By now, most people know that I’m the youngest in my family by 11 years. By the time I was school-aged, most of my siblings were off to college. My oldest brother was already married and in the military. I am the product of older parents. My mother turned 38 the month after I was born. My daddy had turned 59 that year. My father’s children were as old as my mother. The maternal side of my family is massive. I cannot stress that enough – we are massive! There are approximately 6000 of us across the country in the Jacob(s) family. There are one or two of us wherever you look. I cannot begin to tell you how blessed I am to have all those people with the same bloodline as mine.
Do we all get along? Absolutely not! Mama came from a brood of 15 children (nine girls and six boys), and naturally, there was discord among some of them. The simple fact is that they didn’t all necessarily like each other, but undoubtedly, they LOVED each other. We were always taught to help each other. There was no question about it – we were taught to help each other regardless of whether we liked each other. We still do that today. We always will.
A little while ago, I gave some serious thought into the fact that overall, I have at least three sets of friends. They’ve known me at different phases in my life and after I thought about it, I realized, they know the different girls/women I have been and finally, who I am today. Here’s a look at my sets/circles:
- Kindergarten – 12th grade. Until the 10th grade, no one outside of the few other Black students at Sarepta High School knew that I could sing. That talent was reserved for church or singing with my cousins when we had nothing else to do. I was not shy, rather I was held back. My mother didn’t allow me to participate in extracurricular activities because I would have done those things as the only Black kid in the group. Before me, my siblings, cousins and friends participated in everything because there was a large number of them. I didn’t realize my full potential until much later in life. I didn’t know my strength. I was blessed to have one teacher, Mrs. T. Johnson, who saw in me what I couldn’t have possibly seen in myself. Because of her, I became a debutante of Delta Sigma Theta. The people who knew me during this stage in my life only knew the quiet, little Black girl, who could sing and was nice. I’m grateful to say that I still maintain friendships with most everyone from these years.
- The college years. The reservation that I had grown up by in my childhood carried over into these years. I did not get involved in any activities outside of my homework and a few parties here and there. I did not pledge a sorority and that is one of the greatest regrets I have in life. I had quite a few friends but should have been more active. The friends that I have from those years are still in my circle. Most of them are, anyway.
- Denver. These women saw me through some of the absolute worst years of my life. These folks are part of my “grown-up” period. They are some of the ones who knew me during one of the craziest times I’ve been alive. They saw me do things and heard me say things that I’m sort of ashamed of now. I would never cut up the way I used to. Foolishness is what it was. I was super funny but lots of times I was cruel.
- Dallas. I can’t even begin to explain what I feel about these people. There are men and women in this group. These people became my friends through my son’s sports activities, through social media and through friends of friends. They saw me through that brain hemorrhage. They saw me through a wretched divorce. My circle wouldn’t be my circle without them.
What all my friends know is that I love them and will always be there for them. Naturally, not all those friendships are on the same level but the basis of them all is that
Life is short, I don’t care how many years you actually have. If you’re blessed enough, there will always be a few people out there who would have wanted just one more day with you. It’s all about treating people right, loving on them when they’re hard to love and being what you’re put on Earth to be. Death is inevitable. I lost one of my best friends in 2009 and another in 2011. I still shutter when I think of them but I know that they both lived life to the absolute fullest and didn’t squander their time away.
None of us want to see it come, but it’s on it’s way. Cherish the people you have and the time you have with them. Live life, cut up and help folks along the way.