Today is my birthday – my 70th birthday. Even though the Bible doesn’t give specific customs that relate to the celebration of anyone’s 70th birthday, the Jewish sages not only thought 70 was a special number but also thought that it was definitely appropriate for a person celebrating a 70th birthday to mark the occasion by expressing gratitude for having lived what the Rabbis considered to be “a full life.”
For sure, biblically speaking, 70 is a special number that appears over and over again in Scripture. Therefore, 70 is a number of significant importance, especially since 70 represents completeness – the completeness of the nations of the world, the founding members of the Children of Israel, and the components of the authoritative judicial body of Israel. These and other biblical 70 years, according to the Jewish sages, are also why a person who has reached the age of 70 has achieved a “fullness of years.”
“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.” – Jeremiah 29:10, TLV
“Seventy weeks are decreed concerning your people and your holy city, to put an end to transgression to bring sin to an end, to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Holy of Holies.” – Daniel 9:24, TLV
In the Torah (Old Testament), the number 70 is often connected with YeHoVaH’s creation of the nations of the world, according to the number of Israel. After the Flood, the world was repopulated through 70 descendants of Noah (Genesis 10). Seventy (70) souls of Jacob’s family went down to Egypt (Genesis 46:27). Seventy (70) elders were appointed to help Moses administer Israel in the wilderness (Numbers 11:16); the people of Judah spent 70 years of exile in Babylon (Jeremiah 25:11 and 29:10). Seventy (70) weeks, 70 units of seven for a total of 490 years, were decreed by YeHoVaH as the period in which Messianic redemption was to be accomplished (Daniel 9:24). In the New Testament, Yeshua sent out the Seventy (Luke 10:1, in some manuscripts the number is 72); Yeshua commanded forgiveness ‘until seventy times seven’ (Matthew 18:22).
Once again, even though the Bible doesn’t give specific customs that relate to the celebration of anyone’s 70th birthday, the Jewish sages not only thought 70 was a special number but also thought that it was definitely appropriate for a person celebrating a 70th birthday to mark the occasion by expressing gratitude for having lived what the Rabbis considered to be “a full life.” Today is my birthday – my 70th birthday.
Thank You, YeHoVaH, for letting me live to see my 70th birthday. Happy Birthday, to me!
24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by hands. 25 Nor is He served by human hands, as if He needed anything, since He Himself gives to everyone life and breath and all things. 26 From one He made every nation of men to live on the face of the earth, having set appointed times and the boundaries of their territory. 27 They were to search for Him, and perhaps grope around for Him and find Him. Yet He is not far from each one of us, 28 for ‘In Him we live and move and have our being.’
As some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His offspring.’ – Acts 17:24-28, TLV
Today is the second anniversary of the day my oldest son died. What I say in my mini-memoir, Untimely Farewells, about that melancholy May 2 is that I was feeling apprehensive. So:
“…I thought that if I went for a walk that it would calm me. It didn’t. As soon as I started walking, I burst into tears. While wailing, I suddenly blurted out a desperate plea.
“Father,” I sobbed, “please take me,
instead of my son. I have lived a relatively long life. He is too young to die.
Plus, he needs to be here for his sons and his new grandson. They surely will
suffer immensely, if Ade were to die. They can do without me, but not their dad.
Please, Father, let Ade live, if that is
Your Will. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.”
I prayed similar prayers during that
twenty or thirty-minute walk, as well as throughout that day. Still, my
uneasiness continued to intensify; so much so, that by six o’clock in the
evening I felt too sick to be around my family — my younger son, his wife, and
their children — so I went to bed.
By now, my entire body seemed to know
that Ade was dying. That was why all I wanted to do was to escape that
unbearable truth by sleeping my hurt away. I had not been asleep all that long
before Tarik was sitting next to me on my bed, shaking me, and begging me to
“wake up.” He repeated his plea. “Please wake up, Mom. You have to wake up,
now.” It was 7:50 p.m., my time.
Awake but a bit fuzzy, I asked Tarik, “Why do I need to wake up,” and before he could say “Ade is gone, Mom,” I already knew it. I immediately started crying, while simultaneously trying to push Tarik away and asking, aloud, “Why, God, why?” However, Tarik wouldn’t let me pull away from him. We cried together in each other’s arms.” (pp. 172-173)
That day, I joined a club that mothers everywhere hope they will never have to join. I became a permanent member of the Mothers Who Have Lost a Child club. What I also say in my mini-memoir is it is unfortunate that “…even though I eventually could rejoice with God that Ade was no longer suffering pain, I couldn’t avoid grieving his loss” (p. 182).
