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November 2021



             As we enter the month of November I am filled with both excitement, anticipation, and yet, I feel a bit melancholy. I am excited to be entering a period of Grace and Mercy, as I anticipate beholding the beginning of another year among the living. Yet I cannot help but feel melancholy because memories flood my mind of past years and times I enjoyed as a child, a young adult, as a wife and mother and as a part of our loving family. Having been born in November, the first celebration was my birthday and then Thanksgiving Day. This was the time when everyone prepared their favorite dish and shared it with members of the family as we came together at Janie’s house for Thanksgiving and later celebrated Christmas at Antoinette’s house.


              At dinner, we also had the tradition where everyone sitting at the dining room table had to recite a bible verse before partaking of the meal. I vividly recall when Freddie, Antoinette’s husband, was introduced to the family custom. He had a bible verse ready and when his turn came , he stated it with authority. We were surprised but, delightfully so.


           Everyone would sit around, eat, laugh, play piano, violin or saxophone and sing. As our day would come to an end, we would gather in our family circle, heads bowed, holding each other’s hand as mama led us in prayer. As the years passed, and mama was no longer with us, that responsibility was graciously and willingly undertaken by Janie. It was delightful to see my brothers and sisters, along with their families, greeting each other, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company.  Even if for some reason a core family member was unable to be with us, his or her family members would still be in attendance.


         Monthly, we began gathering at our house on Bridgehead Street to celebrate family members’ birthdays. Zelma would bake a cake with the names of those celebrating birthdays that particular month. Paul would record the voices of everyone at the celebration. Everyone received the microphone and spoke freely. When our dad became incapacitated and could not verbalize his thoughts and wishes, somehow, mama knew just what to say as she spoke for both of them. She would stand near his chair, holding his hand and he would nod as she spoke, as if giving his approval. The tapes were transferred to CD’s and now as MP3’s, are preserved for posterity.  And yes, our monthly meetings still continue.


              I have often listened to the recordings, hearing the voices of those now silenced as well as those who for whatever reason have drifted away from the family’s core. And even today whether gathering together with family or as we enter our secret closet in prayer; we remember all who shared in the love and laughter; even those who are now estranged, are still lovingly remembered and mentioned in our prayer.


               As I remember events such as these, I thank God for our pleasant and happy memories. Our family members may have lessened but we enthusiastically maintain the closeness we have shared over the years. As little children we were taught to put hurt and disappointments behind us and look ahead at the blessings God has in store for us. This fact I have passed on to my children: when faced with adversity, there is room for joy, when faced with animosity, find solace in God, when feeling destitute and dejected, remember, God loves and cares for you. We share the same blood and resilience that is perpetually embedded in us as members of the Richard Family. 


Yvonne Richard Sanchez

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