Easter Weekend with Nana

My uncles were out of town for Easter weekend so I had the pleasure of staying with my Nana. Not since the early 2000s have I be able to spend the night with Nana. I use to come over often when I lived in Indianapolis. If I didn’t come to her house she would come to mine. We would spend the weekend eating, watching TV, and of course talking. Nana has always been a talker. She taught me how to form an argument at a young age. She also had a love for reading which we share. To make it plain Nana is my girl, always has been. I called to let her know I was on my way and asked if she needed anything. Sometimes she likes me to bring her ice cream, sometimes a sandwich from Steak N Shake with no slop on it( mayo, mustard, ketchup). This time it was fries. I am glad to do anything for her because I don’t get to see her often like I used to. It brings me joy to take care of her the way she always took care of me.

I got over there and called and she came to the door after a few minutes. As soon as I walked in she started laughing. I had a huge suitcase full of every thing I needed. I had another plastic bag full of all the foods she liked and her fries of course. I settled in my uncle’s room and made myself comfy on Nana’s couch. This is the same couch I slept on many nights throughout my childhood.

Usually when I call we have our marathon conversations on the phone for hours. I grabbed a drink and a burger and we started our in person marathon. We talked about our marriages; both of us were married twice. We talked about raising children; her experience and mine. We talked about the mistakes we made although we tried to do our best. We talked about the current president and current state of politics. We talked racism, celebrities, music, Indianapolis, and everything in between. What I’m saying is we talked about everything.

We planned to watch some movies but that never happened. Nana went to bed and I came and kissed her cheek and told her how much I loved her and goodnight. I slept in my youngest Uncle’s room in the house that held so many memories. In this room I would lay in the floor on the phone for hours. I would hang up clothes for Nana when she used the room to store clothes and things she didn’t wear that often. Nana always changed things due to seasonal changes. In the summer she got out her T-shirts and long shorts and thin sheets; in winter she pulled out sweaters, coats and flannel sheets and heavy blankets.

I remember her teaching me how to cook for a big family. My great grandmother had 12 or 13 kids. My husband and I have blended 9 total children between two marriages and two relationships. At any given time we could have a houseful of 6 all at once; my husband cares for any children who he influenced blood or not. Nana taught me how to make beans and stews, rice and roasts. She also taught me how to bake cakes, pies and cookies but I was never good at it.

She also taught me the small things like washing out the tuna and salmon cans so they don’t stink up your kitchen, and tearing up pizza boxes and food boxes into smaller pieces before throwing them in the trash. At some point after reminiscing I fell asleep.

Nana wakes up at the real crack of dawn. I heard her stirring around at around 5am. Nothing has changed; I still start moving around at 9am and I asked her what she wanted for breakfast. She had a full fridge with all the meats and eggs. She just wanted scrambled eggs and her coffee. Many mornings Nana made me pancakes, eggs, and cream of wheat always. Cream of wheat and toast was my favorite. Now I was privileged to make her coffee.

We got right back into our conversation. We talked about Dallas where I live and the differences between Indy and The Metroplex. I asked her if there was anything she needed me to do for her. I wanted to see if she needed help washing her hair, “ Nope I got it.” I remember she used to paint her nails all of the time and had polishes in every room. “ Girl no. I don’t worry about that stuff anymore.” I laughed cause even though she is the same Nana, she is now turning 88. Matter of fact as I write this blog she is literally turning 88. Today is her birthday. Today is the day my favorite person in the world was born.

Listen I know we all love our grandmothers but this is a story about MY Nana. The strongest, most intelligent woman I know. Nana remembers everything. She remembers the name of a dog that was in the family over 20 years ago. She can tell stories of when she was younger and never has a moment when she forgets a name or event. You could never play her. You know those people who victimize elderly people to steal their social security numbers and information? It will never happen to Nana. NEVER. She doesn’t give folks her personal information. She is smart as a whip. You will not play Nana. And don’t you lie cause Nana remembers what you told her the last time, don’t get caught.

Later that evening I called my cousin B to see if he wanted to come over to and see Nana. Mom came over and my oldest uncle came home. I ordered Easter dinner from my friend a business owner who delivers food. She brought ribs, chicken, mac n cheese, corn , greens and sweet potatoes. We spent the rest of the evening talking and eating. Nana let us know her thoughts on the food and they were respected seeing as she cooked for years.

