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The Storms of “Staying-Home-Staying-Safe”

The Storms of “Staying-Home-Staying-Safe”

As we embrace the declaration to “Stay Home, Stay Safe” ‘are we aware that there’re those out there whose homes are ‘Far From Safe? ’emotionally, physically and otherwise? But then, it seems they have no-other-choice. . .

They are stuck in uncontrollable toxic or abusive homes, thanks to the current Covid-19 pandemic!

Is it just a mental-note of outburst at alert? ‘or there’s an obvious spike in the silent-cry out for mercy and help from various families, on the verge of collapse?

Those who are vulnerable and stuck at home where they don’t feel safe or free to be themselves? ‘like being locked in a cage with the very animal that torments them with no way out? 

Sadly, for many people in households across the world, their daily livelihood and busy schedules has been their saving escape zone, secret hiding place from the ever present crisis at home!

‘A reason to get up and away from the madness at home, the liberty to open the front door and get lost for hours in the distraction of business the outside world provides!

‘To get buried under the weight of office politics & multiple school projects! ‘joyfully dress up for team meetings! compile paperwork to sign at long IEP meetings! or watch kids skip happily away to the cafeteria and so much more. . .

‘For some, it’s the energy behind the commute and the power to change the world, the zeal to create something new – always outside their home! a short escape from walking on eggshells at home! ‘a break from the storm of undeniable emotional abuse within the home. . .

While for some families, it’s dropping off kids at daycare/schools so early and usually meeting at dinner table to briefly discuss boring cuts and bruises during gym class or calls from school about upcoming teacher conference as an already overworked Mother tries to maintain balance while a distracted or absent minded Father looks on but lost in the affairs of the events of who-knows-what!

The agitation of the memories that come with the ‘Abuse’ behind closed-doors, as a stressed-out mother and her children drive home in panic.

“What will tonight hold for my Children and I? ‘Another round of beatings? Sexual Abuse? Emotional Torture? Physical Attack? Spousal Intimidation? Disability Disparity? The burden and pain of an empty house, when the other partner walks away… 

“What mood will He be in today? ‘What mood will she and her young kids find her husband today as they walk into their home? Will he be drunk or angry? He’s lost his job again! Will the neighbors hear their cry and call the cops? 

“She’s crying as her 5 kids gather around her to comfort her, ‘I won’t let him hit you again momma’, I got you! He won’t hurt you again Momma, ‘I promise, says the eldest son, He’s only a 14 year old. And He has Down Syndrome.

Well, they must experience it more now! 

They must all walk into the house to keep away from the virus outside and face the virus inside… 

Abuse or being abusive might seem like harsh words. No one wants to have to admit they’re living in an abusive home or being an abusive person. But when there’s negativity, there’s abuse! We could become selfish and manipulate other people to get our way. 

That’s why it’s important that we come together and pray for these homes and the people in them.

Abuse is defined as to “use or treat in such a way as to cause damage or harm; to treat (a person or an animal) with cruelty or violence, especially regularly or repeatedly; speak in an insulting and offensive way to or about (someone).”

No one is immune to the virus of abuse. It’s only through God’s love that we can truly love one another and move forward!

Here’s How to Help Those Stuck in Abusive Homes…

Pray for Calm During this Storm!

The whole world is feeling an overload of anxiety and uncertainty, which causes people to be stressed. When certain people can’t control the world around them, they become angry, full of rage, and say or do things that harm those closest to them. Pray that God calms the hearts of the anxious and angry.

Pray for the Sanity of those in Homes that are not Peaceful or Emotionally Healthy.

For those who live in a home with an easily-angered person, there can be unrest, even when there is not rage. As the rest of the family waits and wonders if this is a calm day or a day they will see the rage.

 Pray for patience and endurance, with no safe place to go when the abuser starts raging. 

We are asking a lot of abuse victims right now to endure the abuse and/or rage, with no way to get out. Some victims at least get a break for work, or while their spouse works, but with most businesses closed, all family members may be home sharing the same space for 24 hours per day without a break.

Pray for those who are being financially abused.

Financial abuse is when one person in a committed relationship controls all the money and doesn’t equally share to provide for basic needs and the necessities of the family. This means, not only are people dealing with cruelty and abuse, they are told they can’t purchase what is needed or anything extra right now at a time when limited trips to the store for more supplies is beneficial to everyone’s health, and money may be tighter than normal.

Pray for the lonely because living with an abuser can be a lonely experience.

Life after separation or divorce is much less lonely, even without a partner, than living with someone you know doesn’t love or care about you. There is no intimacy (being known, loved, and safe) in a relationship with an abuser because of the fear that the victim is always doing something wrong and not worthy of the abuser’s love.

Ways to help an Abuse Victim (now and in the future)

  • Believe the victim.

Usually the abuser is confident and secure looking while the victim is confused, shaky, emotional (sometimes even angry), and uncertain if abuse is what they’re experiencing. Because a victim might fight back, or return evil for evil, expect that it may look like both parties are abusive. Sometimes, it only takes one person to make a relationship toxic. 

  • Listen without judgment or exception of leaving.

Experts say it takes seven times for a victim to attempt to leave before they leave for the final time. Validate their feelings (of course they’re going to feel that way) and allow them to process through what they’re experiencing. They know their abuser better than anyone else, trust them to know when they’ve had enough and are ready to leave for good.

  • Encourage victims to reach out for help.

Pray that someone points them in the right direction towards safety and security.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline:

Reach out for help.

While people are encouraged to stay at home, you may feel isolated from your friends and family. Even if you are isolated, try to maintain social connections online or over the phone, if it is safe to do so, and try to stick to your daily routines as much as possible.

For any victims and survivors who need support, we are here for you, 24/7. Call 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 for TTY, or if you’re unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522. 

Para información en español, visita la página “En Español.”

You are not alone.

Yours in HOPE

Yinka.

 

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A Jolly ‘Good Friday’ Frejon and The Lagosian!

A Jolly ‘Good Friday’ Frejon and The Lagosian!

now serving!

