Saturday, October 17, 2015

Million Man March 2015

It wasn't much...just an epic road trip with a few of the guys. 20 years ago, Eric traveled to Washington, D.C. for the first Million Man March.  This weekend he returned to Washington, D.C. to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the March.  Not much huh?  It was enough to make us all envious and proud.

With our nation filled with racial tension and unrest and the majority of our conversations in our home are centered around race, white privilege, and racial injustices, this return journey for Eric was an important moment in all our lives.  Our girls are proud to say that their dad thought it was important to be there.  I am proud of Eric for taking the time to unite with other black men and stand for the many causes that have come to the forefront of our lives... #justiceorelse #blacklivesmatter #sayhername #icantbreathe #handsupdontshoot

We really wanted to join Eric on this trip, but understood that this was more than just a trip, it was about standing up and standing together as black men.  We wanted to experience the love, pride and unity of being amongst thousands of our people, but know that we would have been in the way.

It is important for all of us to pause, take a moment and remember that we as black people are not alone.  We did not get to where we are now in our lives alone.  Together we are strong, we are mighty and we are beautiful. We must remember to reflect on this often, especially in an America that does not show its love, appreciation and respect for black lives.  Eric, put life on pause this weekend to remember this and march for what is right. #justiceorelse.

Hopefully our girls will continue to be social advocates, educate those who are ignorant to racist comments and behaviors and set the record straight with those who believe our lives do not matter and are not worth fighting for.  Eric inspires them on a daily basis to be the a voice for themselves and others.  He challenges them to speak up and step up and make some noise and some changes around them.  His Million Man March trek has refueled us, inspired us and given us new energy to keep moving forward on our own journeys as proud, strong, smart, beautiful black women in America.

Justice or Else

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Nicaragua "Thank You".

I'm not on Facebook, but many of you are. As promised, Gabby has posted a "thank you" to everyone who helped in her fundraising efforts for her Medical Brigade trip to Nicaragua.  She has also posted over 200 photos from her trip.

Since Gabby's has returned from Nicaragua,  Her dad paid her a visit on Father's Day and hung around to help her get settled into her new apartment.   Tomorrow he will drop her off at the airport as she leaves for another adventure on her GapMedics volunteer trip to Tanzania.

Stay tuned for Tanzania updates and photos and thank you again!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

SJSU Nicaragua Medical Brigade

There was a text saying, "We made it." and then 10 days of silence.  Not a word from Gabby on her Nicaragua Medical Brigade trip.  She had already informed me that "No news, was good news." but I still wanted to hear from her.

Then a few days ago I got another text, "Made it back to San Jose."  She was home.  Safe and sound.

Thank you to everyone who made this Medical Brigade trip possible.  Thank you for all of your donations and words of encouragement.  We are so grateful for it all.

If you know Gabby, you know that she doesn't really get super excited about stuff (or at least she doesn't show it).  So, when I spoke with her after her return from the Medical Brigade and she told me that it was a "LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE!" I knew that it was an amazing trip.

I won't go into detail, because Gabby will want to do that herself on Facebook, to also thank everyone, but I will share with you that your donations allowed for this Medical Brigade to serve over 1,000 people during their visit.  Cement foundations were laid for houses, landscaping was done, medical and dental treatment were provided, new friends were formed and memories were made.

It has always been a wish of ours to have our children experience life in other countries, to give and to serve, and to return home even more grateful and humble than they were before they left.  I think this trip accomplished all of that and even more.  It's hard for me not to gush about it, but you'll be hearing all about it from Gabby soon.

Thank you!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

This is the day (I use the whole weekend) that I totally take advantage of my mom status.  I expect the royal treatment.  I expect to get out of all of my carpooling, house cleaning, dog walking duties.   I expect for my family to sing my praises and celebrate the fact they they are lucky to have me in their lives.  

What I didn't expect this year, was the fact that I would be spending a great deal of time thinking about my journey as a mother. I have always prided myself on raising strong, independent, smart and sassy black girls.  It has always been my goal to send my girls out into the world and know in my heart that they would be OK out there without me by their side.  I have taught them to be fierce, driven, kind, nurturing and to speak up for what they believe.  I have told them on many occasions that they are to strive to be black women that stand out in the crowd,  Black women that take people by surprise with their resiliency and knowledge, Black women that stand up and speak up for what they believe and what is right in the world.

Over the past year, I have been questioning if my teachings are the right ones for this world we are living in.  Is it safe for me to teach my black girls these things?  We have sat as a family and watched the world as we know it,  crumble in front of our eyes.  My girls have begun to witness events that feel familiar to them as things they have read about in their history books and that we have taught them about.  The idea of them as black women possessing civil rights is being questioned at our dinner table and the understanding of all the "stories" and "lectures" on racism that we have given them over the years is beginning to ring true.  They are watching history repeat itself on many channels on TV and in social media. They are taking part in the re-enactment of history as they protest, march, observe moments of silence, debate and write about the injustices being displayed in front of them.  Familiar names of those gunned down stay a constant in our family conversations.  Tamir Rice, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Rekia Boyd, Freddie Gray (and many more) are all names that frequent our conversations and drive my girls to speak out more, do more and make more of a difference amongst their classmates friends and in their communities.  

