Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Has it Really Been Four Years?

Hi All,

It's hard to believe that it's been four years since Mama Roxy passed away.  I was browsing my computer and ran into some voicemails from her that took me back to many years ago when she was still vibrant and so very alive. 

I hope this post finds all of Mama's family and friends doing well and thriving - she would want that for you and so do I.  Cherish every moment with your family and friends, and tell them that you love them and appreciate them often - time together is so short - make every minute count.

God Bless.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Seems to Be A Trend

So on Saturday morning I saw the news that Bernie Mac had died of pneumonia at Northwestern this morning, which is ultimately what Mama Roxy died of at Northwestern too. I wonder if this is a trend?

While there were many, many nurses and staff that were not only extremely kind and caring towards Mama Roxy, but also took the few seconds/minutes it takes to scrub up properly before entering and exiting her room, there were far more who didn't than those who did. Mama passed away from bacterial pneumonia, and I wonder if Mr. Mac passed away from the same thing.

I've seen this before, but never really had an understanding of how serious it is when people don't scrub up properly before entering and leaving a patient's room - not doing so can literally kill the patient!

For anyone who currently has, or in the future has a family member in the hospital, I recommend that you be vicious about cleanliness and sanitary procedures - make every nurse, doctor, family member, and visitor scrub their hands thoroughly before coming into your loved one's room. If they have a respiratory problem to begin with, suggest or demand that everyone wear a mask in their presence, as anyone with respiratory diseases is extremely vulnerable to other airborne bacterial. The hospital staff may get annoyed or look at you like you're crazy, but it could save your loved one's life.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Question About Funereal Etiquette

OK, so I just had to blog about this as it's something I've never seen before. As some of you might know, while we Davises do not live our lives by Miss Manners' handbook, we do try to live our lives within mainstream and 'normal' values and traditions. We're open to different traditions and values, but I may have missed this new-fangled tradition.

My brother and I have been writing thank-you cards to everyone who called, stopped by, helped out and attended Mama Roxy's funeral. As we were writing today, my brother pulled out a card from someone who will remain nameless - and the back this card looked a something like this (this is a re-creation, not the original card):

Now those who know me well know that I'm the most conservative person in my immediate family, so my first reaction was that I was agahst, appalled, and angry. My brother thought this was somewhat inappropriate too, so I'm assuming I'm not too off-base here. I'm trying to figure out what the message is - 'sorry for your loss' and '?!?!?!?' I'm not quite sure what to think, but I'd like to give just a small word of advice - when someone is going through a time of grief, stress, or loss, try to limit your message to something that's directly related to that, oh, and if you have to think twice about whether to write or . . . er . . . stamp something or not, don't do it!

What do you think - am I overreacting? Did I miss the memo in the "Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior- Freshly Updated"?

If anyone who might have sent this type of card happens to see this post, I apologize - but I am definitely more 'old' than 'new' school, and am trying to understand the message that something like this is meant to convey.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Check Out the Tribune News Obituary

The Chicago Tribune ran a news obituary this morning on Mama Roxy. Check it out:


This is a great story on Mama and I know she would be so proud! A million thanks to Trevor Jensen for doing a wonderful job on the writeup! I'm going to buy a hundred copies of the Tribune this morning.



Sunday, July 27, 2008

A New Chapter

Things are quieting down, and it feels like life has totally changed - life before Mama Roxy and life after Mama Roxy's passing. I'm pretty numb right now and trying to keep extremely busy and to keep going so that I don't get off track or 'get stuck' so to speak.

These last few days have been bittersweet - it was hard to watch everyone go home but at the same time, it is time to move forward with life and move beyond this 1st grieving stage. I picked out a headstone on Saturday, then went and visited Mama Roxy's grave. It's still so surreal that she's gone and I can't talk to her 10 times a day like I used to, or see her every weekend.

I also went with my cousin Joyce and her friend Pat down to our family farm for the first time, fed and watered some steers, and mowed the grass with a little tractor. It was therapeutic -the weather was perfect and at times it felt like Mama was sitting in a tree watching and smiling.

The steers freaked me out a little because it seemed they would all stop eating and just stare at me every once in awhile. I've been on farms and around cows and steers before, but I've never seen them do that - freaky!

