I remember when she was about 5 years old and I was 17. She and her brother were visiting our grandmother. She is my little cousin. She was the child that my grandmother seemed to pick on, at least that was my recollection. Every time she talked to her it was with distaste or dismissal; as if she was an intrusion in her life. I can't remember the exact circumstances however she was asked to do something, like speak to one of us or to finish eating, and she did not want to talk. So, my grandmother was irritated and took her and put her in the pantry in the kitchen which was a large closet. I remember my mother going back there and taking her out of that closet. That day I saw one of many unselfish acts that my mother continues to do. I also remember the feeling of disgust and pain I felt for my grandmother and my little cousin. She and her brother were little kids visiting Mississippi from California for the summer. I remember some weeks later their mother came and got them and took them back to Cally. I never say my cousins ever again without the presence of their mother when it came to being with our grandmother.
Tonight this little girl had a 40th birthday gathering. All of her friends and family met in the corner of a comfy bar and lounge in downtown Oakland. The setting was beautiful and and the atmosphere was charged with electricity. She was gorgeous in her silver dress and silver shoes. Her hair was in place, she was all smiles and friends that she has known since elementary school, undergraduate school, law school and the workforce were there. Her husband was beaming and chatty and more relaxed than I have ever seen him. My fiancee and I had a good time. A man comfortable in his own skin, that can carry on a conversation with anyone at anytime. Looking around the room I saw friends that I have not seen in years and the genuine joy that we expressed upon seeing each other was welcoming. I smiled at the interactions of people I knew and those I didn't and I continue to thank God for friends and family that sustain. Those willing to change and move with the ebbs and flows of life have indeed changed and morphed into remarkable specimens of what God can do. God has remained in the life of my little cousin and she is a remarkable woman, mother, friend, lawyer and wife.
As a little girl she had the hardest time in school and yet her mother stayed in her life; fighting her battles until she could fight them on her own. Tonight her mother, my aunt, looked at her little girl, beaming and realizing yet again that she loves her daughter and her granddaughter and grandson. My belief is that I will have that kind of beaming pride as my children and their children morph and change and I vow to be in their lives as support and strength and guidance. To be able to enjoy their successes and their misses and know that they want me to be around is a good thing. My cousin wants her mother to be around and her mother wants to be around. some 40 years later my little cousin is no longer little. She is a talented woman whose belief in family runs deep. Tonight the celebration of her life and her 40 years was fun. Happy Birthday my dear.