Two years later, I am still grieving the loss of my son, Olumuyiwa Ade Keen. Even though I am not, nor have I ever been, paralyzed by a deep-seated depression, I do feel sad at times, even more so on days like today.
grief experts have come up with their own list of things a grieving person can
do that supposedly will help him or her deal with the anniversary of a loved one’s
death, but the truth is nothing and no human being can get me through today. Only
the Holy Spirit can comfort me while helping me deal with Ade’s death, and He
is doing just that. Thank You, Holy Spirit!
I wrote the following poem in August of 2017. It is about the anguish and sadness losing Ade has made me feel. I originally posted this poem on August 13, 2017, in one of my WordPress blog articles. At that time, I noted that this poem was from my “Deep-Rooted Disposition” manuscript. “Moody Woman” is now the title of that same manuscript. Once again, here is my poem:
Raining Nonstop in My Heart
Human life comes with no magical number – Threescore years and ten not guaranteed to Everyone into whom the Breath of Life is breathed, Putting within all living souls an eternal soul – An endless spiritual dimension of humanity. Yet long-life promise Command is figurative – At best, most days are long in Promised Lands But years are far shorter than the psalmist’s seventy Briefer still for countless parents’ beloved sons Or daughters they received from Indian Giver: Grief’s irate criticism of living souls’ Creator. Heartache cosigns divers pejorative expressions – Death makes them intensely strange bedfellows; Thankfully, God’s Love covers a multitude of mindsets Dead set on using finger pointing to hide the pain That mentally fighting noxious emotional wounds Deepens as human nature ignores Spirit’s Healing. Child-loss pain is without equal, unlike none other – Uniquely categorized since it betters bereavements’ Other types, triggering rawest ever-conceived anger that Wages war against the unfairness of it all, hardening Hearts reluctant to see collateral beauty around them Uninterrupted by undying love that sets off joy and hope. Domino effect doesn’t just signify a future disaster – It illustrates how love that is in the middle of all life Is hearts’ forever falling domino concurrently connecting By coupling each toppled one to grief, pain, suffering, Loss, or varied other ripples, including death, as they Form rings around unending love’s collateral beauty. Even so, diabetes monkey wrenched my life – This pre-existing condition snuffed out Olumuyiwa’s candle short of my often prayed for Long-life plan for my eldest son whose Given name means: ‘God provides this.’ I’m sure Ade, denoting ‘my crown,’ will get his – For my strong soldier fought the hardest battles; Still my heart misses its vital piece needed to fix these Throbbing, flip-flopping, pounding, skipping beat Irregular rhythms’ agonizingly irksome hiccups. They’re from regularly reran videos of his life – He’s infant, teen, adult; optimist then pessimist; He’s laughing, speaking, leaving, returning, then dying In my head’s wirelessly streamed detailed scenes Of jubilation and desolation that wear me down. Every interlude between reruns baits my fear – Cruel taunts make me believe I have begun to Forget the strong-willed, handsome, animated part Of me that died, living now only in memories Daydreams summon instantly without delay. Losing Olumuyiwa unlocked soulish floodgates – Now it’s heavily raining nonstop in my old heart, Wet monsoons from an overflowing waterlogged soul; Life is surreal like I’m imprisoned and dying in The center of a floating no locks, no bars vast Airless gravity-defying water designed bubble. Losing Olumuyiwa aftereffect is canyon in heart – This too wide to close gap prevents me from ever Being same person, since grief has no expiration date – Just a myriad of sadness and hopelessness tides That confirm uncomfortable truth: he’s not here.
This second anniversary of Ade’s death is very significant. Thanks to Father God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, I have done something, which on May 2, 2017, I didn’t think it would have ever been possible. I have survived two whole years without my oldest son, who was and still is someone as enormously important to me as life itself.
Every gift God freely gives us is
good and perfect, streaming down from the Father of lights, who
shines from the heavens with no hidden shadow or darkness and is
never subject to change. – James 1:17,
March is my birthday month. The 6th of March is my birthday. God willing, this year I will turn 68.
What generally has been said about people who were born in March is true about me. I am moody. I am observant. I love to travel. I love music. I am artistic/imaginative. I am bighearted and sympathetic. Once I love someone, I love that person forever. Lastly, I thrive on love.
I usually don’t celebrate my birthday like most people do, but this year I not only plan to celebrate my birthday but also plan to celebrate the entire month of March, as much as I possibly can. I am very thankful to God for allowing me to see another March, hopefully, another birthday, and March’s entire 31 days.
Historically speaking, because of its association with the first day of spring, March was originally the first month of the year in older versions of the Roman calendar. In the past, March 1st was New Year’s Day. Today, many cultures and religions still celebrate the beginning of the new year in March. In fact, the British Empire and its American colonies still celebrated the New Year in MARCH until 1752.
Additionally, March is the only month of our current 12 months that was named after a Roman god. March got its name from the Roman god Mars (the god of War).
