Tag Archives: family

A dress story

I have a dress in my closet. It was gifted to me by my sister, who inherited it from my mother. So this dress, which started in the 70s has found new life in 2010.

My Aunt sent me a couple of pictures of my mother in her youth a few months ago, and I was just tickled to see my mother wearing THE dress in the photo. I sent a photo of me in the dress to my Auntie! Her response:

is it??….. Could it really be..?? …. the same dress??

When was this picture of you taken? If it is the same dress, it held up very well! Do you still have it?
Did you know that it was I who took young Brenda, California Xmas shopping the day the dress found its way into her life? In fact, I only agreed to her having the ensemble because it came with the matching sweater… for a little cover up. 🙂 I didn’t want your grandma upset with me because of the neckline. That long ago day,.. in the boutique (it was owned by a lady who was a friend of Joes.).. I could see in your mom’s young face and eyes that she reallllllly wanted that outfit. She might remember, that I was hesitant with my approval because she was only 17 years old. But,… I relinquished… she looked so cute… how could I say NO. She might also remember,.. I wanted to discreetly ‘pin’ it in front so the neckline wouldn’t be so revealing. She agreed,… but the picture of her in it says she tossed my ‘pinned’ idea.(that little rascal) LOL
She also chose a couple of other items for purchase that were nice,… but this particular dress is the stand out memory maker!

…and that’s why i love

I have been doing a lot of reading and thinking in the new year. I am reading “The 7 habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey and I am taking my time. I like to digest my reading and internalize it as I would a good meal. In order for you to follow me on the remainder of this blog post, I must first provide you the passage that caused me to sit back and carefully evaluate my behaviors toward those that I care for.

In his section on Principles of Personal Vision, Covey writes:

At one seminar where I was speaking on the concept of proactivity, a man came up and said, “Stephen, I like what you’re saying. But every situation is different. Look at my marriage. I’m realy worried. My wife and I just don’t have the same feelings for each other we used to have. I guess I just don’t love her anymore and she doesn’t love me. What can I do?”
“The feeling isn’t there anymore?” I asked.
“That’s right,” he reaffirmed. “And we have three children we’re really concerned about. What do you suggest?”
“Love her,” I replied.
“I told you, the feeling just isn’t there anymore.”
“Love her.”
“You don’t understand. The feeling of love just isn’t there.”
“Then love her. If the feeling isn’t there, that’s a good reason to love her.”
“But how do you love when you don’t have love?”
“My friend, love is a verb. Love –the feeling–is a fruit of love, the verb. So love her. Serve her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?”

Okay. Let it marinate.

Now, when I reflect on this, it says to me: If you want love, be more loving, if you want respect be more respectful…a sentiment summarized beautifully in Matthew 7:12 (do unto others…). There is nothing profound in this statement, and yet, it hit me like a ton of bricks. People are not mind readers, nor do they absorb things by osmosis. If I want someone to know that I love them, I love them. The verb. If I am thinking about someone, I tell them. When I love, I do not know how to do this any other way but to let it ooze out of every pore. I love not because people always deserve it, but because I care so much for who they are and their well being, that I want them to succeed. Because when they glow, I shine, and when they fall, I stumble, because I care.

I remember the first time I knew that I was head over heels in love. I arrived home from school on Christmas break of 1998 and walked into the house to greet my family. Sitting on the couch was my older sister, holding this tiny little person swaddled in soft pink blankets with only her cherubic brown face showing, well, that and a massive tumble of dark curls. She was so quiet and in her slumber, she appeared to me to be the closest thing to heaven on earth. The moment I saw my niece I knew I would do any and EVERYthing in my power to keep her safe and happy no matter what it cost me. I was a goner. My heart was so full of love that I thought it might burst. She could hate me, and I would love her because I had no choice. So this was love. That is when I truly understood. My parents would love me no matter how mean, disrespectful, forgetful, ungrateful, selfish, or imperfect…they would love me in SPITE of my flaws.

I was praying this morning, and I am so thankful for every single one of my friends and all of their quirks, for my family and it’s dysfunction, because they love every little piece of me, even when I do not; and so I must love them the way God loves me…flaws and all.

to my father, on his day.

On this father’s day, as I sit listening to President Obama’s speech on fatherhood and having called my father to speak with him this morning a thought crossed my mind. My father has been many things to me; a provider, a coach, a disciplinarian, a friend… The memory that came to mind this morning, was the day that my grandmother died. Below is an excerpt from my journal on that day.

My grandmother died today. My Grandma Smiley. She died of cancer, in her lymph nodes. I didn’t know all day, I guess my parents didn’t want me to know because it would ruin my day. They said that she died at 9:00am. I don’t know what to think. I feel really shallow. Today was the homecoming game and our parents were supposed to escort us at halftime, for the show. Anyway, it was almost time and my mom and dad still weren’t there and I know that they are really busy, but I was still like ‘This is really important,’ and I started crying. They offered to get me another escort, but I didn’t want anyone but my parents. Our mascot, the eagle, was going to escort me, but right when we were walking over, my mom and dad came. I could tell that something was wrong, but I was too wrapped up in myself and what Eshe needed, that I didn’t even bother to ask. I was just really relieved that they came.

The reason why that incident stood out for me is because being a father is often about sacrifice. I was very excited to have been selected by my peers to sit as a princess on the homecoming court, in Belen, NM. I was the first African American to sit on the homecoming court in 20 years. For my father, allowing me to have that moment meant that he swallowed his pain, and showed up for me to walk me down that field at half time.

My father is far from perfect, but he is a good father. I love him dearly and the thing I will remember always is how he has shown up for me. From the time he had to confront my 5th grade teacher for trying to block me from going to represent my class at the Optimist’s club speeches to the basketball game where he jeered me when I shot at the wrong basket — a story he LOVES to tell, I know what it’s like to have a father present in my life. To all of the men who believe that a father’s job is to provide, I respect that, but it is so much more. My father is the man who taught me that love is displayed through action.