Monday, February 20, 2012
The last time I posted, I'd just found out that my father had pancreatic cancer just 7 days before. He went into the hospital on January 14th.
He died on January 24th. I think I stuck to my plan up until about the 18th. I'm not sure what I weigh. I haven't paid attention when I go to treatment, but I know I need to get back on again.
I am an emotional eater and during the days following the funeral, I ate, ate, ate. There were so many things to choose from, it was pointless to try.
I was very close to him and though it was very hard for me to go through those last days with him, I wouldn't trade them for the world.
In September my parents remarried after two decades of being apart and I joked that I'd been his daughter longer than my mother had been his wife. That was in the beginning, when I thought he'd just have a couple of surgeries, get chemo/radiation and go home.
Never in a million years would I think that I'd go into February without my Daddy.
He'd started complaining about his stomach hurting back in September. He was going through some things and we all thought it was stress. His appetite wasn't great. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good. He went into November eating ok. Well I think he did. I was at work during most of the times he would have eaten. He ate a decent plate for Thanksgiving. By this time, he'd lost 25 pounds and I told him that he really needed to go to counseling or something because I didn't like what the stress was doing to him. Still all the while, he complained of his stomach hurting.
He'd been to the doctor a couple of times, but each time the doctor said there was nothing wrong. From September to January, the same...In January, his appetite declined rapidly. He'd started drinking Boost just so he could get some nutrition.
Then he decided one day that he was going to go to the ER and he wasn't going to leave until they found what was wrong. When they did a CT Scan, they found a mass in his pancreas. A few days later, it was determined to be cancerous.
They gave him 6 months to a year. Well, we thought that a lot can be accomplished in 6 months to a year, namely treatment and cure.
Unfortunately, he spent most of the next week in bed. They'd given him a prescription for the pain and it made him sleep almost around the clock. By the following Friday, he was unable to walk without help. By Saturday morning, he was unable to walk at all. The pain was too much and because he'd been in bed, his legs too weak. We found out later that he'd been dehydrated for some time and his liver had shut down as had his kidneys.
He went to the hospital that day, never to return to his earthly home.
The first week he was joking and talking to everyone who came to visit. I didn't keep tabs, but I'd bet there were at least 50 people who came to see him from the time visiting hours started to the time they ended. There were only supposed to be 2 visitors at a time, but at any given time there were 4-6.
I remember when he had a couple of strokes in 2004, we kept a notebook for people to sign because a lot of times he was asleep and people just wanted him to know they'd come by. When he went home, there were over 200 names in it. That didn't count the few days before we started it!
The following week he began to slow down. I was still hoping for a miracle. He stopped talking so much, but he never stopped listening. People would come in and whisper questions to us and without even opening his eyes, he'd answer.
The first team of doctors assigned to him were awful. They came in talking at him, full of doom and gloom and telling him well he could try this treatment, but it probably wouldn't work and things like that. One doctor was talking and asked a question and when one of us answered instead of my Dad, he physically waved his hand, brushing off the responder. The same fool went so far as to tell him, well if you choose no treatment and you begin to die, this, this and this will happen and you will close your eyes and it will be very peaceful. WHAT?!?!? Really!?!?! Uh, hell no. The prognosis may not be good, but dammit, we're going to be positive to the end!
I got rid of those doctors and got a new team in. They didn't say anything any different, but they sure said it a different way and were willing to try treatment if he wanted to.
He was willing to try dialysis to possibly get his kidneys working so that he could withstand radiation to shrink the tumor and possibly have it removed, but the dialysis was too much. It left him very weak and his will to stay alive was just gone. He was ready to go be with Jesus.
That Sunday he said he didn't want to do any more treatment. So they just gave him medicine to make him as comfortable as possible.
Monday they moved him up to the hospice floor. Tuesday as he began to decline, the nurse told me to call in the family. I never let go of his hand as I called my sister and put the phone to his ear so she could say goodbye. We called brothers to come. He took his last breath around 3:13, but to the amazement of the nurses, he kept a pulse until my brothers got there and his heart didn't stop beating until each of us were there.
The following week was a whirlwind. Making arrangements, notifying people, etc. What I found out, that I didn't know, was that my father was a mentor to sooooo many young men throughout their lives. He ws only 65, but there were young men in their 50's down to their teens who said that at any given time they could and had come to him for advice or whatever and he'd impacted their lives in some manner.
