She would like that this post is being written about her. In fact, she would be thrilled! From the day we opened our doors in September 2013, she had been one of the most enthusiastic women to visit the Center.
Her sense of style -- it would be an understatement to call it "unique" -- pervaded her creations in art class. Her searches on the Internet -- that is, once she learned how to search the Internet -- were driven by her seemingly unquenchable thirst for knowledge.
Her proudest moments at the Center were spent in the garden. Growing the vegetables that she used to feed her family made her so happy. She watered the garden every day, sometimes twice a day during the hottest days of the summer.
During the first year of our garden, she pointed out repeatedly that the garden was too small and that each woman should have her own garden bed. When we did this in the second year, she claimed to have been singlehandedly repsonsible for it, and that was fine with us.
Her favorite vegetable to grow was kale, because she heard it was one of the healthiest vegetables to eat. To be sure that she was growing and harvesting it properly she watched video after video on YouTube, shouting out her new learning to anyone who would listen.
Speaking of shouting: If she was walking up State St., riding on a bus near the Center, or talking to someone else nearby she would make sure to get our attention when she saw one of us.
"I'm on my way to water the garden!"
"I'll be over in a minute to use the computer."
"Did you see that kale?"
"Do you think those tomatoes are ready to pick?"
"Can you help me find directions on Mapquest?"
She "had been through a lot" in her life, she said. That made her tenacious in just about every way. She would not accept answers to questions unless she understood every bit of the explanation. She was the epitome of a "life-long learner."
She loved life and was especially attuned to those people society tends to ignore, especially the elderly. She couldn't attend morning classes because of her work at the Senior Center. She was frequently requested as a home health aide to the elderly.
She would have been 58 years old today. Had she been at the Center, we would have sung to her with lit candles on cupcakes. She would have asked for extra cupcakes to take home to her sons or to neighbors who rarely got cupcakes.
Instead, today we mourn her loss, secure in the knowledge that heaven will soon abound in different varieties of kale. If God argues that it's taking up too much room, God will lose the argument (and possibly be forced to drink a kale smoothie).
Rest in peace, dear friend! Thanks for keeping us on our toes. We love you and we will miss you greatly. The Passaic Neighborhood Center for Women is a better place because you graced it with your presence.
|Carolyn "Jamiliah" Dupree|
November 19, 1957 - August 28, 2015