As far as birth flowers and birthstones are concerned, March’s birth flower is the daffodil. Daffodils symbolize rebirth and new beginnings, and the daffodil virtually is synonymous with spring. March’s birthstones are aquamarine and bloodstone, which symbolize courage.
Nationally speaking, March is Women’s History Month. March 8th is Women’s History Day.
A K A birthplace famed North Atlantic region – Washington, D.C.
– haiku by Soror Nadine Drayton-Keen
On 25 February 1984, I became a member of Kappa Delta Omega’s graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. This February will be my 35th year as an AKA Soror.
Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated’s 111th Founders’ Day is on January
15. On this Tuesday, my Sorors and I will pause to honor the founding of
our beloved sisterhood, which started in our nation’s capital on the campus of
Howard University. Also on January 15, my
Sorors and I will pay homage to the vision, courage, tenacity, and oneness of purpose of the extraordinary women who dared
to create the first organization for college-trained women.
One hundred eleven years ago, our founders designed a sorority in which the members would be bound by the bonds of sisterhood and empowered by a commitment to the following three principles: 1. sisterhood, 2. scholarship, and 3. service to mankind. Our sorority’s current members still abide by these principles.
You’ve kept track of all my wandering and my weeping. You’ve stored my many tears in your bottle—not one will be lost. For they are all recorded in your book of remembrance. ~ Psalm 56:8, TPT
I received my copies of my mini-memoir, Untimely Farewells, on Friday evening (8-10-2018). Xulon Press shipped my copies on August 6th, so if Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and The Apple Store have received their copies it still may take a couple of days before my book is available in the paperback format.
On July 24th, my publisher wrote in an email to me that “Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com should have some information up about your book in 4-8 weeks, or sooner (this is done at their pace, as they are dealing with thousands of titles).” No doubt, the same applies to The Apple Store. Additionally, the eBook format for my book also may not be ready for a few more weeks, as well.
However, Xulon Press’ online bookstore has paperback copies of my book right now. You can find my mini-memoir by either searching by author or by title. Here is the link to Xulon Press’ online bookstore: https://www.xulonpress.com/bookstore/.
As many of you may remember, I lost my son, Ade, last May. Coping with his death was difficult for me to do at times, and that was why I started writing about all the times he and I had been separated. I had heard years ago about the therapeutic benefits of writing a novel, but I had no idea that my reasons for chronicling the many heartbreaking goodbyes I faced in my life would lead to Untimely Farewells.
My mini-memoir begins when I was 20 years old (1971), and it ends when I was 66 years old (2017). Last year I had to say my final goodbye to Ade.
Death and life have taught me that child-loss is unthinkable, and they have taught me that anguish is inescapable. Additionally, death and life have taught me that grief has no expiration date. As a result, the separation I have yet to bounce back from is the ultimate untimely farewell (Ade’s death), which was the last separation Ade and I would have. These and other events from my life are in my newly published autobiography—Untimely Farewells.
~ This book is dedicated to you, Ade. Rest In Peace In Heaven, my son . . . . .
He always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial. We can bring them this same comfort that God has poured out upon us. And just as we experience the abundance of Christ’s own sufferings, even more of God’s comfort will cascade upon us through our union with Christ.
If troubles weigh us down, that just means that we will receive even more comfort to pass on to you for your deliverance! For the comfort pouring into us empowers us to bring comfort to you. And with this comfort upholding you, you can endure victoriously the same suffering that we experience. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:4-6, TPT
I have been up all night—not because I was worried about how I will handle today. I have been up all night, because I was making some very minor revisions to my memoir. Praise Good!
It’s amazing how God had me working on my memoir, starting last night and ending early this morning. It is no coincidence that my manuscript focuses on the many times Ade and I have been separated—all our untimely farewells, including the ultimate separation.
Where Ade is concerned, his ultimate separation happened on May 2, 2017. It didn’t take this first anniversary long to get here. It really seems like Ade went home to be with the Lord just yesterday.
I couldn’t visit Ade’s earthly resting place in person, but I am definite there in Spirit. I know he knows how much I love him and miss him. Those are messages I can send from wherever I may be in this world on any given May 2nd. Still, in my absence, I would love it if his grave is adorned with beautiful flowers that are from the family.
In addition to the flowers and the narrative that I have dedicated to Ade, I plan to look at many pictures of my son today. I am sure there will be some photos that will make me cry, but so far today I’ve only been smiling.
For this one-year anniversary of Ade’s death, I am re-posting the poem I wrote for his homegoing service’s program. As I say in my memoir, this poem captures my understanding of the God-kind of Hope He gives to parents who have lost a child. My poem is as follows:
Just Sleeping: Only Believe
Nothing in life happens by chance Neither by accident nor happenstance; The Fates can’t override providence Or replace it with inevitable dominance.