Several years ago, on a typical ‘Good Friday’ celebration, in the comfort of my Parent’s baroque yellow & white Brazilian-quarter-bungalow, tucked away within the safe haven of Catholic Mission neighborhood, I would have gladly woken up to . . .

  • Clattering of deep oriental dishes arranged by color and floral patterns! Already carefully washed and wiped dried! I bet, with strict instructions from my Mom on how She’s managed to inherit and preserved them without any cracks!
  • Wooden gift baskets with folded napkins with individual family name tags, waiting on the dining table! In fact, I remember certain selected names over the years and smiles as I look forward to the delivery of the delicacy!
  • Wooden Raspado for coconuts (waiting to be cracked and scraped) The hardest part of cracking and scraping the juice from the coconut, I always managed to escape this part!
  • Black beans slow cooked over-time, over-night, large skillet pots, charcoal fire. Chopped onions, tomatoes & alligator peppers stewed with bay leaf.
  • Seasoned fresh red snapper fish, peppered cray fish, deep-fried shrimp, large blue crabs cleaned & marinated, now in relationship with each other!
  • Aroma of sautéed and stir-fried peppered snail directing traffic and confusion between Campbell & Broad street!
  • Tilapia fish, so settled and humbled in their new abode; grated garlic and ginger sauce!
  • Assorted seasonings like cloves and fresh thyme hanging around like foreign neighbors!

Oh no! IT IS FREJON DAY!

With all that’s going on around the world, I absolutely, almost forgot all those fun years until a childhood friend and my next door neighbor then (now lives in The UK)  sent me a text reminding me of how my Mom would constantly send “Those Frejon Baskets” to their family every Good Friday, and how much they’d loved it!  #ThanksAngie

Oh wow! Brought back….Good Old Memories!

Even though it was a cultural recipe passed down from my Paternal-Grandmother (The Coker’s- The DaSilva’s -The Gansallo’s) to my Mother.

Our family Frejon was usually made in large bulk and distributed out as gifts to family & friends every Good Friday!

The packaging is usually more exciting for me! The selection of dishes to use, how well the bean puree is carefully poured inside the deep oriental dish, separating the dish for the fish stew, peppered fish or separate side dish for Garri (cassava flakes) to sprinkle or side dish of peppered snail garnished with bayleaf.

As a child then, I usually just looked forward to the token (money) I get from delivery the frejon! In fact, as I got older, I became wiser and selective on which family house to drop off the ‘Frejon basket, so my tip was  bigger! Lol!

So. . .

Nothing excites a child more than seeing family members travel from far and wide just to gather on the ‘Island’ with Uncle Kayode (My late Dad) to eat Frejon, experience the great Easter Brazilian Fanti carnival! …’every April!

Nothing beats the memories of how much emphasis my mom made on the importance and value of the measurement of the beans pudding, the clove, the texture of the coconut milk when mixed to smoothness while cooking it in the paste! The aroma of grated ginger, garlic and other spices over seafood splashing and dancing in a sizzling frenzy in a big frying pan!

Fast Forward. . . Today! My Kids, The Generation Z! They don’t really care about the sizzling ginger or garlic over sautéed fish! Or why I have to feed the nation with black beans cooked so-long when I can easily pick up black-eyed beans from Taco Bell! Phew! ‘They don’t get it, right?

Amid social distancing and all that’s going on, Good Friday, hmmm.

I shall be ordering Bob Evans ‘Fish & Chips’ to celebrate with my Family – I don’t think these kids care so much about the texture of sautéed ginger snails and frejon! Maybe my grandkids…

‘I hope my Mom and my late Grandmas will understand!

Yours in HOPE,

Yinka.

Frejon (From Feijão, which is the Portuguese word for beans) is a coconut milk and bean soup which is eaten especially during Holy Week by a selection of Christians, mostly Catholics, across the world. Countries where Frejon is popular include Brazil and Nigeria (especially among Yoruba who returned to Nigeria from Brazil at the abolition of the slave trade, and settled in what is known as the “Brazilian Quarters” in Lagos Island), and also Sierra Leone on Good Friday, or for functions such as weddings.[1] Because dairy foods and flesh meat (beef, pork, goat) are strictly forbidden on Good Friday, this dish is a suitable accompaniment to non-dairy foods such as fried fish and peppered snail.


The New York Times Cooking
 

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‘To Love Un-conditionally’ Our Autism Journey

‘To Love Un-conditionally’ Our Autism Journey
Oby

As a proud loving Mother of two young awesome boys on the Autism Spectrum, my dear friend Yinka approached me to share little nuggets I learned on my journey. 

I. Was. Elated.

So, I decided to share my personal story following the diagnosis stages I went through with my sons. Which I know a lot of other parents  are familiar with as well, on this autism journey.

Stages – From a Parent’s Perspective

Shock 

“Your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Says the Doctor. 

This has come as a shock to you even though you saw the signs, and you knew your child or baby was not quite developing like other kids his age. You literally feel like your world has come to a stand-still, even though it has not. 

Anyhow you want to put it, the words “Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)” sounds weightier than the actual situation. 

You scramble everywhere and anywhere for a cure. You join numerous blogs that make the situation dire than it is.

  • Denial 

Family and friends tell you your child is “Ok” and “Does not have Autism Spectrum Disorder. He/she is just slow

  • “You know boys are slower” They say… 
  • My cousin was slow, but now He’s great!” They say...
  • You want to believe them. You believe them...

After a couple of weeks, you realize the Developmental Doctor was right!

Your-Child-Misses-Major-Milestones.

  • Acceptance. Get to Work! 

After observing your child for some days/weeks and much research, you accept it.

In this stage:

Breath.

Take a cup of Coffee.

Shut your eyes for a minute.

Then get to work.

  • Research, Research, Research!
  • You will find excellent and great advice everywhere. 
  • You will also find depressive tales and more tales of doom everywhere. 
  • You will also find people who want to take advantage of you (financially), promising a total cure everywhere.

You will need to diligently research to find the right therapist (Board Certified Behavioral Analyst BCBA, Speech Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, and so on).

Get this information from your doctor, and very good blogs.

Please interview them to make sure they’ll be great fits not just for your child, but also for you and your family.

