|Me and Cousin at her wedding reception|
28: Express yourself- Sometimes, I put my cousin on speaker when she calls me. If I didn’t the phone would probably burn a hole in my hand and ear. Yes, she is a talker. She told me yesterday that she never met a stranger and I believe her. So lesson 28 is the gift of expression.
27-24: endurance, self-restraint, discipline and hard work- My cousin was only 4 years younger than I am now, when she inherited an unruly, angry, defiant, confused 12 year old. She worked 2 jobs and went to school the first few years that she had me, to keep from spending my insurance money on anything other than emergencies. By the time I was a teenager, she had her Master’s degree. But she still kept her part time job at a local retail store. I probably couldn’t count how many odd jobs she had throughout my life. It's humbling to know that she did it all so that I could keep the same standard of living that I had before my mom died. In the midst of all this she never missed a track meet, or awards ceremony. She even made time to take me and my friends to rap concerts. Sure, she slept through the whole thing, but she was there and I will never forget it. Watching her work so hard and so smart helped me to see the value in discipline; the reward of hard work, and the self-confidence that comes with endurance.
23: "We are not poor"-I can still remember the halfway heated arguments my aunt and cousin would have about money. My aunt is a saver and my cousin is most definitely a spender. She has always been responsible with money, but never felt that responsibility meant living in lack or denying yourself what you deserve. She taught me to make time and money for myself. You only live once…”buy what you want!” Roger that, cuzzo.
22: Patience is a virtue-People close to me always comment on how patient I am. It’s true; I don’t get angry often because I have learned to maintain a healthy emotional balance. In hindsight, I know that I learned this from my cousin. Throughout the years, I can count the times she raised her voice at me on 2 fingers (give or take a finger). She has always been patient and kind. From her I learned that one can be sensitive without being emotional.
19 &20: R E S P E C T and Don’t let anyone take advantage of you- My auntie is NOT someone you want to mess with. I wasn’t alive when she was my age, but I can only imagine the type of havoc she wreaked on anyone who transgressed against her. Even now, I make sure to stay out of her way when she is mad (I warn everyone else to do the same)! From her I learned that you have stand up for yourself. No one is better than you and you have a right to defend your honor and integrity if you feel threatened. A strong woman doesn’t have to tell anyone she is strong, people will be able to see it in the way she speaks and carries herself. She taught me to hold myself in high esteem and that even if people don’t like me, they will respect me. From her, I got my quick wit and sharp tongue.