You may have heard of Charlie’s Angels but those skinny white chicks ain’t got nothing on my big sisters, the amazing daughters of Ida Mae Turner Lakins, whom I affectionately refer to (at least in my head) as Ida’s Angels.
Thirty years ago she gave them the extraordinary task to not only go out in the world and be beautiful, strong, God-fearing women, but she also charged them with raising her baby girl. They were in their late teens and early 20s when her death suddenly pushed them into adulthood. But her absence, although hard and difficult at times, didn’t stop them from fulfilling their tasks and making sure that they nurtured their little sister along the way. What makes Ida’s Angels so special? Well, I’m glad you asked!
If you ever have doubts about the power and majesty of God, all you need to do is go sit with my sister, Donna for a few hours. Honey, she is the ONLY person on planet Earth who I know who has faith in God for ABSOLUTELY EVERTHING! And when this heifer prays? You betta be ready to receive your blessing soon and very soon. For 15 years, I remember Donna saying that God was going to send her the husband of her dreams. Around year 12, we all started looking at her like, “OK, Donna.” When my newest brother-in-law showed up in Donna’s life two years ago, I looked up at him and thought, “Well if I ever doubted Donna’s faith and what God is capable of doing, I surely don’t now!”
If every one gets a golden crown in heaven, she needs to get at least three. This member of Ida’s Angels took on the lion’s share of my childhood rearing, and she definitely deserves some sort of bonus prize for enduring a pre-optimistic and pre-enlightened Leah from ages 14-19. (It wasn’t pretty folks. Not pretty at all!) Whenever a squabble breaks out among Ida’s Angels and Howard’s Avengers (you’ll get to hear about my brothers in a soon-to-come post), you can always count on Diane to be the peacemaker. Lord knows we try to force her into taking a side, but she truly has a gift for seeing everyone’s point of view. Diane is always objective, thoughtful, and prayerful, and she is that calm eye in the middle of any storm who gets us back to the harbor safely.
I don’t know many people who hustle harder than my sister, Wanda. I am constantly in awe of her business and tech savvy and how passionate she is about creating businesses that work and magically balancing that act with being a phenomenal mother and grandmother. Some of my fondest times with Wanda were during my teenage years when I used to volunteer with her every Wednesday when she was the office manager for a bustling doctor’s office at Liberty Medical Center. I was watching her like at hawk as she seamlessly managed as many as 50 patients in one day, processed all the billing and charts, and kept her doctor happy. I was even more impressed when she struck out on her own a few years later and created her own medical billing company. She probably doesn’t know (well she’ll know after this blog post!) that she is a big reason why my editorial side hustle, Fresh Eyes Editorial Services, (insert shameless plug here) even exists.
My youngest big sister is truly the creative glue that keeps our entire family together. From keeping us connected on social media (and giving out way too many “Scandal” spoilers!!!!) to planning family gatherings to creating the most ingenious and beautiful keepsakes for everyone’s birthdays and holidays, Karen has a unique gift of making everyone around her feel special and acknowledged. And I know she tries to downplay those magical pipes of hers these days, but when she sings?? Good Gawd! For me, it’s like having a little piece of God and a living embodiment of my mother’s amazing voice and spirit all at the same time. She is truly my favorite singer on planet Earth. Well, let me not lie. After Mother’s Day, you can take your rightful place just after Stevie Wonder. But I’ll let you have your moment today.
It has truly taken me a good part of my 34 years to truly make peace with my mother’s very early passing in my life. Some years and some seasons, the grief is more manageable that others. Some days I just let myself cry and be OK with being sad about never having the opportunity to simply have a conversation with her or treating her to a spa day. But then I can look up and see that she gave me the amazing gift of my FABULOUS sisters who have done a BRILLANT job in shaping me into the woman I am today (I think they did a pretty damn good job, don’t you?). There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not trying to match up to Donna’s faith level or be the level headed peacemaker that Diane is or hustle just a little bit harder like Wanda or be as creative and make my alto voice just as rich and full as Karen’s.
I would have loved to have known the woman and the true legend that was Ida Mae Turner Lakins. But it has been the greatest gift of my life to be nurtured and loved by Ida’s Angels.