  • Avoid online scammers at all cost who promise solutions and prey on your desperation.
  • Avoid pity-parties at all cost. 
  • Avoid online groups, that make your situation seem so dire and even make you more depressed, at all cost.
  • Mental Health: 

As the caregiver, your mental health is vital.

Take care of it. 

You must be happy in order to impart happiness onto your child. 

This is important! I cannot stress this enough. 

If uncle Johnny makes you feel uncomfortable or unhappy whenever you bring your dear child to visit him, then stay away from Uncle Johnny.

If therapist Jane worsens your situation or does not really care for you or your child, then change therapist.

Have little tolerance for anything that’ll send you off to depression. 

There is hope always! Always!

Escape (even if it’s just for a few minutes) when kids are not with you, or when you have help. Carve out time for yourself.

Look for what makes you happy and take out some time DAILY. For me, I am a hopeless romantic.

I binge on all things romantic from the trilogy book “50 Shades of Grey” to Netflix’s “Love is Blind”. It makes me happy!

  • Support! Support!! Support!!! 

It takes a village! You need the support of family, friends, place of worship, care-givers. 

#YOU-CANNOT-DO-THIS-ALONE!

  • Let your Child Lead You! 

When you see a different behavior, ‘Your-child-is-NOT-WEIRD!

He/she is just different and learns everything about life differently.

Let your child guide you. Follow your child’s lead and discover how he/she learns. When you do this, you’ll see many windows of opportunity to teach your child and bring your child more to your world! It works! 

  • Positive Affirmations:

Because I am a woman of Faith, I believe in speaking words of Biblical Faith daily to my son. Speak words of Affirmation daily to your child. Teach your child to say these words daily.

When my son was much younger, I taught him a simple night prayer and to say the words “I am healed.” Now he says these daily words of affirmation before he starts his day: “I will be taught by the Lord, and great will be my peace and undisturbed composure.” (From Isaiah 54:13).

  • Excel/Flourish:

Once all these are in place, your child will begin to excel!

You will begin to excel.

Your family will begin to excel.

You are happy!

You laugh!

You play!

You rejoice!

Remember to jot down achievements, no matter how small (or big).

I call them “Praise Reports.”

Always remember that God is good, and that NO-ONE is a biological accident.

Your child is a blessing full and LOVE.

Your life and you child’s life have Purpose!

Absolutely! There is meaning to all this! In time you’ll find out. 

I love my BOYS. My life would absolutely be hopeless without them.

They-teach-me-daily.

Our dear Sons are amazing!

They show us the way daily❤️

We Love them dearly! 

I’d like to thank my amazing husband for his awesome endearing Love and full support. He is amazing!❤️

I also like to thank our awesome families for their amazing Love and full support.❤️

Much Love, Oby.

ABOUT HER: Oby holds a Masters in Electrical & Computer Engineering, Bachelors in Electronics Engineering. She worked for many years in the medical device industry with Fortune 500 companies in research & development, as well as leadership roles. She lives in Atlanta, GA and is happily married to Dr. Ekekwe for 16 years. She currently home schools her older son while the younger son attends school.

Yinka & Oby!

“Oby and I have been friends for over 30 years! #FGGC Sagamu Alumnus! A couple of years ago, we started talking more about her son’s autism diagnosis, Oby was very transparent and willing to share her struggles and triumphs, especially after knowing that was my field of specialization and passion. Overtime, she became an active member of my non-profit organization DCN “My Child Thrives” support group. Oby has been a vibrant, assertive and valuable resource to other members on the forum. She is certainly a force to reckon-with! Her witty takes on situations! her abundance of terms of endearment! as she showers group members with hope! ‘Autism diagnosis report certainly has nothing on this sassy lady!

Yours in HOPE!

Yinka!

as I share ‘Not Lucky, I’m Loved’ by Jonathan McReynolds to celebrate – April, ‘National Autism Awareness Month!

 

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Keep Looking Up Child! a cancer journey.

 

When gathered together, we find our light.

As each spark shifts and multiplies,

Scattering its radiance on our ordinary lives

Like everything precious, before a given diagnosis

 

Or a recovering moment we hide behind forged smiles,

fancy garments, flawless makeup,

Isn’t it more valuable when shared?

Like every common miracle

Made of the effects of stars.

 

We must let the light shine

And then watch out for it falling too

On each other’s faces

During trials and triumphant

 

So, count the beams, yeah catch them

Reflect upon them

See the HOPE, live the promise.

Never hide your face in a setback

Keep looking up child,

Never hide your fear in silence.

 

Listen to those you cherish,

Hold them in your arms,

Let them hear your heartbeat

Tell your truth with tears

Tell your story with laughter

Tell your love with joy

Show the world, You are still greater than cancer!

Excerpt from upcoming book,

‘RELENTLESS’ 

fighting cancer with a story line

Its OCTOBER, cancer awareness month! Be a movement for awareness in your community!

Let’s continue to empower cancer survivors, encourage early detection/treatment, comfort families of those who lost the fight, but won the battle and count down to Team #GreaterThanCancer – OCT 26th Soup’s On Cancer Fundraising Dinner and ‘Relay for Life’ – American Cancer Society Cancer Awareness Walk on OCT 27th in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

Yours in HOPE,

Yinka.

 Be encouraged as I share ‘Lauren Daigle’s ‘Look Up Child’

 

 

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Lover’s Delight: The Shulamite Woman Challenge.

To celebrate my 22nd wedding anniversary this week, I’d decided to go down memory lane by sharing the mysteries and amusements of my courtship days with my three very assertive children while also planning a surprise lyrical-poetic date with my husband. #Spontaneous.

I wanted to challenge myself with that epic romantic charisma of Abishag, a certain biblical sister who knows how to step up her game and keep her man complete! (oh yeah, King Solomon’s beloved).

To fester excitement, I began searching through my garage for reflections, until I eventually came across an old box labeled ‘old pictures and letters’. With great expectation like that of Pip, but a lurking resentment of someone delving into a hornet’s nest! I dived into the pile. Oh boy, am I in for a surprise?

There I found my memorabilia of poems and short stories, collection of blurry old pictures stored away from over three decades starring back at me.

