Aside from Triumphs & Tribulations, which entered its 15th year last week, I’ve also kept an extensive database of quotes from all kinds of sources on all types of subjects relating to life. There’s one I added to the database a couple of years back. It was by a woman named Amy Li. It was “having a sister is like having a best friend you can’t get rid of”. That perfectly describes my oldest little sister. In today’s post to The 24 To 30 feature, I’ll cover the story of Jasmine Thomas…
THE BACKGROUND. Jasmine was born on August 2, 1986. I likely met her a couple of days later when my mother brought her home from the hospital. I don’t recall much of my time as a “terrible two” and her time as an infant but I do remember our relationship from the time I was 4 and she was 2. We spent the majority of our days under the care of our late great-grandmother and we wreaked a lot of havoc back then. We went to Head Start together, where we sat next to each other on the JCCEO bus. When my mother moved across town and left me with my grandmother to attend a better elementary school, Jasmine joined her. I’d only get to see her once a month during that time when they visited me at Grandma Sallie’s house but we made sure we capitalized on it. Together with our older cousin, Jermaine, we had some legendary pillow fights. There was also that one time where we had too much fun and broke my aunt’s mirror. It’s still debatable as to which one of us actually broke the mirror but what’s not debatable is who got the beating behind it: me. Our relationship in the early years was very competitive…typical of brother and sister. We competed in learning Easter speeches. We competed in getting the most candy during trick-or-treat on Idlewild Circle. We competed for space in the room we shared for a few years and even for privileges from our parents. Though we grew older and became school-aged kids, we were still essentially joined at the hip. Up until I started middle school, if you saw me, you were very likely to see her not too far behind. We were quite fond of each other the first 10 years of my life. She was always a good sport in my early video game days. Back when I got a Sega Genesis in 1993, she always played Sonic the Hedgehog 2 with me. She loved playing with Tails in the multi-player mode. She also helped me get really good at Greatest Heavyweights as she just stood there and let me bash her character—usually Muhammad Ali because he kept saying “I’m so pretty—into an eventual knockout. Eventually, in the mid-90s, the sibling rivalry took effect and we had our wars. Our personalities constantly clashed but we both still loved each other. Though we were nearly 2 years separated in age, we were only separated by a grade in school because my birthday always fell behind the cut-off. As I moved through the grades with my reputation as a top-flight student, many teachers in elementary and middle school expressed excitement in having the chance to teach her as well. We went our different ways for the most part in high school…only crossing paths occasionally in the hallways at Parker High. She still had my back though as I had hers…none more evident than the madness that went down in February 2001. She was one of my biggest defenders during that tumultuous time and even went to school on that fateful St. Valentine’s Day, one of an estimated 100 (out of a school body of about 1300). When she got her first gig at McDonald’s, I gave her a ride to work on occasion and she always hooked me up with some fries. As I moved on and into my adult life, we still kept it close as brothers and sisters typically do. She was always available to me for advice on things I didn’t feel comfortable talking to much older adults about. Whenever she needed something, I tried my best to deliver…even though I was hundreds of miles away. Today, as I approach 30 and she’s entrenched at 28, we’re still really close. She blessed me with the opportunity to be an uncle in giving birth to my niece last year. And just like we did for most of our late teens and early 20s, we still talk extensively about our childhood and we still blame the other about that mirror 25 years ago.
THE MOMENT OF IMPACT. There are a lot of moments of impact with Jasmine. There was the time in February 2007, where she spent nearly 3 hours on the phone with me as I sobbed in my hurt over my ex-girlfriend getting an abortion. There was the time she wiped tears from my face as I sat on the sidewalk screaming in pain after getting my foot ran over…such a compassionate thing for a then 3-year-old to do. The moment of impact I remember most with her is actually one of the less pleasant moments of our brother-sister relationship. It was back in the Summer of 2000. We had a major disagreement and it led to an actual fight. I remember I punched her in the face and she dropped to the floor. I started talking noise but, unlike other instances where we actually came to blows, I could quickly tell that she was hurt. I apologized later that day and I made a promise to myself that I’d never lay a hand on a woman ever again…nor would I idly stand by and let another guy lay a violent hand on a woman. The hurt I saw in Jasmine’s eyes that day and the tears she shed really showed me the true physical difference between men and women. Even though we were brother and sister, grew up under the same roof, and pretty much knew how the other fought, that shot I got in on her that day changed the dynamic. I realized that she was what she was: a female.
HOW IT GOT ME TO 30. In these 28 years I’ve known her, Jasmine has had her moments of getting on my nerves. There have been times where I’ve hated her presence…and I’m sure if you ask her, that feeling has been mutual a time or two. Sometimes I felt as if she was a real-life, breathing crutch. But she’s still my little sister and I love her. We’ve been through a lifetime of experiences and I’d be deeply saddened if I didn’t have her as a sister.