Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Dawn of a New Age

I know this will come as a shock for some because I certainly don’t act it, and to be completely honest, I think it’s a mild shock to me too… but in eight days … I turn 50.

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Me at 5 months

Not quite sure what to think about it. I remember when I was younger, probably about 10 or 12, I used to cry myself to sleep because I didn’t want to die. Silly, I know, but I used to try to imagine life after I was gone and it scared the hell out of me thinking that I would just cease to exist and my family would go on. Oh, the silliness of youth. Thank goodness, I don’t have those worries anymore.

I don’t feel 50. Well, not most days. My body is starting to tell me that I can’t continue as I have in the past…. For example, I used to LOVE roller coasters… but I learned a few years ago that the love wasn’t being returned anymore and my eyes have decided that really cool bi-focals are the required accessory de jour. But for the most part I don’t feel old. And frankly, I’m not. Fifty is the new 30.

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Visiting Washington in 2005

I’ve had a great life so far… is it was I thought it would be when I was younger? Nope. After high school, I had planned on buying a Trek bicycle, find a list of hostels and cycle around Europe. I had no plans beyond that. But the Navy interfered and life happened. Would I change it? Nope. I have a beautful, although at times frustrating and annoying, family. I have three extremely intelligent and handsome sons. I have two absolutely adorable grandsons who love their nannie and a husband who has stuck by me throughout all my crazy attempts to put him in the poor house and I’ve had an exciting career serving our beautiful country. Life. Is. Good.

My sons, in their attempt at humor and to remind me that I am turning 50, tell me I will be half a century old. They are right, but oh, what I have learned in my half century of life… I have learned that we are never too old to learn. You may not like the lessons, they may be tougher to grasp, but you can still learn. When you make a promise to your children, they believe you will follow through with that promise. Do so. To break them starts a pattern of mistrust and lost respect. Trust me on this… do not break your promises to your children. Make sure they grow up knowing they can count on you and your word. By the time you get to 50, you start to look back on your life and you want to be proud of the place you find yourself at this moment. Make sure you have no regrets. Make good choices throughout your life so you have none. Accountability is extremely important. Be willing to take ownership of your decisions. Bad or good… There’s always a lesson in them and both will help grow you into the person you will be at 50. Life is not a game. There are no do-overs but you can make it fun. Don’t just exist and don’t wait too late to find your passion and have fun with it. Live life to the fullest of your ability. Don’t just live for someone else. Try to find yourself early and don’t waste years being something you’re not. You can love your family and be your own person at the same time. One of the biggest lessons I learned was to never apologize for who you are. Don’t be afraid to be different. Be willing to take a chance and step outside your comfort zone. If people talk about you, it means you’ve made an impact on their life. Take time for yourself. Make time to do what you want to do… by yourself. Absolutely make memories with your children. They grow up way too fast and you don’t want to look back with regret at the missed opportunities.

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Participating in the Tour de Corn in East Prairie, Mo. in 2003.

Teach your children the value of volunteering and taking care of the underdog. Start when they are young and make it a regular occurrence so when they are older it becomes natural for them to care for others. Be kind without expectations. Find a job that you love so working doesn’t become a chore. When you get to the point that you hate to go to work, it’s time for a change… be strong enough to make it. Be thankful for everything. Nothing is promised and nothing is owed. Make your own way. Don’t give up your goals and dreams. It may take time to fulfill them and they may need adaptation, but never stop dreaming… I’ve been constantly thinking of moving to Europe and getting dreadlocks, lately! LOL …  Never settle for less than you deserve. Sometimes the love of your life is your complete opposite and you may think you have nothing in common, but somehow, their outlook on life is what you needed to complete yours.

I’ve spent my first half century serving my country, taking care of my family, doing what other people wanted me to do or what I needed to do and less for myself. But that’s changing. As I get closer to 50, I don’t seem to sweat the small stuff as much… or else I just don’t give a crap anymore. I’m less fearful of what others think and I’m not afraid to voice my opinions… I know what you’re thinking… you can’t believe there was ever a time I was, but believe me, I really used to be shy. I’m still taking care of my family and those responsibilities are still tremendous, but it’s because I want to do so. And I can live with that. I’m at peace with my life.

So, perhaps 50 won’t be that bad. It’s kind of exciting really to think of the next few decades and where they may lead me but I’m ready for it.

