IN LOVING MEMORY OF CAROL: A Beacon of Love and Adventure
Carol Ann Banjo was the first of nine children born to Scobey and Ruth Ward. She was a Christmas baby, born just the day after Christmas in 1949. She hated that I combined her birthday and Christmas gifts. I would ask if she required two bouquets of flowers. She always replied with an emphatic yes, and then reminded me about flower-care to ensure they continued to bloom. Carol was that flower that bloomed night and day just like her precious roses.
She was from a close-knit family, one that loved unconditionally and played hard together. It's easy to feel like an outsider observing them, but they all took their cue from Carol, who never met a stranger. She was effortlessly warm and loving and was quick to compliment a good looking neighbor or a complete stranger. She was a true social butterfly and judging by the outpouring of support and love following her death, she had social capital to spare.
Carol's brothers Fred, Travis, Anthony, Mike, Terrance and Ray were her go-to people for anything that needed done in our home. She'd proudly say, why pay somebody when I have capable brothers. Her sister Rita died young and she had a hard time talking about her in the past tense. Her surviving sister, Nino was her 'fun' partner and travel buddy along with her brothers and their spouses Kim, Alice, Pat and Monica. I endured my share of over-the-top revelry with them. Carol loved to dance and 'stepped' every chance she got. Hers was an uncommon zeal for life.
Beyond her nurturing nature, Carol was an adventurous spirit. She had a deep love for the Caribbean, often embarking on travels to the Islands. Caribbean cruises were a special delight, allowing her to explore new horizons and experience the many wonders the world offers. She shared a similar passion for music, dancing and travel with her siblings. A LIFE WELL-LIVED WITH FEW REGRETS.
Carol had a parallel family of 'Sistas' who were friends who seamlessly morphed into family. Jennifer, Marianne, Sue and Denise to name a few. I oftentimes wondered how they could stay on the phone watching TV together. I envied her ability to laugh uproariously at knee-slapping humor. Nothing like 'Sistas' who know your joy and your pain.
Carol's and her siblings grew up on Lytle Street in Chicago with a mother who was an excellent cook and a father who was all about family-togetherness. I can't say Carol inherited her mother's gene for cooking. Believe me, I enjoyably 'endured' her cooking out of sheer love, understanding it was a labor of love. She died thinking she could cook. (My very generous gift to her)
Her son JJ was the love of her life. That unbreakable bond was long-formed before I arrived. I was happy to hitch a ride on that lovetrain and what a joyful ride it was.
Her legacy continues through her grandchildren, James, Michael, Andre, Vanessa and Jaylen who was a late arrival when JJ met the incomparable Gabrielle.
The great grandchildren were the ultimate icing on the cake, but Carol insisted they call her grandma, not wanting to feel her age. Yes, Carol was vain, but she couldn't get enough of those adorable kids.
Carol's natural instinct was caring and nurturing. She naturally chose to be a Registered Nurse. She worked the longest at University of Illinois, where they still remember her fondly.
Carol joined her parents, her sister Rita and her 'other mother' Mildred Tyson on August 27th 2023, surrounded by her very loving family.
For me her husband, it's hard to imagine a life without Carol Banjo. I have no idea what the future holds. What am I going to do with a room full of shoes? Open a shoe store? Lord knows she had enough of them. I'll see you in my dreams my dear Carol Banjo.