Josephine and Marvin Sr.

I feel so blessed to have a copy of this picture. Let me introduce you to Josephine and Marvin my mother’s parents. I remember back when I was in high school (a hundred years ago) Mom pulled the original of this picture out of the cedar chest that sat at the foot of her bed.  As you may have figured out I love old family pictures and to have a portrait of Mama Jo and Marvin Daddy – well! I was over the moon about it. My mom took the original and had copies made for her three brothers and a few other family members. I’m not sure if I was given my copy or if I stole – I mean - borrowed it ala my other grandmother Mama Carrie – but that’s a post for another day.

All of my memories of Mama Jo are bookended by my strongest memory of her standing on the front porch of her house. Every summer our family would drive down to Dallas where my parents grew up to spend the last three weeks of our summer vacation. As a little kid I was always amazed to see Mama Jo standing on the front porch of her house looking for us. I wondered how long she had been standing there and how did she know we were coming up the street at that precise moment. We would tumble out of the red station wagon and scoot up the front walk as fast as our little legs would carry us. She would gather us kids all in her arms at the same and hug us so tight. I remember those hugs, those warm tight soft grandmotherly hugs and how loved and safe I felt.  Those hugs lasted forever and they were wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. There is nothing in the world like a grandmother’s hug.

Marvin Daddy spoke slow but had a strong voice, always wore a hat and called me 'baby'.  I remember he called us all ‘baby’ as far as I can remember, but we always knew which one he was calling. We’d sit on his lap or snuggled up next to him as he sat and talked with the other men in my family, my dad and my uncles until we were called into the kitchen by the women or sent outside to play. He always gave us money for the ice cream man (yay!)and bought us candy when we would ride with him to the store.  Although Mama Jo went on to be with the Lord when I was in fourth grade, Marvin Daddy was with us until I was a young married woman. One of my last memories of him was when I brought my first born son down to Dallas for him to see. He was dying from prostate cancer at that time and I wanted to make sure he saw my son. He was also so proud of my husband who was in medical school and would call him “Doc”.  Obediently my husband brought his medical bag and took Marvin Daddy’s pulse and blood pressure and listened to his heart.  My grandfather then declared to all in the room how he felt so much better now that ‘Doc’ had checked him out. 

Marvin Daddy went to join Mama Jo not long after that last visit.  I miss them both so much. The Bible says in Psalm 127 vs. 3a that “children are a heritage of the LORD…” and that is true but in my heart when I think of my wonderful grandparents I always think, grandparents are a heritage for children from the Lord like they were for me and my siblings. I love them, thank God for them and miss them all very, very much.


Carrie: A Free Woman

This beautiful woman is Miss Carrie, my grandmother.  When I refer to the historical home I live in as my grandmother’s house, this is the grandmother I’m referring to.  To the long time residents of this neighborhood, I live in Miss Carrie’s house and nine times out of ten I am referred to as ‘Miss Carrie’s oldest grandbaby. That always makes me smile. Miss Carrie or rather Mama Carrie as we called her is my father’s mother. She passed in the late 90’s and although I miss her a lot, I live surrounded by her.  I’m writing this post seated at the kitchen table where I ate breakfast with her when I was a little girl. I often drink my morning tea out of one of her china cups.  

The name Carrie means ‘a free woman’ which I find amazing because her parents, Mama Hattie and Granddaddy Seabon were born slaves. I don’t know if Mama Hattie and Granddaddy Seabon knew what the name Carrie meant when they named her but it so fits her. It is personally overwhelming to me that she was named such as a child born to parents who were born slaves.  

Mama Carrie went to school up to the eighth grade but was one of the wisest women I know when it came to finances. I asked her once if she had a credit card and she told me, “I wouldn’t have one of those infernal things.”  She believed in saving for what she wanted to buy and in buying wisely. I remember she told me once to buy the best once, then you won’t have to buy it twice.  She didn’t believe in changing out cars ever year. They would buy a good car, keep it tuned up, and drove it till it stopped.  They didn’t spend wildly but lived, dressed and ate well and supported their church with their tithes and offerings. As far as I know there was always enough to go around. Wisdom like that comes in handy for these tough financial times.

There is so much I can tell about Mama Carrie, things I recall fondly.  I tend to think about her a lot in the fall especially October. Every year she would ride the Greyhound Bus two days up to Michigan right around the fifteen to visit with us and she would always bring her heavy coat. A Southerner all her life, she didn’t like the cool temps of a Michigan fall. She always stayed for two weeks and made sure she was home in time for Halloween to pass out candy to the kids. I’m not a big supporter of Halloween, but every year, I leave my porch light on and hand out candy in her memory.  Before she would leave to go home she tell me, “Baby, make sure you get your education first. Don’t get married until you can’t do anything else.” I knew what she meant but the phrasing always made me smile.  I found out at her memorial service that she told my other two sisters the very same thing.  She was a strong believer in education especially for women. She wanted us to take advantage of what she wasn't able to.

There will more about Mama Carrie and I will be posting pictures of Mama Hattie as well. I also have pictures of my mother’s parents, Mama Josephine and Granddaddy Marvin and I’ll tell you about them. They are all wonderful people. I thank God for the rich heritage He gave our family in our forbearers.  

What are your favorite memories of your grandmother and grandfather? Please share them. I would love to about your grandparents.


