Sunday, November 25, 2012


SOMETIMES you need the luxury of time to realize just how far you have come. November 24, Black Friday, as others were shopping for deals I realized I finally had sufficient time to comb through my junky basement and organize the tools, paint cans, assorted hardware and boxes of books, ceramic dishware, personal writings and photographs that form the substance and clutter of my life. I made three piles: •Items for the trash •Items for donation to the Salvation Army •Items precious enough to keep. I found myself reliving some wonderful poetry that I had written several years before and found that years later it still touched my hears and reminded me of a delightful experience that I had lived or lived through. KEEP. I found the old water pump for my boiler and college term papers. TOSS. I came across books that I had purchased and would never read and books that I had used extensively with marked up and folded pages. DONATE. And in the midst of the boxes I had packed up and removed from my kitchen years ago I found five boxes of beautiful white ceramic formal dinnerware of assorted sizes that had been given to me from the Salvation Army. August 1990 we had been repatriaated to America after eleven years in Liberia. April 1st, 1991 we moved into our own home with donated cots, a few items of clothing from the resale store and the joy of being together. The dinnerware set about a chain of memories that helped me to remember what having nothing really means, or does not. AFTER months of living in fear in Liberia, we had finally escaped to the American Embassy, been taken to Sierra Leone and then repatriated to New York (read my book “Sweet Liberia, Lessons from the Coal Pot,” if you want to know how and why we got out of Liberia in the first place). When we got to New York I had $10.00 U.S. That was all the money we had in the world. As we waited at JFK Airport for a connecting flight to Chicago’s O’Hare airport, the three bedraggled children that repatriated with me from war torn Liberia saw an ice cream vendor and their brown eyes looked at me without asking. The logical response for a woman with only a $10 dollar hole card would have been “NO.” However, my babies had survived a war, they had lived with the sound of gunfire as their lullaby, toted water on their heads while hearing gunfire in the distance. They had shared their food with a friend starving from malaria. They had left behind everything they knew in the world, except me. In that moment I knew that my children deserved security, safety, love, and they damn sure deserved ice cream. I took not only our last money, but our ONLY money and bought us Ice cream! TWENTY-TWO years later, we are all in such a different place. My five children, the three that repatriated with me and the two that had come ahead of us, are wonderful productive adults with beautiful, smart children of their own. My family is blessed in measurable and immeasurable ways. Black Friday, as I combed through my basement, it brought sheer joy to my heart to label those five boxes of cherished white ceramic plates; plates upon which I had served my family and friends, DONATE. I AM THANKFUL to be able to return the dishes and many other items to the Salvation Army to provide to others who will need them. To God Be the Glory. visit my website at