Piedmont Triad Living October 2016 - Page 15

On her second birthday, parked on her mother’s hip, surrounded by the emptiness of Easton Park, except for its basketball court…my granddaughter Faatimah sweetly cooed, “Grandma, I want a whee!”

Misunderstanding, I asked her mom, “She wants a Wii?”

“No,” she replied, “a whee,” motioning a swing with her hand.

“Oh, a wheeeeeee!” I exclaimed. Immediately, I assured Faati her grandma would get her one.

That was May 28, 2011.

Shortly thereafter, I contacted Councilmember James Taylor, southeast ward, who promised new playground equipment donated by Brenner’s Children’s Hospital was already planned. New swings were installed summer 2012.

I moved to the Easton community in December 2005, attracted by my new home’s proximity to Easton Park. Grandson Jaysen was three years old at the time. The park had an adequate basketball court, Jaysen’s obsession, and a softball field, unused for that purpose anymore. Jaysen, now 14, plays basketball on his high school team, but regularly visits me and plays on the newly resurfaced park basketball court, an improvement sponsored by Sprite in 2013. Thank you, Sprite and City of Winston-Salem Parks and Recreation.

Over the last 10 years, neighbors and I have seen park attendance grow from an occasional few on the weekends to sometimes 70 or 80 patrons weekday evenings. Neighborhood families and visitors can now interact, interrelate, and enjoy our community’s beautiful green space and experience together each other’s rich cultural diversity. Since 2012, I’ve joined with neighbors and local businesses to improve the amenities at Easton Park through grant writing and volunteer coordination. In 2014, I adopted Easton Park through my home business and continue beautification and recreational projects with committed volunteers – primarily Faatimah’s dad my son Michael – who support these efforts. Michael is the wind beneath my wings, our wings!

Public parks are magical outdoor spaces in urban settings where we can feel free to imagine, explore and play together, shaping our social, emotional and physical well-beings, all for free. Free vitamin D through sunshine, too! Through my leadership, our neighborhood participated in Keep Winston-Salem Beautiful efforts, enjoyed ice cream socials, dedicated a peace garden, and sponsored a cultural arts festival over the past four years. Our family loves Easton Park, and I love my Easton neighbors.

Back to Faatimah’s Whee: Faati was born in my home, delivered by her parents on May 28, 2009, fifteen minutes before the midwife’s scheduled arrival. She is a gift to us and to the world from the ages, like all of our sons and daughters. I’m energized by the phenomenal force she is, celebrate her innate brilliance, having witnessed her birth and the declaration of free spirit I saw in her first gaze, born eyes wide open, surveying her world. I see my life reimagined in hers, as do her parents, even our faces mixed together in her sweet countenance.

Recently, a friend saw photos I shared on Facebook of Faati and commented, “She’s coming into her own.” Yes, now seven, she is more and more self-confident each day, strengthened by parents and siblings who adore her.

I am honored Faatimah chose me to love, to be her grandmother. She gave my life greater purpose, uplifting my whole community, by remarking on the barrenness of the park that had no swing. The world needs more visionaries like Faati who redeem our hopes and dreams and fuel our spirits to soar! Whee!

Carly-Pete, a 2013 graduate of Salem College, earned B.A. degrees in Communication and Creative Writing. She resides in Winston-Salem, where she works as a communication consultant, lyricist and writer.