I was in high school and had gone to a slumber hangout and took JaLisa with me. She always wanted to go with me EVERYWHERE and was never shy; cautious of new people but never shy.
As a child JaLisa was loud, ridiculous, funny, compassionate, loud, talkative, smart, friendly, generous, kind-hearted, spoiled, loud, imaginative, thoughtful, resilient, courageous, loud…
Here we are all these years later and she is still all of those things. She’s lived through a lot; more than most women her age and she’s still standing.
From birth I watched her scoot, crawl, walk and run. There was stumbling and falling but she got up and kept going.
From adolescence to adulthood, I watched her go through the same process from scoot to crawl to walk to run. Sometimes, things got out of order but Tomi & I, her grandparents and the rest of her ‘village’ were there to help guide, dress wounds from the falls, counsel and keep her moving ever forward.
And today, she enters her 27th year. She’s out there moving through life…from a scoot to a crawl to a walk and then a run. She stumbles and falls and we’re still here to guide her; kiss the boo-boos and hug the hurt and tears away. She needs to lean on us less, as is God’s design. More independence; less hand-holding. It’s like I blinked and my Baby Bean became a woman and I wasn’t ready.
My grandma has been gone now for 9 years. Some days are harder than others but I miss her everyday. It’s funny, the things that make me think of her; my mother’s hands, my aunt’s voice, anytime my family gets together, certain cooking smells.
I miss talking to her; her wisdom, her jokes, her fussing. Just being in her presence was…comfortable and comforting.
Today would have been her birthday. Every year I think of one thing…
23 years ago, on this day, I went into labor; it was my grandma’s birthday. I was laying around at her house on the bed that she kept in her living room and said “Granny, I think I’m in labor.” She said “I know.” I asked her how she knew. “I’ve got 5 children. I know it when I see it.” I said “Granny, it would be cool if I had my baby on you birthday, right?” She stopped ‘piddling’ (as she used to call it) looked me in my eyes and with a straight face said “Don’t you have that baby on my birthday. I don’t like to share.” Soooooo…I waited two days.
This past weekend, I got to spend some much needed time with family. Since we live on the other side of the state, 4+ hours away, I don’t get to see my family nearly as often as I’d like. And when we do get to town, its hard to get around and see everyone in a weekend. It’s beautiful to see how we’ve grown over the years and how close we are; even though we don’t get to see one another as often as we’d like to. There are new babies, weddings being planned, kids starting school, new jobs, break-ups, make-ups new homes and so much more. It was great playing catch up with everyone.
I was most excited about getting to see my parents and my sister, niece and nephews. I just love them and miss them so much. I also got to meet my baby cousin, Layla Grace, for the very first time. I have seen pictures of her but being able to touch and hold her was fantastic! It was also my first time meeting my newest nephew in person; HE’S SO STINKING CUTE!
It is a sad but true reality that there are some members of my family that I don’t see for years at a time. Life goes on and thankfully, we have social media to be able to keep up with everyone’s comings & goings and such. As everyone gets older and our lives are changing, we are making the effort to find more opportunities to get together and make memories. Time flies!
The other day while I was waiting at the pharmacy, I picked up the nearest magazine. It was one of the hundreds of parenting mags they have out there. Anyway, while flipping through the pages, a colorful page of glossy, card stock caught my eye. It was a page that had paper dolls representing every ethnicity and then a page of outfits for the dolls.
I used to LOVE paper dolls! My favorites were paper babies. Never heard of those? Well, that’s because they were hand-drawn and colored for me by my cousin, Camille.
She would draw me little, paper, bundles of joy, swaddled in different colored blankets with a matching bonnet that had lace ruffled framing the little faces. She always made them the same shade of brown as I am with big, bright, brown eyes. She would use scissors to slit the mouth open so I could feed them their bottles; which she also drew along with a pacifier diapers, powder and baby food. Playing with my paper babies would keep me occupied for hours.
I remember lots of fun things I’ve done with my cousin over the years. It was nice to have some of the memories come flooding back. And to think, it all started with a paper doll.
919 South M Street, Tacoma, WA 98405; the first address that I ever learned. My mom, aunts and uncles spent some of their growing up years in this house. There have been weddings and receptions in this house. This house is where I played as a child with my cousins and friends, got into trouble and ate some of my most amazing meals. I walked to school from this house, there were times I lived in this house, my daughter spent her growing up years in this house. This house belonged to my grandmother, Geneva V. Coley (RIP). There are four generations of love and memories that came out of this house.
Although this house is no longer part of my life, the experiences and memories that I had that will live forever in my heart. I went to say goodbye to the structure and though its in a sad state, it made me smile to be standing in the front yard looking up at it.
The other day, Tomi & I made a trip to the corner store. She bought me a bag of Orange Slices. You know, the bright orange candies shaped like an orange wedge and coated in sugar? I have always loved these candies! I used to buy them all the time because you could get a big bag of them for $1.
That night, as I ate a few of them, memories started flooding back and I went to sleep with a smile on my face. For some reason, I like to eat them just before I go to bed. I think that some things are best appreciated in your sleepy clothes.
When Tomi & I were dating, my asthma was not in control and I was in the hospital all the time. Whenever I wasn’t feeling well, Tomi would come to visit me and bring me orange slices. She thinks they’re gross but has always loved the fact that such a small gesture could bring a smile to my face.
I have always appreciated Tomi’s understanding that if you let ‘the little things’ fall by the wayside, it makes the grand gestures on holidays, birthdays and anniversary seem more important than they are…in my opinion. Instead of waiting to present me with one grand and overpriced gesture of love, she does little things all the time just to show that she’s always thinking of me and the love we share.
I do like flowers but for me, its much sweeter to have a bag of my favorite candies waiting on my pillow when I get home from a long day at work; that’s the ‘sweetest’ love.