So, of course I should expect nothing less of them then to speak up, protest, question, debate and stand up for their rights and the rights of others.  This is what they have been taught right?  But at this time in our world, I am wondering if our teachings will keep them safe.  Yes, we also taught common sense, restraint and advocacy skills, but will these additional skills really matter in a world that is becoming so angry and divided?

I am torn.  I want my girls to continue to go out into the world and strong black women.  I want them to protest, shout and stand their ground.  I want them to feel pride in their actions and the black women they are becoming.  But, I also want them to be safe.  I want them to feel confident that all that I have been teaching them will lead them to the lives they wish for.  I want them to flourish and stay resilient. I want them to continue to be proud of being black women and not afraid of this beautiful gift.  

Most of all, I want them to know that I am always and forever proud of them and the women they have become.  Whether silent or loud protesters, compassionate or hard-core thinkers or advocates for the fallen and neglected people in the world,  I will always have their backs, support them and lift them up.  

Happy Mother's Day.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Hello There

Hello There!

So, what should I say?

“Merry Christmas!”
“Happy 20th Birthday Gabby!”
“Happy New Year!”

Yep, it’s been a while since my last post.  There are times I feel like we Aiden’s totally got it going on and then times I feel like there’s not much going on at all.  Someone asked me why I hadn’t posted anything in a while, I told them because our lives were not really all that exciting.  In some ways that’s a good thing.  I still feel busy and often times overwhelmed by “stuff” but most of the time these days, I feel settled.  I feel as if our lives are in a good rhythm.

The holidays were crazy busy as usual.  This was our first holiday season without grampa Aiden.  There was the lingering sense of loss and sadness but also the great sense of love, pride and family bonding that occurred that kept us all afloat. 

Gabby turned 20!  I can’t really wrap my brain around how I have raised a child to be 20 years old.  She has turned out to be an amazing young woman with a serious vision for the direction in which she wants her life to go and the Drummer-Aiden heart and drive to get her there.  She returned to school in 2015 ready to take on whatever the new year has in store for her and to plan a few adventures herself. 

Sinobia finished her freshman year swim season, enjoyed the holidays (and a few concerts) and is now in the beginning of water polo season at ETHS.  Everyday when I drop her off and pick her up from practice I chuckle at the memory of how I had never predicted that she would be the two-sport athlete in our family.  I always pictured her as a drama/theatre student.  Although she is full of drama, the theatre has not been lucky enough to have her yet.

Eric is working on his knee.  He has had a great recovery with no complications.  He is looking forward to getting back to his work-out routine and testing the limits of his healed knee.  The girls and I have decided that he should retire from basketball.  I think he agrees.  A big part of Eric’s daddy role these days is to worry.  He is so protective of his girls and is always worrying about them.  I guess this is a good balance in parenting, since I am more of the “let them go experience life” kind of mom.  As long as they are making good choices and being safe, I’m all for it most often.  Eric helps me look at the “other side of things” when it comes to parenting. 

I have been up to the usual…working, carpooling and nagging my family.  I took a trip by myself to surprise my mommy in February and allowed myself to sleep late, rest and relax for a few days.  I have also decided (once again) that I need to start taking care of myself.  So, I have started exercising a little bit.  I absolutely hate it!!!  I like to see instant results.  I want to see the six-pack the tight thighs in one week.  I really don’t want to work that hard for the body I dream of having.  I’m going slowly.  I’m trying. Spring is just 10 days away.  The big sweaters and coats will come off soon. Ugh!  After 46 years of not exercising, this may be the year for me (but, I think I say this every year).

I will try to post more often.  I often wake up in the middle of the night with cute and witty thoughts to write about, but soon forget when I fall back to sleep.  Maybe I’ll try keeping paper and a pencil by my bed.  Hmmm…maybe not.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

What Makes You Strong.

The loss of a loved one is so profound.  There are a million ways in which one can cope with the loss and grief of this event.  Some people grieve silently, some out loud.  Some keep busy and others seek out comfort from their loved ones.  Grief can look like many different things and take over at any time.  I remember being in Potbellys when the wave of grief for my dad hit me.  The musician that was playing in the window started playing a Beetles song.  I remembered my dad playing that song on his record player.  I ran out of the restaurant sobbing as the tears flowed.

I have been raised to be the strong one, the get things done girl, the rock, the pull my big-girl pants up girl, the stand tall and be the last man standing girl.  That is my role, my ethic in all that I do, even how I grieve. This is also my curse. 

In my mind, I am the one that takes care of everyone.  I’m the mom.  I’m the wife.  I’m the fierce protector of my family that my parents raised me to be.  I am the strong face that lets everyone know that everything is going to be OK. The problem is, I neglect to take care of myself while taking care of others.  I have not allowed myself to grieve.  I have not taken care of myself.  I have to learn how to do this.  It’s hard to unlearn habits you have carried with you all of your life.

