Being raised in a household without a mother or a father can be traumatic for a young girl. If no one cares enough about you to come into your life to "finish" or offer guidance where your parent(s) left off, you are a lost soul.

As I mentioned in my story Zenobia's Life Lessons, my mother passed away when I was a young girl of twelve and unfortunately, I never knew my dad. My mother knew that her illness was terminal therefore, given the time that she had left, she would explain everything there was for my sister and I to know about life with thorough exactitude and detail. As a result, I grew up accustomed to having a situation or a "let-me-tell-you-what-just-happened-to-me" story clarified in the same manner. I wanted stories or incidences re-told to me from beginning to end. One could leave nothing to the imagination. If you did leave something out you could bet your bottom dollar, I'd query you about it in the middle of your storytelling and you'd have no choice but to go back and repeat the story EXACTLY as it unfolded.

Shortly after my mom passed my sister began her first dating relationship with a guy who lived across the street. She was in love and had little to no time to spend with an annoying gawky younger sister. So I felt not only had I lost my mom, I also lost my sister. During this time, I became very observant and gathered my own opinions and summations about life and situations as best I could.

My sister and I lived with our aunt. She worked during the nights and when she was not working, she was sleeping during the day while I was at school. Our schedules didn't allow lots of time for her to parent. Not having my mother or sister around to answer questions or explain "life" circumstances to me was a hard pill for me to swallow, but eventually I was able to force it down.

I was about 16-years old and I always felt as though an "Angel" was watching over me. I remember once, while my mother prepared my sister and I for her death she told us "if I could come back I would never hurt either of you". Hence, I always felt as though she was somewhere keeping an eye, sort of guiding me during my times of confusion and uncertainty as I matured.

Unbeknownst to me there was an "Angel" watching me and giving me tutelage and empowering me to always look at my situations as an optimist as oppose to the pessimist. My "Angel" taught me the importance of having a good education and the significance of learning a skill. He taught me the weight of exhausting all of MY resources FIRST, before I rummaged around for help from those who cared not. MY Angel never let me drift too far away from him to the point of becoming defiant to the knowledge that he was trying to enlighten upon me.

When I'd come in the house after "hanging out" for the better part of an evening, as teenagers often do, he would always somehow draw me into a conversation of substance. I could not just waltz into the house, say my hellos, and mosey into my room.

"How was your day?" he'd ask me while I was in mid-step, or "tell me what you've been doing all evening", or (this one was my favorite), "who were you hanging out with all day?"

I realized when I became a parent that these questions were pertinent in order to establish an interpersonal relationship with your child. The more we know in terms of what our children are doing when they are away from home, the less likely our children are to get involved in troublesome situations. It was true then and I am sure it is truer now.

Countless times my "Angel" and I would sit in the kitchen at my aunt's house and he would share with me definitive stories about HIS life and experiences. He would give me a scenario that would prompt me to think and relate his story to MY given situation.

It always amazed me how this man who seemingly on the outside gave the appearance of being a quiet laid back gent, came alive where I was concerned. He somehow must've known that I was basically detached with no one to guide me. He decided that he was going to be the person that was going to continue where my mom left off. Invariably he kept me reeled in.

To this day he has never admitted to me that he decided to complete the job that my mom started. I really do not think that he is aware of what he did for me and how his storytelling impacted my life. I thought he came to this conclusion because he was consistently available for me. He always had time to listen to whatever issue I was going through. If I had a bad experience in school, we would never just "talk" about it, we would unravel the incident in earnest detail. Afterward, I would leave him feeling as though I was sharper or keen because he always gave me food for thought. These discussions with my "Angel" gave me a different angle in which to view my situation and life.

As an adult I spent many years enthralled with my life and I did not call as often as I should. However, whenever I did call upon him to share an emotionally traumatic situation that I endured, true to form, he convinced me that I should come away from that incident stronger and mindful. When I would doubt myself, he did not want to hear or see that. He never told me that he didn't want to hear or see it, but based upon his dialogue with me, my suspicions were confirmed.

He would not settle for ME compromising less for MYSELF. His communications were ALWAYS encouraging, motivating, positive and inspiring. I could NEVER have a talk with my "Angel", leave the discussion, and view that circumstance the same EVER!

There were times when I wanted to beat up on myself; told him the negativism that I felt about myself, or even shared the dissenting remarks others would opine about me. He would always take me back to the core of who I was as a young woman, reminding me what really mattered. He told me that I should never let another's inference of me dictate how I viewed myself. My "Angel" was the first, no not the first, the ONLY person who taught me the true meaning of SELF-IMAGE and how important will be for the rest of my life.

For so many years I yearned for a brother. Always felt that if I had one, no one would hurt me because I could run to him and he would somehow make any situation tolerable. Due to the numerous stories my "Angel" shared with me while sitting around my aunt's kitchen table, I became empowered to handle my own situations. No longer did I yearn for a brother. No longer did I feel as though I needed SOMEONE ELSE to make my life better. My "Angel" as a result of his outwardly meaningless, innocent stories, handed me self-worth while showing me how to gallantly grasp my aspirations and exceed them. Aspirations that are unyielding as I write this story!

My "Angel" never gave me money nor did he buy fancy clothes for me. NEVER! But what he gave me was/is worth more than all the money in Fort Knox. HE GAVE OF HIMSELF!! Unselfishly, chivalrously, offering the commitment and closeness that I desperately needed during my formative years.

God rarely gives us what we WANT, but he ALWAYS gives us what we NEED. Isn't it peculiar how one can ask for, or want something so badly, when often times all that you really NEED is right before you? I became so engrossed with my life, so absorbed with trying to find a resolution to my problems. I became so bogged down from the weight of my thrashes with my existence that my range of vision became obscured. Sometimes the obvious is never obvious enough. Everything I needed in terms of guidance, support, love and trust, was there for me to embrace in one package. What an impact one person can make!!

The nerve of me to want a brother!! All of this time, ALL of these long, long, long years, I already had EXCTLLY what was needed in HIM. My brother, my cousin, and my "Angel". Moreover, my FRIEND. I just had to open my eyes wide enough to envision what I had/have in him.

Because of my cousin and the stories that he shared, coupled with the support that he's given me, today I can say my life is good. I know it has taken me quite awhile to notice what he has done for me, but better late than never right? YOU empowered me. My heart is burden free and my soul smiles!

F-I-N-A-L-L-Y my life is premium, relaxed and nonviolent. One person CAN make a difference and the difference is/was you.

Thanks Cuz! This is long overdue. I LOVE YOU?.!!

(c) 2005 by C. V. Harris. All rights reserved.

C.V. Harris is a writer living in New Jersey who's passion for expressing the sentiments of love, grief and triumph can be both entertaining as well as motivating. Ms. Harris is currently working on her Memoir. Visit her Blog at www.onewriterwriting.blogspot.com">http://www.onewriterwriting.blogspot.com, or e-mail her at onewriterwriting@hotmail.com.