Home is Where the Hurt Is

Going to my hometown Indianapolis is usually freeing and peaceful. I know where everything is located. I don’t get lost. The traffic is not ridiculous like it is in Dallas where I’ve resided since 2015. I can get the foods I’ve loved since I was young; White Castle, Long’s Donuts, and Mr. Dans. I enjoy worshipping at my childhood church and the church I transitioned to as an adult. I get to hang with my cousins, best friend  and family members. But some things are not as they use to be.

My Nana is getting older and starting to feel like she’s actually 88. She has always been healthy. While others were losing their grandmothers, mine was eating healthy; no diabetes or high blood pressure. Nana’s mind is 100% there and she can debate with the best of them. But her body is not lining up with her mind. Now she is having aches and pains and two doctor appointments a week.  She is sick of visiting different doctors and telling them over and over what is going on. After visiting  with her I asked her if she wants to come to Dallas so I can take care of her. 

My Aunts are also getting older. Aunts are such a blessing. They are like your mom only cooler and they let you get away with everything. My Aunt Beth is my favorite and she so much fun. She always had a nice car and she drove really fast. If anyone cut her off she would quickly yell at them. Aunt Beth loved roller coasters and Dairy Queen dates. She beats the crap outta the kids in board games and is very competitive. I was raised as a only child so when I could spend the night at Auntie’s  with my cousins it was fun times. Whenever my cousins wanted to do something they would say, ” You ask. She can’t say no to you.”   She would always keep me in suspense and then say, “yep.” 

My Aunt is not feeling the way she once did. She is often ill and struggles a lot. When I come home I try to cheer up her with songs and jokes. I always have a story about my grown ass kids. In the past Rhasha the cheerleader could change her mood and make her forget her pain; not as much now. She has been on dialysis for seventeen years and still has strong faith that one day she will be healed. The day after I celebrated her 63rd birthday with her I dreamed she was in Dallas on my back porch eating tacos on Tuesdays. 

So often times coming home hurts. I know that as long as we live we are getting older.  Even at 40 my knees crack and my grays are feisty. I look at Nana and think; her  body is 88 years old. Auntie has lived for 63 years when doctors said she wouldn’t or couldn’t.  Each of these ladies have made an impact on my life and that continues. I see them for who they were then and who they are now. 

I guess the best thing I can do is come home often. Tell them and show them that I love them. Realize that life doesn’t stay the same. Life is about transitions; memories and moments. There are still memories to be made and moments to share with Nana, Auntie and all of my family members. I look forward to coming back home for Thanksgiving to enjoy another precious moment. 

  

Image St. Joseph’s Cockeysville 

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OPEN LETTER TO KEKE WYATT

keke

Since we were teens I have always admired you. We grew up in the same hometown, Indianapolis. We were around each other in different girl groups in the city. We have lots of mutual friends and you even tried out for a group I was in called Baby Girl. You may not remember this but I remember the biracial girl with high cheek bones and a wide smile wearing 90’s overall swag and a voice I had never heard before and haven’t heard since. She walked into a dance studio in the Glendale area and sang Amazing Grace and His Eye is on the Sparrow.  We did some basic dance moves and the next time I saw you were on my TV screen singing with Avant.

First let me say this; Your voice is one of the best period. In a world where qualities like looks and sex appeal are more important than talent you stand above with raw talent and skill. And yes you are a beautiful woman. Don’t ever let anyone tell you any different. As your life progressed I always followed what you were doing. I always told people, “That’s Keke Wyatt. She’s from Nap. Her whole family can sing. I even know her momma from Allison Transmission. Her name is Miss Lorna.”

I watched you get married and have children and I saw you struggle. As you were struggling I was too. I felt connected. From being abused by the father of my children, to fighting back and looking like the bad guy. I vibed to your first album Soul Sista . My favorite song was always your version of If Only You Knew & Don’t Take Your Love Away.

