Monday, November 9, 2009
BLOG: Baby sister
Me, my sister and brothers, circa 1980-something.
[Please note: The main purpose of this blog is to post the pictures of Mixed and Happy families. But while I'm here, I might as well let you take a peek into my Mixed and Happy life, so I'll be blogging in-between picture posts.]
My husband and I were sitting in church on Sunday, when a woman and her three small children walked up to the pastor for prayer. The little bi-racial boy remind me of my own baby boy, still plump and in diapers.
"He's so cute," I said to Hubby.
And then I caught a glimpse of the other children, the girls. There was a young white girl with stringy brunette hair, probably about 9 years old. Her little sister, still a toddler, stood close to her. She was brown-skinned with tight curly springing from the top of her head.
One glimpse and I could feel the heat creep up my face, reaching my eyes until the tears spilled over. Twenty-five years ago, that was my little sister and I.
My father met and married my mother, a Scottish girl, on one of his stints with the Navy. He brought her back to America, where they began to paint the American dream. There were three of us kids, all about a year apart--1, 2 and 3--when that almost-dream shattered. My father was more interested in chasing other dreams and a blonde all the way to California.
He left us dirt poor. I remember living off of government block cheese and peanut butter. And green stamps. That's how my mother bought our Christmas presents each year. She'd spend her food stamps at Winn Dixie and save the green stamps for months and months.
My mother remarried an African man studying at the University of Florida. He was so smart--and I remember him being kind to me. He helped me with a science project one year and on trips to the grocery store, I'd sing along to the American songs, explaining what certain words meant.
But, I also remember how people looked at us. How our Christian neighbors treated us. When I was little, I swore I would stop going to church when I grew up just because of those people. They looked at us as if we were a pitiful site. That's the best way to describe it. But there were others who loved us, and I remember them too.
The marriage only lasted a few years, and he left me with the only memories of a male role model that I ever knew as a child. But, he also left me with a little sister named Yelena.
Just after he left, my mother moved us out into the country so he couldn't find my sister and take her back to Africa. My mother worried that if he took her, she'd be gone forever.
Twenty-five years later, sitting in a church pew, I was nearly sobbing at the thought of how she was gone forever from my life here on this earth. I just can't seem to shake the deep sadness that overwhelmed me when she died. So suddenly and so young.
These days, it doesn't leave me in bed for days. Instead, it grasps me tightly and holds on for a moment or two. I must have been off in another world as church dismissed. The little girls who sparked the tears had walked away and into the rest of their lives.
I stood up and felt a hand on my shoulder. It was Hubby. His hands always catch me when I feel like I'm falling. He didn't say a word. Just let me melt in his arms.