Destiny may be written on some stars But only Creator knows how long ours Has until we are snuffed like a candle— On the fade to black shut-eye channel.
Death brags with no reason to be proud For he claims no life God hasn’t allowed; Sorrows touch humans for many reasons But He who changes times and seasons Raises the sleeping; changes bad to good, And upgrades His aggrieved to sainthood.
The saints who still move and still breathe Must exercise the faith needed to believe They’ll see their gone-home family again Healed from all misery, illness, and pain.
Ade was 24 years old when he was diagnosed with Diabetes. From that day forward, most of his adult life was full of excruciating pain, yet he never complained. I truly am thankful to God that Ade is no longer in pain, but because on Earth grief has no expiration date my pain won’t ever end.
On this May 2, 2018, I am sending up this message on the Wings of The Dove:
I miss you, Ade. I love you, Ade. I think about you, Ade. I won’t ever forget you, Ade.
Your MOM . . . . .
Here is a critique of my soon to be published new book, Lord willing. This book is my memoir that I plan to give the title of Untimely Farewells. The critique is as follows:
“This is a beautiful and moving story that depicts the ups and downs of a wonderful family, and the relational interactions between each member; especially between the mother and her 1st born son. It is obvious that the mother-son relationship is of utmost importance and you do an exceptional job of painting a verbal portrait of this.
The writing is done well and the story also flows well. There is a cohesiveness and a natural flow to the content.” ~ Desireé Harris-Bonner, MBA
February is Black History Month—an annual celebration of African-Americans’ achievements. This month also is a time for recognizing the crucial role Blacks played, and continue to play, in U.S. history.
Black History Month grew out of “Negro History Week,” which was the brainchild of the Harvard-trained Carter G. Woodson—a renowned historian who in 1915 received indispensable help from other notable African-Americans to establish the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. This organization was dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by African-Americans and other peoples of African descent.
Every U.S. president since 1976 officially has designated the month of February as Black History Month. Furthermore, in other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, a month to celebrate black history also has been established.
Your skin’s as light as white, brown, or darker than blue You wear cornrows, afros, the straight and curly look, too. Your Black beauty’s a mystery—a wonder to behold Your queenly gate—that soulful stride—says ‘I can’t be sold.’
Though shadows of darkness have burdened your life, Whether by misery’s battles or modern-day strife, You continue chanting: A change is going to come, While strategizing ways you can get that job done.
Praise goes to the Black woman for her intestinal fortitude An unwavering perseverance that endures forced servitude. Honor goes to her too whose Black pride took a backseat To her bitter, insensitive foes now under her dusk-colored feet.
– composed by Nadine Drayton-Keen in the 1980s
Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief]. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty [conceited, self-important, exclusive], but associate with humble people [those with a realistic self-view]. Do not overestimate yourself. ~ Romans 12:15-16, AMP
Happy 110th Founders’ Day (on January 15, 2018) to all my Sorors. I have been a Soror for 33 of these 110 years. My 34th anniversary is on February 25th.
In honor of my Sorority’s 110th anniversary, I wrote the following haiku poem on January 9, 2018:
The Pink and The Green
join agreeably –
dignity and strength.
My “AKA Colors” haiku poem also is in the above Founders’ Day image.
One of my first Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated haiku poems that I illustrated is in the below graphic. I call the haiku poem in the following image simply, “Sisterhood”:
A wise man describes the utmost unbreakable strand. Solomon’s symbol for durability is a cord consisting of three strands. His threefold cord represents an indestructible union—one that could be created between three or more friends (who can be any combination, including merely three Sorors). Solomon writes:
By yourself you’re unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third?
A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped. ~ Ecclesiastes 4:12, MSG
May each of my Sorors honor every Soror on Founders’ Day. May our bonds of Sisterhood always be strong, dignified, and elegant.
This is my first Season of Giving, my first Kwanzaa, and my first New Year without my oldest son, Olumuyiwa Ade Keen. He died on May 2, 2017. Not one day has gone by in which I haven’t felt his loss—a loss that constantly feels like the truckload of bricks that were dumped on me are relentlessly crushing me.
Needless to say, Ade’s death changed me. The person I thought I was instantly changed the second he died. Knowing what it means to feel the deepest sadness—the kind that flips a parent inside out—is why I will never be the way I was before I lost my son.
I confess. I am not over it.
I confess. I do not feel better.
I confess. I am still grieving.
I confess. These holidays aren’t merry for me.
I confess. These holidays aren’t happy for me.
These holidays have me thinking about all my loved ones who are no longer living on this Earth. I’m deeply missing all of them. However, it is my son that I miss most of all!
I love you, Ade! I miss you, Ade! Happy Holidays to you, my son!