Meet The Sibs

These are my Sibs, my two brothers and two sisters. From left to right they are Christopher, Jokay, Jesse, Moi and Ericka.  I’m the eldest or as my sister Jokay likes to say with emphasis, the OLDEST! That’s ok, I’ll own it. Being the oldest, I am also the wisest. (Can you hear the groaning and kvetching from all over the country? He he he…) In order we are Me, Jo, Ericka, Jesse and Chris.

This picture sits in an engraved desk frame where I can see it every day. One day soon, I'm going to get it enlarged to put over my living room mantelpiece.  I love the sentiment carved on the frame:

Every day of my life has been a gift from my family.
They were with me when I learned to share and to care, to work and to play.
My family was never far, always there to comfort and protect me.
Wherever I go,
They are in my heart.
A family is forever.
-          S.Jackson

There are two things I learned early about the value of having family, one each from my mom and dad. One evening our family was watching a documentary on the homeless. I remember my sibs and I were talking about how terrible it would be to be homeless and my mother said to us, “Don’t worry, you’ll never be homeless. You have family.” The other was when all of us sibs were fussing and fighting about some silly thing and my father, an only child, told us, “Don’t fight with your brothers and sisters. They are your family. When no one else will help you, your brothers and sisters will.”  Both of these moments have stayed with me my whole life and have proven over and over again to be true.

This picture was taken back in ‘98 when we were all at home in Michigan at the same time. Surprisingly, we all still look the same as we do now. We are spread out over the upper Midwest with me the only one in the South.  It’s difficult to coordinate all of the families’ schedules to come together but we try to keep up with each other on a bi-weekly conference call and on a private family Facebook page.  This summer all but one of us was able to be home with my parents at the same time with over lapping vacation times and I realized how much I missed being in the midst of our large loving family. We fussed good naturedly and laughed with each other, threw pillows and stole each other’s places on the family room sofa.  Our kids, nephews and nieces rolled their eyes at our childishness but we didn’t care. We were having the best fun and the memories of those days in July are precious to me.

I’ll be posting more pics including some great black and white ones of my grand and great-grandparents. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your siblings. Drop me a comment and tell me about them.


Jesse: A Gift of Laughter and Prayer

It is said that the greatest thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.  By that criterion alone, my dad is a very great man. There are many things that define him but the first thing that comes to mind is how much he loves my mom and by extension, his family.  Not once in my life have I ever doubted that my dad loves us and it has been a very great blessing.

My dad’s name is Jesse which means, ‘a gift’. He certainly is a gift but when I think of my dad, I think of a passage of scripture in the Bible, Isaiah Chapter 11:1 which speaks of the coming Messiah:

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.”

Whenever I think of my dad I think of the strong root he is for our family tree. He’s a strong, good, solid man and a prayerful one.  I’m glad my mother married him. My one continuous memory of my dad is how every night he kneels beside his bed to pray. As a little girl I remember asking what was he praying for and he said simply, “I’m praying for you, your mother and your brothers and sisters.” What a comfort his answer has been through the years. During the times in my life when I couldn’t find the words to pray, I knew my dad had me covered. We talk always about the gift of a praying mother but oh thank God, thank God, thank God for the gift of a praying Father. The times when I thought I would never get up again, the times when I was sure I couldn’t go on, I was able to pull on the strength of knowing that along with my mother, my father was praying for me.  Let me say again, (in case you didn’t hear me the first time) Thank God for a praying father.

There are many things I like about my dad and I could go on and on, but the one thing I really like about him is his sense of humor. My dad loves to laugh (you can tell by that smile) and he is at times very funny. He would come home from work and tell us the absolute corniest jokes which would make us all laugh and cringe at the same time. It is from him that I get my crazy side.

Proverbs 13:22 states that a good man will ‘leave an inheritance to his children’s children.’ Jesse, my dad is a good man and he has given me laughter and prayer. What a wonderful inheritance. My father’s gift to me.


Crystal: Clear and Sparkling

This is my mom. I love this picture of her. She's a real beauty. It was taken when she was around twenty five years old. The baby in her arms is my sister Jo and the cute little girl standing next to her is yours truly.  She is the first of the Renaissance Women I have been graced to have in my life and she is the primary. I am who I am today because of her (and of course my dad) and I have dedicated this blog/journal to her.

My mom’s name is Crystal which means, clear and sparkling. As I think about it, I think it does describe her. When she is in the midst of her family with her kids around her, she sparkles. She loves having ‘her babies’ around her. Actually she loves having babies around her period. Her babies, her grandbabies, the babies at church, the babies in the neighborhood - anybody’s babies and they all love being around “Miss Chris”. I was amused the other day when I called home (she lives in Michigan and I live in Texas) and heard all of this screeching and yelling in the background. When I asked who it was she told me it was the kids from across the street playing kickball in the side yard. Our house (the one I grew up in) is the biggest on the block and also has this wonderful side yard (as opposed to a back one) which is big enough to play a rousing game of kickball in it. My parents never fenced it, allowing instead for it to be open for us to play on.  It not only drew every kid on the block, but kept us under their watchful eyes. Even now, with all of us out of the house, the yard is never empty and both she and my dad like it that way.

I’ll be blogging from time to time about my mom and the other Renaissance Women (and men ) in my life and how their love,  affection and support has woven into the tapestry of my life, but I wanted to start with my mom because she is the foundation. She is the one I have patterned myself after on both an consciously and unconsciously level. Perfect? No, but who is? But I know she loves me dearly as I love her. She’s been a good example to follow. I am blessed to have her in my life.

I’d love to hear about the primary Renaissance Women in your life. Tell me about her.