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 .

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*DH ( darling husband)

*Dedes( Uncles ) Dadas(Aunties)

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 )

She Was Gifted A Peacock!💕

The Actual Argentinian Peacock

We are from eastern Nigeria and the holidays are a big time of merriment and social connections.

Growing up., my cousins all gathered in from the different cities where they resided, each of the families heading towards the village- THIS is where all the exciting of the holidays happen.🤗

As Christians, Christmas and Easter where the big holidays , but truth be told our parents also would bring us home to the village for the African traditional holiday of “ Iri ji” aka Yam festival in August. This was in celebration of the Harvest season.

As a child, I relished the times spent in the village during the holidays! Everything seemed electric with all the excitement from all the city dwellers now “ bubbling” through the typically quiet rural farming country sides.

There were lots of lingering and the times were spent visiting relatives and just BEING.

People visited in laws and friends alike , with typically NO AGENDA.

Some times the visits were accomplished by just a stroll to the next village compound , while other visits required long rides in the car on dusty unpaved roads that left your body wobbled with the “ African massage”or nauseated from the bumpy roads .

Either way, once you reached your destination, it was typically full of WARMTH ❤️

Long warm embraces and gifts were typically exchanged . The hosts naturally made such a big fuss about presenting various food delicacies , beginning with presentation of kolanuts to their guests.

As an adult now living in the US, I do miss this precious tradition of fellowship.

My cousins and I are no longer able to all gather in the village for holidays like we did in the past . We deem ourselves very lucky when we can afford to coordinate visits to our home village for any joyous occasion like the holidays.

So in Dec 2021 when my Aunt was spending the holidays in her village, her daughter who is my dear cousin, shared updates and pictures of the trip with me .

One of the pictures she shared was a picture of BEAUTIFUL peacock with it’s feather spread so proudly. It immediately caught my eye and peaked my curiosity … for a peacock in the village is a rare sight .

Then she told me that her mother ( my Aunt ) was just gifted a PEACOCK from Argentina ,during her visit to her sister in law’s home.

I LOVED every bit of that story for so many reasons … OFCOURSE she was gifted an exotic beautiful bird, from her sister in law!

The truth is , she DESERVED such a beautiful gift because she IS beautiful.

I have thought about this charming gift so many times from so many angles … it is a lovely gesture that speaks to the CALIBER of a woman she is . It speaks to the beautiful relationship she has been able to build with her in laws, that they saw her fitting of such a gorgeous exotic bird as a gift.

Truthfully, She IS ELEGANT as a peacock , with her delicate yet proud strides.

It was an all around Beautiful gesture that highlights the wonderful traditions we were lucky to experience growing up in Eastern Nigeria.

In Igbo language, we say “ Mmadu Ka Aku” which translates to Human relations are more valuable than riches!💕

Ultimately, I hope that the people in your lives find you valuable enough to think that you too deserve gifts of a beautiful Peacock ( figuratively speaking ofcourse lol)

Now , now.., don’t despair if you’re not quite there yet. Keep working on developing your BEST self that someday will earn YOU, your own version of a BEAUTIFUL PEACOCK!❤️

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 button, so you can get notifications on future blog posts💕