The 9…Touching 10!

   My Commencement Day @ the UBS Arena in Elmont New York on May 30, 2024. 










The year…2019…The time….late June…The place…in the quiet of my bedroom…

That August was to be my 60th birthday and it was quickly arising. After being complacent for a good decade, I slowly sat up swinging my feet off of the bed, contemplating my future. I had taken care of my parents and raised an independent daughter. Glory be to Jehovah, I had an epiphany!




Allow me to briefly fill in the blanks to provide you with a better understanding of my life.




                                                          CHAPTER 1

      I was born in Brooklyn New York on August 22, 1959, to my parents George and Annabelle Rider. I have an older sister and brother, making me the youngest child. My father and mother were born and raised in Louisville Kentucky. My father was born in 1919, and my mother was born in 1921. My father was raised Baptist while my mother was raised Catholic. In those days, that was considered taboo, disloyal, betrayal, and disrespect. My father was twenty-one, and my mother was nineteen when they married and decided to leave Kentucky. My father served in the US Army for four years and my mother was a homemaker. Neither of them graduated high school; however, they were married 58 years “till death do them part,” successfully fulfilling their obligations, duties, and responsibilities as husband, wife, and parents. As a black child little did I understand at the time, that coming from a whole family was considered privileged and special by my many black peers of a single entity. For many years I was scrutinized by the privileged and the underprivileged and realized that colorism was and continues to be an influential factor to not only the Caucasians but within our very black existence. Is this considered Prejudice, Racism, or plain Stupidty?


Residing in Brooklyn was a short-lived experience that I have no recollection of. My father made his living playing the trombone with people such as Count Basie, Dissie Gilispe, and Big Band players, to provide for his family. In mid-February 1960 at six months old, my family relocated to South Ozone Park (Queens), becoming homeowners. My father then began working in the garment industry in Manhattan. I have resided in Queens most of my life, although it is now classified as South Jamaica due to zoning altercations. At the time the area was looked upon as the suburbs. It is now considered an urban area. The homes back then had a market value of ten to twenty-five thousand dollars. Presently, it is in the millions. Whoah! I’ve seen a lot of people come, I’ve seen a lot of people go. From age six to thirteen, (1965 to 1973), I attended St. Clement Pope School for eight years and successfully graduated on time.


I emphasize the word “successfully,” and the terminology “on time,” because these two categories are the basis for goal reaching. The Oxford Dictionary defines success as “the accomplishment of a goal or purpose.” defines on time as “a form of punctuality.”


                                                               CHAPTER 2

The following four years, (1974 to 1977) from the age of 14 to 17, I attended “The High School of Fashion Industries majoring in Fashion Design Construction. At that time I aspired to be a seamstress. I love art, and fashion falls into the category of art. Creativity, origination, design, and imagination have always been a passion of mine. My parents were strict, but I did my best to abide by their rules, even though my parents were much older than my peers’ parents, making my obligations much more restrictive than those amongst me. At that time I thought that my parents were tyrants, just controlling and narcissistic. I didn’t completely appreciate the wisdom and love that they had for me. There were times that I wished that “they would get hit by a bus and die.” The thoughts of the ignorant. Now I wished that they were here to hold my hand, give me advice, and guide me. My father always said, “You’re not grown until your parents are gone.”

My parents worked well together. They were responsible for creating a safe and comfortable environment for their family. My father and mother were on time folks. My mother was very ingenious. I watched her transform “rags to riches” so to speak. She knew her financial obligations as a wife and mother. With one income they were able to buy a home and put their three children through a Catholic elementary and junior high school. My father “brought in the bacon,” and my mother “fried it up in the pan.” I couldn’t have asked for better parents, even though there’s always room for improvement. Nonetheless what drove me to learn how to sew, was to know how to create my own, cutting out the middle man. From the age of 15 (1974), until the age of 19 (1978), I worked with the “Summer Youth Program, and once again successfully graduated on time.


     Whoa, it really gets real at this point. During the years between 1977 and 1980 at age 17, after successfully graduating on time from high school in the year 1977, I saw the struggle with obtaining gainful, respectful employment in the “garment industry” with my credentials starting in what I considered to be no more than sweatshops. I was warned by my fashion design teachers that the reality of breaking into this industry was fierce and competitive. But being the headstrong naive individual that I was and sometimes believe that I still am at times, (getting better), you and no one else could tell me better. Unfortunately like so many of us, I had to see for myself. For some ungodly reason, I thrive on competition. No brag, just fact, I continue to stand out just being lil’ ol’ me. I don’t know as of yet if this is a Blessing or a curse. I would love to believe that when Jehovah created me, Jehovah broke the mold.

