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Wheat Field


“And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith.” (I Timothy 5:8)

“KimFawnSkipCJ” is how my mother used to call me and my siblings when she needed us.  One word. One body.  As if we were not individuals but were the tight knit team we became when our family moved from Hampton, Virginia to State College, Pennsylvania when I was in the fourth grade. 

Even before the relocation our parents impressed upon us the importance of family.  My older brother was the one who would go to kiddie parties and bring back treats for each one of his sisters.  His favorite cry while watching TV was “Mom, can you please tell the girls to leave me alone.” Nonetheless, growing up, Skip (Skippy when we wanted to tease him about being named after peanut butter or a bush kangaroo) was the champion protector and defender of his younger sisters. 

We siblings were all very different from one another.  Skip (the oldest) was the athletic, outgoing, fun loving one. CJ (the youngest) was the artistic, poetic, creative one.  Fawn (the third child) was the compassionate, caring, and protective one.  And I (the second child) was the contemplative (yes, even at a young age), analytical, and intellectual one.  Despite these differences, there is something about growing up in a predominantly white, rural Central Pennsylvania town where there were only three other black families that helped bind the four of us into one.  We were family and remained ardent supporters of one another from childhood through our adult years.

My parents, now deceased, both were educators. My dad retired from Penn State University and my mom from being an elementary school teacher. They taught us we were no better nor less than anyone else and that we could be whomever we wanted to be. I grew up understanding academic achievement would be a measure of my success and the use of improper grammar would not be tolerated.  When challenged by a subject in school, my parents would ask us two questions: Did you read? Did you ask? It did not take long for us to figure out we had to work for answers just as we had to work to excel in our educational endeavors.

The greatest pain I have experienced during my adult years has come from the unexpected and premature loss of two siblings. My brother, a high school basketball coach and marathoner, passed away in 1999 after suffering a medical crisis. At his visitation over 500 people from all over Centre and adjacent counties came to pay their respects, testifying to the impact he had had upon young people, colleagues, and friends alike. 

My youngest sister Carole (known first as Cee Jay, then CJ, and finally by her author’s pen name of Cj) passed away in 2018. Cj was a poet, an author, a teacher of excellence, a mother, and a defender of the disempowered.  She fought so valiantly for her daughter’s rights that Pennsylvania laws were changed in response to her advocacy.  My sister Cj can be credited with introducing me and my family to the broadness of Episcopal hospitality when Episcopalians whom we did not know in a different state moved mountains to make an Episcopal celebration of her life possible. 

My remaining sister Fawn and I now care for and support our niece.  Best buddies since birth, Fawn and I, with my niece, now call ourselves the “three amigos.”  Fawn has a passion for working with non-profits on development and fundraising, for organizational development and for taking care of others.  She is a dedicated member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and is extraordinarily gifted at providing pastoral care in hospital settings.  Fawn’s earlier years included being a marathoner who traveled as far away as Bermuda to achieve her 26.2. 

Our niece, a beautiful young woman who can read a single face or crowd like a book, brings us extraordinary joy. She is a whiz at electronics, puzzles and putting things together.  If it’s broken, we can count on our niece to fix it.  If it’s lost, we can count on our niece to find it.  She breaks into our otherwise ordered lives with a vibrancy and insistence that demands our attention. The highlight of Easter 2021 for me was finally baptizing my niece after hearing her talk about wanting baptism and having to wait for nearly two years before we could make it happen.   


My family has helped make me who I am.  They have taught me about love and forgiveness, about letting go and daring to believe that all things are possible.  Wherever and however God next leads, God is likely to do so with the “three amigos” in tow. 

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