At any rate I'm going back home sometime today, to get back to my 'real' life as best I can. I want to thank my cousin Judy for the best meal ever after Mama's funeral - I have never in my life had better comfort food, and for my brother and I it was the first time we really ate a full meal since before Mama passed.

I also want to give a million thanks to my cousins Angel, Desiree, Maurice, Lauren, Rodney and Brandon for driving all the way from Texas to support us - the collage (which I'll post a picture of) was amazing and absolutely perfect! Thank you Todd and Sharon for coming up from the South and supporting us and being here for us and especially for JD - I can't tell you how much your presence means to all of us. Thank you to our Chicago family - especially Willa Dee, Damien, Michael, Tina, Brian - we need to stay close folks.

If there's in the family crew that I missed, please forgive me - I am so grateful for all of your love and support.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mama Roxy Photo Tribute Part II

Well, as promised, here are more photos of Mama Roxy. A million thanks to my cousins Angel, Desiree, Lauren, Brandon and Rodney for staying up all night to scan, print and collage photographs for Mama Roxy! There are so many photographs - eventually I'll get them all up here but it will take some time.

Keep in mind that Mama Roxy was only 5'2" at her absolute tallest without heels, but back in the early 60's models were not the tall glamazons of today - they reflected the height (if not the weight) of their customers, especially because they would model in-person designer shows, where the customers would actually try on what they liked after they saw the designs modeled. A different era definitely!

All photographs are copyright (c) 2008 Aquelah Davis, and no photgraphs may be retransmitted without express written or electronic permission of Aquelah Davis. Feel free to link to this site.

Thank you,


Looking at all of these photographs, Mama reminds me of an African-American Grace Kelly - she was so ahead of her time!

I like this picture most of all. To me, before she passed away, she looked like this.

This is Mama Roxy and Papa. Mama Roxy is pregnant with me!

That's my Mama!

Mama and Mr. Sidney Portier.

Mama and Johnny Mathis, who she absolutely adored!

Mama and Mr. John H. Johnson, former president and CEO of Johnson Publishing, Johnson Products, and Fashion Fair Cosmetics.

Bohemian Mama - I love this picture of her! While she didn't espouse the hippie lifestyle AT ALL, she looks like a hippie here doesn't she?

She sure was stylish!

I can't even imagine how uncomfortable it was to wear this
dress, or this hair! I wonder what kind of shoes she had on?

Today's Visit with Mama Roxy

Today my brother, cousin and I visited Mama Roxy to make sure that everything was as she would have wanted. I struggled with whether to see her at all, as did my brother and I'm sure my cousin as well. In the past (with our grandmother especially) we've been to funerals where the loved one didn't look at all as they did in life, and we didn't want to be traumatized by seeing her looking radically different than she did when she was living.

I was truly astounded - Mama Roxy looked beautiful and raidant, and just like she did when she was alive. We are so grateful to Vicki, her very close friend who is a makeup artist, who took the time out of her busy schedule and gathered the strength to make up Mama as she would have wanted. She looked just perfect. We also must thank Cage Memorial Chapel for doing such an outstanding job on her hair and on dressing Mama - she looked so beautiful and our memories of her will always be comforting because she looks just like she wanted to look.

The services will still be closed casket as she wanted, but I wanted to let everyone know that she looks as beautiful as she did in life.

A special thanks also to Brandon for being there with us - as beautiful as she was it was difficult to see her there and know that she is gone - and we know it was hard for you. She loved you so much and we know how much you love her. Thank you Brandon.



Mama Roxy's Death Notice

Mama Roxy's death notice has been published in the Chicago Tribune - both print and online:


We were very rushed to get it into the Tribune before their print deadline, and there were two typos that I saw and had corrected this morning - if you happen to see any more, please let me know as I can have them correct the online version.

We also have notices posting on Thursday in the Journal Gazette and Times Courier at:


and the Decatur Herald and Review at:


Love you all,


Sunday, July 20, 2008

What Happened to Mama Roxy?

I've received a lot of questions about what happened to Mama, and I ask myself the same question over and over again, and why I didn't see the signs earlier.

