February 2023

On Ground Zero: Why Your Support System Is Important During A Time Of Loss With Jesse Beckom III

WRT 4 | Support System

  Losing someone you love can feel isolating. Having people surround you with love and support can mean the world as you cope with grief. For Tina Fornwald, much can be said about the great people in her life that helped her find healing. In this episode, she interviews a key person who has stood by her: her brother, Jesse Beckom III. Together, they discuss how Jesse supported Tina in those first two weeks after the death of her late husband, Mark W. Fornwald. They also discuss Jesse’s encounter with death at an early age from living on the south side of Chicago. Sharing their own griefs, they then talk about the death of their own father, Mr. Jesse Beckom Jr., and how they saw their mother, Addie Beckom, become a widow. Full of candor and transparency, Tina and Jesse’s conversation gives you a true sense of how valuable the people are in your life as you go through these crippling and tough times. — Watch the episode here   Listen to the podcast here   On Ground Zero: Why Your Support System Is Important During A Time Of Loss With Jesse Beckom III My guest is my brother Jesse Beckom III. We are going to have a very candid conversation. That ragged exterior lets you know that everyone is impacted somewhere or another by losing a loved one. My brother’s candor and transparency will give you a true sense of what people in my hood look like and how committed we are. Thanks, and here we go. Jumping right into it.     As I spoke in our last edition, we are now here in Texas, visiting my brother Jesse, who has been an integral part of my journey in this process. Jesse, if you could share a little bit about yourself? First of all, Widowhood subscribers, welcome and thanks for following my sister through her journey. I love the support. Again, I’m Tina’s oldest brother. Only brother and youngest sibling. I’m the oldest brother again, so that’s a fact. You can ask my mom if she has any other older sons and she will say no. She has only one son. I’m the oldest, so there you go. I’m living out in Texas now. Tina’s come down to visit me, and I joined the company. I went to school at Iowa State University where I played football as well to get my graduate degree and undergrad in Community Regional Planning there. From there, I completed the USA Bobsled National Team for over a decade there. When I competed, I was the Chairman of the Athlete Advisory Committee also. Now I work at Atlassian as a Program Manager Team Lead. I stepped away completely from the Olympic movement. I’m one of the members of the Ethics Committee for the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee. I’ve served in that manner. I’m trying to still be involved and help guide the process. At Atlassian, I also work as the Chairman of the Employee Resource Group, which is called Black Atlassian’s Group. I’m still trying to stay active and do more than my “day job” at Atlassian. I didn’t know about this with the board on Atlassian. What are you doing in that? We’re just getting started. We’re trying to make sure that people feel welcome at Atlassian. The founders there want to make sure that they have a social impact, in general, on the world and also at Atlassian. Also, make you feel like people of every shape, color, race, gender, and things like that are welcome. I’m the Global Chair for the Employer Resource Group, and I have people across MIA, USA as well as AsiaPac as well that we try to develop programs for people of the African diaspora. There are several different groups for women, LGBTQ, military veterans, and people of the age of descent. I’m the Chairman of Black Atlassian. One thing I have totally been impressed with about your company is when you share the different things that they do for their employees. There’s a lot of work involved, but they seem to have that personal touch that they’re concerned about the people. That’s pretty cool. In this conversation, even though it’s about the widowhood part, there is a part of death in general. Unfortunately, the way the world that we’re in set up my husband’s death is not your first interaction as far as someone that you’ve known within closeness to you dying. There have been other people. Can you share some of those experiences even from your youth or things that you can recall? Sometimes it sounds a little bit cliché. For instance, growing up on the South side of Chicago, unfortunately, things happen. Some of the things you see on the news are true. Some of the things are exaggerated tremendously. When I think about deaths that have happened like experiencing death in graduate school with some people where 7th or 8th grade have been murdered by gang violence, that’s my first introduction to that. Growing up, we had an obituary in our high school yearbook for graduates. In your high school yearbook, there was an obituary section. Yes. A couple of people had been killed for various reasons and stuff like that. It becomes one of those things that’s, unfortunately, a way of life. Life and death come in, even in college. At Iowa State University, several of our players pass away through heart attacks or different reasons. Even my teammates, we talked about that and it was tragic. A lot of our running backs and quarterback, my uncles, and also my father passed away. All those things that happen, you find a way to deal with them and push on. You take those lessons from those people or different situations. For once I would say that some people who passed away in a negative way and you learn from that. When you say learn in the negative impact, what …

