Your Legacy

By Nancy Hellekson and Anonymous

 

“The largest wealth of this world lies six feet under.”

Today I was with a group of friends who were discussing their lives. We wondered what we would be leaving behind for our families and friends. What life experiences and lessons learned could we share with them and how could we do it?

Each of us has a unique story, but most never transfer their life’s experiences and lessons learned to oncoming generations.

Here’s what we’re asking: Write a letter about your life or personal experience that you want to share with your family and friends. Then, if you are brave enough, send it to us. We will review and select some letters for publication (anonymously) in Breakfast Serial. Of course, we will get your written permission before publishing.

Who knows how many lives you may touch.

Read our first submission from my brave friend.

EMBRACE IMMORTALITY

“Dr. Uzoma Nwaubani’s calling to transfer one’s life experiences and lessons learned to oncoming generations resonated with me. She said ‘The largest wealth of this world lies six feet under.’ Forever buried in and with the lives and bodies of our fallen fellow humans who either died prematurely without attaining their God-given potential or died at a ripe old age but never transferred their life’s experiences and lessons learned to oncoming generations.”

I welcome the privilege to share my story, and attain immortality through the DYM “Dear Younger Me” saga!

My father’s early death from tuberculosis at age 29 dictated the rest of my life. Our family members were reluctant to take us in due to my father’s dreaded disease. My mother had no choice but to place us in an orphanage with the intention that she would be able to have her family back eventually. That was not to be.

When my older brother turned 18 years old, he was made responsible for his two younger brothers. They lived like street urchins in Montreal, doing whatever it took to eat and have a place to sleep. Being the only girl, my mother kept me in boarding schools till I turned 18. She worked on passenger ships and spent months at sea, she could not afford to do the same for my brothers.

I spent thirteen (13) years in Catholic boarding schools, five of which were in an orphanage called “Hotel Dieu, (God’s Hotel) in French Canada. I learned to speak English at the age of fourteen in Tarrytown, New York. My arrival in New York in 1960, coincided with the Cuban Revolution when Castro overthrew the Batista government. Many Cuban girls left Cuba accompanied by Catholic nuns, and some were brought directly to my boarding school. The girls and I had one thing in common, we did not speak English. Somehow, we managed to learn English and had good times living together.

I remained optimistic through many challenges; a teenage pregnancy, raising a biracial child in the 60’s, a difficult marriage, divorce and bankruptcy. Abortions were illegal in 1966, and I was pregnant with a black child.

Hearing about my teenage pregnancy, a well meaning office friend encouraged me to lie and say that I had been raped in order to obtain a legal abortion. I knew that I was not raped. I lived alone in an hotel room in Manhattan that Summer, I was lonely and wanted to be part of the Office Manager’s group who met weekends to party and listen to his band. I asked him to give me a ride to meet up with the group, he graciously agreed and I came onto him in the car.

Accusing a black man of raping a white teenage girl more than 50 years ago would have changed his life forever, not to mention his children and his families’ lives. It would have changed my life also living with the knowledge that I caused this man to be put in jail or worse, because I lacked the courage to be honest.

Instead, I gave birth to a perfect, beautiful baby boy, and the father continued to be the successful man that I knew and became a big brother to troubled boys the last ten years of his life.

I applaud myself for the awareness I had as a teenager to remain true to myself and find the courage to move forward. Self-honesty is the greatest act of love that you will ever experience within yourself.

During my 20 to 30 year old self, I had many challenging experiences but it was also a time to learn how to become a responsible mother. I returned to college and found my voice. I could no longer tolerate my husband’s mental and physical abuse, and divorced him when I was 28 years old. After he left the country, so he wouldn’t have to give me child support, I learned to become financially independent.

With gratitude, I finally exhaled!

I worked as a French/English secretary with the United Nations in New York. I worked for the TARS Department (Technical Assistance Recruitment Service), we prepared and sent Cartographers/Demographers to work in third world countries. Unfortunately, after my divorce, I could not afford to live in New York, so I moved to Miami to be with my mother.