Oh, yeah, and one of the most exciting lessons I’ve learned … don’t be afraid to buy a Harley. And ride it… straight into the next half century. 10646783_10152518327866461_2610490039390440352_n


A good woman

This story for my Auntie was written as I was on the road, headed back home to West Tennessee from her funeral in Ohio. Thinking of her all day, I quickly put pen to paper or rather fingers to keyboard, to flesh out my thoughts. After being home and rested for a bit, I looked back at what I had written and felt I could do better. So, for those who have read my story earlier, please forgive me for a few changes. Auntie Audie brought out the best in all she came in contact with and respectfully so, deserves the best in return. 

Six days ago a door to my family’s history was closed. Its doorkeeper, a wondrous storyteller, bridged the past to the future – connecting present generations to generations long past and reminded us of our family’s rich heritage and devotion to God.

Yesterday, our family matriarch was laid to rest and with her, our connection to a glimpse of a Bermuda long gone. Although we lost our beloved sister, mother, grandmother and auntie, her leaving was not just a time of mourning and sadness, but also of a celebration of her life and the love that she gave to us all. The lessons that she taught us in life – love of family, of life and for the almighty – carried over in her remembrance. A gathering of family – siblings, children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews – came together to celebrate and to remember the woman, who without, many would not be here today.

She was my grandfather’s younger sister and although she was two generations from me, she was one of my favorite family members. Auntie Audie meant a great deal to me. Growing up, I would see her quite often when she visited my grandparents, who lived in the same small town in Ohio. Or we would go to her home for visits, which I loved to do because she had a swimming pool and was always ready to offer a swim, even if I came without a suit, she would tell me she had one for me to use! She was always one who loved to spoil too with snacks and soda, as well as lots of hugs and kisses.

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Father, Louis Benoni holding baby Dorothy Audine, mom Dorothy “Dorrie” May Tatem, and brothers Louis “Billy” William and Albert “Ray” Raymond Panchaud

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Dorothy Audine Panchaud

Dorothy Audine Panchaud Richards was born at home on Thursday, January 20, 1927 in Spanish Point, Bermuda. The third child and only daughter of Louis Benoni Panchaud and Dorothy May Tatem, she was welcomed by her older brothers, four-year old Billy (Louis William) and two-year old Ray (Albert Raymond).

A third brother (and probably her favorite because she could spoil him since he was so much younger than her) joined the family about 10 years later. Named for her mother and grandmother Mary Audin Clough, who in turn was named for her grandmother Mary Audin, Dorothy was called Audie during her life and grew to be a beautiful and stately woman.

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Grandmother Mary Audin Clough

Born into a prominent and old Bermuda family, whose ties to the island began in the 1600s, she grew up healthy, strong, very independent and very much loved, surrounded by a large and extended family on the island.
MARR_PANCHAUDAudine_RICHARDSRobertShe met the love of her life, Robert “Bob” Sanford Richards, a young American sailor while he was on duty in Bermuda. Marriage at 20 and five children soon followed, as well as a move that would take her from her island home to a new home and country in 1952.

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Audie and younger brother Michael Panchaud

A gifted pianist, she taught hundreds of students for more than five decades to embrace their talents and to develop a love of music. A steadfast fixture at the organ of her home church, you could find her every Sunday, filling the sanctuary with beautiful and heartfelt music in tribute and honor of her beloved savior.

Audie led a life many dream of – her family and friends were always close by, and she found fulfillment in her life taking care of her family – her children and her many grandchildren, great grandchildren and nieces and nephews and through her selfless service to the church and to others in need. She was a true woman of God and a genuine friend.

Always a teacher, she was the one who helped instill in me my love of genealogy and my thirst to know where my family came from. From her many albums of old family photographs handed down to her from her mother to her stories and anecdotes of family members which seemed to make the past come alive, her love of family showed through and has been my guiding force as I strive to learn exactly who we are, where we come from and to honor our ancestors who made it possible for us to be here today. For that, I will be eternally indebted to her. I am happy that I was able to introduce her to my contribution to our family’s history and lineage – my sons and her great-great grand nephews and her great-great-great grand nephew, my grandson Liam soon after he was born.

RICHARDS_Robert_AudinePANCHAUD_Nov 2006Uncle Bob, her beloved husband of 70 years was called home first on December 1, 2015 and Auntie Audie, I’m sure feeling she could not continue without him, soon followed less than two months later. I believe they are both laughing and happy to be together once more and I’m willing to bet they have joined her oldest brother and my grandpa, Louis “Billy” William Panchaud and my nana, Angelena Dorothy Mello Panchaud, in a friendly game of bowling once more.

Rest in peace loved ones, for we will soon see one another once more.


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