My father was no celebrity, but his funeral could easily have been mistaken for that of one. The church held 700+ and it was standing room only. They had to finally close the doors to the visitation because it had gone 30 minutes past the allotted time and there was still a line around the block.
It was a joyful homegoing service and he'd been very specific about what he wanted. We stuck to that to the letter.
There was a beautiful graveside ceremony at the National Cemetery where he was laid to rest.
It's easy to see now that despite everything that happened, God had His hand in it the whole time.
My father was able to see or speak to every single person he wanted to speak to before he left this earth and I have two very special people who walked with me every step of the way.
This is a time when you really find who is and who isn't there for you and that was made extremely evident.
To those who were there, including my Urbansoulz Family, who had a radio show every single night that I was able to listen to and never feel alone, I'm eternally grateful...
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Seems like my life's destiny is to be a homie, other, friend. The song calls it homie, lover, friend and I once had someone call me that exact thing about a month before he threw me under the relationship bus.
Anyway, a homie, other, friend is what I feel I am. It seems that all I find are one sided relationships, but I find the greatest male friends who seem to depend on me to be their "emotional girlfriend".
I'm the one that so many of my male friends can open up to. The one they can share their innermost feelings to and I won't look at them any differently.
What some of these conversations have caused however, is for me to see the true person they are and I really dig that person. It leaves me wanting more...I have opened up to some of these friends and I've really fallen for them.
A couple that I've had a connection with are so strong, it was like we're one. To have a connection with someone so strong is an awesome thing. In my mind, it's the kind of thing soulmates are made of, except....
The feelings are never mutual.
Where that leaves me many times, is feeling emotionally robbed.
I've got to find a happy medium or stop opening myself up to this kind of hurt because it's causing me to question myself. To wonder what's wrong with me, that I'm not worthy of a whole relationship?
I have prayed about it, wondering if perhaps this is what I'm supposed to do professionally.
Still waiting to hear on that.
I've also prayed about what it is I'm doing or not doing, that I haven't been blessed with one of these "soulmate" relationships of my own. Still waiting on that one too.
It sure hurts though, so I guess until I get an answer I'll just guard my heart a little more...
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Patricia Roberts Harris was the second cousin of my grandmother.
Patricia Roberts Harris (May 31, 1924 – March 23, 1985) served as United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (which office later became United States Secretary of Health and Human Services) in the administration of President Jimmy Carter. She was the first African American woman to serve as a United States Ambassador, representing the U.S. in Luxembourg under President Lyndon B. Johnson, and the first to enter the line of succession to the Presidency.
Patricia Roberts was born in Mattoon, Illinois, and was the daughter of a railroad dining car waiter. She graduated summa cum laude from Howard University in 1945. While at Howard, she was elected Phi Beta Kappa, and she also participated in one of the nation's first lunch counter sit-ins, in 1943. There she met William Beasley Harris, a member of the Howard law faculty; they were married in 1955. She did postgraduate work at the University of Chicago and at American University in 1949. Until 1953, she worked as Assistant Director of the American Council on Human Rights. She was the first national executive of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, of which she was a member. Roberts later received her J.D. from the George Washington University National Law Center in 1960, ranking number one out of a class of 94.
Attorney Harris worked briefly for the U.S. Department of Justice before returning, in 1961, to Howard University as an associate dean of students and law lecturer at Howard's law school. In 1963, she was elevated to a full professorship and, in 1969, she was named Dean of Howard University's School of Law.
Her first position with the U.S. government was as an attorney in the appeals and research section of the criminal division of the Department of Justice in 1960. There she met and struck up a friendship with Robert Kennedy, the new attorney general. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy appointed her co-chairman of the National Women's Committee for Civil Rights.
In 1964, Patricia Harris was elected a delegate to the Democratic National Convention from the District of Columbia. She worked in Lyndon Johnson's presidential campaign and seconded his nomination at the 1964 Democratic Convention. Soon after his victory, President Johnson appointed her Ambassador to Luxembourg from 1965 to 1967. Following her service as Dean of Howard's School of Law from 1969 to 1972, she joined one of Washington, D.C.'s most prestigious law firms.
In 1971, Harris was named a director of IBM. She was the first African American woman to serve on the board.