I felt guilty.

Then a pang of helplessness, like I have abandoned treasured friendships and memories to decay away in dusty old boxes. Urgh!

And, that’s when I saw it. Tucked away as if waiting for this day to declare its long-denied benefit! I pulled back the musty flaps and slid out what appeared to be so long a love letter!

Scribbled fragile treasures of pure declaration! Intimate words of sacred devotion from the heart. Romantic gratification of pampering words, carefully expressed through the mighty power of a common pen and paper put to work!

Oh my world! Such alluring hot raps! 

Doodle Through The Bible_ Song of Solomon 8 Faith Journal entry for Good Morning Girls (GMG) Bible Study, Free printable PDF Coloring page link at the website_ Also visit the new FACEBOOK page!Pile of Hallmark cards, love letters, created since ’1994. Carefully-cursived to illustrate a lover’s desire! Coherent selection of diction that emphasizes outpour of affection from my then boyfriend, now turned husband, with his pictures deliberately taken from L’fait studio after a patterned haircut from Choices Barber to tinkle my fancy and probably keep others at arm length.

I decided to share with my children…

Oh, what a scene! The kids started with that mocking ‘Aww… ‘so cute…

Then they burst into laughter…

“This-is-so-lame! So torturous! Who does this?  the kids exclaimed with such an annoying exaggeration!This is so archaic! ‘Were you guys in some form of Shakespearean poetry class? Why not send a text or a cute emoji to express yourself instead of writing a book! ‘There are over 1000 emojis to describe that speech” they exclaimed! Less poetic but extremely apt.

Oh-my-world!

So, many of us still have over hundreds of letters, poems, pictures with friends taken over decades of youthful discovery all stored away in casual boxes, collecting dusts, enticing molds, just like mine. Some shouldn’t be part of us anymore, some will be needed to bring the spark back into our love/sex lives, while some, we keep to remind ourselves of what love can do on crummy days.

Don’t you think the Song of Solomon is a lot like those letters hidden in the box I found in my garage? Nicely tucked away between the introspective book of Ecclesiastes and the prophetic book of Isaiah is a work of poetry that memorialized mutual attraction, romantic love, sexual desire, and enduring marriage between a man smitten and a woman bedazzled.

The Book of Song of Solomon | KJV | Audio Bible (FULL) by Alexander Scourby

To convince these kids, I devoured the pages of the Song to discover what the couple did to make it work. Well, after almost 3 decades of thinking we know it all in our marriage…’What I saw was that they flirted and fought, made out and made up, served and savored, and never stopped exploring new ways to keep their marriage fresh.

The Shulamite in the Song was a wise woman who took deliberate action to keep her marriage strong. Sauntering up to her husband as he’s overseeing the fields, whispering in his ear, Her warm breath teased his neck, Flirting with him still.

‘Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside, let us spend the night in the villages.

Let us go early to the vineyards to see if the vines have budded, if their blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates are in bloom, there I will give you my love.

The mandrakes send out their fragrance, and at our door is every delicacy, both new and old, that I have stored up for you, my beloved. (Song of Solomon 7:11-13).

Oh dear…I didnt just cook these up folks,  because God made sure it was in the Bible for a reason. I don’t think it took too long for Solomon to change his schedule, cancel his meetings, and pack his bags to hang out with her!

Why is it that passionate romance routinely fizzles out over the years? Hallmark romantic cards has been replaced a single speechless or invisible social message! soul mate so easily becomes a roommate? Why does the rapid heartbeat of excitement in the early years morph into the heavyheartedness of disappointment in the later years?

There are many reasons why passion cools, but it doesn’t have to. That certainly isn’t God’s plan. He has a much different desire for our passiona and sensuality in marriage.

Doodle Through The Bible_ Song of Solomon 7 Faith Journal entry for Good Morning Girls (GMG) Bible Study, Free printable PDF Coloring page link at the website_ Also visit the new FACEBOOK page!

Do we understand that sexual intimacy will change as we grow older. Hormones wane. Libido lessens. Stamina decreases. Bodies don’t always cooperate. Acrobatic moves decreases. That’s a given.

But I believe intimacy can grow and mature into something sweeter, deeper, and more profound than any clothes-ripping frantic frenzy ever could be.

Today, if you are reading this, ask what’s your/my Shulamite Woman Challenge? and who can satisfy the last aching abyss of the human heart?

Are we still in awe or astonished at how creative our thoughts can be when expressing ourselves? Can our words carry volume and live long after us? Life schedules, challenges and sophisticated social networking devices replaced the fun-fare of meaningful expression?

5 Things We Learn from the Shulamite Woman about Female Sexuality

Our love/sex Lives comes caffeinated with surprises. Modifications. Transitions. Alterations. Dispositions. And with the changes, we realize that every confidence, every affection, every devotion that is not based on a personal relationship to God will be reprobated, not only in the experience of the individual, but in the history of the world. Overtime.

I am hoping someone reading this will become more Shulamite-like through the lessons of pateince, consistency and perseveance, while love finds its root!

Yours in HOPE as I share Alicia Keys – No One

Yinka.

 

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A light for her pathway – Autism Journey

 

Val 1

As the month of April comes to a close, many have spent the month bringing
awareness to the many faces of Autism. As any parent or family member who has
a child on the Autism Spectrum knows, this life is exactly that:

‘A Lifelong Experience’

I am blessed with two sons, both on the Autism Spectrum.

Now that they are grown, Ages 21 and 22, I can reflect on the many moments, early on before diagnosis, when I was full of doubt and confusion, thinking I was a terrible mom and simply did not know how to raise children.

What I didn’t realize was that I was being prepared for a life of adventure, smiles and small victories that would be major accomplishments in my eyes. No matter what, we are still parents. Parents of children that have so much potential and as their parents, we must remember that we are their best advocate.

We are also the ones to teach our children the life skills they need to survive in this unforgiving world.

As my sons have grown older, I have realized how much more they need assistance in everyday social situations. When children are younger, supports tend to be everywhere, but as they grow older, those supports seem to be less and less, especially if the child functions high enough to go to college or have a job.

