A few weeks ago we celebrated Grandparent’s Day. The day came and passed without much fanfare. I thought of it because I am a grandma and a great-grandma. And as such, I am now nurturing members of the third generation of the Johnson/Hines clan.
Not to boast, but grandparents are something else. We fill in the gap wherever we are needed. We pull out of our memory bags old lullabies. We kiss bruised knees and bind up splintered fingers. We kiss away tears and scare away the boogieman. We tell stories of the “olden days” to make our grandchildren laugh. Sometime we even put a bandage on spots where there is no wound. And it helps. Some grandparents, bless them, are even surrogate mothers and fathers to their grandchildren.
Thinking of the role that grandparents play in our families’ lives, has been my musing lately. I guess that is because since school opened, I have been helping with one of my great-grandsons, Jaylen, 11, and who is now in middle school (I have three other great-grands, Tavaris, also 11, Hallie Williams, 3; and Marley Cabrera, who is celebrating his second birthday Sunday, Sept. 23.
One day the school bus was late and Jaylen and I sat in my car talking like two old friends as we waited. Jaylen likes for me to tell him about his early days. I told him about the time when he was only a few hours old and I saw him for the first time.
“You were crying,” I told him. “And I said, ‘What have they done to my sweet boy?’ “Your eyes searched the room, looking to see where that familiar voice was coming from.”
I told him that he had recognized my voice because I talked to him when he was in his mommy’s belly. He laughed and wanted me to tell him more stories about him as a baby. Then I told him about the time when I left him asleep on my bed to go make breakfast.
“Suddenly, I heard the sound of little pitty-pats on the tile, and looked around and there you were crawling into the kitchen. I was so surprised to see you; I didn’t know how you had gotten off the bed because it was so high. When I went into the room I saw that you had made a slide out of the comforter to get from the bed to the bench at the foot of the bed, and then made a slide to get to the floor. I was so amazed at how smart you were, at only 8 months old.”
I looked down at Jaylen and he was smiling. He’d heard the story before, but it made him happy when I told it again and again, adding, “I always knew you were smart.”
The school bus turned the corner and Jaylen got out of the car to join his friends as they boarded the bus. I wished him a good day and he left me feeling happy, ready to face the school day. I thought, I guess this is a part of a grandparent’s destiny: to be there for the grandchildren, to tell them stories and to paint pictures for them of their early life.
I believe God starting preparing me for my grandma/great-grandma role when I was a teenager. I had always loved children and often served as a babysitter for the neighbors’ children. And the children loved me back. One little girl — we used to call her Baby Doll — used to crawl from where she lived, down the sidewalk trying to get to me. I haven’t seen Baby Doll since her parents moved from the neighborhood when she was about 2. But I often think of her and her older sisters. She must be a grandma, herself, by now.
As a young wife and mother, I embraced my new role with a happy heart. I thoroughly enjoyed being a mom. I was only 20, when Rick, my first child was born. I was so in awe of him and the miracle of life, that I would sit for long periods, just holding him and looking lovingly at him. I remember once when I was basking in my motherhood glory, my husband Jimmy walked over and took Rick out of my arms and gently laid him on the bed. “He’s for real,” Jimmy said, laughing at the expression of wonder on my face.
It was the same with Shawn, who was born three-and-a-half years later. The glow of the miracle of birth never fades.
I understood why Jimmy didn’t seem to share my amazement. He was the oldest of 13 children. New babies were old news to him. I, on the other hand, had only one brother. And while we were very close growing up (we still are), there came a time when my younger brother didn’t delight in following me everywhere I went. When that happened, I felt like an only child. I envied my friends who had lots of brothers and sisters, and vowed to have no less than five children of my own when the time came. But God had other plans. I was blessed with two sons, but I used to tell my friends I felt like I had a “houseful” of children.
So today, as the grandma of five beautiful granddaughters, Priscilla Cabrera, Nykeva Hines, LaQuonia Hines, Afra Hines, and Jamie Hines Williams; one handsome grandson, Asher Moody Clark; and four beautiful great-grands, I join hands with the grandparents of the world in celebration of our worth.
