My Family's Influence

by Jannaka Oxendine

Family My family has always been my moral support and backbone. Whenever I needed tender loving care my mama was there to provide the right amount. Whenever I needed guidance and was in financial need my daddy was there willing to give the shirt off his back. Whenever I was in search of laughter and hugs, my brother was there with his arms wide open. Yet now that I am in college, it seems as though those factors are limited from distance.

In the past two weeks, I have learned to cherish all the memories established between my family and me, such as arguments with my mama about boys, working in the yard with my daddy learning the true meaning of hard work, and fighting with my brother for possession of the television remote. College has really taught me to appreciate the little things that my family has done for me.

My mama has always been my best friend, even though sometimes we could have been the worst of enemies. If I had a bad day and desperately needed to talk to someone, she was always the first one there listening attentively and willing to give her advice. If I ever needed something, she would always drop what she was doing and come rescue me. I cannot count the number of times she came to school bringing me my homework just so I could get a mark of completion. I was always her first priority. I never realized how much my mama did for me until I actually started college.

Now if I leave my homework at home, I can forget about seeing my rescuer come into the classroom with that smiling face saying, "Jannaka Leigh, you need to be more responsible." There is an old saying that daughters become like their mothers as the years progress, if this is true my mama has set the perfect example for my future.

My daddy will always be the man of life. I have concluded that I am a daddy's little girl. The day I left for college was the saddest day of my life by far. Just knowing that I would not be able to go outside and shoot basketball with him or have the heart-to -heart talks about what life has in store for me really brought tears to my eyes. No matter what the situation, my daddy was always there without hesitation.

Along with my mama, my daddy had his own set of examples. Being that he is a godly man, most of my daddy's lessons were taught from the perspective of church. He always stressed the importance of having God present in my life, through the good times as well as the bad. His lessons have allowed me to set my boundaries in college. Every decision I make is evaluated with the consequences in mind. Knowing when to hang with friends versus studying for a test the following day is the most common dilemma I am faced with in college. And even though my daddy is 150 miles away his words are right next to my heart, guiding me in the right direction.

Lastly, it is unreal the impact my little brother has had on me, because even though he is my little brother he has been my role model for some time now. His ability to read and connect with people has often caught me by surprise. For example, he could always tell when a person was in desperate need of a friend and would rely on his charm and smiling face his to cheer them up. My brother showed me how much of an impact a smile could have on a person's day, not to mention how contagious they are. Rarely have I found a person who could withstand the power of my brother's smile without returning the favor.

Now that I am in college I feel as though it is my duty to pass on my brother's characteristics to others. So when I notice people around campus in dire need of love and affection, I open my arms and give them words of encouragement, just like my brother would have. Of all my family members, it is amazing how the smallest person could have the biggest influence in my life.

College life without my family has definitely been hard but that is a stage in life that everyone has to go through. I have learned independence from the absence of my mama, dependence in the Lord from my daddy's instructions, and how to love strangers from the example put forth by my little brother. My family has set the course for my future in college. The next four years will be a challenge and definitely take some getting used to without my other half.

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