Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - Sentimental Journeys

The past several weeks for me have been filled with a number of sentimental occasions, and though I'd planned to post about a few of them, for some reason, the words wouldn't transfer from my brain to the keyboard.  Then, there were other times when the words and my fingers were ready, but I was just too physically exhausted to actually come to the computer to prepare the post and upload the pictures.  But today, as yet another month nears its end, I want to just recap a few special moments that have occurred since my last Sentimental Sunday post.

On March 23rd, my mother Mary Anne Yarborough, celebrated her 76th birthday. With her health situation being what it is, she felt very blessed and grateful to cross another year off the calendar.  The day, for me, was a little bittersweet, because much as I'd like for things to be different, her "celebration" involved just the two of us.  However, this year, unlike others, did bring a few phone calls her way, and I was able to connect her myself with her granddaughters so that they could wish her a happy day.  For that she was most grateful.  My mom had requested that I make her a yellow cake with lemon icing, and so I did.  I picked her up from the Assisted Living home, and brought her to my house where we enjoyed a quiet celebration and chowed down on her requested cake, along with her old favorite, Breyer's Natural Vanilla Ice Cream.

Top left:  In our family, Coke is always IT!  Top center: My mom holds her cake before we cut it.  Bottom center:  Mary Anne chows down on her cake.  They try to say she can't feed herself.  Hmmm... maybe she doesn't like the food?
A couple of weeks after my mom's birthday, on April 6th, we observed the 26th anniversary of my brother Arthur's death.  It seems that it never gets easier to deal with this loss, but this year I was honored to share a tribute to my brother with my genea-family, and, because one of his old friends ran across it on the web, many of his former classmates and neighborhood friends read it also, and several have been kind enough to contact me since reading it.  Hearing from my brother's former friends (and girlfriends) did my heart glad, and made me feel closer to him than ever since we went to heaven.

Also that week, while on Spring Break, I made my very first visit to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. I spent a day and 1/2 engaged in my research, and found some good information on a few of my ancestors. The most meaningful document I came across was the service record of my elusive ancestor William A Green, who served in the Spanish-American War.  I look forward to obtaining more information about him from his pension file, which I have to order from the VA.  On my second day at the Archives, I had the pleasure of meeting one of my online genea-friends, Angela Walton-Raji!  We were able to do some of our researching side-by-side, and we shared a delicious lunch break together at a deli near the Archives.  Finally making it to this national treasure, and meeting one of my genea-friends in person made this a very special research trip, indeed.
Photo above left:  This picture was taken by my genea-friend, Angela Walton-Raji.  Here, I'm opening the file of William Green.

On April 17th, I traveled to Richmond, Virginia to attend my youngest daughter's final concert with the Umoja Gospel Choir at the University of Richmond.  My daughter has been the violinist for this choir since her freshman year, but this time she chose to sing, rather than play.  Attending this final concert brought me so much pride and joy.  As a mother, it has been a comfort to know that my daughter chose to connect herself with a community of students who share the same values and love of Christ with which she was raised.  Not only does this group praise God musically, but they have a (required) weekly bible-study element which has helped to keep my daughter rooted and grounded, and provided her with continued exposure to the Word of God throughout her college years.  (My daughter is third from left, in the light-pink shirt.)

Mrs. Susie Beatrice Yarborough Hawkins (b. Apr. 17, 1920)
April 17th was also a very special day for another reason.  It was my Aunt Sue's 90th birthday!  Because of my daughter's concert, I was not able to travel to Louisburg, NC to celebrate with  her on the 17th, but the next day, Sunday the 18th was the day we made up for it!  Early that morning, I left my home in Newport News, traveled back to Richmond to pick up my daughter, and we set off for the 2 and 1/2 hour drive from there to Louisburg.  The plan was to arrive in time to surprise my aunt by attending church with her. (She attends Sunday School and church every Sunday, and sits in the same pew in the same spot each week.)  So, off we went, on a beautiful sun-shiny morning, just made for celebration.  Despite a few wrong turns, (thanks to my lovely GPS), we arrived at the church about 10 minutes before the service began.  We entered through the double-doors at the rear of the church, and sure enough, there was my aunt sitting in "her" pew.  I couldn't have missed her, because her church had two HUGE gold balloons -90- tied next to her spot.  I walked down the aisle alone to greet her, as my daughter went in the other direction to prepare for the other part of our secret plan. (I had called earlier in the week and set all of this up with the pastor, so the leaders in the church knew what we were up to.:)  I greeted my aunt, and she politely responded.  Because her vision is poor, she didn't even recognize me right away! I had to say, "Aunt Sue" before she really realized who she was talking to!  She was so excited to see me - we must have hugged Once she calmed down, she began to tell everyone around her who I was.  (Many of them knew me when I was a child, anyway.)  Meanwhile, I noticed that my daughter was ready to join us, so I motioned her over.  When my aunt got her second, "Happy birthday, Aunt Sue" greeting, she could not contain her surprise and joy!  Of course, there came more hugs, and more introducing.  Then it was time for the service to start.

The service was very nice.  The visiting pastor (a regular, who knew my aunt) and the church clerk paid tribute to my aunt, in honor of her birthday, and the congregation sang to her, and to a 30-something year old man who shared her same birthday. (I'll call him "X".) The funniest moment was when, after the chorus of "And many more", which apparently traditionally follows the singing of "May God bless you" in their church, my aunt burst out laughing.  As we all looked at her curiously, she stood and said, "I'm sorry, but I couldn't help but laugh at the "and many more" part. I guess that was for X!"  We all laughed out loud at that!

  My daughter, who had been noted on the program as a "special musical guest" surprised my aunt by playing two pieces on her violin during the service. Aunt Sue had never had the opportunity to hear her play in person, although we have taken video recordings to share with her over the years. She was so happy and proud!  To my surprise, the church had planned a repast for her after the service, which slightly through off Part II of our birthday surprise, but it all worked out in the end. :)
After spending a few minutes at the repast, I left my daughter to hang out with my aunt, while I went to her house to prepare for Part II.  Louisburg is such a small town, and there's really only one real restaurant to go to, so I'd purchased a catered dinner for us to share with my aunt, and had brought yet another cake to have for dessert.  I'd brought baked chicken, string beans, potato salad, rice, and dinner rolls for Aunt Sue's birthday meal.  While I was at the house clearing the table and getting things ready, I got a surprise.  Friends of mine, who had traveled from home to Raleigh for the weekend, called me to say that they were in Louisburg!  They'd known of my little plan, and decided to stop through on their way back to Virginia to join in the celebration for my aunt!  So.... the more the merrier.  Just as my daughter and aunt were headed back to the house from the church (which is across the street), my friends Al and Felicia Bracey pulled up!  They joined us for dinner, which my aunt didn't even eat any of, because she was full from the  Anyway, we all sang Happy Birthday (again), the four of us ate, and then it was time to head out because my daughter needed to get back to school.
All in all, my aunt ended up having a wonderful, joyous, surprising 90th birthday weekend!  She shared it by with most of those whom she holds dear, either by phone, card, or in person. Though preceded in death by her parents, all of her siblings, and most of her cousins, she feels "blessed to be here" and I feel blessed to have her.
Susie B. Yarborough was the first child of parents Calvin Jr., and Anna Green Yarborough.  She had two brothers, Arthur (my father), and Calvin III, both of whom passed away in 1997, less than two months apart.

There's even more, but this post is too long...

Thanks for reading,