My Godmother, Lena Frances Edwards, MD.
Growing up I had many mentors: those who taught me arts and crafts.
All the parents and grandparents in the neighborhoods that kept us
busy youngsters in line and out of trouble.
My Nana and Grandperé were fabulous with their love, time, patience and
all the things Grandparents do to pamper the little brats and drive the parents
My Godmother was a ground-bound Angel. Our conversations were about
being a good person. I was into volunteering with many groups. She was
proud of me for my work.
The American Cancer Society in New Jersey was one unit that bound us.
When we had State meetings, I was tickled. I’d ride to the meetings with
others from our local unit, that covered the largest land mass in NJ.
I’d get hugs and kisses from Dr. Lena first. Depending upon the work that
needed to be done on occasion, a cold buffet lunch would be delivered.
We’d get a chance to chat for free. At the end of the meetings, we’d depart
with hugs and kisses and Prayers for a safe journey and great days ahead.
Godmother was frugal. Her telephone calls in the days when most were
toll calls, she’d talk her three minutes.
She did have one splurge. I loved it. She drove a fire-red Mustang muscle
car. One day she decided to stop driving. The Mustang stayed at her house,
“just in case I must drive”.
We lived about ninety minutes from each other. I’d call her to chat and she’d
remind me of the telephone rates. I learned to cut down the chatter. In those
days, it was cheaper for me to drive to her house than talk about twenty minutes.
Petrol was about twenty seven cents per gallon. My car got great mileage.
When my County Unit of ACS was having a special health fair or information
program, Godmother was always available to participate. Retired, no way,
she was “re-treaded”. She kept busy.
One of our health fairs, was a Saturday before Mothers’ Day. I drove ninety minutes
to get Godmother and another forty past my house to the County Hospital hosting
the event. In her seventies with another OB-GYN they did 497 Pap Tests!
She had more energy than I did.
At the end of the day, Godmother was still perky and I was ready to drop.
She wanted to go straight home, so I made that long trip back to North Jersey.
Still perky, in her way, I was Prayed for and immediately sent home.
Always during our trips to wherever, I was her captive audience for her knowledge;
life adventures; female advice; world advice and of course having a relationship with
a Higher Power by any name. She was a devout Roman Catholic and I learned of
her adventures of being Catholic, marrying Catholic, raising her family Catholic and
the prejudices experienced being non-White. Add to that a woman physician who
chose to care for women. She was an odd ball.
Her Grandfather, Gabe Coakley was friends with President Abraham Lincoln and
held a fundraiser on the White House lawn July 4, 1864 to raise funds for a Catholic
Church in Washington, DC for non-Whites. The money was raised and the Church was built.
Ironic, December, 1964, Lena Frances Edwards, MD was honored with the Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon Baines Johnson.
President John F. Kennedy was to present her the Medal in December, 1963. We
all know the history.
My last visit with Godmother was most of the day, Halloween, 1986. I was the “trick” and she was my “treat”. I believe that day we covered every subject from religion,
nutrition, health and what we call today, being green. If you can guess any subject
in between we probably covered it. Lunch was fabulous! She was a great cook.
Two highlights of the visit, one, we were in her sun room in rocking chairs. I don’t know
who was enjoying the chairs more. The sun was wonderful coming through the huge picture window.
As the sun moved from the room, we went to the living room. She pointed to the chair
she wanted me to sit. I obeyed. She was busy in a beautiful breakfront and retrieved
a large blue leather box. Standing in front of me, she opened it. It was her Medal of
Freedom. Godmother told me how to hold my hands and she placed the Medal in
them. The tears just flowed from my eyes. Never had I bugged her to see the Medal.
As the sun began to set, she had removed the Medal and we continued to talk. Soon she sent me back to South Jersey with Prayers.
About thirty-four days later, Godmother Lena Frances Edwards Crossed Over to
meet The Lord.
Patricia Barbee © 2012
Causes Patricia Barbee Supports
Gold Star Wives of America, Inc.
Any effort to aid the elderly, children and enslaved women.