through thick and thin

lft >>Valerie Williams, Gemma Walker, Grace Walker, Maggie Gonzales, Monica Walker, and Vicky Martinez sitting

 To the outside world we all grow old.  But not to brothers and sisters.  We know each other as we always were.  We know each other's hearts.  We share private family jokes.  We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys.  We live outside the touch of time.  ~Clara Ortega

As the last of my six sisters and the tallest, I have had the distinct honor and privilege to be nurtured, schooled, advised, instructed, sheltered and most always comforted in the warmth of my family brood.

There were actually a total of 11 siblings. Of the five brothers, Anthony died at 2, Brian at 51 and Michael at 57. So we are now a sibling family of eight, as both our parents Andrew and Rose Walker are deceased.

On January 26, we celebrated my sister Margaret Roses aka Maggie's  73rd birthday.  (Shown here in the picture in the middle).  We have a favorite saying in our family, "You want to make God laugh, well tell Him your plans".  On Sunday January 27, with offsite coordination from Rayanne, Maggie's daughter,  we  decided to have a surprise toast for Maggie's birthday at  home in Maryland. Shall we just say.. plans went awry.  Both the original hostess, my niece Tonya , and also  Maggie's grand daughter, were stricken with sickness.  And thus our guest of honor and her husband Raymond and son Colin and grand daughter Paloma, were a no show.  Harumph!!!

We decided to celebrate with important guest of honor in absentia.  For the occasion, my oldest sister Vicky shared her macaroni pie;   Monica, made green bean salad.   My oldest brother Andre's son Greg,  cooked the fried rice and chicken,and he was accompanied  by  his wife Andrea and three daughters, Danielle, Samantha and lil baby Emma.   Michelle and her brother Brad (daughter and son of my deceased brother Michael)  brought a freshly home made pot of corn soup,  and my brother Derek, his wife Colleen, along with their son Daylan and daughter Collice,  fixed a salt fish buljol with hard boiled eggs and avocados, with scrumptious fresh baked bread selections.  My son, Daryean,  his two daughters Deana and Raylynn and I shared my complement to the food - curried chicken and rice, and fruit punch.

We had a hearty pot luck and feasted with cheers of celebrations to Mags.  We tried to get a Skype hookup to Mags in Dale City, Va. but our techno savvy efforts were not cooperating.  But there was a choral rendition of "Happy Birthday to you", sang by everyone with joyful and rambunctious glee to Mags on speaker via phone call.

Andre my first brother and his wife Grace, reside in Trinidad and Tobago.  My sister Gemma, was also visiting Trinidad for the funeral services of a dearly beloved family friend Fr. Henry Charles, who died suddenly from a massive heart attack.  My sister Val and her family, live in Garden Grove California. They celebrated remotely and in spirit.

For Maggie, I share a special toast:    Maggie, you are the founding member of the Walker, Gonzales, Martinez family who migrated to the United States of America from Trinidad and Tobago in the early sixties.  With your generosity of spirit, each and every member of our family has been able to share a slice of being and living the American dream. For each of us you have been the hallmark of stewardship, through you dedication and unswerving love.  You have always ministered and shared your home, your family, your bounteous hospitality, and your cherished caring.  I have witnessed and been the recipient of such unconditional love.  If  there is a such a way to describe the beauty of your magnanimity, to me it is no less than sacred.  I am always and ever humbled and overjoyed to be your sister.

The treasure of sisters like mine is immeasurable.  I was nine, when our father died in 1965.   My older sisters and brothers each took on the roles of supporting guardians and protectors to ensure my mother and other younger siblings were cared for.  I learned that family is about caring and supporting one another.

From my sisters, I learned to be enjoy the follies of beauty and fashion.  As a matter of fact, on the day of Daddy's funeral, while everyone was swept up in the busyness of preparation, solemnity, and protocol for corteging, (yes grammatically excessive), I was trying on my sister's eyebrow pencil and smudging the reddest lipstick on my lips, in my prep effects. I think the only red showing after my cosmetic experimentation, was my burning ears, after the clean up was performed by my sister Val.

As we have begun our post AARP years, my sisters have allowed me to experience friendship and loyalty.  Through many twists and turns, life hardships, relationship, faith journeying, mothering, marriage, divorce, death, disease, financial loss, social challenges, we have been an army of perseverance, strength and fortitude.  I have learned dignity, pride, self awareness, self respect and repentance. 

Maggie shared her thanks with everyone who celebrated her birthday with this email and prayer:

Dear Family,
Thank you, thank you so much.  It was a total surprise to me to know that you were all gathered to observe my birthday.  What an honor!So sorry I could not be there in person to enjoy every moment of it, but was glad that even briefly we could connect.  A special thank you to all the primary planners and preparers, I heard from Vickytoria about all the wonderful dishes prepared for the occasion.
This is my birthday prayer for you -
Lord, help our family for their continued caring and giving,let our differences blend in the joy of our living.Keep our hearts open in true communication,with patience and kindness without reservation.May our harmony unite us and strengthen our love, withyour grace and mercy and the blessings you send from above.
God bless and stay well. I love you all!

And that's what its all about!!!!

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