Friday, August 26, 2022

33: My Nate Nate

33! 33 years ago, on September 21st, 1988, I was getting ready while daddy was (badly and too softly) brushing my hair for school awaiting your arrival. I gained the little baby brother I PRAYED for. I was excited then and just as excited each time we celebrated you throughout your 33 years. As the “big” sister I was protective of you to no end. My blood, the Ying to my Yang, the calm to my storm, my real-life Dennis the Menace from the moment you could crawl entering my room to tear my Barbie and the Rockers doll heads off! I remember like yesterday getting SO annoyed at you for taking the clothes off my dolls and taking their heads and arms apart I took socks to tie your arms behind your back and your legs together. You started trying to get out and call out for help to daddy, who was in the living room, so I placed another sock around your mouth! He came in and asked, “What are y’all doing. Let that boy loose!” When I told him why I did it, he couldn’t help but laugh.

You were my first non-paying babysitting job, and my first reason to fight. I still remember like yesterday when you came walking, just as calmly down Rosalee Street to Lessie B’s house (you called her Man) and told me and Ebony that another little boy wanted to fight you. In true rare- hot headed form, Ebony and I rushed from the front yard to confront the little boy. We knew if someone was threatening to fight you, they were the problem because you were so kind, and too friendly to cause an issue with ANYONE! In fact, Ebony was walking faster than me because even she knew better! 

I remember you loving Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles so much you wore your Halloween costume year-round until you literally could not fit into it.  Then you changed to Batman!  You love comics...DC, Marvel, etc. so much so you would get into full on debates about the accuracy and complexity of superheroes.  We grew up in the era of Fox Kids Club, so you were also all about the Mighty Morphing Power Rangers!  You self-taught yourself Asian cultures and could recite terms, customs, art and cuisine.

As we got older, you became my cool big, little baby brother- remaining nonchalant, kind-hearted, thoughtful, talented, creative, funny and you set standards that were forward thinking. You loved anime, and science and animals and nature and food and culture! You loved to cook and create meals that my Lord, I wouldn’t eat but it gave me joy to see you as the chef in the kitchen! You loved my spaghetti! I remember making a pot of spaghetti in high school on a night our parents were out. Now my plan was to cook dinner for you and our cousin that was staying with us then and have plenty enough so our parents could taste it if it came out good…well; you and Nicholas devoured the spaghetti! Y’all cleaned the pot out like it had been washed and left it on the stove. When I asked what happened to all the spaghetti, you rubbed your belly and said, “what are you talking about Khrysti, shoot, we ate that spaghetti. Aye, it was great!” Then had the nerve to want me to fix it the next day.  If food was left in the fridge, you were definitely eating it.  I remember crying...literally real tears crying because I was so mad you ate something in the fridge I'd had as leftovers.  Funny how I can't remember what the food was now, but I remember Mama making it for me after she knew I was crying behind some food.  

I remember your pet turtle Alphalpha! You adored that turtle, and nobody could tell you to stop putting him in your face. That is until Alphalpha clipped you one right on the lip. You still have the mark from when he took a nip at that top lip. You loved (animals) dogs so much you would find stray puppies and bring them home. At some point we had two dogs and with both of them I would run for my life getting out of the car to get in the house. Your love of dogs trumped my fear.

You here recently gave me the illustrations I asked for about ten years ago for my children’s book! I laugh NOW because you most definitely did things in your way, in YOUR time. You came through for each of your niece and nephew’s parties though. Always right on time. Whatever I needed painted or drawn out; you made it happen. No questions asked.  I was and always will be in awe of the talents you naturally acquired, most, without any formal training. Piano playing, shoe design, graphic artist, rapping, music production, writing, digital art, sculpting, jewelry making, tattoo artist…you name it, and it’s artistic…you could do it! You've even made bows for our Khloé's hair.  Just an OUTSTANDING talent.

We spoke sibling language- our eyes held conversations that only required us to chuckle with each other. I’ll miss your random calls to say, “Khrysti. Oh. What are you doing? …That’s cool. Mama and daddy tripping!” Then you’d give me a day's laugh of what went down at the Cunningham house. Your joy of teaching Khloé and Karson various forms of art will remain with them always. Khloé is already pretending she’s still playing with you. She’s such a little lady! She said, “I’m not sad Nathen died, he’s just resting.” I picked her up from school a few days ago and she was talking out loud.  I could hear her say your name multiple times and change her voice as she continued talking out loud.  I asked, "Khloé, what are you doing?"  She said, "Playing with Nathan.  Well, pretending because he can't talk back, you know? He’s an angel, so he’s here but I can’t see him and he can’t talk back."

You may be gone from our sight but never from our visions. We’ll watch as you brush the sky with your sketches and paintings, we’ll listen as you whistle, hum or make tunes with the wind, we’ll feel your belly laugh as we laugh at all the wonderful memories of you. I pray you sweet sleep baby brother. Take your rest; until we meet again, I’ll hold you in my heart forever. I love you, Nate Nate.


1 comment:

Kathryn Cunningham said...

My babies...... beautiful tribute Khrystian Nichole'