Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest Gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle … when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”Abe Gubegna

“Saturday’s child works hard for a living” that’s why I “hit the road Jack” and visit new spots. Canton is known for unique and quaint restaurants serving delicious food. Our first stop was Bartender’s on Boston Street owned by former bartenders. They pride themselves on serving ice-cold beer. I hadn’t been there in awhile so I was impressed when the owner called me by name. When you are out having a grand time you never meet a stranger, so when the bartender finished his shift, he invited us to go to One-eyed Mike‘s on Bond Street. I always wanted to go to One-eyed Mike to see the walls lined with Grand Marnier bottles. When you purchase a membership, you get your official bottle of Grand Marnier. After a shot of GM, Mike the owner and I stood in the middle of the bar and performed Sinatra’s “My Way” and “yes I did it my way” to a standing ovation (no comments needed). The food is outstanding and the staff is fantastic. We ordered the Duke, which was enough for four. It’s true Saturday’s child works hard for a living but we absolutely know about “Living for the Weekend.”

“As time goes by,” “precious memories” of my childhood linger. It is amazing the stored masses in the recesses of our minds. I was reflecting and giving prayers of thanksgiving to God for another year when a childhood phrase entered my mind. Perhaps it was Bishop Walter Thomas’ sermon that Sunday or the songs the choir sang which brought back memories.

As a young child, I attended St. Paul PHFW Baptist Church on 23rd Street under the pastorate of the Rev. Hodges where at the beginning of the service people would testify. One of the deacons would start out like this: “Giving honor to God” what did he mean? Umm put that into my book of memories. The next deacon not to be outdone would start out praying with: “Father I stretch my hand to thee… add that to my memory bank. Then someone in the back would start singing “On this solid rock I stand while all around me is sinking sand.” At New Psalmist 50 years later my memory bank overflowed and memories erupted when the choir sang “Father I stretch my hands to thee,” I was giving honor to God for another birthday and a chance to worship in the house of the Lord understanding the meanings of the old school spirituals and knowing I was standing on solid rock.

We were “fine and mellow” at Maceo’s until the “wee small hours of the morning” as Virgos celebrated our birthdays.” The band Slagg had us partying like it was “1999.” We danced in the aisles, on stage and in any vacant space. Dante served pig feet, chicken, fish, smothered pork chops and Candes’ homemade bread pudding; food and drinks flowed “endlessly.” We were “living the champagne life” drinking Moet as the party kicked up a notch. Among the guests were Beta Dotson, Judy and Donald Rainey, Sheila Dixon, Cynthia Jackson, Rhoda Fassett, Victor Green, Debbie Allen, Harold Hayley, Marty Glaze, Scott Phillip, Monique Jones, Diane and Frank Hocker, Karyne Henry, Frank Coakley, Charlene Cooper Boston, Patricia Miller, Tony Hawkins, Michael Haynie, Libby Massey, Brenda Baker, Maxine Turnipseed, Jackie Robinson, Bill Brown, Eric Stewart, Rita Cooper, Jeffrey Dotson, Paula Johnson Branch and the Friday Night Bunch.

“She broke her bread into two fragments and gave them to the children, who ate with avidity. She hath kept none for herself,” grumbled the Sergeant. “Because she is not hungry,” said a soldier. “Because she is a mother,” said the Sergeant. Victor Hugo,” Les Miserables

Shirley Belton and Renee French knew each other casually because their daughters Jackie Belton and Shaneera Smith were friends. “Each day I wake up from a terrible dream, only to find the world has changed,” said Renee French. Last year Shirley and Renee’s friendship reached a new level when within months of each other Jackie died from complications of lupus and Shaneera from breast cancer. I was honored to know both young spirited ladies; Jackie through her mother and Shaneera and I were both survivors.

“A mother’s happiness is like a beacon, lighting up the future but reflected also on the past in the guise of fond memories.” Honoré de Balzac

This year on the anniversary of their daughters’ death Renee hosted a celebration of Shaneera’s life at Celebration Church where friends released balloons and doves in her honor. Shirley hosted a birthday party in Jackie’s honor at her home on Lynview where she served Jackie’s favorite foods to family and friends celebrating her life. The spirit of two lives has woven families and friends together only the way a mother’s love can.

“Gone too soon” Condolences to the family of Orlando “Zeus” Brown a true asset to the Baltimore community. Zeus was a good neighbor to my friend Dr. Marie Washington and her mom Ms. Birdie, always checking on Ms. Birdie, Zoe and Jackie and offering his driveway so we could park. RIP Zeus, you scored a winning touchdown.

“I’ll be seeing you” Valerie & the Friday Night Bunch