Monday, August 20, 2012

Cape Town, South Africa and New Jersey “You Can Choose Your Friends, but You Can’t Choose Your Family" -Vacation, Day 4 - 9

August 20, 2012

              I left South Africa the day before my birthday. What an experience to not only have actually visited the “Mother Land” but to also be the first generation in my family to go.  Thank you Florence and Bruce for sharing your experience! I am so happy my friend and family can live this exciting adventure through me on GMarie’s Page.

As my plane ascended in the air, I briefly reminisced about my visit as the skyline of Johannesburg disappear into the clouds. Next stop is New York which is a little over 15 hours by air!  As I became more comfortable in my seat, I thought and anticipated seeing my family at the dinner which is planned for Saturday. A month previous, I asked my cousin Debbie to arrange to get the family together for a dinner.  I told her it would be so nice to have a gathering where everyone one was there but no one was being “laid to rest”.  I asked her to pick a central location that we could all meet up and “break bread”. Some of my relatives, I had not seen in over 20 years!  Before I realized it, I dozed off to sleep.

            I landed at JFK Airport around 6:30 a.m.. The feeling of being back not only in the United States but back home was very emotional. I have been in Saudi since September last year but have not been in the area for a couple of years. So I am daydreaming about all the things I want to do at home while I was making my way to the long line to go through customs. Reality set in when some guy rushed past me, bumped me and kept it moving with no apology. Welcome to New York!

I was scooped from the airport by my long time friend Scott and off we went to eat and get a SIM card for my blackberry so I can have some communications. I have all these ideas in my head on how I want to spend my birthday, but I am so jetlagged and exhausted, all I can do is get a hot shower, socialize a bit and get a good night’s rest. A Happy 50th Birthday to Me!!!
It was so good to see my cousin Debbie. She was very instrumental in making all of the arrangements for the dinner such as selecting the location, making all of the calls and encouraging the family to attend. The day of the dinner was filled with last minute plans, which added an element of excitement and apprehension. The dinner would be held at the Olive Garden in Woodbridge NJ on route 1 & 9. There were some family members that didn’t attend due to previous engagements, not being able to travel, such as Aunt Clara or have "war wounds" still too sore to heal, but it appeared that a good time was had by those that did attend. Besides my experience in Africa, the dinner and seeing those that I have not seen in years was the highlight of my trip.

There is a proverb, “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. Disappointments and disagreements are some of the things that happen in relationships whether it is with family or not. But, seeing some of my family made me recall some of the time that has passed that I didn’t reach out as often as I should. I can’t even begin to imagine how devastated I would be if I reached out to a loved one and they have passed on without me haven’t reached out to them in years. Yes, there are some painful memories and members of my family that if I never saw again, I’m comfortable with that, …..really!  But I decided that there are some that I wanted to forever stay in contact with no matter what and regardless of the distance. I would like to thank everyone one that attended the dinner; Cousin Debbie, Asia, Hamilton, Jordan, Randy Jr., Alicia, Kenneth, Ms. Audrey, Dad, Yevette, Tanasia, Damon, Natasha, Jordan, Charlene and Bria. Four  generations!! If I forgot someone, I apologize.

I must add that we have a new member in our family, Nadir Jeremih, born July 24 at 1:13 p.m. He is the son of my brother Danny who is in Afghanistan and Stacy, both military personnel who secure our freedoms while we work, sleep and play. Always keep the military in your prayers.

Friends are wonderful and sometimes more like family than those that are, but family, although sometimes distant in miles and state of mind, are forever that…….Family.

All the best,


  1. Welcome home and Happy Birthday G'Velli!

  2. Thanks R'villi, Long time, I hope all is well with you.
    GMarie (G'Velli!)