Teach your child to be a good citizen that can function in society to the best of his/her ability. If your child is very young right now, this may seem a lifetime away however, before you know it, you will be looking at each other saying “Now What?

Keep in mind, while this may seem overwhelming at times, remember there are others who have been in your shoes and you CAN do this, and so can our kids!

Never be afraid to reach out to those in similar situations for support.

Together, with prayers, patience, community support and love, we can nurture young minds and raise resilient adults when we focus on their potentials now.

Written by: Valerie Lawson.

 

*For the past 3 years, Valerie and I usually meet one Friday in a month after clinicals at different Panera Bread locations to brain storm on assessment & treatment planning for children with disabilities, pray about challenging caseloads, talk- deep about life, laugh out loud & silly like teenagers over bowls of clam chowder as we continue to implement developmental disabilities initiatives. I met Valerie in class during  my practicum/residency program Fall of 2016).

Valerie is a Behavior Consultant with DCN Autism Clinic in Michigan, a caring and devoted mother to two young men with Autism, ages 21 and 22 years old.

Yours in HOPE!

Yinka.

 

 

 

 

 

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Taking self-inventory before Crossing Over.

 

ohio 2

 

“Sometimes only when bonds are tested, do we understand their strength, and when ties that seem to endure for a lifetime suddenly become frayed or grazed by fate, do we begin to appreciate loved ones.

We can choose to walk away and pretend that it’s all gone or forgotten, and that our pain will soon pass eventually, but its only when we begin to undo or un-learn the old ways when  approaching a new year; only then can we begin to step into our destiny”

“To unDo what’s Done” a Thinking-Corner Memoir by Yinka.

 

The unexpected death of her husband sends a woman, Agnes Browne and her seven children, ages 2-14, into emotional turmoil and financial crisis in 1967 Dublin.

She is forced to borrow money from a ruthless loan shark to make ends meet. She faces her dismal existence by selling fruits and vegetables at an open air market where she spends time with a best friend, Marion who gives her encouragement.

Wishing to escape her existence, if only for a short time, she dreams of finding enough money to attend an upcoming Tom Jones concert. She realizes her dream by accepting her first date with a French baker.Agnes_Browne_FilmPoster

Her kids pool their money so she can buy a new dress. Of course, eventually the family has to face the loan shark, her best friend passes away due to a terminal illness and…‘Go see the full movie!

(By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35036635)

In retrospect, like the above synopsis of the movie Agnes Browne, (which is by the way one of my favorite movies about Hope). We are all evidently hale and hearty witnessing today, the very last day of 2018, or for some, it’s already 2019 in their minds!

Looking back through the past months, I believe we all can boast of at least one single moment of euphoria! eventually replaced by a series of eye-opening experiences.

Some of us have slipped back into old patterns, the residual of thoughts rooted in joy, denial or self-assertiveness. We have turned a new page and laughed over our own comical situations, we have wept over inevitable losses! ‘casually strolled down life’s aisles with huge expectations; witnessed the cry of a baby at delivery while apprehensive at the thought of another child in distress.

We have reached into out wallets or bank accounts and amazed at the bountiful or perplexed at its emptiness.

Those with brewing millennial have been drawn to accept DanTDM as part of their household, British accent, blue hair and all! While also learning their dance moves, Phew! #Minecraft #Roblox #Fortnight #Scissors #Shoop

We have waited in the doctor’s office as the message of a diagnosis and prognosis goes in through the left ear and quietly exits through the right without making no darn sense…’Anyone? ‘Someone?

dantdm 3With pride, we have worn our graduation gowns as we were called upon to be given a new title of our dreams and had glowed in the beauty of our academic achievements! for others, doors of opportunities to finish up that much-delayed school-degree has been opened up, with an empowered energy  of accomplishment!

While some of us have made fruitful decisions on healthy-lifestyles commitment,  discarding toxic relationships, forgiving past hurts or deeds as we finally let go of unhealthy platforms or compromising negative vibes!

We have visited graveyards sober but grateful just to change the address of loved ones. For some, they’ve found themselves falling in love again, patched up that leaking relationship with hope, made new commitment goals and crazy enough to own it! for others,  we have been so moved by a song sang by the choir that eventually  led us to the altar in church, selflessly throwing it all at God’s mercy!

Oh! like the movie, ‘Agnes Browne’ just thinking about tomorrow was usually so exasperating…always far fetched…totally blurry, but with hope, she carried her dreams through it all, focused more on her 7 kids with an in-built perception on staying in-tune with crossing over into God’s promises, for every new year.

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As far back as I can recall, while growing up, end of year celebration has always been a huge thing in my household, especially within the Brazilian quarters of Lagos Island.

Crossing over into a new year in the 70s and 80s was almost similar to waiting to the end of year to open your birthday gift and contemplating on how to tweak  our lifestyles for the upcoming year ahead.

It’s like an entitled holiday set apart for taking inventory of our past deeds! Mental-Report card session!

A few bottles of chilled Coca cola, Fanta, Guinness bottles and soothing highlife music playing in the background was all that’s required to start a crossover street party.

You get to see a magnitude of crowd in such a rush to join others at the water front at Marina to watch fireworks displayed by the naval docks.

Lagos was safe and fun then!

Blasts of Trumpets signal welcome messages announcing to the overflowing crowd hanging at the brim of all churches’ doors, with a dire-attitude of “12 midnight must find me within the 4-walls of a church” and then a sudden and quick dismissal once the church bells stop chiming in the New Year.

Crossover mode uploading…

It sounds so simple? strolling into the new year, doesn’t it? It isn’t. Because  by the time we think we have it all figured out, God arranges a reality check to remind us that without him approaching that new year with us ; we will fail.

You see people with diverse ethnicity, religious or political beliefs, sincerely excited to see another year – together! Hugging and lavishing good wishes, prayers are offered without a fee to passerby, blessings are spelt out like it’s on a bargain! forgetting any previous debt owned, anger or past hurts. Everyone is surprisingly happy for each other, Just-like-that?

