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Family



Grandma's Girl

Bright, intelligent girl
Runs and giggles with joy
Interesting to talk to
Tender but tough
Teases and taunts the little boys
Angelic at times
Naive but knowledgeable
You have to love her if you know her



Brittany

Brittany is a bundle of joy, despite the fact that she was born with Klippel-Feil Syndrome. This syndrome is characterized by a short and wide neck, low hairline, reduction in the number of cervical vertebrae, and fusion of the cervical spine. In order to turn her head in any direction, she has to turn her whole body. Klippel-Feil Syndrome can cause many medical problems. In Brittany's case she was born with holes in her heart, so at five months, she had open heart surgery. During her two week stay in the intensive coronary care unit, she actually died when they took her off the respirator. They doctors shocked her heart into beating again and put her back on the respirator. In all, Brittany was in the hospital twelve weeks.

When she came home, she had to be on oxygen; we made many trips to the hospital and doctors. The only times Brittany cried was when the medical staff stuck her with needles. She had a wonderful attitude during these trying times and always wore a smile. When she was 8 months old and done eating, she would take the washcloth, wipe her mouth and each of her hands, and then wipe the tray clean.

Brittany was never able to crawl because one arm was shorter than the other because of the way her spine was curved, so she learned to walk pretty quickly. She had therapy to strengthen her limbs.

Now Brittany is six years old and only weighs 28 pounds. She celebrated her birthday when she was in the hospital for another surgery. Even though she is in a body cast right now, she is a bundle of dynamite. The doctors had to do some surgery on her back and neck because she was growing to the side and her ear was on her shoulder. They first put her in a body cast with a halo on her head, but the screw on the right side was pulling loose. She is presently in a body cast that covers her head except for her face, ears, and the top of her head, from which hangs a little ponytail.

Brittany laughs, runs, and always participates in interesting conversations because she is full of life and loves people. Her favorite song is "God Loves People More than Anything."

Everyone who knows Brittany loves her!



Remember My Great Grandmother

Just sitting here remembering how strong her hands were. The way she would rub our faces with Vaseline before we went to school.

Just sitting here remembering the words she spoke. "You have to give respect to receive respect. If you don't start nothing, it won't be nothing." How could one forget those words?

Just sitting here remembering how smart she was. When she would tell us to stick together, don't give up on each other, stay independent. She would also say, "If you ever have children, love them. Don't give up on them, no matter what happens."

Just sitting here honoring her for the way she raised my brothers, me, my cousins, even children that were outside the family. Just honoring what a wonderful woman she is.



A Friend

A friend is one of the nicest things you can have,
and one of the nicest things you can be.
A friend is a living treasure, and if you have one, you have one of the
most valuable gifts in life.
A friend is one who will always be beside you through all the
laughter, and through each and every tear.
A friend is the one thing you can always rely on, the someone you
can always open up to, the one wonderful person who
always believes in you in a way no one else seems to.
A friend is a sanctuary.
A friend is a smile.
A friend is a hand that is always holding yours, no matter where you
are, No matter how close or far apart you may be.
A friend is someone who is always there and will always care.
A friend is a feeling of forever in the heart.
A friend is the door that is always open.
A friend is the one to whom you can give your key.
A friend is one of the nicest things you can have and one of the best
things you can be.



Housecleaning

I always like housecleaning, but this time I am going to enjoy it even more. I am going to clean my house differently, today. I am going to remove some things and some people out of my house. As you know, I like my things clean.

Where do I start cleaning? I have a son that is fourteen years old. Now, I am going to sweep and mop my floors. I'll sweep him out of my door. Then I'll put something sticky on the floor, so he can't walk on me any more.

I have a teenage daughter who is out of control. She stays in trouble all the time. I am cleaning up my kitchen and washing dishes. I need to remove some things, but I need my daughter's help. I am running my water and putting soap in it. I am standing here washing my dishes. Oh no, she fell into my water! Her mouth got washed out with soap. What is this? Her long hair got tangled up in my dishes. I am trying to find her, so I let out my water, but she is not here. She went down the sink. My daughter won't give me any more problems because she can't find her way home. She is a long way from home now.