She continued making an impact on the Democratic Party when, in 1972, she was appointed chairman of the credentials committee and a member-at-large of the Democratic National Committee in 1973. A testimony to her effectiveness and her commitment to excellence came when President Jimmy Carter appointed her to two cabinet-level posts during his administration.
Harris was appointed to the cabinet of President Jimmy Carter when he took office in 1977. She thus became the first African American woman to enter the Presidential line of succession, at number 13. Between 1977 and 1979 she served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and in 1979, she became Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare.
After the Department of Education Organization Act came into force on May 4, 1980, the educations functions of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare were transferred to the Department of Education. Harris remained as Secretary of the renamed Department of Health and Human Services until Carter left office in 1981. Because the department had merely changed names, as opposed to disbanding with new department being created, she did not face Senate confirmation again after the change.
Harris unsuccessfully ran for Mayor of Washington, D.C., in 1982, losing the September 14 primary election that year to incumbent mayor Marion Barry. That year, she was appointed a full-time professor at the George Washington National Law Center, a position she served in until her death from breast cancer on March 23, 1985, at the age of 60. She is interred at Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
I can't even remember the first time I met Tony. He stopped through at our family reunion in Fulton, Missouri. Tony is a first cousin to my cousins and always tries to make our family events. It wasn't until recently that I found out that a friend and former P.E. teacher went to college and played football with him at the University of Missouri.
He's a real sweetheart, even if he did play for the Saints (I kid! I kid!)
Tony Dale Galbreath (born January 24, 1954 in Fulton, Missouri) is a former American football running back in the National Football League for the New Orleans Saints, the Minnesota Vikings, and the New York Giants. He played college football at the University of Missouri and was drafted in the second round of the 1976 NFL Draft.
Tony Galbreath was an All-Big Eight running back for the Missouri Tigers in 1974. He was elected team captain for the 1975 season. He still ranks among the Tigers' all-time leading rushers, despite the fact that he played just two years of football after transferring from Indian Hill (Iowa) Junior College.
Galbreath was a rookie in 1976 with the New Orleans Saints and was part of the "Thunder and Lightning" backfield along with Saints' first round pick Chuck Muncie. Galbreath quickly became one of the top pass-catching running backs in the NFL. As a rookie, he was the NFL's sixth leading receiver. In 1978, his third season with the Saints, he finished second in the NFL in receiving. He played with the Saints for five seasons, and when he left the Saints, he was #2 in all-time rushing yards for the team.
Galbreath was traded to the Minnesota Vikings in 1981. He played three years for the Vikings, primarily as a pass-catching back and blocker. He went to the New York Giants in 1984, essentially fulfilling the same role. He played four seasons with the Giants, including the 1986 season in which the Giants won the Super Bowl and Tony was the team's second leading receiver. He retired after the 1987 season as the most prolific pass-catching running back in NFL history.
Galbreath was enshrined in the University of Missouri Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995. Galbreath was enshrined in the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame in 1991.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Bonnie is a second cousin on my father's side of the family. My grandfather and her mother were brother and sister. Cousin Bonnie, for as long as I can remember, has been on top of Corporate America. She has an awesome resume, sitting on many boards as a director.
Cousin Bonnie is the president of B. Hill Enterprises, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in corporate governance and board organization. She is also co-founder of Icon Blue, a brand marketing company.
From 1997 to 2001, she was president and CEO of Times Mirror Foundation and senior vice president, communications and public affairs, of The Los Angeles Times.
Prior to four years as Dean of the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia (1993-96), Hill was a cabinet member serving California Governor Pete Wilson and Director of the U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs in the George H.W. Bush administration. She later chaired the Consumer Affairs Advisory Board at the SEC.
She is a director of AK Steel Holdings Corp., Home Depot, Inc. and Yum Brands, Inc. She was formerly a director of Hershey Foods Corporation. She is a director of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Investor Education Foundation, a member of the Investors Advisory Group of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, and trustee of the RAND Corporation.
In 1997, she was honored by Dominion, as a Strong Men and Women award recipient and they include the following biography on their site:
Bonnie Guiton Hill, Ph.D.
On July 1, 1992, Bonnie Guiton Hill became the third dean of the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia. Before joining the McIntire School of Commerce, Dean Hill was a member of Governor Pete Wilson's cabinet in California.
She served President Bush as Special Adviser for Consumer Affairs and Director of the United States Office of Consumer Affairs. Dr, Hill headed the Organization on Economic Cooperation and Development's Committee on Consumer Policy. During the Reagan administration, Dean Hill served as Assistant Secretary in the Department of Education and Vice-Chair of the Postal Rate Commission.
