By Steve Moran
It should be illegal to be as perpetually happy as Tawaana Cook at Abe’s Garden in Nashville, Tennessee. While her name tag says Tawaana, everyone there knows her only as “Happy.” Her story is remarkable.
So, my mom is a loving person. It’s like, she will feed the universe. If you’re hungry, she’s gonna feed you. And that is how I am now.
I have fun, I swear to God; that’s why they call me Happy.
Growing up, I didn’t have the best of guidance; I made a couple of bad choices.
My brother was living in New York, and he was in the streets and got into it with some boys. They came in my mom’s house and murdered my mother and my brother.
It destroyed me. I was lost. I didn’t want to go outside; I didn’t want to be around people. That’s when I found my uncle, and he says to me, “We’re gonna get in church and God.”
Then I found out he had cancer, so I had to move him out of the projects where there were stairs, and he needed to be on the first floor. We found a duplex, and, Mr. Steve, there was a church right across the street.
He was bedbound for almost two years. He didn’t get no bedsores. Every time they came over, he was clean. He never smelled like urine. It was just me taking care of my uncle.
I didn’t know anything about caregiving, so this one church lady told me I would make a great CNA.
Now, when I walk into my community they call out to me, “Hey, Happy!” If there is music playing, I hype them up, get them moving — anything to get them to smile. Then when the song is over, I go, “Thank you, guys. I gotta go make your dinner.”
I do this because of the people, not the paycheck or money. I do it because I love the people, and they need to know they are loved. I get so attached to the residents. l love helping them, seeing their joy. They don’t want you getting attached, but how can you not?
I guess that’s why they call me Happy. That is how so many people know me; they don’t even know my real name.