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Building on a solid foundation
By Ellen “Butterflyy” Allen
The season of giving I’ve thought about this topic for roughly 3 to 4 weeks. When I gave myself over to understanding, I begin to appreciate all seasons all giving or receiving all acceptance of who I am where I began where I am and I had to start with the beginning.
Born February 24, 1972 into a two parent household. Will leave that right there in 1975 at the age of three I went into coma diagnosed with spinal meningitis my mother sit with me tirelessly day in and day out until until I decided it was time to wake up and from that point on add have to say my life has been beautiful.
I grew up in the lower ninth Ward of New Orleans in a single parent house so by the time I was eight my father such a beautiful man beautiful in appearance beautiful in spirit. Plaques with a few demons of his own, my mother chose to raise me alone. Fortunate for me I grew up knowing my father loved me because the wonderful nurturing of my mother never spoke an unkind word of my father. I knew that my mother loved me. She often said because I was sick as a baby that I would be the only one, another sick baby would probably take her out of this world, so here I am growing up an only child in New Orleans, Louisiana the birthplace of more than just Jazz.
I was educated in the Orleans Parish school system. Prior to Hurricane Katrina My alma mottos were still in tack. Thomas Alva Edison elementary school , Francis W. Gregory middle school and Alfred Lawless senior high school. In middle school I introduced to drama and theatre, which I loved, there is where I began a love of journaling. In high school is where my athletic side came into play, with track and field along with 3 years of choir.
I was quiet and reserved throughout my education. Though I must say everything was turned into a story because things seem better when they’re in stories. I was different than most high school girls, off to a certain degree. I always floated my own boat. Fads, cliques, and popularity was never my thing, I desired to stand out — but alone.
A transition into college attending southern university at New Orleans pursuing a career in broadcast journalism after the birth of my son however I transitioned again to the feel of much room assignments after I had my daughter I accetped a position with the New Orleans Health department once that employment ended, I realized that my calling and purpose was to help and assist others. I started my very first business called Memorable Occasion an event planning business and catering business always an entrepreneurs spirit. Because I wanted to be the stay at home mom with access to my children and their education I embraced being my own boss, the repetitiveness of a nine to five job was not for me. My children came first. Their father made it possible for me to be the best mother I could be kudos to him.
Fast forwarding to 2015 and my 34+ years of being a New Orleans, if the brick size tears could tell the story. I guess I’ll begin at the evacuation. It still brings tears to my eyes and the memories of raising my children in the lower ninth ward in the home that I owned since I was 19 years old, where the walls were marked with the measurements, a reminder of how much my children grew, where murals mastered from the hands of my son, painted the nursery for our newest addition she was 18 months old when we had to leave a beloved home my son was 13 it my daughter was 12. When the call to evacuation came there was never a question of if I was going to leave but when I was going to leave and how fast it was going to take me to get out of that place where I only have two arms and three babies. Their safety, what I remember most about that Saturday was how calm it seemed, I never thought that I would not be able to come back to my life. The hardest part for me was losing my physical memories, pictures of my babies from years of family vacations, videotapes of all their school performances, the band, the graduations, the award ceremonies, all washed away. Looking back I recall the horrific stories of those who stood behind , I had a neighbor he tells a beautiful story a story of survival renewal and faith so if I have anything to tell that is where I’ll begin.
In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina I had this saying, “I may be homeless but I’m not hopeless” because everything that mattered to me was with me when I landed in Memphis Tennessee. I only packed clothes for my babies, I literally left with the clothes on my back, I thought we were coming back. It was not until I found myself in the bathroom washing out my undergarments that the tears begin to roll down my face, I had brought enough change of clothes for three days we’d always gone back home after the storm, we always went back home after the storm . Here was a woman who’s confidence, sense of family, sense of urgency and the need to survive was wondering what next? What about my babies, where would they go to school what roof will be over their head‘s tonight? It was definitely the most unsettling feeling I had felt since the death of my father back in 1993. August 29 of 2015 was the second time in my life that I have to put my big girl panties on and do what I knew how to do and that was survive make a way out of no way or as we say from backa’ town, historic lower ninth ward New Orleans, famed “Cross the Canal” I made a dollar out of fifteen cents.
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