Happy Birthday, Pie!

Washington, D.C. --  Muna, left, with my Aunt (affectionately referred to within the family as “Pie,”) in D.C. for President Obama’s inauguration last January   I wish I was home to wish her a “Happy Birthday” in person.
Washington, D.C. —
Muna, left, with my Aunt (affectionately referred to within the family as “Pie,”) in D.C. for President Obama’s inauguration last January
I wish I was home to wish her a “Happy Birthday” in person.

I have a special relationship with my Aunt “Pie.” (Everyone in our family has a nickname. Don’t ask what mine is … I’m not tellin’.) She is, in a lot of ways, responsible for shaping me into the person I am today.

When I was younger, I was a handful. I was rebellious, thought I knew it all (like all teenagers do,) and didn’t want anyone telling me anything. Thus, my relationship with my mother wasn’t as solid as it could have been. Like all good aunts & uncles, Pie served as a good buffer between my mother and I. She never took sides in the feuds we used to have, but she was sure to tell me when I was out of line.

Whenever my mother reached the limits of her patience, I would seek refuge with my Gran’ma or Pie. Sometimes I would stay for a weekend. Other times, I would stay the whole summer.

Pie ran a strict household. When eating, I couldn’t drink anything until I ate my meal (because she knew that I would drink all my Kool-aid, and then say “I’m full!”) If I was staying with her on a Sunday, I was going to Sunday school and subsequently, church. No ifs, ands, or buts. (Except that my BUTT BETTER BE at CHURCH on Sunday.)

If I had homework, I had to do it first before turning on the TV. Sometimes, I would come home from school before she returned from work. I was supposed to do my homework, but instead, I would sneak and watch TV for a while. (Hey, they ran Thundercats in the afternoon … Who could resist?!?!) Thinking I was “slick,” I would turn the TV off before she walked in the door. (If you don’t know what Thundercats is, Google it, young’uns!)

When she was done with work, she would walk in the door, hang up her coat, lean on the television, look me in the eye and ask me: “Have you been watching TV instead of doing your homework?”

I would sweat bullets as I replied, “no,” (knowing that I was lying.)

“You HAVE been watching TV, and I know it!” She would say.

Then she’d make me feel really bad by adding: “ … And now you’ve lied to me, too.”

I was always amazed. “HOW DID SHE KNOW?” I wondered. It’s like she had a hidden spy camera in the house and was monitoring it while she was at work. “She couldn’t have known!” I would think to myself.

It took me years to realize that while she was leaning on the TV talking to me, she was FEELING it to check for how warm it was. If it was still hot to the touch, she knew I had just turned it off before she walked in. Auntie Pie had skills!

I used to call her “the Jail Warden.” (Well, not out loud, but to MYSELF, I used to call her that.) No matter what I was doing, Pie was looking over my shoulder, telling me how to do it, or making sure that I was doing what I was supposed to.

I was too young to appreciate her guidance back then, but I certainly did as I got older. As I grew into an adult, I realized that she was just prepping me for life. She was making me understand that life is about doing some things you don’t want to do so that you can eventually do something you want to do. Ya gotta give a little to get a little. I thank her for teaching me that lesson.

She put a lot of faith and trust in me over the years.

Do you remember that awkward time when you tried to apply for an auto loan for the first time, but you didn’t have any credit history? The salesman told you: “Sorry, but you’ll need somebody to co-sign for the auto loan.”

In my community, it’s an unwritten rule … You NEVER co-sign for ANYTHING. But my Aunt Pie did. She took a chance on an 18-year-old wanting to get his first auto loan. An 18-year-old with no college experience at the time and a paycheck that consisted of a whopping $699 per month. She co-signed for my first auto loan. That meant a lot to me.

As I traveled around the world as a young Marine, Pie was always quick to hop on a plane and come pay me a visit. Part of this enthusiasm was probably simply due to her adventurous nature, but I liked feeling as if i had someone checking up on me as I traveled around the world.

Pie is celebrating a birthday today. (Of course, I won’t tell you how old she is, because Pie taught me that it’s rude to ask a woman her age.) I wish I were back in the US (instead of in the ‘stan,) so I could wish her a Happy Birthday in person. She deserves much more than a simple blog post.

I’m already indebted to her for helping raise me, but it looks like I’ll owe her one more. I’ll make good on her birthday gift when I return from the ‘stan.

Happy Birthday, Pie!

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