After realizing that the “means did not justify the ends” for me, I decided to embrace yet another passion of mine which is individuals’ civil rights, liberty, and justice for all. Sound familiar? Ummhumm. Once again, disillusioned by this system of things, I decided to embrace the judicial system attending John Jay College of Criminal Justice to become a criminal justice trial attorney. My father always explained to me that “you can’t beat city hall.” A very close friend of two decades expressed, “Ain’t nothing changed but the dog died.” This is a political, capitalistic, fiat world that we exist within. The rules are ambiguous and are shifted, changed, or abolished according to whatever new codification which is deemed necessary to fit the government’s present legislature. During my Junior year at John Jay, my fellow scholars and I went on field trips which exposed me to once again, “the reality of life.” I also worked at Ohrbach’s Department Store.

     CHAPTER 4

       Let’s push on, shall we? In 1981 I left my position as an assistant supervisor of the Junior Department at Ohrbachs Department Store and became employed by the USPS as a Letter sorting clerk. Oh did I mention that I was dating my first love at this time? Shortly after my employment at the post office, my love and I married. I was 22 and he was 23. After enduring emotional, psychological, and physical abuse by my first love and husband, I was strong enough to break away from that poisonous relationship. I met him in 1976 and married him in 1981.  After all these years I still don’t desire dude; however, the love I have for him remains the same. It was a long-lived courtship of seven years, but a short-lived marriage of ten months. I really had a hard time letting him go at first, but after a while, I realized that we just were not compatible even though there was and is a strong attraction. AND??? NADA!!!  

After my painful departure from my marriage, I slowly but surely began to accept that once again my decision-making was flawed. It is said that “time heals all wounds.” You best believe it! I cannot think of a better saying. All wounds heal. Some leave deep scars, and some do not. Years later I decided to take all of the Certified programs that were afforded to me by the Post Office. Shortly afterwards I became an “Acting Supervisor.”  I thank God that He gave me the strength and tenacity to brush myself off, keep the faith, and keep pushing on. Life shows up when you least expect it. Many individuals attribute negative causes to the devil. At times this very well may be correct; however, these occurrences may be used as a test of the durability of Faith. Let’s assess…negative and positive have caused the greatest sensation and fulfillment in our lifetime. Just remember that the positive must always take precedence. Otherwise, “Bang goes the dynamite.”


     And so forth and so on… The years between 1987 and 1992 were yet another trying time for me. I became a single mother of one in ’87 and although I secretly vowed to never marry again, after ten years of living a happily single life, I married once again to my best friend of ten years in 1992.  To my dismay, it also was a short-lived marriage that I treasured. An unfortunate illness took his life. It is often asked, “Is it better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all?” I’m still not certain. I still feel that you can’t miss something that you never had. I don’t know… What do you the reader think? It’s like determining what is most important. Is the glass half empty or half full? A half a loaf is better than none. I think that you get the gist/ what I’m suggesting. These are all nothing more than suggestions. I suppose that the individual determines its wealth or importance.

All that I know is that to this day, I can not miss anything that I did not have. Some may feel quite the contrary. Pray for me my brothers and sisters. Seriously, prayer works. I’m a consistent prayer, but I am so glad that my mother was a “prayer warrior.” Prayer is a spiritual aspect that does not require a physical presence but was done in the present if you can understand what I’m talking about my good people. Once again, the healing process of defeat took precedence, and restoration slowly but surely once again began. You think that you can breathe, relax, and unwind, but life will teach you not to become too comfortable because the next phase of life is on the horizon and about to begin. Whew… At times life just wants to make you throw your hands up in the air and succomb to its defeat… Absolutely NOT!!!

My original coin phrase       


“Failure Is Not An Option.”


It is now the year 1996. As any mature individual, we all have witnessed how time seems to just slip away. Time has a way of getting away from ya’ when life is being utilized in a positive facet, and when life really shows its ass. I was then 37 years of age picking myself up and dusting myself off. I’m still dealing with a devastating loss while independently parenting my nine-year-old daughter. At the time, it had been a difficult task to recalibrate for both of us. Slowly but surely, we began to accept life curves, hills, and infractions as we re-adjusted to the “hand that was dealt to us.” My daughter’s name is Samantha. She was very close to my husband/ her stepfather, and she was hurting and confused. I let her know that she is “My sunshine…my only sunshine. She makes me happy when skies are gray. She’ll never know dear, how much I love her…Oh please don’t take my sunshine away.” 

As time went on, I let my daughter understand that it has now become the “Pam and Sam Show.” Or the idiom “two peas in a pod” so to speak. Our pain and loss were real, which other than being mother and daughter, gave us an excruciating experience. In 1997, I decided to put in for a transfer to relocate with employment in the USPS. At the time I was also going back and forth from my co-op to my parent’s home to check and assist them where and when needed. My parents were getting along in age. My father began having health issues, and my mother was doing her best. But time began to take its toll on them both. My mother began to need more of my time. I did my best to attend to them while situating needed resources for their well-being. In 1999 two years later, my USPS transfer finally came through. My daughter and I were ecstatic. An exciting move was on the horizon…or so we thought.

