Friends and Neighbors

Columnist: Comfort can come from the mouths of babes


The other day, I had to pick up my great-grandson Jaylen, from after-school care. It was a day when I was feeling particularly sad.

Jaylen got in the car, and with his usual chatty banter, started off by telling me that when he was grown, I would come to live with him so he could take care of me. I told him that meant a lot to me to know he loves me that much.

From there, he went on to say that he was going to get married and he and his wife would have a big house with three bedrooms — one for me — and a television in each room; two sons and two dogs (he named them after a Dolphin player and a Heat player), and I would have a new car to drive.

Now, Jaylen is only 6. I am 75. I am figuring that if the Lord spares my life, I would be somewhere around 100 by then. And that no one in his or her right mind would issue me a drivers license at that age.

But Jaylen doesn't see me as being "old." I'm just Grandma Bea to him, a person he can talk to and laugh and play tic tac toe with, and share private thoughts. Like when he told me he tried to be "strong" when his Papa (my son Rick) died.

"But I had to cry a little, anyway," he said. I told him it was OK to cry, and that Papa would understand his sadness and be so proud of him.

Jaylen went on to tell me he would have a tree in his front yard, just like I have now, and — this is the kicker — that he and his wife would have bunk beds in their room. I could hardly keep a straight face, but managed to asked, "What if your wife won't want bunk beds?"

"She won''t mind, " he said, "'cause I'm gonna sleep on the top bunk."

I chuckled to myself all the way home. Jaylen, in his own innocent way, didn't know it, but he had just sent a ray of sunshine to me when there seemed to be a dark cloud following me around that day.

And maybe he did know how I was feeling. Young children often seem to have an extra sense, something that lets them know just what to say or do to brighten our day.

Thank God for little boys (and girls).

AIDS Day Dinner Concert

The World AIDS Day Dinner Concert, sponsored by the Family Foundation Inc., will be at 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 1, and will feature native Miamians and internationally known gospel singers Angie Griffin and Johnny Saunders.

The event is free and open to the public and will be at Bethel Apostolic Temple in the fellowship hall, 1855 NW 119th St. If you go, please RSVP by Monday by calling the Rev. Darryl K, Baxter, president of the foundation at 305-7100 or by going to:

Also, The Family Foundation will have its annual Christmas Toy Drive at 6 p.m. on Dec. 18, at the Marriott Hotel, 1201 LeJeune Rd.. Guests are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy or a gift card. Admission to the toy drive is $10 per person. Children under 16 are admitted free.

Voice recital

The community is invited to a voice recital program, featuring students and student-artists from the Performer's Music Institute in Miami.

The free recital will be at 7 p.m. on Dec. 7, at the Miami Shores Community Church, 9823 NE Fourth Ave.

The program will include vocal selections from opera, musical theater, art songs and popular music. The performers are: Christian Acevedo, light-lyric tenor; Katarina Bakas, lyric mezzo-soprano; William Cadena, lyric baritone; Rosie Herrera, lyric-coloratura soprano; Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste, lyric-spinto soprano, and Melissa Ruiz, light-lyric soprano.

Gregory Szeto and Jared Peroune, will accompany the singers. Oscar Diaz Jr. is the artistic director of the Performers Music Institute. For more information call Diaz at 305-757-7725(cq).

‘Everything but the Turkey’

The Jewish Volunteer Center of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation will present its Fifth Annual "Everything but the Turkey" pre-Thanksgiving program from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday at Temple Beth Am, 5950 N. Kendall Dr. in Pinecrest.

At that time, South Dade volunteers will gather to prepare appetizers, side dishes and all the fixings for traditional Thanksgiving meals.

On Tuesday on the north side of town, volunteers will gather for the same purpose from 5 to 7 p.m. at Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, 20400 NE 30th Ave. in Aventura.

The goal of both events is to prepare a total of 1,500 servings to be served at locations across Miami-Dade County.

Shana Lewinger Russo, Volunteer Center Chairwoman said, "Everything but the Turkey is a family-oriented program and volunteers of all ages are encouraged to participate. it's a wonderful opportunity to experience the message of Thanksgiving by sharing our blessings with others."

The chairperson of the events are, Jonathan Kravitz and Lori Cohen Norris in North Dade, and by Lauren Amron and Melissa Buckner in South Dade.

To become a volunteer for "Everything but the Turkey", visit For more information email,, or call JVC Director Laura Guren Rodriguez at 786-866-8680.

South Dade Community Choir

The noontime Bea Peskoe Lunchtime Lecture series will feature the South Dade Community Choir on Dec. 2, at Silver Palm United Methodist Church, 15855 SW 248th St.

The choir, which has been performing since February 1991, was invited to Vienna in 1996, and performed several programs in different venues there during the Christmas season. The choir has also performed on local television as well as at many South Dade locations.

Made up of singers of various backgrounds from many local churches, the singers range in age from teens to 99 years old. Sandy Keffer is the founder and director of the choir.

The performance is free and open tot he public. However, an optional, simple lunch is available for $10 by calling Barbara at 305-230-9185 before 2 p.m. on Nov. 29. Lunch starts at 11:30 a.m., with the concert following at noon.

For more information call Bob Jensen at 305-248-0976 or Keffer at 305-248-1995.

Grove tree-lighting

The community is invited to the annual Tree Lighting Extravaganza at Coco Walk starting at 2 p.m. Saturday. The event is sponsored by the Coconut Grove Business Improvement District, and is a great way to start your holiday season.

The day will include activities for the entire family, including a visit from Santa,a bounce house, a petting zoo, free popcorn and snow cones, holiday-inspired balloons, arts and crafts, and live performances by local school choirs, ballet dancers, and artists.

Radio Disney Miami, a part of the radio network for kids, tweens and families , will be on-site with its road crew from 2 to 3:30 p.m., with interactive entertainment, prizes and giveaways. There will also be music from some of today's biggest musical artists.

At 6:30 p.m, Commissioner Marc Samoff will light the tree in front of CocoWalk.

It's free.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Friends and Neighbors, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

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