As I live and breathe, I tell you my goddaughters know how to throw a surprise birthday party!
I celebrated my 80th birthday on Monday. I was aware that there was something in the works for me, but wasn’t sure what, when or where. And to keep me clueless, I was told that one of my goddaughters, Cecily Robinson-Duffie, was being honored Saturday by the Bar Association and that it was a formal affair. Another goddaughter, Nykki Burkes, told me she was taking me shopping for a dress to wear to Cecily’s event. OK. I was up for that.
While we shopped for a dress for Cecily’s affair, I said, “Whatever you get, I will wear it to my niece Michele’s wedding on Feb. 17.”
Nykki said, “Oh, no. You will need a new dress for that, and then you will need another dress for your party on Feb. 24.”
Now, I am totally confused, but I go along, and end up with three beautiful dresses.
The plan Saturday was for me to pick up Maebell Wilson, Cecily’s other godmom, and we would come to the event together. So, I put on one of my new dresses and drove to Hollywood to pick up Maebell. Her son, Bishop Arthur Wilson, drove us to the event, getting directions on the phone from Cecil Andrew Duffie, who was just back from a trip abroad. I could hear him telling Art on the phone, “I had to be back for my mom’s event.” And I think, “What a sweet, thoughtful son.”
We arrive at the venue in Fort Lauderdale and Maebell and I are helped out of the car and told to wait by the door until the guys parked the cars. Meanwhile, I am still clueless.
Then, the guys escorted us through the front doors and all I could see was a blur of familiar faces — my granddaughter Afra and her mom, MaryAnne (both New Yorkers), were in front and I just started screaming. It is a wonder that I can still talk.
As I was escorted through the room to my seat, I reached out to the smiling people who had all come to honor me. Some came from out of town — New York, Georgia and Melbourne, Florida; and some were former Miami Herald journalists. I saw former editors Pat Andrews, Mohammed “Hamal” Hamaludin, Joe Oglesby and I don’t know who else. It seemed I was floating on air. I was so happy to see everyone.
One of the highlights of the evening was when three young women from The Obsidian Order Theatre Ensemble of Florida Memorial University acted out my story in a skit, “Rewriting What They Thought They Knew,” written and directed by Keith Wade, with some coaching from my goddaughter Nykki. It was so moving, it made me laugh and cry.
In his wonderful tenor voice, Darryl Spence — my “other son” — sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” my favorite hymn; goddaughter Linda Swift spoke of my work for the church; Joe Oglesby spoke of our days together at the Herald; and daughter-in-law Debra Hines spoke of me as her mother, not just her mother-in-law.
My brother Adam told of what it was like growing up with me; and godson Walter LaMark Richardson came from Atlanta to honor me with his gratitude. My friend Congresswoman Frederica Wilson honored me by placing my birthday and my contributions in the Congressional Record.
But the icing on the cake, so to speak, was when my son Shawn walked through the door midway through the celebration. He had missed his plane and had to catch a later one. All I can say is there were more screams of happiness from me when I saw him, the first time since his brother Rick died in 2013.
What a wonderful night, weekend, month. The celebration ended with blessings from all the ministers who were there, led by another of “my sons,” Bishop James Adams. My godbrother, The Rev. Dr. Walter T. Richardson, said the benediction.
I am still floating, y’all.
City cemetery service
The community is invited to the 25th annual commemorative service in the Miami City Cemetery at 3 p.m. Sunday. The service honors the African-American city incorporators and their families, and Aundrella Hamed, a member of the Lemon City cemetery community corporation, who died recently. The cemetery is at 1800 NE Second Ave.
The program will feature “Youth Talent On Parade”; the winners of the essay competition “Why I Am Proud of My Heritage”; and a brief summary of the pioneers whose names appear on the city charter as incorporators in 1896.
Call 305-638-5800, 305-297-7912 or 305-635-5130 for more information.
Domestic violence workshop
A free domestic violence workshop, “No More Broken Hearts,” will be presented by Miami-Dade School Board member Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 24 at Charles R. Drew K-8 Center, 1801 NW 60th St. in Liberty City.
The theme is “Break the Silence, Break the Cycle,” and will feature workshops for adults and youth; a Provider Resource Fair and Showcase; and free breakfast and lunch for attendees. Master plan points will be available for educators, and there will be an “Experience the Domestic Violence” gallery on site.
To participate, register online at: 2018nomorebrokenhearts.eventbrite.com. For more information, call 305-995-2311. Donations of used cellphones will be accepted.
Historic Overtown walk
A walk through historic Overtown, “Walk Together Children,” will be from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday. The free walk will begin at the historic Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 301 NW Ninth St. (Willie Waters Way), and will end at Jackson Soul Food Restaurant, on the southeast corner of Northwest Third Avenue and 10th Street. Free parking is available in lots on the corner of Northwest Third Avenue and 10th Street.
Christ the King Lutheran Church will present a 36-person musical, “The Voyage,” Saturday at the church, 11295 SW 57th Ave. in Pinecrest. Doors open at 7 p.m.; the pre-show begins at 7:15 p.m.
The program is free, but donations will be requested for the church’s Love in Action program, which sponsors foster families. Currently the church sponsors more than 20 families, with over 70 children. The money raised will go to the foster families.
Rock On Shabbat
Cantor Lisa Segal and the Rock On Shabbat Band will perform at Rock On Shabbat, a joyful, song-filled, spiritual experience at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Bet Shira Congregation, 7500 SW 120th St.
The Shabbat will incorporate all the elements of a traditional Kabbalat Shabbat service, with dancing and singing to the liturgical musical settings.
Call the synagogue at 305-238-2601 for more information.
Internationally known Jamaican tenor Steve Higgins will appear in concert at 7 p.m. Feb. 24 at Congregation Dor Chadash, 9400 SW 87th Ave.
The concert, “Embracing Romance,” is a post Valentine’s Day fundraiser for the synagogue and is co-sponsored by the Jamaica Tourist Board and Stoosh Productions. Higgins has toured Europe and performed for the Birmingham Commonwealth Association’s tribute to Queen Elizabeth II on her 90th birthday.
The “Embracing Romance” show will advise, in a humorous way, on “touch-up hints” for relationships and “will definitely make you laugh,” Higgins said. The show will feature nostalgic, foot-stomping, upbeat romantic ballads and jazz numbers, as well as some Jamaican folk music about love as Higgins and friends weave rich, authentic Jamaican culture onto the main stage.
Joining Higgins will be sopranos Dahlia Wynter and April Marr, and creative dancer Amaya Lewis, a finalist in the 2017 Miss Jamaica World Contest.
Tickets are $45 for general admission and $60 for the Golden Circle, which includes a pre-concert reception to meet the performers.
Call the synagogue at 305-595-3838 or Steve Higgins Productions at 954-424-0959 for tickets and more information.
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