The Last Pair of Shoes

Happy New Year! I hope you all have had a wonderful first few weeks of 2018. Holidays bring so much excitement into our home that it seems to take the first half of the new month to get adjusted and back into the swing of things.

Honestly, I would have happily taken another few days off, but I couldn’t.

For the last week, my uncle has been begging me to talk to him. Incessantly pestering me. Do you know how annoying that is? He showed up in my dreams. When I should have been concentrating or working on something else, he would pop in and disrupt whatever train had been chugging along.

The last straw was a few nights ago, when I found myself dreaming of him, once again. It was time to do some super sleuthing. Well, not that much, because how hard can it be to gather information on a 7 year old boy?

Apparently, getting to know a 7 year old boy, whom several of your immediate family members knew, is actually pretty difficult.

Ancestry, of who I have come to rely on to pick up the sent, kept coming back to me empty-handed. I swear she just walked to the doors of her cavernous rooms, glanced around and then came back and said, “I didn’t see it.” I sent her back three or four times to double check and each time, it was the same, unapologetic response…

Family Search wasn’t much help, either, though it did return with a headstone picture. This would have been fantastic, if I hadn’t taken the picture.

Mom and Nana were of minimal help. When asked to tell me about him, both immediately began to describe for me his last months- the hospital stay, what he looked like at the time and his and their reactions to seeing him thusly.

 

Born on April 3, 1954, Edward Lothario Jackson was a happy boy. He loved running and playing outside, especially with his wagon. He probably played the most with my mom, because they were closest in age among all the children. He learned his recitations (poems Nana and Granddaddy selected for the children to memorize and then recite on request) fairly quickly and loved to recite those poems for anyone who would ask. Though he went to school very briefly- a single semester- he did very well and made good marks. He smiled a lot and was very loving. He was given the nick name (which is was only used by the family and surely would have faded away by the time he reached 10) of Turdy Boy- though no one could recall how he came to acquire such a name. Perhaps, as Nana suggested, it was because Lothario was so hard to pronounce or maybe they were teasing him because of his habit of thumb sucking.

According to mom, he resembled my brother a bit (an interesting tid-bit, because when he visited with me in my dreams, he had a cherub face-  mixture between my brother and the baby)

One morning, in March of 1961, he fell over as he got out of the bed. When Nana tried to help him stand up, he could not. He was taken to the only hospital in the area, Mary Washington, located in Fredericksburg, Virginia. There was only one pediatrician in the area and he called MCV, a bigger hospital, an hour south in Richmond. The consulting doctor came and the two concluded he was being affected by encephalitis or lead poisoning. It was suggested that he be transferred to the big hospital for treatment. This was not to be, as Nana and Granddaddy didn’t know anyone in Richmond, who they could stay with for the duration of his hospital stay. Instead, he went north to Children’s Hospital in Washington, DC.

Lothario's Shoes.jpg

These are Lothario’s last pair of shoes. Shoes, he would never outgrow and never wear again.

Almost immediately upon his arrival, doctors discovered he was afflicted by neither of the aforementioned illnesses. Little Lothario had a tumor on his brain. After two surgeries, doctors would know that his cancer would lead to a fast approaching death. There was no mass of cancer for them to operate on, as it had latched on and spread throughout his brain, like a spider web.

One week before the arrival of death, his brother and sisters, as well as other family members gathered in his hospital room to say good bye to a brother, son, nephew  and cousin. This is the traumatic memory that has stuck with his survivors… In sharing his story, I hope to erase this vision, which has cemented itself in the minds of those who remember him and replace it with the delightful boy he was.

I imagine his imminent death would be painful and stressful, as he would loose his faculties… First his speech and then his sight, it is unclear if he lost the ability to feel, but doctors assured Nana that he could hear them up until the end.