I celebrate those grandparents who have had to become surrogate parents to their grandchildren when certain circumstances — like jail, drugs and even death — eroded their families. I know of many, who have stepped in the gap in such instances. My hat is off to them, and I thank God for the stamina that He gives us to do what we do for our grandchildren.
I am happy to report that I have always been a “crazy” grandma. I am the kind who used to take a week of vacation time at least twice a year to sew pretty frilly dresses for my granddaughters. I even put lace on their socks and made hair bows for them.
And when each was born, their first home was in Grandma’s house, except for Afra who was born in Panama where my son and her mom were stationed at the time. Even so, I planned a week’s vacation and bought a ticket for the day of her birth. When her dad called me to say, “Mom, she’s here,” I took the flight the next morning to Panama, where I gave her her first bath.
These acts of love are not particular to me only. Grandmas around the world share my sentiments and I am so happy to be in the club.
Music at the Monastery
Get ready for Music at the Monastery, when the Ancient Spanish Monastery Foundation board hosts the opening of the 21st season series of The South Beach Chamber Ensemble, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11 at the monastery, 16711 W. Dixie Hwy., North Miami Beach.
The series opener is “The Diversity of the String Quartet” and will feature selections such as Beethoven String Quartet in C minor, Op. 18 No. 4; Daniel Bernard Roumain Quartet No. 5 “Rosa Parks”: Klap Ur Handz (2005); and William Grant Still Danzas de Panama (1953).
Tickets are $25 per person. To RSVP, visit spanishmonastery.com and click on the Foundation tab. For more information, call Janie Greenleaf at 305-610-3840. For golden tickets call Michael Andrews at 305-389-1297.
The unveiling ceremony for the historical marker at the Lemon City Cemetery at 485 NW 71st St. will be on Oct. 9.
Sponsored by the Lemon City Cemetery Community Corp., the historical marker is the result of the the efforts of former Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, current Mayor Francis Suarez, the Biscayne Corp. and the Carlyle Corp., Enid Pinkney said.
The Lemon City Cemetery is an abandoned black burial site the city of Miami wasn’t aware of when permission was given to developers to build three affordable housing units there. When human bones were unearthed on the property, the Lemon City Cemetery Corp. was formed to stop development and the desecration of the grave sites.
Those who have relatives buried in the cemetery and the community are invited to attend the unveiling.
Call Pinkney at 305-638-5800 for more information.
Palm Springs United Methodist Church at 5700 W. 12th Ave. in Hialeah has created a local mission called “Sprouts” in the newly remodeled school, to help the children in the Hialeah community with their homework. The school is equipped with a media center, so children can do their computer homework, as well.
The free program runs 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the church’s school, located on the church site.
Also, the church has changed its popular Indoor Garage Sale, which was held three times a year. Now it’s held every Saturday from 8 to 11 a.m. The church’s shed also offers new rummage items for sale every day of the week and also has a boutique. The food shop offers hot dogs, brownies, drinks and banana nut bread for sale.
Call 395-821-3232 for more information.
Friends and Family Day
Bishop Walter H. Richardson and the congregation at The Church of God Tabernacle (True Holiness) at 1351 NW 67th St. in Liberty City, invite the community to join them at their Friends and Family Day at 10 a.m. Sept. 30 in the sanctuary.
Families are invited to wear their favorite colors. The Rev. Dr. Walter T. Richardson, the bishop’s son, will preach.
Our condolences are extended to the family of Mrs. Fannett Clark Lyons, who recently died nine days before her 105th birthday.
When she was 100, I started writing birthday wishes to Mrs. Lyons in my column. Her son, the late Deacon Franklin Clark was a dear friend of mine, and it was always a pleasure to speak with Mrs. Lyons, who enjoyed cooking and dressing up. She was also a Heat and Dolphin fan. “Don’t call her when the Dolphins were playing. She would be glued to the television,” said her daughter-in-law, Lola Clark. “She also loved her church and was a strong alto in the church choir.” She belonged to Mount Hermon A.M.E. Church.