In 2001 my daughter was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor kidney cancer and went through a year of chemo and radiation. During that time my husband completely pulled away from me. I was in fear of losing my daughter and my marriage. In the end she pulled through and is now a healthy 24-year-old 4th grade teacher. My marriage ended and I went into a dark depression which almost took my life. My ex then took my children away from me for 6 months and ignored my calls. I didn’t even get to celebrate my daughters Make A Wish trip to Disney. Another person stood in as me.

I still paid attention to your moves in Kentucky and sent you messages of encouragement on Myspace. I would come to your intimate shows where you would start singing R&B, go into Gospel and even throw some opera in there. People have always said things about your quirky ways. From one misfit to another  I would say, girl they don’t know your life! They have no clue what you have been through. One thing they can’t deny is you put your heart and soul into your music.

In my opinion no one bares their soul no one has your range and you rival some of the best voices of our time.  I made sure I even bought a physical copy or had a fresh download of every album from Who Knew, to Unbelievable, Rated Love, and Keke. Your hits have gotten me through some of my darkest days and made me smile and laugh while slowing dancing in front of my couch with my current husband.

I don’t know a lot about your childhood upbringing other than the church but I do know what happens when you are in a hostile relationship that includes cheating and abuse. It leaves remnants of PTSD that can stay with you for years to come.  I lived that life. Before I could heal properly I was swept off my feet by my own Prince Charming. Much like Michael Jamar he is a great father who not only cares greatly for his children but has taken good care of mine and loves all children.

My husband saw me as a wounded and hurt woman who didn’t trust anyone. Instead of telling him what I had been through earlier in life, I tried to hide the pain that haunted me daily. Eventually it showed itself and he saw all of my wounds. He tried his best to heal them while working and being a father.

You were away from the spotlight for a while but I was happy to see you on R&B Divas along with several of my favorites. I was excited to see the babies and the beautiful family you had created. But there was a sadness in your eyes…so I prayed.

It was great to see you building friendships with women knowing how hard it is for you to trust. Folks would come after you and call you crazy. I always responded on social media, “She isn’t crazy she’s Keke and what she has been through is crazy.”

Watching the interaction with you and your  hubby was very familiar. Your Michael reminded me so much of my Mikel. Strong, problem solver, father, patient and kind. Due to his support I began to get my life together. I started intensive therapy and mental health classes. Becoming closer to Christ and making sure to rid myself of toxic thoughts was another milestone in my progress.

I began to take steps to heal my hurt and be the whole healed woman my husband needed. I am still in therapy and I still go to classes from time to time. Volunteering and daily prayer are also a part of my regimen. All of these things are helpful in healing from past struggles.

The next time I saw you was on the Marriage Boot camp show. The struggles between you and Michael were magnified for the world. It was hard to watch. The show ended and things were quiet for a while.  Now you’re back in the media; not for the perfect voice, not for the amazing range of that voice, but for a possible divorce.

Keke I pray that God’s will be done. I pray that if God wants your marriage to work that it will work. One day you will be healed and whole and have true peace. You will one day know and see the beautiful woman who is behind that big ole smile. Even if you don’t see it, there are many  think about you and want the best for you.

I want to share with you lyrics from your song. I know this was written as a love song but I like think of it with God as the focus.  He will give you his love, peace, time, joy, and everything else you need.

I’ll give you my love. I’ll give you my peace . I’ll give you my time. I’ll give you everything you need.  I’ll give you my love.  I’ll give you my joy. I’ll give you my life. 

You will always be that pretty girl I saw belt out His Eye is on the Sparrow as if the song was written only for you. If God looks out for the little bitty sparrow you know he is watching you. I hope this helps you in some way and I hope that all women can one day heal from abuse and that the men who love us can also get the support that they need.

Rhasha Hoosier

Roots & Wings 

Mother’s Day weekend marked my 23rd year being a mother. It’s not always been easy but it was worth it. The early years I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I remember the first night with my oldest I thought there was a cat in the house. I kept hearing a weird noise in a high pitched voice. It was my newborn. I couldn’t put my middle son down at night or he would wail and turn red. I held him all night and no daycare could watch him because he was spoiled. Raising my youngest I needed so much help my grandmother and uncle watched her for the first 6 months. She would come home and look at me like lady who are you?

