrated on its ceilings.

She was the most beautiful celebrant, and yes I am a biased momma.

As a mother, I have many prayers for my first earth Angel and today what I say to God is a big THANK YOU for the blessing of this child – turning young lady, and for the blessing and JOY of RE-gathering for my lovely family and friends!

How do you feel about life re opening these days? Have you gathered and for what reasons?

Here are a few pearls that may help make your next gathering more enjoyable and perhaps less daunting .

1) Consider yourself blessed to have the opportunity at life and having occasion to gather – gratitude is key!

2) Build up your excitement about whatever your occasion is.

3) Do your research- do you still need to wear masks or not, what’s the dress code?who are scheduled to be there ?

4) Show up, don’t take yourself too seriously and HAVE fun!!!

Please feel free to share your thoughts and accompanying emotions about our reopening world , if you dare..lol

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💕

Mountains or Oceans.. which holds your Awe?

Observing the tides crash onto the shores, while the ocean breeze powerfully claim its presence blowing and tossing hair and the likes apart.

The sun glistens on top of the blue gray sea, as its’ warmth provides a much needed balance from the chill of the ocean breeze.

There is wonder at the depth of the ocean, and the marvel of all the creatures that inhabit those deep dark waters. To think we have only discovered a very small fraction of the sea world!

I marvel at the creator of all this wonder!

Starring at the distance across the ocean while sitting on the sea shores watching kids at play , making sand castles and proud of the young at heart brave DH*, who agrees with their plan to be covered in beach sand! Lol

Observing children at play enriches the soul indeed.

I marvel at the idle time spent , with people just being!

The sea pelicans’ quick dive into the seas to grab a poor unsuspecting fish for snack, while sea gulls try their luck in finding food around the beach goers .

I marvel at nature’s carefreeness !

In some ways , it’s easier to observe the marvel atop the snow covered mountains.

The majestic presence of the mountains with peaks daring to reach the heavens.

The quiet stillness of the tall birch trees with those eyes that play peekaboo with skiers and snowboarders on their path.

I marvel at the daunting mountain slopes!

It’s incredible that skiing and snowboarding can provide such warmth even as one is surrounded by white powdered cold snow.

I marvel at the irony that one could be warmer on a snow capped mountain, than on a breezy sea at springtime!

Ultimately, I marvel at the giver of all these wonder, the creator of our universe .

The creator holds my Awe in all the infinite dimensions between the mountains and the oceans!

As always, thank you for reading my blog and the privilege of your time . Ofcourse 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💕

*DH ( Darling husband)