Mama has had a condition called pulmonary fibrosis, which she started showing symptoms of back in late 2006/early 2007. The symptoms started with a deep, uncontrollable cough, which would wrack her body and leave her weak at times. By the time the symptoms started I think she had had pulmonary fibrosis for some time. It is basically scarring of the lungs, which is caused by an unknown source. Check out the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation web site for more information.

There were a few potential sources for this disease in Mama Roxy, but at the end of the day it's unknown what the true cause was. One possible source that Mama Roxy thought might be the cause was the 2005 train wreck that Mama Roxy was in. She was in a car where the train doors actually flew open while the passengers were holding on for dear life. She was in the exit vestibule when the train doors opened, and a ton of dust, rocks and debris flew in which she and other passengers inhaled, as the train left the tracks.

We'll never really know what the cause was, or what ultimately took Mama Roxy's life, but the pulmonary fibrosis was compounded by another serious illness. When we went into the doctor's office on Monday, it was for a checkup with two of her doctors, and a that time she decided she wanted to get admitted to the hospital and get some of her health issues, such as eating, circulation, and stomach problems, addressed. By Wednesday her doctors were actually talking about sending her home on Thursday because she had responded so well to treatment of those issues.

But Wednesday night she started having problems. She wasn't able to eat anything at all, had a lot of side, back and chest pain (I found out after she passed), and started coughing. I thought the coughing was a positive sign because in recent weeks she didn't have the energy to cough. Little did I know.

By Thursday morning when I woke up with her, she was having breathing problems. I turned up her air so that she could feel a little more at ease, and notified the nurses that pulmonary needed to come and give her breathing treatments right away. Mama Roxy shooed me away to work because she didn't want me to worry and 'hover' as I tended to do.

I went home for about 2 hours, and as I was packing to leave for work one of the doctors (bless their heart) called me and told me to come back right away because she was in resperatory distress. I flew out of the house and back to the hospital to find a large group of doctors standing around her, having just given her significant treatments to ease her breathing, and I immediately became overcome and burst into tears. After getting it together I went back into the room to hold Mama's hand, and we talked about next steps of getting her to the ICU and giving her a pressurized oxygen treatment called a C-Pap.

She at first didn't want to go, and said she felt 'fine' after the treatments she had, but her breathing was very labored. I also found out at that time that she had bacterial pneumonia. She wanted to go home, but the doctors and myself convinced her to try the C-Pap to help improve her condition.

When they moved her to the ICU I didn't expect what happened next at all. When I saw her again next she was uncommunicative - the C-Pap apparently did not help at all - my perception is that it hurt, as it made her use her whole body to inhale and exhale, which exhausted her to the point of unconsciousness.

We took her off the C-Pap after a few hours, then put her back on a straight oxygen mask. At that point she woke up but was very agitated and distressed so we upped her sedation. She woke up twice more after that - once when one of her dear friends - Pat - came in the room, and once more after everyone except family had left. After that she was unconscious until she passed away.

Most likely a combination of the Pulmonary Fibrosis and the pneumonia killed her, but we will never know which for sure, nor will we ever know what caused the Pulmonary Fibrosis in the first place.

We tried everything, but her condition deterioriated from the time she was diagnosed in February. Pulmonary Fibrosis is usually a fatal condition unless caught and treated early or a person undergoes a lung transplant. Mama Roxy did not want that at all.

That is what happened to Mama Roxy.

God bless.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Preliminary Arrangements

We are grateful to everyone for their continued love and support. Following are tentative arrangements for services for Mama Roxy. Arrangements will be finalized by Monday afternoon.

Chicago Service:
  • Location: Cage Memorial Chapel, 7651 S. Jeffery Blvd, Chicago, IL 60649 Tel: 773-721-8900
  • Date: Thursday, July 24th, 2008
  • Time: 10 a.m. - Visitation, 11 a.m. - Services, Reception to Follow
  • Burial: Dodge Grove Cemetery, Mattoon, Illinois, Friday July 25th

Mattoon, Illinois Service:
  • Location: Schilling Funeral Home, 1301 Charleston Avenue, Mattoon, IL 61938 Tel: 217-235-0333
  • Date: Friday, July 25th, 2008
  • Time: 10 a.m. - Visitation, 11 a.m. - Services
  • Burial: Between 12 and 1 p.m., Dodge Grove Cemetery
  • Repast: Judy Lyles (cousin) house, details to follow

Flowers are welcome at either funeral home location, but in lieu of flowers please donate to the Salvation Army charity in memory of Roxanne Davis.

