On Wednesday morning, my cousin Joyce called me with the sad news that our Aunt Susie, the last sibling of her father and my mother, had died. She was 98 and lived in Reddick, a small, rural area near Ocala.
Aunt Susie was, as they say, the “spitting image” of my mom. She told me once that I used to cry for her when I was a baby because I thought she was my mom.
Both Mom and Aunt Susie were tall and graceful, and when they were young, could turn heads as they walked down the street. But as much as they looked alike, they were so very different. Mom was a city girl; Aunt Susie loved the country life.
When she was well, she grew peaches and plums and grapes on her property in Reddick. She had a garden with okra and collard greens and squash, and she took great pride in going into her garden and picking fresh greens for dinner, whenever she knew we were coming for a visit. She made the best buttermilk biscuits I have ever tasted. They actually melted in your mouth.
About two weeks ago, Aunt Susie’s third child, Paul, died. She was bedridden and couldn’t attend the funeral. After the service, about 10 of her nieces and nephews, and her surviving son, David, went to the nursing home to see her. She couldn’t stop smiling. We couldn’t stop hugging her and kissing her forehead.
I tell you about my Aunt Susie, not to make you feel sad for me, but to remind myself — and you, too — that no matter how long a person lives, it is still but a short time. And we must fill every waking minute trying to make the world a better place.
In her own, quiet way, Aunt Susie did that. She was loved by her family, friends and the neighbors in the rural community where she lived. Like her mother (my grandmother), she loved all of God’s creatures, and the goats and cows on the property were as tame as pet dogs.
Perhaps by some people’s standards, Aunt Susie didn’t do any great things during her 98 years here on earth. She wasn’t an educated woman. But she had a world of “mother’s wit.” After the death of her husband when she was in her mid 30s, she went to work as a nurses’ aide in a hospital. She worked at that job for 50 years before she retired. Doctors and patients, alike, loved her.
Aunt Susie left a legacy of love and compassion. She loved people, and when she was well, would reach out a helping hand whenever and wherever she could. She smiled often, squinting her eyes as she did. Her smile was contagious; you couldn’t help but smile back at her.
So, when I got the news of her passing, I felt a sadness that I hadn’t experienced before. Now, all the children of my mom’s generation have died. The realization has left a great void.
Summit to end sexual exploitation
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation will host its second annual Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Summit Sept. 10-12 in Orlando.
The event will bring together leaders, researchers and medical experts to address the important issues of sex trafficking, sex addiction, child exploitation and pornography.
According to a press release, this is the only conference of its kind: “It is essentially an international board meeting between all of the leaders in the movement to end sexual exploitation. The summit will bring together organizations and leaders from throughout Florida, and from around the world, to network, train and learn about the seamless connections between all forms of sexual exploitation.”
The event will be at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld in Orlando. Registration is required and is $300 per person. To register, visit http://endexploitationmovement.com/summit-2015/, or contact Haley Halverson at 202-393-7245 or email to email@example.com
Hispanic history exhibit
An exhibit, “Latino Americans: 500 Years of History,” will open Sept. 8 at St. Thomas University. It will showcase the Patron Saint of Cuba, the Cuban exodus and the role of Hispanics in South Florida. The exhibit will be complemented by film and programming about Latino history and culture.
The exhibit and programs are made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association. St. Thomas was one of the grant recipients selected from across the country.
The exhibits will be at the Archbishop John C. Favalora Archive and Museum at the St. Thomas University Library, and the grand opening events will begin with a Mass at 12:15 p.m. at the Chapel of Saint Anthony on the university campus at 16701 NW 37th Ave. in Miami Gardens. The Mass will be followed by a reception and guided tours at 1:15 p.m.
The exhibits will include:
▪ La Virgen de la Caridad. Images from the Diaspora, which explores the religious practices and traditions surrounding the devotion to La Virgen de la Caridad in Miami.
▪ Latino Americans: Cuban Experiences in Miami. The 1959 revolution and subsequent establishment of a socialist regime in Cuba prompted the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Cubans searching for freedom.
▪ Miami: A Multicultural Hispanic community. The metropolitan region contains many different Hispanic/Latino ethnic and racial groups; each of these communities has its own unique experience in Miami.
The exhibits will be on display Sept. 8 through May 15, 2016. For a schedule of events accompanying the exhibits, visit St. Thomas University library’s Facebook page or contact, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Uploaded Variety Show
Eagle Care Productions will present Uploaded Variety Show, its Salt and Pepper Black and White Gala at 7 p.m. Sept. 11 at Blossom’s of Elegance Banquet Hall, 4888 NW 183rd St., Second Floor, in Miami Gardens.
The event will feature Amazing Adam Comedic Magic Show, the spoken word by Poet Butterfly Vaughns; a male fashion show by Distinguished Gentlemen; the V Connection Band; and door prizes.
Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 at the door and include dinner. The attire is “dress to impress.” For more information, contact Mareeta McIntyre at 786-346-0021.
Brothers and Sisters on a Mission
Just a friendly reminder about the second annual black-tie benefit dinner and show presented by Brothers and Sisters on a Mission (BASOAM), 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, at My Destiny Ballroom at 1970 W. 60th St. in Hialeah.
The organization, founded by my late son Pastor James F. Hines Jr. and his wife, Debra, provides scholarships for deserving high school seniors.
The event will feature my granddaughter, Broadway star Afra Hines, and noted tap dancer Marshall Davis Jr. Tickets are $60 each and $600 per table. For tickets and more information call 954-243-5726.
Hispanic Heritage exhibit
The Miramar Cultural Center/Arts Park is celebrating the rich traditions of Hispanic Heritage with the exhibit “Nina/Pinta/Santa Maria,” a collection of art pieces celebrating the distinct, vibrant and rich traditions of Hispanic Heritage from four artists.
The exhibit, which opened Sept. 3, runs through Oct. 15 at the center’s Ansin Family Art Gallery, 2400 Civic Center Pl. in Miramar.
The featured artists are Joan Belmar of Chile; Aimee Perez of Cuba; Francisco Pazos of Spain; and Octabio Cuellar.
Belmar began using the Catalan name Joan for his first name (John) when he was 24 and living in Spain. He has lived in the U.S. since 2003 and is well known for his unique technique of 3-D painting. His latest series of paintings is two-dimensional and explores the psychological and cultural divisions that affect the way people see the world around them.
Perez, is now a resident of Miami. She works with the human form with a special interest in gesture and emotions that deal with life and relationships, but also serve as archetypes that transcend the context of society. Using Biblical and contemporary themes, she creates sculptures that explore spiritual truth and the paradoxical themes of suffering and redemption, grief and comfort.
Pazos is from Spain and is a rising international sculptor and artist who has won many awards for his work, including “new value” scholarships at the Pontevedra Biennial in 1983 and 1984; the Pontevedra Bronze Media in 1990; and the prestigious Anton Forges Award in 2008.
Cuellar mixes a little of his personal life with the intellectual, searching inside himself and others. He said it was necessary to look internally and change spectator’s rational perception. In his oeuvre, living things are absent, whereas inert or fantastic things are present.
The Ansin Family Art Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. , Tuesdays through Thursdays. For more information contact Valerie Norman Gammon at 954-602-4534.
Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Friends and Neighbors, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email email@example.com. Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.