Community Voices

The lessons I’ve learned from my sons, my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren

Bea Hines with her family. Back row, from left: granddaughter Jamie Hines; daughter-in-law Debra Hines; granddaughter La Quonia Hines. Front, from left: great-grandson Tavaris Williams; Bea Hines; great-grandson Jaylen Hines. And on Bea’s lap: great-granddaughter Halle Berry. Not shown: Nykeva Hines, Jaylen’s mother.
Bea Hines with her family. Back row, from left: granddaughter Jamie Hines; daughter-in-law Debra Hines; granddaughter La Quonia Hines. Front, from left: great-grandson Tavaris Williams; Bea Hines; great-grandson Jaylen Hines. And on Bea’s lap: great-granddaughter Halle Berry. Not shown: Nykeva Hines, Jaylen’s mother.

I raised two sons, helped to raise several grandchildren, and now I am on the third generation, helping to raise my great-grandchildren. At 81-and-a-half years old, some people ask if I am crazy. Others ask, “Where do you get the energy?”

When I became a grandmother, I was thrilled. I am the mother of two sons, and between the two of them, my sons gave me five granddaughters and a grandson, who came along years later.

When my sons were growing up, I listened to the advice from my own mom, and from other older moms, on how to rear them. Before my first son was born, I figured that if I had a girl, I’d know what to do with her. But God gave me a son. While it was love at first sight, I wondered what I would do with a manchild.

Somehow, through much prayer and listening to the advice of other moms, my mothering instincts kicked in and I managed. Looking back on those early years as a new mom, I have many hours of entertainment, just remembering some of the things I panicked over.

Like the time when I saw a little white spot on Rick’s upper gums. He had a slight fever, and was a bit fussy, too. I panicked. My husband was at work, so I called my brother Adam, who was a senior in high school, and we went rushing off to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s emergency room.

Once there, the kind doctor asked me what seemed to be the problem. I pointed to the tiny white spot on his gums and told him Rick also had a fever. The doctor looked gently at me and said, “Well, Mother, do you think he might be getting a tooth?”

It had never occurred to me that Rick could be teething. Sheepishly I said, “Oh…”

The doctor smiled and told me Rick was in great health and that I was doing a good job as a new mom. His words helped to ease my embarrassment. My brother, on the other hand, laughed at me for a long time.

I can’t tell you the number of visits I made to the ER when Rick was a baby. I think the medical staff there knew me. I am so thankful for their patience.

By the time Shawn came along three-and-a-half years later, I was a pro at mothering. Or so I thought. That was when I learned that although they both came from me, they were two very different individuals.

Rick had been a quiet baby, who walked at seven months. He was a real “Mama’s boy,” who didn’t want me ever out of his sight. In the morning, when he awoke, he looked for me. If he didn’t see me, the room would be filled with his cries.

One day after I had given him his morning bath and feeding, I placed him on the bed, then got down on my knees and crawled out of the room, so he wouldn’t see me leaving. At the door, I looked up into the mirror only to see him looking curiously at my reflection in the mirror, crawling on the floor. I felt so silly.

Shawn, on the other hand, woke up laughing and singing. He loved to undress in his bed. And I never figured out how he got out of the pinned diapers without sticking himself.

He was singing and talking before he walked at nine months. I loved reading to them and the result was they both read early. Like all moms, I thought I was the mother of geniuses.

I was always amazed, watching my sons grow up. Rick was into sports and girls. And girls. And girls. Shawn was a born hippy. He was into floppy hats and T-shirts and jeans, and music and animals.

Over the years, we have had numerous cats and dogs, exotic fish and a pet alligator named Ollie. When our German shepherd Lena gave birth to 13 puppies, I sat all night before the stove in our kitchen on a cold February night, hand feeding the litter with a pet nurser. Lena was so tired from giving birth all day, she was in no shape to nurse her babies.

As the boys grew up and got married, I became a grandmother of girls. I doted on them, taking a vacation week at Christmas and Easter to sew pretty, frilly dresses for them; making hair bows and sewing lace on their socks. I loved babysitting them and having a hand in their upbringing.

Now, the girls have all grown up and three of them have families of their own. And here I am, blessed again. As a great-grandmother, I am helping to rear the third generation of Hines children.

I am privileged to have Jaylen, one of my great-grandchildren, with me nearly all the time. Once when he was about 4 months old, I took him to his doctor’s appointment. I shared the waiting room with a young couple and their child.

Every now and then, the mother looked curiously at me and smiled. Then she whispered something to her husband. Finally, she asked me if Jaylen was my baby. The look of relief on her face was priceless when I told her I was his great-grandmother. We both laughed.

Jaylen is 12 now and in middle school. I am now going through adolescence — again — the voice change, the he-thinks-he’s-cool looks, and the awful haircuts. I am enduring the drives taking him to school and picking him up after school. But gone are the days when he chattered endlessly on the way to school and back. Now, he sits in silence, watching something on his phone. I am lucky to get a grunt for an answer whenever I ask him a question.

Still, there is a sweetness about him. Each morning as we wait at a long red light, we hold hands and pray for the safety of the children, teachers, and school bus drivers everywhere. We end our prayer time by reciting the Lord’s Prayer together.

I don’t know what effect our praying together will have on Jaylen in the future. But a couple of weeks ago I wasn’t feeling well and he told his mom he needed to stay with me to take care of me. That touched me.

So now, I have lived long enough to see Jaylen and his cousin Tavaris reach adolescence. What a ride.

And I’m loving every minute of it.

Music school registration underway

Registration is underway at A-Stone Music Therapy/School of Music for students who would like to study piano and/or voice. The 12-week program will start at 2 p.m. Oct. 12, and is open to children, adults, seniors and those with special needs.

Alvin A-Stone Jackson founded the school to help churches develop their music programs.

“So far, we have been successful with training many musicians that are up and actively playing at their churches,” Jackson said.

To register, call Jackson at 305-244-8538.

Blessing of the animals

Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral at 244 SW 24th Road is inviting residents to bring their pets for a blessing at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, at the Fourth Annual Blessing of the Animals.

“What better way to show our gratitude for these faithful members of our families than to ask for God’s blessing for them in return,” said the Rev. Spiro D. Bobotas, pastor.

Reception at Jewish Museum

The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU at 301 Washington Ave. in Miami Beach will have an opening reception for its “Mira Lehr: A Walk in the Garden” at 7 p.m. Oct. 15.

Mira Lehr takes the viewer through a magical journey in a fantastical garden. It will be on view through Feb. 2020. To RSVP, call 786-972-3175. It’s free for members, FIU students and staff, and $12 per person for non-members.

Environmental discussion at FIU

The Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs will present a global Indigenous forum entitled, “Democratizing the Conversation on Earth Citizenship” at 3:15 p.m. Oct. 15 at Florida International University’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus, 11200 SW. Eighth St.

The forum will be led by Thomas Pliske, lecturer emeritus, in FIU’s Department of Earth and Environment and the Department of Religious Studies, and Rubi Hurtado, a musician, dancer, researcher and professional journalist from the Xauxa-Quechua people of Peru.

The event is free and open to the public. Call 305-348-2247 for information.