I have a friend that I would like to clean out of my house, too. I am going to clean up my living room now. He is like dust; he is on everything. I am cleaning the dust off of my tables and my T.V. I am using an old rag. When I get done cleaning this room, I am going to put that old rag in my car and take it far away from my house. That dust will not get back in my house and get on my children.

I have been married for ten years, but we have been together for twenty years in all. Now, I am starting to clean my bedroom. My bedroom is a mess, and I do not know where to start or how to clean it. I could make him up in my bed, or shut him off like I do the T.V. No, I think I will wash him and put him on my shelf. That way I can bring him down and play with him from time to time. This way I will still have a good husband, his money, and have someone to play and talk with from time to time.

I do not know how you would clean up your house, but this is how I would clean my house.

P.S. I wish it could be this easy!



Daddy, Mommy and Child

We were in love.
You were everything to me.
You said I looked like a dove.
I never thought you would leave.

You gave me a life
But not my own.
She is such a sight,
And you left her alone.

She will grow up in the real world
Knowing what was said and done.
After all she is a little girl
And deserves to have a little fun.

She will ask why you're not there,
And I will have to tell her why--
That you don't and never will care
And she will probably cry.

To her you may be gone,
But through her
and in her
you will live on.

Your mom caused it.
And your daughter will grow up.
What happened she will know it,
And to you she will never look up.

You don't know what she cost
Or what you've done.
You don't know what you've lost
Because you're too dumb.

The reason we are through
Is because you weren't true
To two girls
Who trusted you.

Now we move on
And leave you behind.
To you we are so cruel
Because to us you were never kind.


Dedicated to Victoria Baker



The First Man in My Life

I always think about him, with his beautiful smile, his soft voice, and his humble attitude, especially when the snow is falling softly on the ground. He wished he could see snow, but he never had the chance. He had gray eyes and white hair. He was tall, well built, very fair, and his face was covered with freckles. You could see the wisdom in his face. His face showed that he went through a life full of happy and sad days. He had his share of joy and sorrow. He lost both his parents when he was a small child. His father died in the war, and his mother passed away shortly after. He was raised by his brother.

He grew up in Egypt. He finished only fourth grade and worked at many different jobs. First he worked as a carpenter. Later, he started selling sheep and camels between Egypt and Libya. Then he changed his business and started importing fabric from China. After that he developed a big business in sewing fine fabrics. His company became the best in its field.

As was the custom in my home country at that time, he had two wives. They gave him great joy and a large loving family. This wonderful man I am telling you about was my beloved father. He possessed all the wonderful qualities anyone could wish for in a parent. He was the father of twenty-three children. I was number fifteen. When I was born, he was about fifty-years-old.

I remember him being a kind and loving person. He took great pleasure in helping his extended family and the community around him. He donated money to build a mosque, he opened his home to the needy, and he supported education in many ways.

Even though he only finished fourth grade, he loved books and education, and he always encouraged and pushed us to finish our college education. I remember him often telling us that the world respects only educated people. His love of education was really amazing. He believed that if people are educated there will be no hate or greed, and everyone will be nice to each other. I remember him encouraging people to have parent group organization meetings for school in his own house.

Despite the fact that I had to share him with all the people around him I developed a beautiful relationship with him. He loved literature, politics, and history. From him I got my love of reading. I was named after the character Shahrazad in a book he loved, A Thousand and One Nights. He used to ask me to read to him all the time. It was a special thing to me. I loved it, and it was a give-and-take situation. He got to listen to a story or a poem, and I got to practice my reading. He used to call me "the educated one." And when I would finish reading to him, he would recite a line from A Thousand and One Nights, the book I got my name from, "And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say."

