To those who have come from near and far, sit back and enjoy the ride. I am going to take you on a journey of this thing called “My Life”. I was born to parents David and Effie Sykes on August 23, 1933 in the township of Berkley within Norfolk, Virginia. I was born at home in the midst of the greatest hurricane of 1933, better known as “The Chesapeake and Potomac Hurricane”. You see, storms weren’t regularly given a name until the 1950’s, so I guess you can say I started a movement. “Hurricane Greta”, as I was affectionately called, was more of a mindset than an action. Instead of leaving death and destruction, I left love and light. Maybe this is why my life’s mantra was always to “Be Kind”. Unlike the storm with gale force winds up to 140mph, I never lost steam throughout my life. At a young age, I was a fierce, strong and bold protector of those I loved. With the most creative ways of touching people’s lives and a fashion style all my own, better known as a “Fashionista” a term used today. I truly believe you should never look like what you’re going through. Never give in to your circumstances, so dress the part because if looking good makes you feel good… I was gonna feel great! All of my education from elementary to graduating from Booker T Washington high school was completed in Norfolk, Virginia. After my first year at Norfolk State University, I needed to explore so I transferred to what is now, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore majoring in what is now Home Economics with a concentration in Fashion Design. In the summer of 1954, life changed as I knew it. I met this fine, sharply dressed young man named Robert, affectionately known as Bob, from Baltimore, Maryland outside of the dining hall. Although my dance card was full, he captured my heart and it was newsworthy. Like the hurricane… I forged my own path after two years in Maryland, keeping in tune with my passion for fashion design. I transferred and graduated from the J.L. Loving School of Tailoring and Sewing in Richmond, Virginia.
You see, when love and respect are the common thread, it holds you together and time and space becomes irrelevant. Despite the distance, I knew this was my soul mate when he regularly hitchhiked from the Eastern Shore to Norfolk, Virginia, for over four years. Even complying with the US Army draft, we were inseparable as Bob made his intentions clear by sending a ring and letter to my parents asking for my hand in marriage. Upon receiving their blessing, the engagement started and a date for June 7, 1959 was set. From this union of 62 years, we created four wonderful children that gave us the world. Having lived in several northeastern states, Baltimore, Maryland became home and where we raised our four children. Although fashion and sewing was my passion, I found that helping and guiding children was my calling.
I began with and retired from the Baltimore City Public School System not realizing at the time how rewarding it would be or how many lives I would touch. This life has been rewarding, but not without its ups and downs, but because I knew God for myself and I let Him use me, it has come full circle. You see, you never know what people or more so children are going through at home. As an advocate for children, I was a Mother first and I became a “Mom” for those of various bloodlines and pedigrees. I became that safe and stable place or better yet “Love and Light” for all who sought it. Though I wear many hats, nothing has been more rewarding than: Sister, Wife, Mother, Granny G and Friend. Like that hurricane, my life will not and cannot be contained in a booklet with word count restrictions. I am Greta Sykes- Houston from Berkley, Virginia “A force to be reckoned with”. A realist, unfiltered and never watered down, respected by many but always a lady. At 5’2” and fine with an attitude of fire, but a heart of gold, rest assure I have lived my life to the fullest. I have completed 31,211 revolutions around the sun which to you would be 88 years of selfless service and unconditional love. I too have received my flowers while I was here. Although Bob preceded me in life, I remained behind a little while longer to ensure our children would be ok and ensure the lessons we taught were received in order to be passed on for generations to come. Knowing they are, our love story is complete!
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