In their elementary school years, I started to get it right and kept them grounded in church and the values I was taught as a child by my mom. They learned to share, recited scripture, and I started discipline methods. The girls didn’t have to be told to often to shape up but that boy tested me…often. I stressed how important education was by telling them by own story of struggle. I showed them how important their sibling hood was and they promised to always have each other’s back.

In the last five years they have gone off to college, my oldest has graduated college and began working as a teacher; they are all in different chapters of their lives. They don’t need me to do the day to day parenting anymore. I don’t have to make sure I come to their aid with every tear. I can’t hold them throughout the night. Many times they go to each other with their questions and concerns and I don’t hear about the issue until months later. I am content in knowing that they have each other for advice and encouragement just as I taught them.

My youngest is staying in Columbus for the summer and working an internship instead of coming home. As much as I want her here to snuggle at night and make her favorite meals; she needs to start getting into her field and making moves. My son is headed to Morocco a place I don’t know much about but I’m learning. I could tell him that I don’t want him to leave the country right now and to please stay in Cincy this fall but then he couldn’t use his language skills and prepare for the next phase of his life.

My oldest daughter is in Houston and has one of the hardest jobs in the world. I was frightened when she started teaching. I was worried, but she has been teaching all of her life. She is my oldest child. She has been helping me with her siblings and she has always said she wanted to teach. So she has her own beautiful place and is thriving.

As Mothers we want to have our children right there with us forever. We often want to soften the blows of life. I think we are here for two reasons, to give them roots and wings. I have done that, now I am reaping the benefits of watching them soar.

My Girls; True Friends.

imageI spent Cinco De Mayo weekend with my daughters Brittany and Ana. My oldest daughter Brittany celebrated her 23rd birthday. The girls had not seen each other since the holidays. Whenever they are together it’s just fun watching them. We were just sitting around the house and Brit walked in like she came back from grabbing milk. “What’s up y’all?” Ana was so happy and ran up to her big sis. My heart was so warm and full of love. My girls have always been close even if it was shunning their middle brother that brought them together. I remember him driving them crazy and them telling him to get lost when they were young.

As they were growing up they had their normal ups and downs. They got on each other’s nerves just like normal siblings, but they never fought. They never cussed each other out or had any of the drama I saw from sisters on tv. As they grew up Brittany took care of Ana like a little mother. She was there for her emotionally, spiritually,and physically. Often when Ana couldn’t come to me with different issues I knew that Brit would provide sound advice.

Even though Ana is 3 years younger than Brit she also is a listening ear when she’s needed. Brittany was the more patient, kind and tolerable sister and can be taken advantage of. Ana is much more suspicious of people, stands her ground more and is introverted. The older they get, I notice they are interchangeable. Often Brit is outspoken and impatient with mess and Ana tells me how many friends she has made during different events.

During the weekend I could hear them talk for hours in their room until late in the night. Ana would bust out laughing and then Brit would laugh in her high pitched voice. I love the relationship they share, the sisterhood. I hope that one day my relationship with my sis will be just as strong.

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.

  

Fly

It’s often said that as parents we raise our children and after raising them we are to let them fly. They don’t tell you that’s easier said than done. For some it’s losing control over their children. For others it’s the need to keep their children close to them. For me it’s very simple-fear. The fear of my daughter being hurt by those who don’t love her. The horror of some evil person trying to extinguish the great light that is inside of her. I even worried about her choosing her first post college apartment. And Oh Lord how will she pay for a house full of furniture? And what about her fifth roomate? Here we go again…

This weekend God showed me that as much as I love my sweet Brittany, he loves her more. I was able to spend the weekend with her. Brittany is living out not only his plan for her life, but her plan. She has said she would be a teacher since I can remember. So last week she began her journey as a 2nd grade teacher in her new city Houston, TX. She decorated her classroom and had her lesson plans all together. She found a very nice luxury apartment in a sprawling neighborhood with trails and beautiful trees. She has a couch, a dining room table, dishes, and all of her needs. We were so happy to purchase her a bed and a lamp to complete her list. Brit has her stuff together and I quickly learned this is no longer my college student. 

