Until you rise from ego,  your birthright to illumination will be captive to darkness…gcwalker may2013



Depending on the “who”  that gives the words of wisdom, it causes one to examine and digest the sentiment  “It’s better to be saved by criticism, than to be seduced by praise.”  These words were shared by my sister Gemma, while driving and discussing people and their behaviors, obsessions and peculiarities.

I googled and found this referenced quote:

“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticisms. –Norman Vincent Peale.

I defer to the phrasing context by Gemma for discussion

To entertain the literary inflections stated in the title, it helps that I am part of a very diverse brood of family members with  elder siblings ranging in ages from seventy six to sixty years of age.  I also have throngs of nephews, nieces, and their children and children’s children which makes me an honorary great great aunt at my youthful AARP card carrying age of 57. And I proudly claim my discounts, – movies; meals; hotels; travel –  with opportune delight

My siblings and I have managed to forge a mutually respectful and deeply loyal bond with each other even with very distinct and individual personalities. I love the pearls of wisdom that are dispensed by my sibling elders as they offer much food for thought.

On a recent sister weekend retreat at #Wyndham Shawnee Village, Stroudsburg PA, the five sisters from the East Coast, Vicks, Magz, Gemz, Monics and myself, (Val was missed as she lives on the West Coast) picked up our #Travelocity rental,  2013 full size SUV #Dodge Durango from #Avis rental at Washington DC Reagan National Airport and drove to the Poconos in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

After some logistics maneuvers, and with my iPhone as GPS and my music playlists from Gospel artists, +Yolanda Adams, +Vicki Yohe, +Bebe and Cece Winans, +Marvin Sapp, just a sample,   some +Whitney Houston, +Josh Groban, +Sister Sledge{We are Family} and a variety of iTunes downloads, we headed north on a glorious sunny Saturday, with temperatures ranging in the upper 60s , with slight windy chills in the atmosphere. Well, the music vibes of +Rihanna and +Chris Brown or +Lil Wayne would not have been safe for the seasoned and distinguished ladies!!!

At the Poconos, we settled in our two bedroom rustic two level, step down living room with fire place,  townhouse cottage fitted with every amenity of home away from home and tucked in  for the evening, all worn out from 8 hours of drive.  We managed to take a lunch stop at Applebee’s Harrisburg, where the waiter knew that the Gold Margarita was the drink of choice for my connoisseur palate, as he mischievously suggested. Hmmmn,,, Delicious.

The sisterly ladies, staunchly Catholic and devout were considering a Saturday mass attendance en route. Thankfully, being the head driver in charge, and with 2 hours of driving before check in at the Wyndham resort, I pleaded consideration from the elders to sacrifice mass attendance and without discord our trip continued.

On Sunday morning we all congregated downstairs, in the step down kitchen at the ten seater blond oak wood dining table.  With coffee perked, left overs spinach dip and chips from our Applebees lunch, turkey and ham sandwiches, prepared in advance by Vicks, we  churched and fellowshiped.  My sister Maggie described the experience in a later thank you email as follows:

they laughed a little louder,
they cried a little softer,
they lived a little stronger,
because they stood together.

We reminisced about our parents Andrew and Rose Walker. Both are deceased. I was 9 when Daddy died . Mammy died December 10 2001. Much of the years of Daddy’s life were recalled with humor. Maggie recounted his days as a Chief of Police in the small country district of Mayaro, in Trinidad and Tobago. She shared about our upbringing and talked about  the moral core of who we are. A description that stood out as a memory fixture was Maggie’s description of Mammy’s parenting.

She stated “Mammy’s helicopter parenting was untiring and unshakeable”. The way she hovered over her brood was with sharp edged wings and  motor like buzzing energy that began with the break of dawn and ended after all her energies were fully exhausted at the quiet  end of a long day.   A fitting tribute to Mammy shared in memory  quotes by us,  her children and grand/great/ great great/ children was the remembrance of her moral authority.

We talked about missing Val, who lives with her family in California for our sisterfest outing.    I even got an audio clip on my iPhone voice recorder with Val being described as steadfast and daunting in her convictions. We planned to call her to wish her Happy Birthday, later in the evening.  We wrapped up the weekend with promises of repeat vacation times with more family members. Oh! and the sisters did get to view their Sunday mass on EWTN before the brunch recollections.

Why do we have this family bond?

When my sister Maggie first migrated to the States over 45 years ago, it was because of her toils and labor that  all of us siblings-my deceased mother, my deceased brothers, Michael and Brian,  nephews, nieces and their families  have the opportunity to enjoy their own continuing legacies. In the journeys through illnesses, death, loss, separation without each others shoulders to lean on and were it not for the hospitality of Maggie and her family,  there would be no us

During one of my stormy episodes of taking life for granted and not adhering to moral discretion and judicious management of personal undertakings, my elder brother’s counsel was both my sword and my salvation.

Experience teaches that many are fools who become so opinionated and ego centered that even the best intentioned advice is shunned as arrogant criticism. Love has been a bitter pill to swallow, and has also been the most healing medicine of forgiveness and gratitude.

With the death of my brother Brian @ 51 in 1998, my mother in 2001 and then my brother Michael in 2003, my siblings have truly experienced grief and sorrow of loss of loved ones. We understand very deeply and emotionally that family is not superficial gestures and worldly demonstrations of love.  It is immeasurable and treasured gift of our presence.

We constantly embrace celebrating one another. We relish occasions to share with each other, especially during the holidays, and the numerous children’s birthdays, recitals, baptisms, first communions, that occur practically every month.  When we compliment each other it is genuine and heartfelt, and unsparing. In our criticisms we feel sensitive and there are hurts.My brother Derek is sometimes excruciatingly analytical.  But he is always,  ready to help and lend his expertise and talents when needed.

My most severe critics are my siblings and my loved ones, and the master instructor is my son Daryean,

A sentiment that helps me to place my thoughts on paper was recently shared by my sister.

Is your communication for applause or is it from a place of caring and empowerment?

My hope is that what I convey is from my heart and that it gives authenticity to the things that matter.

By now, you can guess. The applause and praise are dedicated to family.