                                                                    CHAPTER 7

In September 1999 at 40 years of age, I was mentally, emotionally, and physically preparing to relocate. Ionically my mother died unexpectedly. This threw me and my daughter through yet another tailspin. I was discombobulated, befuddled, not to mention bewildered. I just couldn’t believe it. Once again devastation set in. I had to take care of all the arrangements, my daughter, and myself. I just couldn’t believe it. I had to place my needs on “the back burner” and once again, re-prioritize my plans. I also realized that even though my father had always been a strong independent man, my mother’s death left him shattered. After all, they had been married 58 years. For the first time in my life, I actually saw my father cry and how fragile he was, which frightened me. Shortly after my mother’s death, he became needy and vulnerable. I then made the conscious decision to make my father’s well-being a front-and-center priority resulting in a cancellation of my re-location plan.

At this time my daughter was a twelve-year-old tween embarking on the mental and emotional transition of puberty. She took all the news very hard of her grandmother’s demise and the cancellation of embarking on our new life journey. I have always heard the saying, “While we make plans, God is laughing because they are not His plans.” A couple of months after my mother’s death, my daughter and I relocated. It was not the out-of-state relocation that was planned, but back to my parent’s home to care for my father. My daughter did not take the new plan very well. She had just graduated from elementary school going to middle school. She became very angry and started acting out. Long story short, I became an early grandmother, and she became a sixteen-year-old teenage mother. Life became very trying and exhausting for me. In the year 2007, my father expired. I was 47 years of age.

                                                                       CHAPTER 8

I was very close to my father and mother, and when my father passed on, I remembered what he used to always say about being grown. He said, “You’re not truly grown until you no longer have any parents.” At the time, I didn’t fully grasp on to his philosophy. For the most part, in his and those days, a parent or parents took on their role/roles in a very different significant manner. The parents were much more hands-on and made sure that their availability was not ever an issue. They groomed and raised their children to be an independent and productive part of society. Wiping their nose and giving moral support was always a part of being a parent until their demise. It is true that I have an older sister and brother. It is also unfortunately true that we are not as close as I would like it to be. I’m not saying that our relationship is the worst, but what I am saying is that there is always room for improvement. I started to feel very alone and isolated.

That’s when my father’s words hit me. “You’re not grown until you have no more parents.” A continuous downward spiral began. The economy had plummeted and the prices became inflated. The world revolved around computer technology, which I was derelict, making the job market tougher and combative. Applying for anything requires an email, username, and password. I was discombobulated, dumbfounded, and disillusioned. Obtaining employment at that time was slim to none, with me being at the bottom of the totem pole due to my lack of how the way the “world’ operated. Getting assistance from the state HRA offices was fruitless. For over a year and a half, I had to use my life’s savings to provide myself with food, clothing, and essentials. Only because of the grace of Jehovah, I came into contact with a church in my community that had a food pantry. My savings had been exhausted. The church also provided me with small connecting entities that worked with the city and state which assisted individuals with their necessary needs. I also obtained numerous certificates through the programs that were in conjunction with the church.

                                                                   CHAPTER 9

It took me eleven years (2008-2019), to come back down to earth and access the way I wanted to live the remainder of my life. Being a part of the church gave me purpose. I was a part of the process of support and all it entails. The intake and distribution of goods and services. Sponsorships, food pantry, soup kitchen, book bag giveaways, fundraisers, inventory, time management, free certificate classes funded by the state, and the experience of networking. I enjoyed my time with the church and being a vital part of their numerous programs, but this season in my life too expired. After being estranged from the church, I went back to doing basically nothing for the next thirteen to fifteen months. Did I merely just want to exist, or did I want to live? I became tired of piddling around, just biding my time, not having anything substantial to do.

A few months before my 60th birthday in 2019, I sat on my bed swinging my feet back and forth in deep thought about my life and what to do with it. I didn’t want to get just any ol’ job but decided to further my education to obtain a career, something that was advantageous, yet mentally and spiritually fulfilling. Reading, writing, researching, and revealing have been passions of mine also. I then decided to study journalism and proceeded to enroll at York College. As I previously stated, you can’t do anything without the use of computers. Because of my biggest support system Jehovah and others, I was able to successfully begin my academic journey in journalism. I struggled to adapt to the numerous changes that have taken place throughout the years.  “Blackboard” was not a piece of chalk and a writing board, “Discussion board” took presidents, not to mention the many other functions of a computer that were required/ needed to excel and succeed. Long story short, I did succeed. “Finao!” May 30th, 2024 was a very proud day for me which was highlighted by the media. I take pride in sharing it with my readers.






















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