J is for Jesus
All my life I had known about Jesus. I heard about him from my mother, grandmother and great grandmother. I learned about his life in weekly Sunday school lessons and by participating in vacation Bible school during the summers. Yet it was not until 1997 did I seek sincerely to know Jesus. I prayed about questions of why my knowledge of him was not transformative as others claimed it was for them. So I studied the Bible, read books and listened to great teachers to find out who he is, why he is important and how he could change lives. The Bible teaches “seek and you will find” and that's exactly what happened. On August 17, 1997, I committed my whole heart to walking in his ways. Seeking, believing, repenting and being baptized were just the first steps of this lifelong journey toward becoming a Christian. Sometimes I stumble along the path. Yet the beauty of my relationship with Jesus versus my knowledge of Jesus is I know he is with me. He leads. I follow. I go off track. He brings me back- sometimes gently guiding me by the hand, sometimes by the neck with his shepherd’s crook. Always with wisdom, true love, mercy and grace.
K is for Kai
In October, my heart was stolen by the world’s most beautiful baby boy, Kai Alexander, and I have not been the same since. I am now one of those grandmothers. At the most casual query as to his well-being, I whip out my cell phone to show him off. One or two will not do, I must show ALL of the pictures. People are so kind. They yield to my enthusiasm. l used to check Facebook when I had a minute to play on my phone. Now, I stare at my baby’s little cherub face. He has the wisest eyes, a sight I have never seen on any other baby. He’s got the cutest little nose and elfin chin. All I want to do is kiss his sweet head full of big soft curls and tell stories or sing songs to him. When he looks intently into my face, hope makes sense.
L is for Lexus
Anyone who knows me well will be able to tell you I'm not very much into name brand anything. I like high quality products, and I will pay for it, but I also love a good bargain as much as the next girl. When it comes to the car of my dreams, however, I would throw out all of my pragmatism, stop my eye-rolling at American consumerism and brand fandom. I have no real idea when this adoration started, but it shall not be assuaged until a milk-white ES 350 belongs to me. I've been an adult making money for a long time now, but I've yet to choose and purchase a car for myself. I think a Lexus would make a great first car for a middle-aged lady.
M is for Mommy
I am 42 years old, and I still call my mother “Mommy”. So do my siblings. My husband and his brothers still refer to their late mother as such. We are not the only ones. Every black person I know, who grew up calling their mother “Mommy” uses that moniker always- even as adults. During a conversation a few years ago, a friend curiously said “Wow, you still call your mother mommy.” I had never thought about it before. Was this unusual? So I started to pay attention to how people referr to their parents, moms in particular. I asked people of other communities and found if they had used the term Mommy at all, they had outgrown it somewhere in the preteen years and switched to Mom or Mother. We tend to view the world from our experience and where I’m from, a predominantly black community, almost everyone calls their mother Mommy (Ma is probably the second most popular). I actually cannot think of a black person who addresses his or her mother as “Mom.” Nonetheless, my mommy by any other name would be just as wonderful!
N is for Noni
We have already started teaching baby Kai to call me Noni and his grandpa, Pop. The latter will be easier because that's what our son calls his father. Sometimes, I slip up when talking to the baby and refer to myself as granny. I guess that comes more naturally to me because that's what we taught our kids to say to their grandmothers. I'm just too young to be called Granny. Noni just sounds cooler, more hipster. Don't you agree?
My uncle, Herman, likes to tell the story of seeing me for the first time as an infant. He recounts that my mother opened the door to her New York apartment with me in her arms and as soon he looked down at me, my face spread with the biggest gummy grin. He always ends the story with “you've always been my happy, positive Punky!” In the world of personality theories, I'm a sanguine. Easygoing, optimistic, looking for the good. I've had moments in the past when I wished God had given me a different personality. I thought I wanted to be more serious, more ambitious, more demanding or more take charge. Thank goodness God saw fit not to grant that wish. The older I get, the more I get me. My optimism is probably the thing I like most about myself.
Q is for Quiet
It is quite odd that someone as gregarious and extroverted as I am longs for and looks forward to quiet. I raised four children and work as an elementary school teacher. Maybe it's not so odd now that I think about it.
R is for Rest
My motto used to be “We can rest when we get to heaven!” For the first 40 years of my life I was the Energizer Bunny. I lived at the speed of right now, right fast. By God's grace, I started questioning the wisdom and effectiveness (or lack thereof) of my pace and prayed to see the value of rest. In the Old Testament, the Sabbath day was established for the Jews and is still practiced today. Apparently, they needed rest. I bet the same is true for the rest of us, too. On the 7th day of creation, God rested. If he rested though he does have the whole world in his hands, I had to ask what's my excuse? Rest. It is good.
S is for siblings
Brother-sister-brother. The children of my mother. I am the oldest by eight, eleven and sixteen years. This means I was practically grown by the time they were becoming cool kids. My little brother used to answer me “Yes or No, ma’am” because he grew up with my kids and that is the required response for them. It was too weird coming from my little brother so I had put a stop to that. They spent every summer with me and my family as they were growing up. Those times were special to me then, but the memories are more special now that they are all grown. We don't spend nearly as much time together as we did back then. I miss them and wish we weren't so far apart, in distance and time.