Prior to moving to Washington, D.C., Dean Hill was a vice president with Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation in Oakland, California, having also served as Assistant Dean of Student Services and Lecturer at Mills College in Oakland, California.
Years ago, her teachers at McClymonds High School in Oakland, California may have had reservations about her chances to succeed, Hill persevered because several teachers including Ms. Powell, her English teacher, encouraged her to be strong and to stay in school.
Dean Hill received a bachelor's degree in psychology from Mills College, a master's in educational psychology from California State University at Hayward, and her doctorate in higher education from the University of California at Berkeley, Her dissertation analyzed a successful partnership between private industry and business education.
In 1971, during her first year at Mills College in California, her husband had a massive heart attack, and she nursed him back to health while working a full time job and caring for their infant daughter.
Hill remained in school and earned her bachelor's degree in three years, her masters degree the next year, and 10 years later her doctorate, Hill's colleagues describe her as an inspirational whirlwind.
She realizes that her success is living proof that "as a result of much support from friends and family, you can take a little black girl out of the streets of Oakland and find that she can successfully move in diplomatic circles at all levels, including the White House."
Tonika is the daughter of my former P.E. teacher. She was just a little tyke when I met her. We graduated from the same high school. I was very proud to see what she's become.
She was the first black female to graduate from Central Missouri State University with a B.S. degree in Aviation Technology. She has written a children's book about her job. Below is the biography that can be found on her site for the book http://www.nikkitheairlinepilot.com
I am a native of Springfield, Illinois. I became interested in aviation at a young age. My first flying lesson was during my senior year as a student at Southeast High School. Through a youth aviation program, I completed my first solo flight. Each summer while in college, I worked various internships with airlines and the Illinois Department of Transportation. The internships allowed me to promote aviation education.
In 1994, I became the first black female to graduate from Central Missouri State University with a B.S. degree in Aviation Technology. After graduation, I went to work for the Houston Airport Management System while working as a flight instructor for a small airport. In 2000, after earning numerous flight hours, I was hired by CC Air, Inc. The US Airways Express subsidiary gave me an opportunity to fly a19 passenger aircraft throughout the southeastern United States. Shortly after, I participated in the company's jet training program. Two years later, I became the first black female jet captain to work for the company and began flying 86 passenger jets throughout the United States. Advancement to Allegiant Airlines allowed me to fly a larger aircraft, a McDonnell Douglas (MD80), throughout the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean.
In my spare time, I volunteer in many communities, promoting aviation education and participating in reading programs worldwide. "Nikki The Airline Pilot” was created after I became involved in a school’s “I Can Read Program.” The main objective of the book is to expose as many children as I can to aviation while emphasizing the importance of reading.
This one of a kind book is written for first and second graders. Although there is at least one non-fiction book in most school libraries that speak of Bessie Coleman, Amelia Earhart or the Tuskegee Airmen, this book gives the reader a glimpse of the main character (author) working on the job. To date, there are no other aviation books that have been written by a black female pilot discussing the day to day operations of a flight from a pilot’s perspective. As the book is distributed, the goal is to empower young people (especially girls) to seek people of character to identify with as they grow up. Hopefully, books such as “Nikki The Airline Pilot” will aid in developing positive, productive people.
Monday, February 6, 2012
I've not really been in much of a blogging mood. I'm dealing with a lot of emotions with losing my father, but I realized seeing and speaking with so many people the past few weeks, that I have seen Black History up close and personal, many being family members.
I will share until I run out of people to share.
I met Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery when I went to Atlanta for a HUD conference, back in 2008. I took a picture with him, but it is so tiny, it's pointless to share here. He is a very outspoken man and struck me as very kind.
The kind of history he represents is awesome. Here is some information on Rev. Dr. Lowery.
Joseph Echols Lowery (born October 6, 1921) is a minister in the United Methodist Church and leader in the American civil rights movement. He later became the third president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, after Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and his immediate successor, Rev. Dr. Ralph David Abernathy, and participated in most of the major activities of the African-American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
In 2004, Rev. Dr. Lowery was honored at the "International Civil Rights Walk of Fame" at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, located in Atlanta, Georgia. According to the National Park Service, the Walk of Fame was created "to give recognition to those courageous soldiers of justice who sacrificed and struggled to make equality a reality for all.
