It's Adrienne's birthday today.
My niece is sixteen and growing up fast. She doesn't look different. Her hair is still in her favorite ponytail hairstyle and her face is serious; in deep thought like always. But she feels different to me today. She seems lighter. Maybe because most of the family is here except Rodney Jr. and Big Rodney. Hell, I feel lighter, too. Big Rodney is just a magic trick gone wrong, I tell you. Ain't a rabbit comin' out the hat. It's gonna be a rattlesnake or a handful of dog mess.
Every time it's Thanksgiving or Christmas or one-a-the-kids birthdays, Big Rodney wanna try to sit next to me. From the day I left to the day I rolled my wheelchair right past him outside the courthouse he been trying to get back. No sir.
My vertebrae (that's what the doctor called it) won't have it. I mean being body slammed and pushed down the stairs can really make you change your mind about a man. I am glad he is off scouting colleges with Rodney Jr. I need the space.
I married Rodney when I was eighteen. Juicie said he was a wild boar and he was. All I know is I was having a baby and nobody (meaning me) was gonna come home and tell Russell and Thelma Jones that a baby was comin' without a wedding.
Looking back, it woulda been easier to tell my mother and my Daddy I didn't know who the Daddy was and maybe Lil' Rodney mighta had a chance to grow up good like my Daddy and I would have never had that other child of mine. I don't regret much in life, but whew!
As a baby Kerri cried all day and all night. Then she got to her terrible twos and stayed there. Tantrums, crying, screaming, pouting. Every day. Except when I bought her stuff.
She was always a pretty little girl, though. She had the most beautiful eyes. Not the color, which was hazel like my wonderful mother's, but the shape of them. They were like a cat's eyes plus her eyelashes were pretty just like Rodney Jr's. Sure I loved her, and took care of her the best I could, but for the love of Jesus, I can't say she's one of my favorite people.
I'm lookin' at her at the food table wonderin' what I did to have a child that don't like anybody. Everybody's stupid. Everybody's corny. Everybody except Rodney Jr. who doesn't pay her any attention. I bet she won't even make me a plate. Ha! Never mind make me a plate, she didn't even look my way.
Children are blessings. But to this day, I ain't never seen the blessing in mine. It's not a nice feeling to have.
Here comes my Adrienne with my food. I hope she goes away to college and makes something of herself. She got a good head on her shoulders. And a mouth on her. She's a good girl, but nobody's safe if they cross her. Big Rodney got her so mad one Thanksgiving when he cut the line, she called him Rerun to his face. Snapped his suspenders, too. I nearly spit these teeth right out of my mouth.
I love that girl to pieces.