As a kid, I never understood why so many people were always saying things like “Oh, what a year’ or in my mother’s Delta dialect “Oh, how the ground has swallowed good people” or” may we never return to our vomit”

I always wondered….’hypothetically, will things be different or better as every new year comes? Will burden or pain be repeated in the new year? those we lost will certainly not be replaced, our mischiefs, mistakes, misleading thoughts will still be carried over with us if we don’t make a conscious effort to drop them now…’before crossing over.

Those things that made us uncomfortable in 2018, will we see them again? when do we get to come to the realization that knowing God’s plan for our life does not guarantee success, unless we get up and execute the plan?

#EverythingMustGoForNewThingsToGrow

washed awayFailure in never final. It is inevitable. We are frail Human beings. We are mortals.

With 2018 running behind us, and so much laid out for us in 2019, will we always be in compliance, even after a defeat?

Decades ago, my mom would gather the family together after returning from church on new year’s eve and begin her own prayer sessions as she craftily picks on whoever has sacrificially won the black-sheep personality award for the family during the year!

Ah! her long prayer points were always intentionally and fervently directed towards interceding for the redemption of ‘the black sheep’s soul for freedom, well before the new year kicks in!

Mom’s logic. No debate. Just Obey.

I tried it once with my “Millennials” at home and they had a decent conversation with me on how I could have just addressed the black-sheep prayer point thingy one on one and not wait for end-of-year-dramatic-prayer-session like Grandma Virginia#IConcur

Today, many of us reading this have significantly re-constructed our approach towards life since Jan 2018, probably done some deep thinking and mind cleansing to move forward…

I hope someone reading this will understand that our greatest opportunities to grow are often packed in the ruins of failure.

Maybe today during crossover is a good time to stop, go back to the list, and review those life lessons we have learned, checking to see where we really are in our walk with God.

 

For me, as dreadful as the term cancer is, I have lost loved ones to it in 2018! while a huge percentage are still diagnosed and on treatment!

As intimidating as the term Autism is, many kids with disabilities were diagnosed in 2018 leaving many families with heart aches, depression, denial and loneliness!

How are we embracing awareness or supporting those still struggling with life?  Isnt it part of the recipe for cross over success stories? The lives we have touched and still touching… The joy we bring to others… The unconditional love showered to others..

To undo some of what’s  already done wrong earlier in the year, isn’t it time to wake up from our lofty  ideas or dreams we’ve always been talking about?  Can we for once approach crossover with a mindset of tweaking our dreams or plans into a project?

Can we move on from procrastinating to expediting, and then declaring it? Review and Scrutinize some traditional modes of crossing over and do that which sets us apart from the crowd? #BeANewYou

dantdm 2Whatever your story was in 2018… You made it here already! Give yourself a-high-five right now if nobody will! Its time to open our windows of opportunity to accept the new viewpoint of What could be, What we can be, and finally shut out the negative humming voices within us.  It is time to #MuteNegativity.

Are our trash cans still overflowing from our self inventory taking?

T-O-S-S  Y-O-U-R  T-R-A-S-H  N-OW!

Today, as we move and meander  in the mundane, I am hoping someone reading this will take a trip down memory lane to see what can be undone or done before crossing over, and accept that there is indeed a fresh compelling awe for This perfect love that breathes and speaks beauty to all our brokenness in 2018!  ‘which will also strengthen and propel us as we cling to the beautiful promises of truly crossing over for a purpose, with a plan.

And like Agnes Browne, to turn those dreams into a big deal and do something worth remembering or comforting, as we begin to count down to the few hours left… ‘May God help us all!

Farewell to 2018, with all its lessons, loss, laughter, pain and gain.  See you in 2019.

Yours in HOPE as I share Travis Greene’s CROSSOVER.

Yinka.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Mindfulness of our Battles – Cancer Awareness Month.

 

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“We can change the homes we live in, the friends we’ve known and the clothes we’ve worn…

“We could fly across the world, visit new places or investigate new planets; but no matter what our minds sought after, our challenges remain the same; to accept what it means to be human…

To embrace our strengths, our weaknesses, our dreams and to learn how to walk away or fight our battles”

Yinka, 2010 Cancer Survivor.

I’d really been looking forward to vacation and wanted a-me-time alone to relax. I had also purchased the most practical swim suit to gracefully show off my post-cancer surgery scars that I have been battling to accept for years and also to shame the after-effects of thyroid imbalance! 

#BattleWithMyScars   #NoBodyShamingAllowed

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As I sat by the shoreline, chilling out, and soaking in the sun with my family, all I really wanted was to enjoy and take in every moment of creating fond memories, not chase after or flick uninvited ants away from my towel and off my legs.

But as it seems, all of the ants on this Island had arranged a massive dance party and had failed to inform me ahead of time. Literally, I missed the battle-memo!

I was un-invited and I had to leave.

I’d surrendered, not because I was weak and frail or couldn’t indulge my very-zealous 7-year-old in spraying a dozen-can of insecticide, but…’I was learning to let go and embrace my inner peace!

How do you pick your battles?

How do you fight your battles?

Through praises or lamenting?

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MAY 2010 Philadelphia Susan G Komen Race For The Cure- Cancer Awareness Walk

These ants didn’t want me to join their beach party and I didn’t want to be there either. I walked away discouraged and disappointed as I threw a little tantrum in my head. Why should I have to leave? I’m the human here! I paid to be here! Shouldn’t these ants be out there in the dirt? why here? why me?

Not today, I muttered as I adjusted my plans, packed up and gathered my family and went to the indoor waterpark pool instead.

Here, I allowed myself to lounge on the lazy river pool tube as I was selflessly carried through with the tides from the waves.

Mission Accomplished: Battle won!

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OCT 2014 Philadelphia American Cancer Society – Cancer Awareness Walk.

So, there are times in life when things don’t work out as planned. Times when our expectations go unmet and we have to move on or make major adjustments.

Moments when we are unexpectedly approached by life’s challenges and we must decide on which battle is worth fighting…

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OCT 2015 Philadelphia – American Cancer Society – Awareness Walk

You might feel like you’re spinning your wheels in a relationship right now. Or the word “cancer” just reminds you of a hopeless ailment that leads to tortured death? a word never to be mentioned, again?