She has a reliable vehicle that she looks so cute driving. Her backseat is full of items for her classroom and a couple of Brittany spills. I guess driving while eating breakfast is harder than she thought. Brit is not a kid to miss any meals. She lives close to work and church. She is excited about joining a small group within her church community. I was able to visit her church on Sunday and enjoyed myself. 

My baby even has her own group of friends. Some of them are friends from Ball State where she attended school. Some are teachers who mentored her when she was student teaching. They have been like a small family. They have helped her along her path, helped her with home furnishings and showed her the ropes about what areas of town to stay away from. 

My little premature baby girl who weighed 4 pounds 9 ounces and had to live in an incubator for weeks is now a 22 year old teacher. The kids call her Ms. Hoosier. This is my Britsy who had a rare cancer at age 6 and went through almost a year of chemo and radiation. She is now a working tax paying real job having adult. I respect her vision. I have always supported her goals. I have her back the same way my mom always has mine. So after the 4 hour drive from Houston to Dallas I rested and slept like a baby. God has her in his arms. I am gonna stand back for a second…until I find her a husband and have some grandbabies. But for now I am going to let this beautiful bird fly.  

  
   
  

Hidden Figures & Fences

*Summary no spoilers*

Believe it or not these are two different movies. Even though the Golden Globes red carpet interviewers didn’t seem to notice. There were some similarities, for instance both movies had stellar performances by black actors. Hidden Figures and Fences had great storylines and invoked emotion. They were both nominated for Golden Globe Awards. But they are two different films. I enjoyed them both for different reasons.

First you must know that I am sick of slave movies. Yes I said it. I am very aware of our ugly, gruesome history and how we arrived to this country. I know all about Harriet Tubman and the slaves she led to freedom. I have seen Django and didn’t enjoy it at all. I have no desire to see twelves years or thirteen years or still a slave. I know the narrative all to well.

What I didn’t know about was the story of the three black woman who worked for NASA. I don’t want this blog to be a spoiler I want it to entice you to go and see these movies. Hidden Figures tells the story of three math and science geniuses. Katherine Johnson (Taraji Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) were the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history. Janelle Monae, Octavia Spencer and the brilliant Taraji Henson (who I love seeing outside of her ‘ round the way girl role) were wonderful at bringing this story to life.

The movie filled me up with so much pride. I thought about all of the little black STEM girls. I thought of the assets those woman were to NASA. Not just the three men portrayed in the movie but all of the women in the “colored” computing department. When John Glen went to the moon he did so because of my sistas. My beautiful, intelligent wonderful sistas. The movie was phenomenal and I can’t wait to take 5 girls from the YWCA to see it this weekend.

Fences was also very good and the actors did a wonderful job of bringing August Wilson’s play to the screen. Denzel Washington who is not my favorite actor in the word was outstanding. The chemistry between Washington and Viola Davis was red hot. Fences is about a poor man named Troy Maxson (Washington) who worked as a garbage man. He takes care of his wife Rose (Davis), and his sons Lyons and Cory. The oldest son Lyons is a musician who thinks his dad’s line of work is beneath him. The youngest son Cory has dreams of playing football. His dad thinks he should learn a trade and be more sensible. The movie shows how the mistakes of the father led to the way he raised his son. He ruled with tough love but still love no doubt.

Viola Davis is quickly becoming my favorite actress period. Her body of work thus far is epic and this film is no different. Denzel also continues to show us why we need to put some “ Respeck” on his name.

Both films were excellent. One showed the brilliance that comes from a love for learning and the other the tumultuous relationship between the father and son as he transforms from boy to man. Both made you proud and left you wanting to know the stories behind the films. The settings were different. But what both of these films shared was my head being held high as I left the theatre. The warmth that came over me seeing all the black girl magic that Hidden Figures was laced with. The great passion and fire that exudes through both Washington and Davis in Fences. I advise you to go see both movies as soon as you can and tell me how they make you feel.