Having so little to share about him, I have to wonder why he has so persistently been at me to visit with him…

Lothario

 

A few months ago, just before my children’s father left this land of the living, my father came and visited with me. He didn’t speak, didn’t present a story or nugget of information- he just sat with me a moment in my dreams and then disappeared leaving two butterflies behind. When my father died, a group of butterflies flew up into the sky as they were bringing him out of the church… From that moment on, every sighting of a butterfly has brought with it a peaceful understanding and remembrance of him. And so, I knew deep within the recesses of my brain that my former husband would soon be taking his last breath…

Earlier this week, doctors said that there was nothing left they could do for a family member- who has a brain tumor, which from my understanding has spread out so much cannot be operated on or removed… Could little Lothario be coming to prepare me for yet another death?

No one knows and certainly, only God can determine the time when someone’s dash is at an end. I find comfort in knowing that sometime’s the stories the dead tell me help to make be better prepared to accept things happening today.

Have you ever had an experience where an ancestor’s story seemed to mimic a story of a living family member? Did it bring you comfort and/or peace or some other feeling? Leave me a comment and let me know. And you know, I’ll never turn down a like or a share- so be free with those, too!

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Traditional Christmas

Merry Christmas From my home and family to yours, I would love to wish you a very Merry Christmas! (Just a few days after the fact) I hope the holiday has been everything you needed it to be and that you were blessed by it.

Did you put up a Christmas tree or decorate your home? I’d love to see pictures- drop them in the comments so we can all enjoy them! We put up a Christmas tree and stockings, but we didn’t do the string of lights on our back porch like we have done in year’s past.

Christmas Tree

I enjoyed spending the day with my family and friends and I learned a little something about Christmas traditions, too!

Fruit in Stocking     When asked what Christmas was like for them when they were growing up, during the 1930s and 40s, both my grandparents responded in much the same way- even though they were asked at separate times and not even in the same room as each other.

According to my granddaddy, they were happy with each other ( he had eleven siblings) and they each got an apple, an orange and raisins. Nana said that they did the same thing she was doing (cooking). It is not hard to imagine Nana in the kitchen with her mother and her sister preparing the family meal. When I pressed Nana on the question of what Christmas was like when she was a child, she informed me that they received grapes, an orange and raisins. Both my grandparents said they sometimes had a radio, depending if there were batteries or not. Next time I visit, I am going to need to spend time hunting through the pictures for these radios, as I am sure it will make an interesting find. My grandfather elaborated on this by reminding me that they didn’t have the things we have today (grocery stores), so it was a special treat to get something like that. Oh, yes there was a Christmas tree, unfortunately, I forgot to ask what it was decorated with… Darn it. A visit in the near future is in high demand to sit in the formal living room and go through all of those photo albums, where I am sure a picture of the tree is hiding in the crevices… I hope.

candy cane stocking     It was the same wit my mom and aunt. Both shared that they got fruit and candy canes in their stockings and usually a doll baby or an accessory. I didn’t get a chance to ask my uncle, so unfortunately, I don’t know what kinds of presents the boys received. My mom did say that they would have board games and all of them- there were seven in total-  would play those games together. Ack. As I am writing this, I am realizing all kinds of questions I forgot to ask. I decidedly did not have my journalism hat on on this day… because of this, I cannot, sadly, tell you what kinds of board games they played or even what was the most desired toy of the era or anything like that.

I can tell you the family had a TV (my mom actually sounded offended that I would ask her if they had one) and a favorite show to watch was Red Skeleton. After the reaction I received when I asked about even having a television, I didn’t even bother asking if it was a black and white or color set.

When my siblings and I were younger, we did receive an orange and a candy cane in our stockings, along with little trinkets and bobbles, but the real ‘treasures’ were underneath the tree. We would receive things like Barbies and every imaginable accessory, Cabbage Patch dolls and their accoutrements and must haves. We never really ate the fruit, I distinctly remember my dad sitting at the card table pealing a pilfered orange and cracking some nuts while we oohed and ahhed over the wonderful things Santa had delivered unto us and eventually, the oranges and candy canes faded away. Have there been traditions within your family that have faded to black? Would you ever bring them back? For me, I will leave the oranges to my memories, as my kids don’t really eat them, but I have brought the candy canes back to life without even knowing I was resurrecting a forgotten tradition. Instead of being nestled in stockings, I hang them on my tree and have them on a tray by the front door- a welcoming offering to anyone who comes or goes… (though, I am not certain they will be back next year, as the toddler discovered them this year and probably ate all of them by himself!)

