I provided life again to my son (March/April 2011)

Dana World-PattersonBy Dana World-Patterson

For years, Jordan's height was less than his peers. Reminding him that his Dad grew five inches in one summer, we assured him that he was the right height. Nonetheless, in early 2010 Jordan said, "Mom, I want to be tall". (Both my husband and I are above average height.) So I made an appointment with his pediatrician. This time his height did not register on the charts. Prior to this he was growing within the low range, which was no alarm to his pediatrician. Not being on the chart was a red-flag and she ordered a blood and bone test. Hence, our journey began...

This diagnosis came out of no where. The doctor described Jordan's kidney dysfunction as end-stage renal failure. My husband Giles and I had blood tests. He wanted to be the donor but I was a match. Giles was thankful that we did not have to go outside our immediate family for a living-donor. This gave us the ability to choose the date for the transplant. I would provide life again to my son. I would give him one of my kidneys.

*We learned of Jordan's kidney dysfunction in March 2010. He began dialysis in April 2010. We started by changing our speech, as did the doctor, and repeating scriptures that supported healing. We embraced our new-beginning, and held on because our sons life depended on it. I knew 9 months later my physical examinations would begin for 100% compatibility. So, I began to work out. I also learned as much as I could on living donors and surrounded myself with peaceful, praying, encouraging people.

Jordan has shown such strength. I have marveled at his courage. Like any mother, I simply want my son to live a life of gratitude — do and be his best — and always be considerate of others. I want him to be mindful of the fact that he received the gift of life and that he should be a gift to life.

Dana World Patterson is President of Visions Etiquette Training and Image Consulting

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Archivist, Griot
Irene Bishop Goggans (March/April 2011)

Irene GoggansMost people rely on memory to recount stories of the past. Fortunately, Irene Bishop Goggans' technique destroys any doubt that her narrations are indeed fact not fiction. Her curiosity evolved into creation of a repository of 172 neatly documented scrapbooks … timecards that trace over 50 years of the African American experience in Milwaukee and around the country.

Mrs. Goggans explains, "Mother was a schoolteacher. She kept books about important people to our race. Documenting our history is really a practice that I inherited from her. It was the Civil Rights movement, however, that made me aware of the importance of what I was doing. I realized that we as a race had been written out of history. So I started clipping things from the newspaper."

Her scrapbooks are stuffed with original news clippings, announcements of the achievements of countless individual, religious celebrations and awards that chronicle the black experience. When questioned about her system for cataloging and tracking this mass of documentation Goggans replied, "My system is what I call Irene-ni-tized, meaning it may take me awhile but I know where everything is. The greatest thrill is that I have actually met many of the people who were strangers to me when I pasted articles about them in one of my books."

Reflecting on local history she explains, "I remember when Rev. E. D. Phillips was pastor of Galilee MBC. Dr. and Mrs. William Finlayson had just moved to Milwaukee. Both were graduates of Meharry College in Nashville. They started a day care in the basement of the church. Doss Bender's daughter was one of their students. I have pictures and clippings of that child from years later when she graduated college and again when she got married."

Reflections of her deceased husband, Pat Goggans, remind us of a bygone era. "I met him in 1942. I just thought that he was cute. Pat and J. C. Thomas played tennis together. There weren't many fellows around because it was during World War II. When Pat came back from the Navy in 1946, we connected again and got married in 1947. I went from my daddy's house to a loving husband. I enjoyed being taken care of. He did everything. I would sign my checks and he would take care of everything. We were married for 35 wonderful years. Even in death, he still provides for me. He kept a ledger of all our expenses that I still follow today.
Their only child, Kenny Goggans describes his mother's strength. "Mama is a caring person who wants everything to be right. She is a sunshine person who always focuses on the positive and sees the good in everything and everybody. She has real pride in black folks. Both she and my dad were like that. The same enthusiasm that she has for me, when I've done something positive, she also feels for others. Mama is just a loving individual."

Mrs. Goggans' work is a treasure of lessons on survival, values, inspiration, and hope … information that she believes affirms that we are extensions of each other. She said, "We live in the present, plan and worry about the future. However, it is through knowing our past that we understand how things change, how elements of institutions and society persist despite change, who we are and how we fit into this."

Cultural myth and lore honors butterflies as symbols of transformation. For Mrs. Goggans these insects personify her unwavering faith, as life transitions from one season to another. Appropriately, butterflies are her adopted signature. Paper butterflies, silk butterflies, crystal butterflies are perched throughout her tidy apartment. Commenting on the history and contributions of black people she says, "No one can intimidate me because I know who I am and what we came from. By knowing our history, we learn more about ourselves."

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