A new post on Monday evening will detail the final arrangements for the services. Please keep us in your prayers!


Mama Roxy's Journey

Mama Roxy returned home to God this morning a little before 7 a.m. She was surrounded by her family and passed away peacefully. While our hearts are broken and the pain is unbearable right now, we take comfort in the fact that she is free of all suffering and pain, and is basking in the glory of God and enjoying His rewards which she deserves more than anyone I've ever known.

Thank you to all of her friends and family for your visits, your calls, your prayers and well wishes. She knows that she is loved.

We do not have arrangements made yet, but we will post them here and call people when we have news of the service details. We most likely will have a service in Chicago, and a service in Mattoon Illinois where she will be buried with her relatives.

Thank you again for all of your love, and please continue to pray for us during this difficult time.


The Strongest Woman on the Face of the Earth

My mother is so strong. She has survived another night although her breathing is very slowed and shallow now. She is still fighting so hard to survive - for us I believe. I think there are so many things she wanted to say and do, and there wasn't enough time for her to do what she wanted, which is why she's fighting so hard. That and the fact that she knows how much her family needs her.

This morning the dawn revealed a lightning storm and heavy rain, reflecting the mood here. Mom is peaceful, but the things that are left undone weigh heavily on my mind and I think hers too. I've told her not to worry - that I know what she was going to say, and that I'll take care of the things she would want to have done. But you know how she is, and she would want things done her way, to her specifications. I will try my best not to let her down.

Please continue to pray for us and for Mama Roxy's continued peaceful rest. Her strength astounds me as she continues on despite her condition.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Winding Down

Mama Roxy is resting comfortably. Her breathing is slowing down considerably, and we are unsure how much more time we have with her. Please call before coming by - cell is fine - 312-399-9670.

We're taking comfort in the fact that she is comfortable, resting very peacefully, and not experiencing any pain, as well as your thoughts prayers and visits.


Mama Roxy Photo Tribute I

While I sit with Mama Roxy, I'm starting a photo blog of some of the amazing photographs of Mama Roxy in her finest moments. These posts will most likely be consolidated later into more organized, chronological posts, but for the time being I just want to get these out there.

Please note that all photopgraphs are copyrighted to Aquelah Davis, and not to be retransmitted, copied or redistributed in any way without express prior permission from Aquelah Davis.

Mama Roxy having fun in the summer at my condo.

Mama Roxy and Papa recovering from wounds after being broadsided by a driver running a red light. Fortunately they were ok with bumps scrapes and bruises, but the CR-V was totaled!

Papa is also sucking on a popsicle after his ordeal.

Mama Roxy sitting on the front porch of her home with a large cucumber we planted in the side planter that was ripe for picking! We grew several giant cucumbers and tomatoes. We planted squash too, but I think the cucumbers especially choked them off.

Mama Roxy preparing one of our tomatoes we grew last summer.

Just a preview of Mama Roxy in her glory days as a model! More pictures from that era are will be posted in Photo Tribute II.

Visiting Mama Roxy

Thank you to everyone who came by today and yesterday. Some of you know that I was hesitant at first to allow visitors, first because she told me she didn't want anyone to see her as sick as she is, and second because we hadn't yet made her comfortable.

I love my mother more than anything, but once we got her comfortable I realized I couldn't in good conscience deny her friends and family the chance to express their love and prayers for her and for her to experience that love, and to begin the grief process that we all go through when we lose family or a beloved friend. I hope and pray that she understands why I did this, and I also hope she realizes that what we all have been saying is true - even in her present state she is a beautiful person in all respects, and her beauty shines right through her illness and illuminates all of us.

Today we moved her to the Prentice Women's Hospital at Northwestern, and in her current condition she has been progressively declining, although she is comfortable and not in distress. Her respiration is slowing, and we are not certain how much longer she will be with us - although she has proven herself time and again to be the strongest person I have ever met.

We ask that before anyone visit that they call first. Feel free to call the room directly at 312-472-1678, or my cell phone a 312-399-9670. If her situation has changed we can let you know before you make the trip.

