It’s been ages since I last posted anything here and yet I’ve experienced a million things worth writing about but just haven’t had the motivation, time or energy to do so. I’m not going to let November escape me though without acknowledging the things that I’m most grateful for in my life. Since we Americans celebrate Thanksgiving this month every year, it is natural for most of us to get a little sentimental and introspective about the things that matter to us most in our lives.
I have so much to be grateful for, that I’m struggling to find a starting point. And really, how can I do this justice except to list the things that immediately come to mind all the way down to the most mundane and minute, until I can no longer think of things to be thankful for? Is it even possible to run out of things to be thankful for and about?
Rather than make a dull, sundry list of nouns and relative superlatives, I’m going to go a step further and annoy you with not just one but several lists – 30 to be exact; for each day in November. And if I’m feeling extra annoying and motivated, I may even extend it through December. You be the thermometer.
Today, I’ll start with something (or people) that are obvious:
When we were kids she occupied the coveted position of ‘favorite child’ in my father’s heart and best friend to our mother. This may not have been the truth but to the rest of us in a very crowded house, she was untouchable. When we lost mom to cancer in 1993, Teuila officially assumed the title of matriarch but she was always like a second mom to us anyway because maternal instincts came naturally to her, even as a child. It annoyed me and my older brother to no end but she played the part and she continues to play it well. Today she is a grandmother to her four little ones, a mother to her adult children and a wife to her sweetheart Ivor but she’ll always be the big sister who gathered us in like a hen and loved us with equal parts iron fist and tender touch. You taught me how to be nurturing. I’m grateful for you sis – you’re the rock!
I was born two years after Eddie so in a lot of ways I was always the back up in the Matua men lineup; the second chair to his first fiddle; the McCartney to his Lennon – you get the picture. Our friendship survived all of the kicks, punches, envying, competitions, tears, scrapes, scraps and heartaches. Eddie was always the nice brother so it’s not a surprise to many that I was the saucy, annoying little brother he often wanted to ditch for time with friends or time alone and away from me. But I’ve never considered him anything but my best friend, my mentor and example. If ever there was a voice of reason and a fairy-god-brother; a guy who listens through the night to your troubles and willingly shares the best while he eats the crumbs or gives you a hug you when you need a swift kick in the pants – Eddie has been my go-to-guy through the years. You taught me kindness. I’m grateful for you bro. Summon your eagle powers!
For many years I was the “middle brother”. Eddie was the star athlete and Darius was the “cute baby brother”. I was the shadow – the cranky, brooding shadow. Darius was happy, content and slightly mischievous. He could get away with it – because he’s cute. Through our early years I did my best to mold him into my evil sidekick but it never stuck. We grew up and we outgrew each other. He became taller, stronger and definitely smarter and much more independent. He became my repair man, my math tutor and the guy who always called my bluff. No one has been more brutally honest with me than my brother Darius, which led to a lot of heated and emotionally charged moments between us. But our disagreements and eventually our mutual respect for one another became the glue that binds us and I’ve sought him out in moments of my own personal turmoil for advice and a belly aching laugh. You taught me to be bold. I’m grateful for you bro. Go ax Tala bring me one tin herring!
She’s the spitting image of our mother – physically and in temperament. She is kind, gracious and generous. Funny, witty and humble. As a child she was always agreeable because the rest of us were too loud and opinionated to give her a voice. She has quietly gone about the business of raising a family and teaching her children about love, God and the importance of hard work. She does it all with a quiet, unassuming grace that is commendable and endearing. She has always, unfailingly loved me and respected me, even in times when I was often blunt, cruel and demanding. Even in her darkest days she has been a champion for the underprivileged and the under served. She has the love and respect of all who know her. I’ve learned so much more from her example and quietude than I’ll ever learn from a thousand sermons. You taught me to be humble. I’m grateful for you sis – you’re one in a million!
After all these years we still get laugh about the day Darius and I threw you in the clothes dryer and your hair came out like a large black cotton ball. I’m still sorry about it but you’re always nonchalant and forgiving. You’re the resilient one. The one that keeps on going. The way that you battle on, charging through adversity with a positive attitude is admirable. I’m also impressed by your ability to love unconditionally. You love to take care of people and your efforts during our father’s lengthy illness is a testament to your kindness, generosity and love. The way that you invite people into your home without any expectation of a reward or compensation is a example to me of selflessness and Christ-like love. I don’t say it often enough but you’re one of my hero’s. You never let the world dictate your life and I’m proud of you and your inner strength. You taught me compassion. I’m grateful for you sis. I love all da orphans!
You left us way too soon. You dealt with your personal demons your entire, short life but it is the moments in the sunshine that we’ll always remember about you. Your energy sapped the energy out of the rest of us but it also gave us a desire to want to be and do whatever was needed to find happiness. Life circumstances robbed you of the light sometimes but you were often a ray of sunshine to the poor and a friend to the friendless. You had a rough exterior but you had a soft, tender heart. I’m sorry that you are gone but I’m grateful for the memories that you left behind. You came into the family at a time when we needed new life and you lived a hundred lives during your short time on earth. I’ll never forget the tough times, but I’ll always cherish the good times and your smile. You taught me to be courageous and to go all out. I’m grateful for you bro. Kisses to the sky!
The youngest sibling is always meant to be spoiled and for a time you were spoiled rotten. But losing your mother at such a young age robbed you of the time you needed with a beautiful, compassionate, nurturing soul. You were a handful for our grieving father but we’re all so grateful that you were a distraction for him in his old age while he struggled to find his balance without mom. I’m sorry that you didn’t get to have more time with both of them in their prime. In many ways you were left alone because of the tremendous age gap. But I’m impressed by the woman that you are becoming with your own children, shaped by life experiences, tragic circumstances and hardships. You’ve taught me that no matter what life throws at you, you need to stand back up, dust yourself off and keep on moving on. You taught me how to persevere. I’m grateful for you sis. Swing for the fences!
I’m so happy to have been blessed with imperfect siblings who try each day to be their best. I’ve learned a million or more things from them and they continue to teach me each day about life and how it should be done. I love you guys!