My first job in Miami was with a successful yacht company. It was there that I met Captain Robert Dean. We developed a true friendship even after I left the company. Bob and I  traveled to Italy before I met my husband, Bill. After my husband’s passing in 2017, we reconnected and traveled to France and Colorado. We have an unconditional and loving relationship. We have known each other for more than 45 years, what a gift!

I found love and relationships in my early 30’s. I met the Judge, and that blessed encounter changed my life. Early in our relationship he asked me “what are you planning to do for the rest of your life, you have no education, no money, and two young children”. No one ever asked me that before…I made myself a promise that night, to return to my studies and get a college degree. I received my Bachelor of Arts from Florida International University (FIU) in 1981, and was later admitted to Law School in Houston, Texas. Because of difficult circumstances relating to my son’s physical abuse by his step-father back in Miami, I did not finish Law School. Instead I worked diligently within the Court system, and received a Fellowship in Court Management. I spent 18 years with the 11th Judicial Circuit in Miami, Florida, working as Director of Traffic Operations. Traffic Court is the people’s court, so we created several programs to help our traffic offenders drive legally.

  • Night Court was instituted to accommodate day time workers.
  • Bailiffs were hired to assist our Traffic Court Judges.
  • The DWLS Program, (Driving While License Suspended) a diversion program, which diverts Criminal traffic cases from trials. The offender never sees a Judge. It was win-win-win.

The Judge was 28 years my senior, we had 11 blissful years working together. We became engaged when the Chief Judge, because of our age difference, suggested that it would look better for him to campaign with his fiancée instead of his girlfriend. We chose to live separately, I had my own apartment with my children. After his retirement, I was ready to move on with my life. The Judge and I remained friends, and my soon to be husband, Bill, asked him to perform our marriage ceremony. The Judge later married a dutiful young woman; they had many good years together.

It was never my intention to remain in a relationship only to enrich myself financially, what mattered was how I felt being with that person at the time.

I then met my young Argentinian lover. He was 10 years my junior. He owned nothing, having recently arrived in Miami from Buenos Aires on a cargo plane carrying horses . We became friends and lived together for a few years in South Beach, Florida. He spoke Spanish only, and with my connections, I helped him build his business. He wanted more of a commitment, but my children were already grown, and always true to myself, I was not interested in starting a family at 45 years old. Today, he is happily married, runs his own business, and has a loving family

During my daily walks on the boardwalk in South Beach, Miami, I ran into an old friend, Buddy. This friend could be a difficult person at times, but I was always kind to him. He was walking with a tall stranger. We were casually introduced, and this tall stranger would become my loving husband for more than 20 years. I won the lottery on my birthday, December 24, 1997, the day I married Bill. Our friend and my former fiancée, the Judge, performed the marriage ceremony. I did not realize how wonderful life could be with someone who “gets you” and accepts you unconditionally.

I have been blessed with two children, Pierre and Claudine, and three grandchildren, Chase, Maxwell and Chloe.
I did not know my immediate family, instead, the nuns, the orphans, and the girls in boarding schools became my “family by choice!”

I love my fate! Growing up in God’s Hotel (the orphanage) and retiring in God’s playground, (The Villages).

These are some of my life experiences, what I went through, and maybe you can learn something from it.

      • –  Always be true to yourself.
      • –  Think only loving thoughts.
      • –  Learn to master forgiveness.
      • –  Dare to follow your heart!
      • –  Celebrate life!
      • –  Do what brings you joy!
      • –  Live a life of gratitude.

2 thoughts on “Your Legacy”

  1. Great story and thank you that you had the courage to share it.
    I wonder how many other “Life’s stories” are in the Villages waiting to be told ?
    With over 130,000 people here, there surely must be a few.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. Your journey from God’s Hotel to God’s Playground was fascinating. I’m glad you posted your “lessons learned”.

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