Once again - thank you to everyone who has visited, called, prayed for and thought of Mama Roxy in these most difficult times. I know she hears those who talk to her, and the countless prayers ease her suffering. God Bless.


Trying to Get Past Denial

I know I am totally in denial, but I keep expecting for my Mama to wake up at any moment, and I struggle with trying to prolong her life and only keeping her comfortable. I don't know what I would do without her, and it hurts my whole body to think about it.

So many people have come by today and yesterday, and I think it gives me hope in a lot of ways - hope that my mother, who has so many friends and family, will not leave us all when we need her so much; hope that our prayers will keep her going; hope that she will wake up and lecture me on what I should be doing that I'm not, or what Im not doing that I should be.

This is such a devastating experience - especially when I think about the fact that she was still arguing with me - and all her doctors yesterday morning. And looking at her I keep thinking that she'll open her eyes and start telling me what I need to do now.

I don't know how I'll survive this.

Trying to Get Past Denial II

I thought I had lost this post but it turns out it was saved in draft form on Friday.

So I know it's unreasonable to expect that Mama Roxy get past this, and in fact right now we're just making her comfortable, but I am still so shell shocked by the sudden change from yesterday morning to this morning. Yesterday morning I went home after a long and restless night with Mom. She wanted me to go, and at the time I thought she was working herself up ,and that was why her breath was labored. I spoke to the nurse before leaving and let her know that she needed her breathing treatments then.

I went home, jumped on a short conference call, took a shower and was preparing to get ready to go to work late, when I got the call from her physician saying that she was in resperatory distress, and that I needed to come back right away. I threw some things in a bag and ran out of the house.

I had a sense of dread coming back - not just because of what the doctor told me, but because I had a feeling that something (I didn't know what then) had radically changed and turned things for the worst. When I got to her room she was surrounded by many doctors, and I immediately broke down and burst into tears. Even though she was communicative, I could tell that things had radically changed. I had to leave and get myself together for a few minutes, and when I came back the doctors told me that she had developed pneumonia, and that she needed to be moved to the ICU for further treatment.

She didn't really want to go, and the treatment they recommended was something called a C-Pap, which is forced air and treatments through a mask. She finally agreed to try though. When we moved her upstairs I thought she was going to be in the same state, but once they got the C-Pap on and her settled and I was able to see her, I was shocked that she was no longer talking, and at how hard she was struggling to breathe through that mask.

We left it on for three hours, and gave her antibiotics, but finally when it was clear the C-Pap wasn't working we switched back to a regular oxygen mask, with morphine and other drugs to sedate her and slow down her breathing. She did wake up a couple of times while in the ICU, but was very agitated for the most part. She did wake up and was a bit lucid when Pat was visiting, and I'm so glad I was able to tell her then (again) that I loved her.

BUT - I'm still in denial and trying to get through it. I can't reconcile my mom of yesterday morning and Wednesday and earlier this week, with her condition now. I still feel like she can get past this (if anyone can, she can) and I struggle with wanting her back versus wanting her to be pain- and stress-free.

Hanging In There

Hello All,

First of all thank you so much to everyone who's called and stopped by for keeping Mama Roxy in your prayers. I'm Aquelah - a.k.a. Pam - and I decided to start this blog this morning as a way of keeping everyone up to date on my mom's status, and to blow off some steam myself.

This is a tough road for anyone to take - watching your parents decline physically - or going through it from the parent's point of view - but it's an important part of living and I hope this blog reassures everyone that while this is a painful process, my mother is not suffering and that she is well taken care of.

My dad, brother and I are all hanging in there thanks to the support of everyone with their prayers and well wishes. Especially I want to thank Pat, Courteney, Vicki, Erica, Tim, and Anglas for coming out and visiting Mama Roxy. She was awake for some of you, and while she may be mad at me for letting people visit, I know that she was happy to know that you all were there and for the love you shared with her.

FYI I also want to use this blog as a tribute site for my mother, and will be posting photos of her magnificent life - I don't know if everyone realizes just how much she's done in her lifetime - I'm just becoming aware of how huge her network of friends really is, and how many people she took under her wing as surrogate family members.

God Bless and please keep us in your prayers.