I thanked my Uncles for allowing me to come over and stay with her. It was my pleasure to spend some time with her. Being around Nana is like doing research or reading a book that schools you on various topics and gives you real talk. The best advice Nana ever gave me was; that when you marry or look for a mate, find someone who will be your friend. People will say I love you and mean it, but it’s better that you like someone. A friend is someone you will spend time with no matter what. You love to be around them. It’s a mutual relationship and even if you fuss and fight you still end up being friends. In my first marriage I didn’t listen but now in my second marriage I may have it right.

Growing up I didn’t have a sibling as a first best friend. I am the only child my mom had. My first best friend was my Grandmother; Nana. I choose to give her the love and admiration while she is here and 88 years strong. I love you Nana but more importantly you are my friend.

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My Sister’s Keeper 

I have always been a woman’s woman. Wait well not always, I’ve had my share of girl fights, drama and mess. What I mean is since I’ve matured I have always been dedicated to helping women. It could be working with teen mothers, helping them gain financial freedom, or talking to battered women and telling my story. In my day to day experience I encourage women from small compliments to bold statements of YOU CAN DO IT! YOU MATTER! With all of this love and commitment I have to and for the sistas. I lacked a relationship with my own sister.

Our childhoods were not the best but certainly not the worst. My sister and I share the same dad and different mothers. I am the second child and first girl. I had an older brother name David who passed in 2012. My sister, Janelle was the third child and came right after me. Then we have 3 brothers under us. The relationship with Dad and Janelle’s mother was not all that great. I remember being able to see her on the weekends when Dad would pick us all up but then at some point she stopped coming over.

When I asked about her, Dad would say her mother was trippin’.As a kid I had no idea what that meant. I just knew it wasn’t good. I remember thinking if she’s tripping are her legs broken? When she fell did Janelle fall too? Why can’t you just go and get Janelle since her mother tripped and fell. All through my teens I never saw or heard from my sister. I would see my buddies with their sisters. My friend Keisha and her sister Crystal were so close. DeAnna and Donielle were close even thought they got on each other last nerve. I wanted a sister living with me to get on my nerves. But in my home it was just me and mom. I loved Momma but I wanted a sister I could go to and talk with about “ sister stuff.”

Mom knew where Janelle’s mom worked because it was her doctors office, but mom was not the confronting type. She said, “Rhasha your dad and her mom need to handle that. My concern is you and taking care of you.” I never told her I felt taking care of me was me being raised along with my sister. Years went by. I graduated high school, had three children and was getting married at 21. I looked up and saw the most exquisite cheekbones, full lips, and slanted eyes. She smiled really wide when she saw me. I wished I could run over to her but I was walking down the aisle with my asshole first husband. The wedding ended, the reception was over, and just that quickly she was out of my life again.

Facebook was all the rage in 2009 but it took me a while to want to join. I didn’t want to see any friends from back in the day. I didn’t want to be asked all the bullshit questions. But reluctantly I joined the site and started adding friends. By now I was divorced, remarried, moved to Ohio and had just written a book with two of my closest friends. A friend request popped up; Janelle Halliburton. My heart skipped a beat and I dropped my laptop on the floor.

We quickly started sending message back and forth. We exchanged numbers and the next time I went to Indianapolis for the Holidays we met up at Starbucks for coffee. We texted often and kept up with each other. As time went on she became a first time mother, then a second time mother. I moved to Dallas and all of my children went off to college. We stayed in touch through social media and the phone.

Whenever I come home to visit she comes out even at the last minute. We meet up for dinner and live music. She came to see me with the new babies at the bowling alley during my father-in -laws memorial bowling tournament. This year I celebrated by 40 birthday and who was first to arrive to dinner, my sister. When I planned a birthday event here in Dallas she was there.

This past weekend she came down and we hung out. As I watched her with that same beautiful face; exquisite cheekbones, full lips that people pay for and naturally curly hair I kept thinking man I never had a chance to kiss those cheeks when she was sad. I never burnt her with a curling iron while flat ironing her hair, I never protected her in a fight. Even though she is taller than me and stronger. I was never my sister’s keeper in the real sense.

I have watched my daughters all have each others backs but I was robbed of that chance. But as we talked I realized we are not children anymore;or teens. We are grown women who have been through divorces. We are mothers who are parenting small and adult children. We have been through relationships ups and downs. There are things I can help her with regarding her children. She can provide me with information as I navigate the social work field where she holds a Masters Degree. As adults we can be there for each other and provide support.

Although we didn’t fully have each other then, now we are fully committed to sustaining our relationship no matter the distance. We are sisters. We have a bond, we are each other’s keeper.

Next up Sister Vegas trip 2018.