I remember a very happy childhood and adolescence. But a wave disturbed the calm water. My oldest brother, Hussein, was very dear to me. He was like a second father. When I was eighteen, Hussein went on a car trip one day to attend a funeral. He never came back alive. He was to take over as the head of the family. His loss was the saddest moment in our family's life. That event really changed my perspective on life, and it was a great tragedy for my father. After that we didn't sit and read anymore.

In the summer of 1994, I left my country with my husband and my son and came to America. That was the last day I saw my father. On January 3, 1995, my father passed away. He was seventy-seven years old. I didn't have the chance to see him and embrace him and say goodbye to him. It was a very painful experience for me, but I keep telling myself I have all these beautiful memories of him, and I can carry on his beliefs of a happy and safe world.

Now I have a wonderful husband and two kids of my own. I enjoy playing with my kids in the Ohio snow, sledding and throwing snowballs at each other. While we play, I think how wonderful it is to carry on the dream of someone I love so much. I hope one day my kids will remember me and their father the way I remember my father.



To My Oldest Son on His Graduation
FEBRUARY 8, 1998

To my son Jason,

The time has come for you to graduate from high school. I would like to tell you how proud I am of you. I was very young when you were born. I didn't graduate from high school like I truly wanted. I had trouble in school, and it was very hard for me. When you had trouble in school I was right there to see that you got the help you needed.

Just look at you today! You are a 4.0 student and on your way to college. I am so glad that you are doing the things that I wanted to do so badly myself.

When I see you walk across the stage to get your diploma, I will be the happiest and proudest mother on earth.

It will make me take the time to work even harder to get my G.E.D. With that, I can be as proud of myself as I am of you.

With love always,
Mom



A True Friend

One of my best friends is an eight-year-old, black and tan, very fat dachshund named B.J. We have had her since she was a puppy, and she has become a very important part of our family. She has developed her own personality and can communicate her feelings very well with little looks and actions. My dog loves me unconditionally and is very loyal and protective. She is also an endless source of entertainment.

Being the lovable animal that she is, B.J. likes nothing more than to curl up with me and let me know how much she cares for me. If I've had a bad day, she is there for me. Listening to my problems and kissing my troubles away is one of her specialties. No matter what I have done or what mistakes I have made, she doesn't care. She loves me!

My dog is a very loyal and protective friend. Late one night, when I was alone, someone tried to break into my house. However, B.J. was on guard duty and warned me by barking loudly and frantically. The man yelled at her to "shut up," then turned and ran away. B.J. was my hero that night.

My friend B.J. is also quite the entertainer. She loves to play, sing, and dance. There are many games she loves to play. Games such as, "Chase the Remote Control Cars," "Fetch the Squeak Toy," and "Rub My Belly" are favorites. All of these are played with a wagging tail and a big smile on her face. Yes, dogs can smile!! She also sings a beautiful "I Love You" song and is a very talented dancer.

Dogs are wonderful friends, and mine is one of the best. She may not be able to do some of the things my human friends can do but she is loving, loyal, and fun. She makes our lives more complete, and no other animal could ever take her place. B.J. is a true friend.



An Important Person

There was an important person in my life - my grandmother. She was the greatest person I have ever known. She took care of me at age five years old, when I lost my mother. I don't remember a great deal about my mother, but my grandmother would sit and tell me things about her. My grandmother said she would play, sing, rock us to sleep, and feed us before she would eat. My mother wanted us to be fed first, my grandmother said.

My grandmother did her best with her five grandchildren. We had to mind her and listen to her. She had her hands full with us five children. We would work on the farm, helping out with what we could do. The oldest ones would do more than me, for I was the youngest child. As I got older, I would help my grandmother milk the cow. I loved to help her milk. My grandmother gave me a white calf, and I had to take care of my calf.

Yes, I know my grandmother was the greatest to us, but I'm sure there are other children who had no mother at age five, and I'm sure they were taken care of. I'm sure they were sung to, rocked, played with, loved, fed, and taken care of the very best, and also were told about their real mothers.

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