Celebrating my sixth great-grandchild — a new baby is such a beautiful blessing

Sunday is a big day for our family. We will gather to witness a rite of passage, the dedication (or christening) of Shamar MaliQ Mestre-Hines to the Lord. He is the son of my granddaughter LaQuonia Hines and Simon Mastre, and the newest addition to our family.

Baby dedications are times when family members put aside any disagreements and focus on the star of the show — the baby. They are welcoming ceremonies and celebrations of new life.

Shamar is my sixth great-grandchild. Like many Christian families, we have looked forward to this day ever since he made his entrance into the world at 8 a.m. on Oct. 17, 2023, exactly one week and four days before his mother’s 40th birthday.

It is fitting that Shamar’s celebration will be at Koinonia Worship Center in Hollywood, the church where his late grandfather, pastor James F. Hines (my older son), served as the youth pastor. Almost 11 years have passed since we gathered in this sanctuary to celebrate the sad occasion of my son’s homegoing. Today we celebrate a new life, the newest of pastor Hines’ three grandsons.

On the day of Shamar’s birth, I met my granddaughter and Simon at the hospital at 5:15 a.m. The night before, I set the alarm for 4 a.m. and went to bed earlier than usual. But I was so excited, I kept waking up, checking the time. After waking more times than I can remember, I finally got up, said my prayers, took a shower and got dressed.

It was dark outside. I walked to my car. I tried to contain myself. After all, this wasn’t my first great-grandchild. I should be used to this by now, right? This should be a piece of cake.

Only it wasn’t. With each of my great-grandchildren, the excitement never waned. Each birth was a new experience for me. There is just something about a new being, a new life coming into the world. And being alive to witness this miracle as a great-grandmother for the sixth time, is a feeling beyond describing. I can only say, “Thank you, Jesus!”

I was allowed to sit with LaQuonia as she was being prepped for the delivery by Cesarean section. Simon was a doting companion, leaving her side only long enough to make a coffee run for me.

Soon, it was time for my granddaughter to go on the biggest date of her life – that of meeting her first-born, her son. I kissed her on the forehead, and she was wheeled to the delivery room. I was anxious, but I knew she and the baby would be fine. They were.

Debra, LaQuonia’s mother, arrived and we waited together for the word of Shamar’s arrival. After what seemed like days, we got the news that Shamar had arrived, and we would be able to see him soon. We both let out a loud sigh and thanked the Lord for another miracle.

It’s been six months and now it is time to dedicate Shamar to the Lord. I don’t know where the months have gone. The tiny bundle I held a few hours after he was born is now a happy little boy who laughs out loud and coos and has recently learned to say “Da-da.”

He loves for his mom to talk to him and laughs at her stories as though he knows what she is talking about. He is big for his age. And he is so kissable.

There is an African proverb that says, “… it takes a village to raise a child.” Well, Shamar surely has his village: In addition to his parents, his village includes an older brother, Omari Mastre, two grandmothers, Debra Hines and Janet Mastre; two great-grandmothers, Yours Truly and Dorothy Thompson; a grandfather, Peter Mastre; a great-grandfather, Clifford Thompson, an uncle, Peter Mastre, aunts Nykeva Hines and Jamie Hines, and Judy Mastre and Maria Mastre. He also has seven godparents.

I look at Shamar and I know he is blessed. Still, I am curious. What is his purpose in coming? Why now? What contributions will this tiny, innocent bundle of joy bring to the world? What will he become? A future president?

Maybe. It’s not impossible. I have lived long enough to witness that such dreams really can come true for our little Black and Brown children.

However, my hopes and dreams for Sharmar would be fulfilled if he simply grew up to be a man of honor and integrity, one who speaks the truth. A person who cares about others and who is not blinded by the false glitter of the world. One who loves the Lord.

As his great-grandma, I can only help steer Shamar in what I believe to be the “right” way. I know that in the long run, it will be entirely up to him to decide which life path to take.

Right now, my job is to pray for him and love him. And for as long as I am alive, be the kind of person that when he grows up, and I am no longer around, someone will tell him about me. And he won ‘t be ashamed of his great-grandma Bea.

Bea Hines
Bea Hines