Simply Celebrating Life

marleneWe’re continuing the conversation about celebrations today by talking about the ways in which we celebrate the life of those who have passed away. I count it a privilege to have been able to interview the eldest daughter of a woman who was nothing short of amazing. She truly was grace in the flesh and teaching those around her, aka me, how to be a person of grace, a person who seeks the best in others without blindly ignoring their faults but not being blinded by them. Here’s what Adjoa Idun, Founder of Tasty Buds Catering in Philadelphia, PA had to say about celebrating the life of her mom Marlene Kay Agustas Idun .

Me: It’s been a little over a year since your mom passed away from respiratory failure. Tell me a little bit about her.

Adjoa: My mom was a gift to myself, three sisters, Abrina, Ewure-Aba and Nana-Mbra and our dad. She worked for Head Start Learning Tree here in Philadelphia as a mental health specialist, specifically supporting children under five years old. When I was just in preschool she and another parent created the preschool curriculum for our first church and ran the program until each one of her four children where no longer of preschool age. My mother was incredibly industrious. There was a time she made the decision to stay home with her children as a stay-at-home mother she also opened up a daycare called Marlene family day care for over seven years. When I was in my first year of high school she opened up her own African export business called Afias Afrocentric Market. She sold African art jewelry and clothing for four years.

Me: Wow. That is a lot and quite a legacy to leave. How do you still celebrate her life?

Adjoa: By actively being who she believed I was and could be. My mom was a huge supporter of my gifts and talents and I continue to use them the way she would expect and encourage me to.

Me: How does she live on in you?

Adjoa: To be very literal sometimes when I’m laughing or in a heated debate; I hear my mother’s voice, I mean I sound just like her and its oddly comforting to me.

Me: What is your favorite way to celebrate and what was hers?

Adjoa: As long as I can celebrate with family I’m cool. My mom was the same way. As long as there was family and lots of laughter, it was a celebration and just a really good time.

Me: What is your favorite memory of a celebration with your mom?

Adjoa: My favorite memory of a celebration with my mom was her 50th birthday bash. We put together a long weekend with all her sisters at a hotel where each day we had a different surprise for her, a pottery class with a catered lunch, mani pedis, jewelry making, movies and a huge sit down dinner. She was so happy the entire weekend.

Me: How did your mom celebrate you, you sisters, and your dad?

Adjoa: On our birthdays she would always make these gift bags of stuff she had been buying all year that were specific to the things you enjoyed or where your hobbies. It was her way of expressing she knew us as individuals and loved us.

Me:  Your mom was a woman of faith, how did she acknowledge or celebrate her faith and or the thing she saw/believed God was doing in her life or the lives of those around her?

Adjoa: She always acknowledged God as the basis of anything worth celebrating. She made sure we understood that all good and perfect gifts came from him and the love that we had as a family was the most priceless gift we had from God.

Me: What if anything makes celebrating or the idea of celebrating your mom challenging?

Adjoa: One of the biggest joys of celebrating is that everyone is there who you want to celebrate with. Celebrations now are bittersweet because her absence is always felt. We carry-on in the spirit of the love that she showed and the joy that she gave, but it’s still different you know.

Me: What if anything makes celebrating your mom or the idea of celebrating your mom exciting/hopeful?

Adjoa: To be honest nothing yet. I hope to be able to celebrate when I have children the way that she celebrated me and my birthdays and accomplishments.  I hope to live out that relationship of celebration with my own children.

Me: As you engage in future celebrations in your own life whether it’s marriage, birth of a child, buying your first home, your creative talents landing you on some great television show, how will you incorporate your mom into those moments?

Adjoa: I guess the reality is that she’ll always be a part of me. She’s in me and like I said sometimes I sound like her and I behave like her.  Wherever I go and whatever I do in the future celebrating my mom is naturally there.

Me: What words of encouragement would you give to others who want to celebrate someone they have lost but don’t know how?

Adjoa: I guess I would have to be honest and say I’m still figuring all that out.  I encourage people to remember, recall, and reminisce whenever you can because great times are memories that both celebrate and heal the heart.

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