What The World Calls Blended Is Just My Family

 (From left to right) Me And My Siblings

For as long as I can remember, I have always known that I had brothers and sisters that didn’t live with me. The thing is, my mother only had two daughters, myself and Chaya, but I grew up spending time at my Grandma Bannis’ house. I have pictures of my older brother Berachah holding me as a baby, and my big sister Reut and I had a birthday party together when I turned one, wearing matching dresses since our birthdays are four days a part. My mother and my “stepmoms” got together and decided that they would put whatever feelings they had about my father aside and make sure that the children would always know their siblings. My father may not have been around, but I spent time with my brothers and sisters.

Like I said, I spent a lot of time at Grandma Bannis’ house as a child. It wasn’t far from our house so my mom would drop us off before she went to school where she was earning her degree. You see, Grandma Bannis was Berachah and Reut’s great-grandmother. They lived there with their mother, Mama Phyllis. To me though, it will always be Grandma Bannis’ house. Not only did I get a chance to spend time with my brothers and sisters, but I also got to be spoiled by Grandma Bannis.

I also spent time with my two brothers, Mickey and Danny, and my little sister, Cora. Their mom Mildred and my mom were in the same dance group and became friends. I remember Mickey and Danny not wanting to be bothered with Chaya, Cora and me. They were a couple of years older than me so I guess they couldn’t be bothered with us “little” girls.

When I was six years old, I remember sitting on the navy blue carpet in the bedroom, playing with a toy or doll and my mother was on the phone. I knew something was up because when I looked up at her, she looked sad and was crying. She later told me that my brother Mickey had died. I really didn’t know what death was at that age and she gave the normal explanation adults give children when someone dies; they went to heaven to be with God.

Then there’s the oldest, Troy. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be the oldest of this clan. Troy handles it extremely well though. I don’t think he even realizes how the sisters see him as a father figure as well as a big brother. He’s that big brother every girl would love to have and I’m happy that I’m his sister.

I realize that I’m a little out of order so let’s recap. There’s Troy, Berachah, Reut, Mickey, Danny, me, Chaya, Cora and then Keenie. I remember when I was about five or six years old, a woman with a baby in a stroller came to our house. I remember her fat cheeks and the picture we had of her that hung in our living room. My mom told me that she was my little sister. After that day, I never saw Keenie again, but I always wondered about her. It’s hard to forget a face when you see it every day and that face looks like yours. When social media started, I remember a few of us looking for her online but to no avail — we just couldn’t find her. Keenie was always talked about every time the siblings got together because she was a part of us. We wanted to know her and wanted her to be a part of us because out of the 12 of us, she was the only one we didn’t know.

Fast forward to 2016, Berachah got a message from a family friend on Facebook and Keenie was looking for us. It was a great day for the family because after all those years we finally had the missing piece to the puzzle. She looked like us, her voice sounded like ours and we were beyond thankful that the siblings were now complete.

After Keenie, there’s Josh. Josh is one of the funniest people in the world. The thing is, he doesn’t have to try to be funny, he just is. If you’re ever in a not-so-good mood, there’s a post or text from Josh that will make you feel better. Josh and Troy’s mom is Mama Lydia, and we go to her house for the family parties. She’ll cook up some of that good food and we will be there all night.

One of the things I’ve always loved to see is when we have our family functions. You’ll see our moms sitting together, laughing, talking and catching up because they’re friends. We owe our tight knit family to our mothers. I wish a lot more blended families could take after them. They put us first and that’s why we are the way we are.

Lynnie is up next. She is the other author in the family and very outgoing. Sometimes I wish I could be as outgoing as her. People who know me would argue that I am outgoing but that’s only around people I know. If I’m in a room full of strangers, I’m usually the quiet one. I remember the first time I saw her picture. I said, “OMG, she looks like me.” Depending on my hairstyle, when I look in the mirror, I can see any one of my sisters looking back at me. We’ve got some strong genes in the family. Last but not least, there’s Yve, the baby of the siblings. She’s the entertainer of the family and a true little sister. She always says we’re annoying but anyone who has younger siblings will tell you that they are the annoying ones. A lot of the nieces and nephews are either older and taller or younger and taller than Yve. It’s always funny to see because some people could be wondering who is the elder in the situation.

It would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention my sisters-in-love, the two Kisha’s, two of the realest people you will ever meet. The family just wouldn’t be complete without them. I don’t know how many people can say that they’re close to the people who married into the family. In order to be a part of this family you have to be able to deal with various dynamics and personalities and they both manage it perfectly.

Along with the twelve children, there are eighteen nieces and nephews and seven great nieces and great nephews. My wish is that one day we can have an event where we are all together, and I will do my best to make it happen. Maybe I’ll try to pull a Kardashian Holiday Card and make that picture happen by photoshopping people in. It would definitely be a historic moment for my family.

I love my family and am extremely protective of them. Like most families we have our flaws and imperfections but at the root of it is love and we owe that to our mothers. They knew that at the end of the day their children were siblings and they made sure that we knew each other, spent time with each other and they treated us as if they gave birth to us.

To Mama Lyd, Mama Phyllis (R.I.P), Mama Mildred and my mom Deborah, thank you for loving me as your own. I appreciate you.

Thank you for listening,


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