Joseph E. Lowery was born to LeRoy and Dora Lowery on October 6, 1921. He attended middle school in Chicago while staying with relatives, but he returned toHuntsville, Alabama, to complete high school. He next attended the Knoxville College and Alabama A&M College, before finishing his bachelor of arts degree at Paine College in Augusta, Georgia. Lowery next entered the Paine Theological Seminary to become a Methodist minister. Rev. Lowery is a member of Alpha Phi Alphafraternity.
Later on, he completed a doctorate of divinity degree at the Chicago Ecumenical Institute. He married Evelyn Gibson in 1950, a civil rights activist and leader in her own right. She is the sister of the late Rev. Dr. Harry Gibson an activist, and Elder member of the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church, Chicago Area.
Dr. and Mrs. Lowery have three daughters: Yvonne Kennedy, Karen Lowery, and Cheryl Lowery-Osborne.
American civil rights career
Lowery was pastor of the Warren Street United Methodist Church, in Mobile, Alabama from 1952 until 1961. His career in the civil rights movement began in the early 1950s in Mobile, Alabama. After Rosa Parks' arrest in 1955, Lowery helped lead the Montgomery bus boycott. He headed the Alabama Civic Affairs Association, an organization devoted to the desegregation of buses and public places. In 1957, along with Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr. Lowery founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and subsequently led the organization as its president from 1977 to 1997.
Lowery's property was seized in 1959 along with that of other civil rights leaders by the State of Alabama as part of the settlement of a libel suit. The Supreme Court of the United States later ordered this court decision to be reversed. At the request of Dr. King, Lowery led the Selma to Montgomery march of 1965. Lowery is a co-founder and former president of the Black Leadership Forum, a consortium of Black advocacy groups. This Forum protested the existence of Apartheid in South Africa from the mid-1970s through the end of the white-minority rule there. Joseph Lowery was among the first five Black men to be arrested outside the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C., during the Free South Africa movement. Lowery served as the pastor of Cascade United Methodist Church in Atlanta from 1986 through 1992, adding over a thousand members and leaving the church with 10 acres (40,000 m2) of land.
Lowery is now retired from the ministry, but he remains active in the civil rights movement and in Christian activities.
To honor Reverend Lowery, the city government of Atlanta renamed Ashby Street for him. Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard is just west of downtown Atlanta and runs north-south beginning at West Marietta Street near the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology and stretching to White Street in the "West End" neighborhood, running past Atlanta's Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Clark Atlanta University,Spelman College, Morehouse College, and Morris Brown College. Perhaps not coincidentally, this street intersects both Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive and the Ralph David Abernathy Expressway.
Reverend Joseph E. Lowery has received several awards. The NAACP gave him an award at its 1997 convention for, "dean of the civil rights movement," and Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also received theMartin Luther King Jr. Center Peace Award and the National Urban League's Whitney M. Young, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. Ebony has named him one of the 15 greatest black preachers, describing him as, "the consummate voice of biblical social relevancy, a focused voice, speaking truth to power.” Lowery has also received several honorary doctorates from colleges and universities including, Dillard University, Morehouse College, Alabama State University, University of Alabama in Huntsville, and Emory University. Lowery was Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama on July 30, 2009.He was also given the Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute that year.
Coretta Scott King's funeral and controversy
In 2006, at Coretta Scott King's funeral, Dr. Lowery received a standing ovation when he remarked before four U.S. Presidents in attendance:
We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there. But Coretta knew and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor!
Conservative observers claimed his comments were inappropriate in a setting meant to honor the life of Mrs. King, especially considering President Bush was present at the ceremony. None of Mrs. King's family has objected to Lowery's words.
President Barack Obama's inauguration benediction
On January 20, 2009, Dr. Lowery delivered the benediction at the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America. He opened with lines from "Lift Every Voice and Sing," also known as "The Negro National Anthem," by James Weldon Johnson. He concluded with the following, an interpolation of Big Bill Broonzy's "Black, Brown and White":
Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get [in] back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. Let all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen! Say Amen! And Amen! 
A number of commentors criticized this final passage, accusing it of being "divisive"  and "racialist." Reporters in attendance called the passage a mocking of racial stereotypes, and said that the crowd received it with good humor.[
Information can be read with footnotes here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Lowery