Anyway, I am going to let you get back to your Holiday fun now. I just wanted to pop in and say hello and invite you on a quick trip down memory lane. I’ve already asked you a ton of questions, so I won’t trouble you with more. I look forward to reading about your traditions in the comments.

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And like that record player we got one year from Fisher Price, I will repeat myself again and again… I appreciate likes and shares, so be generous with them, thanks!

Thank you Bell Atlantic!!!

It all started when the telephone rang… and I took Bell Atlantic’s advice and let my fingers do the walking.

I don’t know who was on the other end of the line, but I’d like to shake their hand, for sure!

There I was sitting between Nana and Granddaddy during what was supposed to be a ‘quick’ in and out visit. Yes. I really made the 60+ mile journey with every intention of saying hi, give a hug and head back home. Stop being judgemental. I wasn’t making good on the leaving front, though. Nana wanted to know about EVERYONE… so, I had to give her the details of each of the children. I was nearly finished dispensing with all the required information, when, as I said previously, the phone rang.

I’m not sure how things work in the homes of your grandparents, but in Nana’s house- you don’t dare leave whilst she’s on the phone. So there I was sitting on the couch, twiddling my thumbs.

I think I might have reached for a magazine (always handy) on the coffee table in front of me. That’s when I saw it.

You know I had to pick it up. The first thing I noticed was that Nana had written her name in it, but that’s not unusual, as she does it with all her books. Then I began flipping, nonchalantly, through the book.

I was just about ready to close the book and put it back on the table, when I noticed this:

 The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I knew those names. I have been researching them for two and a half years. I looked to my Nana for explanation, but she was still on the phone, grabbing away. My Granddaddy was no help, either, so engrossed in the football game was he.

I flipped through again and found a section of pictures. I won’t share them here, but just know, their stories are coming.

When Nana finally got off the phone, we had a FABULOUS discussion about our family history and the people in the book. And look and behold, Granddaddy even chimed in! He told me out of his own mouth that Rev. Tyler, who’ve I’ve long believed was an important Pastor in an area church (during the years of inception) was indeed the person I believed him to be. Nana also agreed with this. Though, it’s odd that two years ago, when I was going down this rabbit hole, Nana vehemently disagreed with my findings and Granddaddy was silent on the matter- only chiming in to tell me to look into his brother’s death, because they always believed something happened other than what they were told in regards to his WWII death.

I also learned that a particular set of relatives were steered clear of because they were crazy… I’m sure if you asked those relatives about Nana, they’d say she was uppity- so, you know take it with a grain of salt.

Oh and Nana let this book come home with me- a most shocking thing. Though she admonished me to return it in the same manner she gave it to me, no less than 10 times. I have a mind to copy all 100 pages. Is that wrong or illegal?

Well, it has been two days and I have finished the first read through of the book. I’m sure there will be at least three or four more reads, each time learning and grasping more of the stories to be told.

Until then, let me leave you with a few things I have already learned…

*The area where my family lives in Stafford, VA, is called Brooke (unofficial, but recognized by everyone who is a resident). But why is it called Brooke? Well apparently, there was a man by the name of Brooke, who owned obscenely amounts of land in Stafford and Fredericksburg. As was the custom of the day, Brooke was permitted to name his lands. Surprise, surprise, he named them after hisself.

The author, a cousin of mine, not only verified this information through traditional documentation in 1980, but also through the first hand account of her grandfather, who was a SLAVE on the premises when it all went down.

This book also talks about the one and only Pocahontas AND John Smith. Guess what? That encounter took place in Stafford, County and not near James Town as I  and others had grown up believing.

I am so in awe of this find and I can’t wait til I can flesh out the stories to share them with you all. Have you ever come across a unique find or discovery that opened a door into the daily lives of those before you? What did you find? What did you learn from it? I definitely want to hear all about it! Leave me a comment and tell me everything! Of course, I’d love it if you could hit the like/share/follow buttons too?