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Here For The Long Haul: How To Help A Family Member Who Is Grieving With Ulanka Beckom

WRT 3 | Grieving

  When someone is grieving, we are often tempted to just ask them how you can help. But when someone’s grieving, they don’t know what they need. In this episode, Tina Fornwald interviews her own sister, Ulanka Beckom. They reminisce the time that Ulanka drove countless hours just to assist Tina in her time of need. It’s difficult to provide strength and support during this difficult time, but it isn’t impossible. Listen now as Ulanka shares practical strategies that can help your loved one cope with the pain of loss and help them on their journey towards healing. — Watch the episode here   Listen to the podcast here   Here For The Long Haul: How To Help A Family Member Who Is Grieving With Ulanka Beckom Family Series My guest for this episode is my sister Ulanka Beckom. Ulanka is 52 years old and single. She’s a retired Senior Chief and now a government contractor. Her hobbies are cooking, watching movies, creating artwork, working out, dancing, spending time with friends, music, and supporting family members. Her ultimate goal is to become an aerospace engineer. Our conversation with Ulanka is going to give you some insight into being a sibling and the daughter of someone that has been widowed. She shares things that she thinks and knows from her experience will be helpful like being on deck for someone, being in their space and being quiet, understanding that grieving is not over in a year and a lot of other great tips that she’ll share. Thank you for joining me. I look forward to you being part of our conversation. Let’s get into it now.     Welcome to the show. My guest is my sister Ulanka Beckom. Ulanka, thank you for joining us. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your interests, how you spend your day, and things like that. My typical day is wash, rinse, and repeat. I get up, go workout, go to work, come home, and sit around watching TV. You like listening to music. I listen to music on the way to work and at work during the day, but it’s wash, rinse, repeat. It’s the same thing every day. There’s not a lot of variance in what I do daily. Tell us a little bit about your workout and your favorite music. The workout I do is with Burn Boot Camp. I go there Monday through Friday. The 5:30 class is the class I go to, 95% of the time. The type of workout program there is a HIIT program. It’s pretty much a high-intensity interval training type of workout. They concentrate on different parts of the body daily like arm day, leg day, core day, cardio day, and everything day. It circulates through all of those. As for music, I like house music. It’s because we’re from Chicago. I love some Prince every day of the week and other stuff. That’s hard. You grind with workout routine. She started incorporating a stretching process. Share a little bit about that. There’s this place called Stretchlab. Burn Boot Camp nor Stretchlab are paying for any of these endorsements. I go to Stretchlab and just started doing that. You stretch your body yourself. There’s only so much you could push yourself. You have to have someone to help out. Along with going to Stretchlab, I also go to the chiropractor. Going to Stretchlab helps to push your body past limits that you can’t do personally. I keep thinking about the fact that I workout all the time like an athlete. I watch football, basketball, and all these sports. All these athletes are agile and doing all this stuff. If you think about it, they have somebody like the people at Stretchlab. They are there on a regular basis to help them to have maneuverability. I’m like, “I need to do this for myself.” That’s why I do it. We talked about you now, but we didn’t talk about a little bit before now, about your career, and what you were doing for gazillion years before you started this. I was in the Navy for twenty years and retired as a Senior Chief in the Navy. It was a good time. My job was called Gas Turbine Systems Technician Mechanical. What places have you traveled to? This is the fun part. We used those engines to propel the ship and the generators. We worked on a lot of other accessory equipment. I was pretty much down there with the engine. I was with the engineers. Think of your car but much larger. Think about walking inside your car and working on all the parts. In my last part in the Navy, I was the lead engineer. I traveled to a lot of places, which is one of the fun parts of being in the Navy. When I met my first ship on deployment. I flew from Norfolk to New York to Spain, then to our ultimate meeting place in Bahrain. After being in Bahrain for a couple of days, we took a helicopter from Bahrain out to the ship. It was a three-month deployment because I did the last half of the deployment. You’re saying deployments, when you were in the service, were generally about six months? Most of the time, it’s six months. Some deployments have been seven months but for the most part, six months is normal. If you’re gone for three months, they considered that deployment also. You have to be gone for at least three months for it to be considered a deployment for the Navy. I’ve gone to Spain, Bahrain, UAE, France, Monaco, Italy, and Greece. It’s probably about 60% of the world. She has a map in her study. You pinned up all the different countries that you’ve traveled to. I would say my greatest experience being in the military was being able to come onto Ulanka’s ship in full Army gear and perform one of her re-enlistments. That …