Or maybe you haven’t moved on from something because you don’t like to quit, even though your time and energy might be more effectively spent elsewhere?

Perhaps, the recovery process of a situation is just too painful and overwhelming for you or the caregivers? Or you have a scheduled medical test coming up and you are in dire need of hope to sustain your doubts?

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Oh goodness! There-is-indeed-a-battlefield of un-reconciled, unresolved thoughts going on in our minds as we anticipate how to deal with it, what’s next? and what if?

You’re not alone.

It might feel like you are surrounded by raging battles, but really…

And still, we all have to wade through stormy waters at times, just to understand why it all started.

I don’t know the particulars of your delayed blessings, unmet expectations or beach-ant frustrations, but God does. Even if you haven’t talked with Him about them yet.

Listen…

It-is-not-every-battle-party we are invited to that needs attention or attendance!
Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

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OCT 2013 Philadelphia – Finish The Fight Against Breast Cancer Walk

But how can we know when to stay and when to let go?
How can we know whether we should say yes or no to that opportunity?
How can we know when our uncomfortable situation is to Refine us, to Rebuke us or to Re-route us?

There’s no simple answer, but there is a simple action:
PRAY.  Ask God for direction. Be still before Him and listen.
Be faithful to go where He leads… even if it means that you need to change your plans, your attitude, your location or vocation. Just surrender to His infinite mercies!

So, as we celebrate OCTOBER – Cancer awareness month, I am hoping we all can do more than just wear pink, look cute or display our external compassion on all our social media platforms!

my end line

This is deeper especially when you have lost someone to cancer, and still dealing with the pain of accepting it and moving forward!

Today, I am hoping we can Call up, Visit or Engage with a cancer survivor, take them out to watch a silly comic relief movie and laugh-out-loud together like there’re no scars visible on or within their bodies!

Tomorrow, I am hoping we can Pamper the ones currently going through treatment – Be an escort to one going for chemo or radiation treatment, schedule a spa treatment or visit the children’s museum together and find humor together in the simple things of life!

As always, I am hoping we can Encourage and Pray with the one who’s lost a family member or friend to cancer by just being there for them emotionally….and then only can we confidently carry the banner and campaign for awareness, intervention and erase all hopelessness.

Yours in HOPE as I share Michael Smith’s “Surrounded – Fight My Battles”

Yinka. (Team: Greater Than Cancer)

 

 

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It. Takes. Two.

 

ur partEvery relationship we are in right now is a journey we choose to go on. Whether persuaded, coaxed or dazed by love at first sight.

We all go in it with open minds and crazy expectations! ‘well, except otherwise minded.

Either chasing after imaginary star-studded dreams or collecting a trophy-partner.

While every adventurer on that journey is either never equipped enough to embrace a detour when needed or too rigid in accepting that, there will always be a need for digression. Someday, somehow, when life falters.

So, have you ever looked back at your life, ‘like twenty-one-years ago and wondered whatever happened to the younger you? Youthful zeal outgrown by series of stifling events? Cherished memories erased by blurry visions of life’s challenges? Beautiful people, places and time once known now replaced by leftovers or shadows of their shells?

Are circumstances around you now the determining factors of joy and peace in your life? Is hope still sealed within your heart as you continue to navigate this much-rated pledge called, marriage?

In as much as I try to convince my 3 kids that I was actually “petite, cool and all that” even before I got married 21 years ago…’they always throw their heads back, flash their upcoming and unadulterated wisdom teeth, clap their hands in teenage astonishment with a silly smirk and laugh at me, I guess they find it unbearably inconceivable to accept!

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They usually give me that look of…how can? You, Mom? Until they can’t contain it and blurt out saying…

“MOM, STOP TRYING TO BE COOL!!”

It’s like no amount of the reigning teenager’s dance moves #Scissors #Shoop or #Floss I attempt with them at home during our kitchen-Zumba-dance-show-off could convince these kiddos that hope and patience are still and will always be my wheel of alignment for life…especially in my marriage, that each day brings fresh possibilities and opportunities for us to trust God more.

Mind. Blowing.

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Am I missing something in my adult life? Or is the element of hope and patience a thing of despair as we age gracefully in a relationship? Is there a time or age limit for couples to be “cool” and “all that” because they are so comfortable with each other?

Isn’t this the downfall of most relationships this days? When we think ‘we are so grown and over the jolly, child-like courting emotions we used to portray?

When we let go of the spark we used to have, because we have secured a 6 pack man or 6-figure job?

It takes two to tango! It takes two to scatter, it take two to gather!

I usually still do the 80’s and 90’s dance moves or music, just to show my brewing-millennia at home that, “Yeah, mom still got it! Or rather, Mom and Dad still got it! The moves, the vibes, the connection and most of all Hope and patience to get us all through every phase and challenge life brings…

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So today as I celebrate my 21st wedding anniversary in a very quiet, intimate, soul-searching, goals setting-getaway with my husband and 3 kids, far-far away on a private Island tucked within the upper peninsulas, our only mode of transportation being loyal-horse driven wagons and rental bicycles, soaking up the sun and getting amazed at the different species of chipmunks and butterflies ever created!

I couldn’t help but reminiscence on the lessons learned and acquired over the years or the path of despair hope helped restored. Hoping someone reading this will lay down the expectations required in their relationships right now and throw it all at God’s will.

Because…

  1. Our hope is not hope until it is up against desperate circumstances! Hope is not hope until it becomes the ability to believe in the promise, even when we cannot see the proof – but yet, we are able to rejoice today, for what’s coming tomorrow…

  2. Our patience must also have the capacity to be wronged and not retaliate. To be patient is to have the ability to endure, but it doesn’t stop there when you are hurting. But, it-will-get-better! Be Encouraged!

Yours in HOPE as I share one of my favorite songs from 21 years ago…

Yinka.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tribute to my Father, My mentor and friend.

 

Mr Ganzy

Arthur Kayode Gansallo – Land Surveyor – Jan 8th 1933 – Feb. 24th 2018 (85 years old).