Today I surrendered.

After being sick for almost 3 weeks and having a headache for a whole week, today I took myself to the doctor.  Apparently, I have been walking around with a sinus infection and some nasty “school virus” for some time. 

Later in the morning, I cried about spilling my coffee.  The tears just spilled out of me.  The tears flowed down my face just as easily as the coffee flowed over the kitchen counter.  Both the coffee and myself were a big mess.

The truth is, those tears were not about the coffee.  That was my moment of vulnerability.  My moment to let the grief I have been feeling spill out.  I miss my dad and I miss Eric’s dad.  I grieve for the fact that I don’t have a dad with me anymore.  I grieve for Eric, because now he knows this feeling of loss.  I grieve for my girl’s loss as they believe that their grandfathers were the two of the most influential people in their lives and now they are gone.

I blamed my tears on the coffee mess and the fact that I was not feeling well. There was a moment of confusion on Eric’s face, as I sobbed in his arms.  The poor guy probably thought I had either over-dosed on antibiotics, was having a serious menopausal meltdown or I had not caffeinated myself early enough in the day.  As I tried to shake it off and compose myself, I knew that he knew what was really wrong.  He gave me space, let me cry and then allowed me to pull myself together again and emerge from the room composed and strong again.

The weird thing is, I felt so much better after I cried.  My headache went away.  My cough subsided a little bit.  I think I needed to cleanse myself of the feeling I was holding onto in order to protect the ones I love.  I think now I know I need to protect myself too. 

I will wake up tomorrow and probably go back to my same old habits, but I have learned a lesson in this day.  Being vulnerable makes you strong.  Being resilient makes you strong.  Being loved by those that go before you makes you strong.  Holding on to their precious memories makes you strong.  Having love in your life and giving love makes you strong.  Shedding tears makes you strong.  At the end of this day, I am stronger than I was when I woke up this morning.  I will stay strong.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Back to Normal?

All of the house-guests have left.  All the sheets and towels have been washed and put away.    The house is quiet again.  We are beginning to return to our regular routines.  Our lives are back to normal.

The only thing is, we can never go back to normal. Our lives have all been changed.  We have lost a loved one.  Raymond Richard Aiden…a father, a grandpa, a father-in-law, a friend.  His presence in our world was not normal, it forever changed each one of us for the better.

Death is normal, but this does not feel normal to me.  It feels wrong.  I feel cheated.  I feel as if my family has been cheated.  The world has been cheated of time with this amazing man.  

There was not a single moment from the time that Eric and I first started dating that Gramps (aka Raymond Richard) didn’t make me feel as if I were a part of the Aiden family.  It wasn’t normal to feel so at ease with a family, but it was easy. 

He always had a smile, a laugh and a hug to give, even when you knew he wasn’t feeling well.  It’s not normal to be so happy all of the time.

When my father died 6 years ago, Gramps became my father-figure, the man I knew would take care of me as if I were his own daughter.  It felt normal.  It felt good to know that I did have a “dad” by my side.

In the 22 years of being with Eric, Gramps only got mad at me once.  How could this be?  Not normal.  He called me to talk it out and then it was over.  I, on the other had, found myself being perfectly normal and got mad at him a few times.

How do you go on as if everything in back to “normal” when something so tragic has happened?  When someone so significant in your life and the lives of those around you is gone, how does that feel normal?  

We have to find our new “normal” now.  What will that look like?  Right now we are all struggling to find our way, to find a new way that will be different and feel different.  Some of this process will be normal…we will grieve, remember, cry and laugh.  We will be angry and question why we lost our loved one.  We will reflect on our last words, actions and things we may have taken for granted when we thought we had more time.  All of this is normal. 

What will be different is the fact that we will all rise from this as a stronger family, a more appreciative family, an extraordinary family, not a normal family.  That is how we will remember our Extraordinary Gramps. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I'm Going Back To Cali.

Gabby is back in California now.  She is safe and sound and all settled into her new apartment.  I got to deliver her this year, as Eric is recovering from his surgery.  I also instagramed the journey:)

There was a lot of work to be done in the move-in process but also some time for a little fun. 

We did some marathon shopping, moving, unpacking and putting stuff together on Saturday and Sunday which allow for us to have the whole day on Monday for some California adventures!

It was nice to get away for a few days, away from home, away from Evanston and be in the California life.  I see how people can so easily fall in love with the state….great weather, adventures in almost every city and just a different way of life.

 It was hard to leave my girl behind, but not nearly as bad as last year.  This year, I left her with a great crew of friends and a lovely collection of roommates by her side.  This year I know that she will be OK.  I think she was actually looking forward to going back to school; I guess that’s a good thing.  It was nice to have her home for the summer, but also satisfying to see her want her college life independence and freedom back.  Christmas is just a few months away….she'll be back!

See ya soon Gabby!