The Revolution Won’t Be Televised

A big part of my life has been spent as an advocate. Whether advocating for more funding for schools, equality in schools, with local government on behalf of the minority, or any number of other ‘hot topics’- I have been there. Front and Center, tirelessly working to make where I live and what affects me better.

Kim is an activist

Here I am sitting with other community activists and advocates, during a press conference   (circa 2013). From left to right, I am the 6th person.

 

As I have worked on my tree, I have hoped that I would be fortunate to come across a revolutionary, like me. I dreamed of finding an ancestor that some how thwarted the efforts of the South during and after the Civil War. I longed to discover someone who participated in Freedom Marches, sit-ins and if I were extremely lucky- a Black Panther. Alas, the revolution will not be televised and the revolutionaries living within my many branches have not come forward with any of these harrowing stories- YET.

Even without any direct ancestors coming forward, I felt compelled to tell this story. Especially in light of recent events very near to the place I call home…

When D.T. came to the White House, I did not join the throngs of people who protested his presence- even though I wholeheartedly disagree with a great majority of things he says and does. When the Black Lives Matter marches came to my front door, I stayed home; regardless if how much of the outcries resounded within my soul. And when the debates started over statues became angry debates and cause for rallying cries- I stayed home and what’s more is that I kept my mouth shut and my opinions- of which there are many- to myself.

***Let me interject here to make it perfectly clear that this is not an invitation to debate anything and this post certainly is not designed to be a political pot stirrer- OF ANY KIND. You are entitled to your opinion and I, mine. The point isn’t what you or I support.***

Then came “the petition”. In my hometown, there sits a stone block on the corner of a well traversed street. People, some in my own immediate family, are trying to have this stone block removed. I still am not sure where I stand on the removal of this particular block. I have talked with people on both sides and living where I do now, I can see how each side’s argument, if you will, has the potential to be beneficial or detrimental. Being the social media savvy girl that I am, I posed the following inquiry to the social media world…

When we drive by that stone, I tell my kids what happened there. I want them to know real history and I think this block makes it real. I haven’t taken a stance on any of the monuments, publicly- and I won’t… But, I think this petition is misguided and not in the best interest of people of color… What do you think?

For the most part, interesting conversation ensued, even with people not agreeing with each other. We didn’t have to agree with each other to have great dialogue. It was a pretty terrific experience- especially given the temperament of people today and even more especially as current events unfold all around us.

But then, it wasn’t. I received the following response…

Literally standing with some of the least educated and morally disgusting people I’ve ever known in my life. Just think about that. Out of a thousand “friends” you stand with the legit worse.

This lovely statement was parlayed from an IMMEDIATE family member. I was shocked and unprepared. As an activist and advocate, I have been on the front lines of countless ‘battle grounds’ and this person, who has never involved or availed their self to anything not solely focused on themselves was attacking me so vehemently over a QUESTION? The nerve. The audacity.

But then it hit me. The revolution won’t be televised. There very well could be a slew of revolutionary branches in my tree, but over the years, those that maintain the gardens, have done their darndest to prune the tree of these unsightly and maybe even rogue branches. It is possible that these ancestors were attacked and felt it best to keep their part in the revolution hidden; not telling a soul of their involvement or perhaps the looks and conversations of disdain and disapproval were so weighty (especially from immediate family members) that the revolutionary was silenced before he or she even knew they had a voice.

Whatever the case, I am more encouraged in my hunt to find the disruptors. I picture them sitting on their respective branches in a Tom Sawyer kind of relaxed way, just waiting on me to come along and tell the world their stories.

The revolution won’t be televised… At least not until I uncover their identities!

Have you ever hoped to find something in your tree? Have you found things you wish you hadn’t? I’d love to hear about your experiences! Please leave me a comment and tell me your woes! If this resounded with you in any way, I would love for you to hit the like and share buttons!

  • Many thanks to Gil Scott- Heron for the creation of “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, which gave me the title of this little diddy… You can hear it here, if you’d like.
  • Additionally, as this post was not meant to stir the pot on any side of any argument, I did not include a picture of the ‘stone’. You can see the stone block here, if you wish.