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Widow-To-Widow: A Mother And Daughter Talk With Addie Beckom

WRT 2 | Widow

  Losing the love of your life can be too much. It is too painful that we almost forget how to live. In this episode, Tina welcomes her mother, Addie Beckom, to share some tips on living life in this widow-to-widow talk. Addie talks about her relationship with her husband, the experience of widowhood, and how she continued to live. It doesn’t matter what age you are when you lose your husband, always remember that there is hope and give yourself the opportunity for healing and encouragement. Tune in to this inspiring episode now. — Watch the episode here   Listen to the podcast here   Widow-To-Widow: A Mother And Daughter Talk With Addie Beckom My guest for this episode is Mrs. Addie Beckom, my mom. I share it with four other people but we’re not going to talk about them now. I have her glass of water ready and we are going to have a very engaging conversation. My mom is old and she is going to meet you with her sparkled-up sweater and give you some tips on living life. She will share about our dad who passed and being a widow, what that experience has been with her and how she has continued to live. She brought a picture of our dad right here, Mr. Jesse Beckom, the love of her life. I am so glad to have my mom here and share how important dad was to her life and encourage you that no matter where life changes you or what age you are, there is hope that gives you the opportunity for healing and encouragement.     Our guest is my mother, Mrs. Addie Beckom. Mom, can you share a little bit about yourself with everyone? My name is Mrs. Beckom. I have 4 daughters and 1 son. I like to sew, cook, exercise, help out and do volunteer work wherever I can, whenever I can. How do you spend your days? What are some of your interests? If it’s a nice warm day, I like to go for a walk but if not, I’m in the house doing whatever needs to be done in the house. Maybe taking a nap, watching some TV and before you know it, the day is gone. Let me tell you a couple of things. My sister and my mom live together. We live next door to each other. When my mom says she’s going on a walk, I don’t want you to think it’s like somebody casually walking around the corner. My mom is out here grinding. When I’m working from home, I’ll try to go for a walk with her at lunchtime. Oftentimes, I need to give a time limit because my mom will have me walking in these streets. As I think about it, my actual first experience with exercising is going walking with my mom to go run errands. We were in Chicago and we lived on 126 blocks. I believe we would walk down to 115th to the grocery store with a shopping cart and walk back. That was my first experience. Thank you, Mom, for making me stay healthy and introducing me to exercise. This topic is widow to widow. Mom, how long were you and dad married? We were married for 52 years. How did you folks meet? We met at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago. Your dad is from Chicago. I’m from a town called Hannibal, Missouri. It’s the Boyhood Home of Mark Twain. That’s the way I explain it to people and then they say, “I remembered that.” I was sitting in the corner by myself because I’m a shy person but your dad said he didn’t mind me being shy because no one else would talk to me so he came back and talked to me. We got together up to that. What were some of your dates like with dad, Mom? They want to know. We would go to lounges, movies and plays. You mentioned some walking too with dad. He would walk me home from work. He lived in an apartment that the hospital had for the workers but I lived in projects about 1 mile or so away. It was fun walking home until the mosquitoes would get to me but they wouldn’t bother him. I wouldn’t say we stopped walking. We stopped slowly walking. We would speed up to the destination. I don’t think I’ve heard the story of you and dad would walk. It’s interesting. Walking started early on in the process. I would walk as I was growing up. We went to a school in Douglas. High school or senior school? It was all on campus and that’s when I started walking because I would have to walk about 1 mile to get there. Raising children, what do you have to say about that? Any advice from your experience of raising children? Take care of your child as they’re growing up. When they get a mind of their own to do things, don’t try to stop them. Unless they get in trouble, then you have to take control. Coming from a family of eleven children, we would share things or have fun together. Our parents never restricted us from doing anything.     You got to develop into the person that you needed to be without somebody pushing you in a particular direction. Any memories from your children growing up, particularly me? I remember you have a friend that you would hang out with quite often but then something happened. You and your friend fought. That’s how it is in the Chicago hood. Anything you want to share that you have from my childhood, Mom? She told me she has. I was going through some papers and I found a poem. It says, “A short way to have a yummy day.” It starts with, “Happiness is something we create in our mind. It’s not something you search for and find. It’s waking …

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