The departure of life eclipses everything’. When a death is good, the room is filled with peace, and all the pain, that went before it is forgotten. Where there was mystery and anxiety, there is knowledge, where there is fear and doubt, there is love. And when asked how to move on afterwards, I whispered, ‘I just want to DO IT (life) again with you, Papa-mi’.
‘Narratives of my Father’ – Yinka.

With Loving memories, this is how I want to remember my beloved father, Arthur Kayode Gansallo. To others, He was known as Daddy, AK Gansallo or Brother Surveyor, but to me, I have always called him “Papa-mi” ‘which made our relationship very personal and special. Sometimes even indicating affection that’s cautiously guarded with youthful zeal implying “mine only”.

While growing up, I have always been reminded of my resemblance to his late mother, Madam Emily Gansallo (nee Coker) fondly known as ‘Mama Upstairs‘ (I guess the fondness emerged from that maternal-reflection I carried with me while around him).

She usually sat at one of the bow-windows on the top floor of her glamorously decorated baroque Brazilian architectural influenced parlor; with exuberant and individualistic styled doorways, brightly painted facades and chunky concrete columns, flight of polished wooden steps with brightly colored panels and delicate floral plaster motifs of the Brazilian artisans!

Gansallo Family House

Gansallo Family House – Lagos Island.

Yeah, my late grandmother was always strategically located in such a way that she had a bird’s-eye view of both Tokunboh and Oshodi streets, at this perch she was able to view the comings and goings and ready to call out anyone who’s out of order….I grew up learning those boundaries too from my father.

Where do I start? All through my life, He’s always been my shield, especially where I usually seek shelter when I am in trouble due to my smart mouth or need to escape some sibling scolding or from my mom’s non-stop-nagging about why I needed to step up my game and claim the 1st position in class!

I usually run to hide in his home-office, where the entrance marks no-allowance to violence and the red sea for the offended-ones chasing after me! He always protected me from altered hot slaps, or sibling-beatups, listened with an open mind to my talk about life, my dreams and my future plans, and gave re-directions without being overbearing.

From my 1st primary school best literature award, his glowing face with his Polaroid camera, proud as ever! Even encouraging me to buy more books at CMS bookshop to read as we drove home from school that day and thereafter enrolling me at Teacher Pat (of St. Mary’s Private-afterschool) lesson for mathematics clinic! I remember him forbearingly tutoring me for common entrance exam and patiently waiting to pick me up at St. Gregory’s college after the long yearly 5k-Corpus Christi procession!

From the set of French curves he gave me when I informed him I was taking Technical Drawing in school and aiming to be an Architect trailing after him; to Alliance Français French school when I changed my mind and wanted to study foreign language instead, He encouraged me all through, emotionally and financially.

My 10th birthday party, where He officially became the DJ and MC, even though He practically played his own favorite music (FELA) all through, we still had a blast;

Oh, my 1st day away from home at FGGC Sagamu, the panic attack once we crossed the toll gate and the long dreary drive in his car as He continuously encouraged me about the unknown, Apparently, He had labelled all my belongings, boldly scripted in his fine cartographic hand writing ‘A.O. Gansallo’ (Anthonia Olayinka Gansallo) even on my school sandals, my red checked house wear and school bag legible enough for other students to be amused or read from afar.

He never missed any visiting days or our usual stop over at Uncle Ladipo’s (his brother) at All Saints school Ikorodu to review my report card and make plans for summer school! Phew!

I remember my 1st visit to a fancy restaurant, at Eko Hotel when I was just 9 with him, my 1st table etiquette training and tableware placement. Our religious visits to CFAO Moloney supermarket to buy chocolates, biscuits and of course Benson & Hedges and thereafter our painful visits to the dentist together.

Our weekend drive to Museum Kitchen, to listen to high life music with a sip of fresh sour palmwine! or to Bar Beach to watch the sun set or to see Grand Uncle Akin Coker at his beach house on Elf Estate, off Lekki road in the early 80’s (which was formerly Maroko swamp). Or our visit to the stadium to watch Abiola Babes and Iwuanyanwu Nationale soccer match at Onikan!

I got to learn a lot about land acquisition, families with landed properties and sometimes history behind land allocation, all mostly within Ibeju Lekki & Eti Osa Local govt. as I was usually in his company during some site visits and very inquisitive about his passion for his job, drawing up maps and calculating numbers nonstop!

My 1st & 2nd graduation from college and His advice to keep on aiming higher, not to stop there, to be all I can be, as a daughter, a wife, a mother and a woman who stands out in her generation.

One funny thing is that, He actually knew and remembered all my girlfriends by name, and would approach them when they come to visit and usually engaged them in ‘girly’ conversation, even decoding our secrets codes over the telephone! They usually call him, Mr. Ganzy of which He usually smiles at and could sit with them for hours talking about his favorite movies – especially Gremlins!

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My wedding day. (Dad & I) – Aug. 14th 1997.

I can never forget the big smile of accomplishment and joy on his face on my wedding day, 20 years ago, as He proudly walked me down the aisle, clutching the marriage certificate afterwards close to his heart and looking at me with that fondness I grew up knowing.

I thank God that I can proudly say today that I have been so blessed to have him as my Father and friend, ‘would do it again and never could have traded him for anyone! I am who I am today because of the devotion and love of my parents, more especially my father’s undying love and His belief in me.

Last time we spoke, just after his 85th birthday in January, He muttered under heavy breaths…

Yinkus baby! I am still here, even though all my friends are gone, I am counting down to your next graduation commencement” and I had joked with him saying

Ah, Mr. Ganzy, you are still very young, I will be back home soon, to complete that Autism clinic project we’ve always talked about”….we both laughed over that as He hung up the telephone.

 

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Feb. 2018 Commencement.

And those were his last words to me. 

He was a fantastic man. He was a great father, loving husband, caring brother, nurturing grandfather and dear friend to many people. To me he was more than just my father; he was my friend and my hero.

I always admired my father and had a great deal of respect for him. I pray the everlasting love and peace of God dwell with him in his new abode.

Eternal Rest, Grant Him O Lord!

Your loving daughter!
Yinkus Baby (as He fondly calls me).

 

 

 

 

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