Part 1: Collins Family

Thanksgiving was my favorite time of year. It always reminds me of all the thing I had to be thankful for like: my handsome husband, my two beautiful kids, being the best selling author and most of all knowing that after my stepmother walked out on her family years ago we were still standing and happy as ever. Raising three girls and a boy was easy for my father to do on his own but he made it happen. Now that we’re adults with our own lives thanksgiving was the one time of year we all gathered together under our father’s roof and just had good old family fun.

   Being the oldest, I took on the rule of mom after my stepmom left. So it was up to me to get dinner ready. My baby sister Porchia was usually the first one at my dad’s house, and that's because she would fly in from New York City. Then I would come from my house that was three streets over and start cooking at about 8 am while Porchia and I talked and waited for our middle sister Renee and our baby brother Nick to arrive,

   “So How NYC is treating you?” I asked Porchia as I checked the turkey in the oven and she cut the yams. “New York is perfect. Jovan and I got the place in Brooklyn. Thanks for sending us the money.” she said. “no problem that's what family is for but if daddy finds out you and Jovan living together and Y'all not married remember that my name is Bennett and I ain’t end it. don’t even mentioned that I helped Y'all.” I said we both started laughing. “I know I know. We are keeping it on a hush that why Jovan stayed at a hotel and not here. But I just don’t get it. We are grown it should be up to us what we want to do with our lives. Not anyone else.” Porchia said. “Girl you are 22 its not about being grown to today it's about doing what the bible says, and according to daddy’s bible, you don’t shack up with any man. But believe me I get it, and I understand that why I sent you the money to help you out.” I told her. “Yeah well on a better note I have been getting some excellent job offers. I was offered a teaching position they want me to teach ballet. I even got to dance in a music video.” Porchia said with a smile on her face. “That's good. I hope you're not half-naked in the video.” I said to her “No Asia I am fully cover, and the video is very respectful to women.” she said. “good” I said. “such a mom.” Asia said laughing. “so what shut up.” I said joining her in a laugh.

   “so what time is Reene getting here?” Porchia asked I don’t know. “she said she was coming straight from a tour here.” I told here. “its still crazy that all four of us are following our dreams. You have 3 best-selling books out; I’m dancing in New York city, Reene has been on tour singing background for almost any and every artist and Nick has played keyboard for the greatest artist out there.” Porchia said. I stopped stirring the greens and thought about it. “yeah amazing.” I said. “I didn’t call Y'all my fantastic four for no reason.” my dad said standing in the kitchen doorway. “good morning daddy.” we both said. “good morning babies,” he said back with a smile. “Daddy you hungry I can make you some grits and stuff.” I said as I started to open different cabinets. “a banana will do.” he said. “did you take your blood pressure medicine?” I asked. “yes Asia.” he said “your water pill,” Porchia said “Yes.” he said to her. “and hows the knee?” I asked. “Its fine now stop asking me all these questions Y'all do know that I’m Y'all daddy right.” he said we started laughing “we know we just love you and want to make sure that you're good,” I said. “Babies I am fine, I’m beyond fine. This is my favorite time of the year. All my kids are home.” my dad said.

   As the day went on everyone started pouring in one by one. Porchia’s boyfriend Jovan came. Renee finally showed up after all the food was done but we expect that. The girl could sing but not cook. She also came with a surprise date who said he was a minister. My husband Damon showed up with our two sons, and Nick was the last one to get there with his girlfriend, Danielle. As we set the table, my dad came into the dining room and said add an extra plate. I looked at my sisters and then at my dad. “dad which one of the church ladies you got coming over here and why didn’t you forward as you know we don’t have no filter.” I said. “None of them.” he responded. “then who’s coming?” Reene asked. “ya momma.” my dad said as he exited the dining room. My sister and I stood there looking at each other.

   My stepmom Cassandra ran off to Cali when Nick was 2. She woke up one day told my dad she no longer wanted to be married and wanted to act. She packed her stuff and never looked back at the 2, 6, 15 and 16-year-old kids she was leaving behind. “I know he is joking,” I said to my sisters. “I guess we will see,” Porchia said. “Umm, no it's been 16 years we don’t need her back here,” I said. “Asia chill she is our mom.” Renee said. “No she’s Y'all mother, she was my stepmother. But she left she abandon us. she missed birthdays, proms, graduations, weddings; she missed everything, and now she supposes to let her back in with open arms.” I said as I said that the doorbell rang. I heard my dad answer it. Then it was like a scene in a scary movie when the person is hiding waiting to see if the killer finds them.

   My dad walked into the dining room. “Ladies there someone here to see you.” Cassandra step out from behind my dad, and my sisters went to hug her. “oh my god you are so grown and beautiful now.” she said. “that's what 16 years will do.” I said from the corner of the room. “Asia? oh my god look at you.” come to give your momma a hug.” she said. “Nah I’m good,” I said back. My dad looked at me and shook his head. “daddy can you tell the guys its time to eat.” I said as I walked out of the dining room and into the kitchen.     

   After grace dinner was silent. Just the sound of forks hitting the plates. That was until Jovan cleared his throat to get everyone attention.  “Umm while we are all gathered here, and I got everyone attention and my nerves together I want to say something. Porchia, you are the most important person to me. You are the air I breathe and can’t live without. You are my rock, my support system, my prayer warrior and the strength that keeps me going day to day. After talking to ya dad and your big sister, I no longer want you to be just my girlfriend I want you to be my wife.” he said as he moved his chair and took the ring out his pocket and got down on one knee. Porchia looked at me, and I smiled at her. “You knew about this.” I nodded my head. she looked back at him and screamed. “yes, Yes I will be your wife.” We all cheered and clapped. All of us expect for Cassandra. Porchia and Joan hugged and kissed and then she came around the table to show us the ring. When she got to Cassandra and seen her face, she stopped. “Mommy why you are looking like that? you don’t like it,” she asked sounding said. “Its cute but I’m trying to figure out why this young man didn’t come to me and ask me before asking my daughter to marry him,” she said. I threw my head back. “Oh my god cause it's not about you. You have been gone for 16 years.” I said. “this is my daughter.” Cassandra said. “that you didn’t raise.” I said back. “Asia stop!” my dad said. “No, let her keep going she thinks she is grown now. So here it is Growny I left because of you. When your dad and I got married, you were supposed to stay with your mom. You were never in my vision for the family I wanted. I told your dad to send you back to your mom for years, and when he didn’t, I left.” Cassandra said. “You left your kids because you weren’t woman enough to handle that the man you married already had a child. Let not forget Renne isn’t daddy’s we are six months apart in age and us 6 and 7 when you and daddy got married. DOn’t blame me for you being weak.” I said. “Asia stop!” my dad said as the table sat silently and looked. “Oh, so You think you're better than me,” Cassandra said. “I know I am because at the age of 16 I did what you stopped doing and became a mom to these kids when you left. I cooked, cleaned, helped with homework, I was there to wipes tears, and some were over you being absent,  was there when they were sick, when to cheerleading competitions, football games, musicals, dances all while still being a student. I never miss a beat, and I still graduated from high school and college, and even with a family of my own I still don’t miss a beat in any of there lives no matter how far they are. I still send Reene flower every time she has the opening night of a new tour, I traveled all the way to New York to help Porchia and Jovan house hunt, and there hasn’t been a concert that's drive distance that Nick played at that I wasn’t int he audience. This is my family!” I said as I pushed back from the table and stormed out the dining room and then out of the house to my car.


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