Black History Month is the time for celebrating and thanking black Americans who have inspired us and shaped our history. I’d like to take this opportunity tell you about Eloise, a woman who has impacted my life greatly. I met Eloise on the day I was brought home from the hospital. She greeted me with unconditional love. As I grew, her presence taught me a valuable life lesson that has guided my life.
I was born in Cincinnati, OH in 1965. Mark Twain once said, “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati. It is always ten years behind the times.”
But, in October 1965, the month of my birth, the Cincinnati Strangler was on the loose. The crimes continued, and it was several years later that a black man was arrested. So much had happened by that time and racial tensions in Cincinnati grew so thick that Martin Luther King made a special trip to appeal for calm. So that was the climate in which I was born, very racially charged.
Eloise was my “mother’s helper” spending a day at our home each week, although she had 5 babies of her own to care for. Eloise was soft spoken with light blackskin. She was a warm hug on a chilly day. I wish I had more time to tell you about her, but what is most important, is how much we loved each other. So much so, that as I grew and was able to speak, I would protest when it was time for her to go home and beg her to take me with. On occasion, my mom would give in and Eloise would scoop me up and take me to her house after work, which was no easy undertaking, because Eloise didn’t drive at the time. It was two buses across town to get to her home in College Hill.
The more than middle-aged woman I am today bears little resemblance to the spirited, chatty toe-headed girl traveling across town in a prejudiced society. My soul remembers, and Eloise would later recall, how we would get stopped. She would often be questioned about why she had this white girl in her charge. Children see injustice in the world, and because of my sensitivity and my vantage point, I could sense how the world treated her differently. I grew an antenna and became very aware of social injustices. It’s been a hallmark of my life. I have been the defender of the underdog as long as I can remember. Not in always in an organized or heroic way, but in standing up for what’s right, what’s fair, be it kids being bullied, the homeless or the helpless.
Looking back, it makes perfect sense that I became a passionate defender of neglected and abused animals. After becoming involved in rescue work, it seemed odd that I would go great lengths to help certain kinds of animals but continue to eat others. Soon it led to the awareness that domestic animals are not the most abused and neglected. It’s the animals in our food system that suffer the most and that we seem to care the least about. I stopped eating animal foods and began to study health, nutrition and food policy, which led to the awareness that we as a society are suffering terribly because industry and government are influencing us to crave and consume large amounts of processed and animal foods. This creates disease, for which we are encouraged to take prescription pills that often make us sicker. All of which contributes to the destruction of this beautiful planet we live on, giving birth to my life’s work as a Global Wellness Consultant and the belief that a plant-based diet heals the root cause of much of the suffering and destruction mentioned.
I look at the first picture ever taken of me and laugh that I was born doing the fisticuffs. Born to defend. But it was Eloise, who from the very beginning, with her unconditional love, reminded me that it’s better to stand for what you believe in, not against what you don’t.
Even though we moved from Cincinnati before my 4th birthday, she remained in our life, traveling on a Greyhound bus to Chicagland for occasions like my wedding and my 40th birthday. I visited her in Cincinnati over the years and spoke to her on the phone August 5th 2008, the day before breast cancer took her life. She whispered “I’ve always loved you like a daughter” to which I replied, you’ve always been my angel.
Her picture sits just over my left shoulder in my office and I send her love on the regular and include her in my prayers daily. Thank you Eloise Shelton, for gifting me a valuable life lesson that has guided my life.
It’s Black History Month I am glad for this opportunity to share Eloise with you and think about how far things have come, and how far they still need to go.
I am passionate about helping others reach their best physical and emotional body. Are you ready for a supportive, interactive approach in taking charge of your life and health? Are you ready to rewrite your story? If the answer is yes, contact me HERE.