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‘I’m going to stick to my vows like God has stuck with me’

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BY JE’DON HOLLOWAY-TALLEY
Special to the Birmingham Times

“You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello’’ column, or know someone, please send nominations to Erica Wright ewright@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.

AISHA AND JERMEL SANDERS

Live: Forestdale

Married: October 15, 2005

Met: Early 2003, at a club in Birmingham. Aisha, a California girl and new to the South said she wasn’t attracted to the typical southern guy, “gold teeth, cornrows, and flashy tee shirts to the knees wasn’t my type,” she said. But Jermel was the opposite. 

“[My cousin and I] are in the club and here’s this guy in a whole Dickies suit, some clean white tennis shoes, in the middle of the dance floor Crip walking,” she laughed. “He called it the Bessemer Dirty Foot … For me nobody else was in the room, all I saw was [him] and I walked up to him and said you cannot be from here, and he said he’s from Bessemer… We danced all night…”

As the end of the night approached, Jermel had yet to ask Aisha for her phone number. “I told him ‘you don’t want to let me leave without getting my phone number.’” They exchanged numbers, “but I refused to call him first because I had already taken the first step,” she said.  

At the time, Jermel said he wasn’t looking for a relationship or to entertain anyone. “I was just having fun. Women have hit on me and approached me before, but it was something about her that was different,” he said. “I called her a week later.”

First date:  A few weeks later [winter 2003], at the Wildwood Movie Theater on Lakeshore Dr. They saw 2 Fast 2 Furious, with Aisha’s 2-year old son, Elijah, in tow. “One thing I remember was that [Jermel] was very guarded [during the first part of the date],” Aisha said. “I’m very nurturing and loving and I could sense that he wasn’t all the way comfortable, and I was actually attracted to the fact that he wasn’t comfortable… that led to me paying for dinner at the [nearby] Italian restaurant.”

Jermel said he was uncomfortable because he wasn’t used to a woman checking on him “but it attracted me to her… It ended up making me feel more comfortable being myself, and I like I could relax and be me,” he said.

Over dinner they had “good conversation that flowed, it was like two friends having dinner with my baby,” Aisha said.

The turn: In August 2003, Aisha and her son flew to California and as soon as she got there “I wanted to get right back to Jermel, and that’s how I knew he was the one for me,” she said.

By November 2003, Jermel, who used “to hang heavily in the streets, kicking it” was about to go shoot pool with his homeboys and remembers getting halfway there and turning around and going back to her house. “I wanted to keep spending time with her,” he said.

The proposal: June 2005, the couple had had their first son, Joshua, gotten saved and wanted to do everything right under God. “We wanted to be blessed, and we knew the first thing we needed to do was get married,” Aisha said.  Jermel said they had a great relationship and a strong friendship, “so taking that next step was easy.” 

Elijah was 5, and Joshua was 3 months old at the time of their engagement.

The wedding: At Harvest Church in Forestdale, officiated by Pastor Brian Carrington. Their colors were black and cream. 

Most memorable for the bride was the moment the doors opened. “I saw a different side of my husband. I had never seen him show that much emotion, he was [crying uncontrollably] and seeing that emotion from him let me know that we were doing what God wanted from us. That moment was everything for me,” Aisha said.

Most memorable for the groom were his emotions. “When they opened the doors and I saw her walk down the aisle, emotions came over me and it brought me to tears. It was like God let me see a different level of beauty in her… In that moment I felt like God was in this union, and I was making the right decision,” Jermel said.

Words of wisdom: The Sanders’ run a marriage ministry from their Facebook group, ‘Respeck The Covenant’ and hold meetups and events.

Jermel said marriage is work, “what you put in is what you get out of it. Never try to be or depict anybody else’s marriage. As long as God is your foundation, you can arrange your household how you would like it, not how you see other people’s households,” he said.

Aisha said, “respect the covenant that you entered into. For me, a covenant is a life bond, it’s not a contract you can back out of. You should understand what you entered into when you got married. God created me and brought me into the world knowing I would sin, and let Him down, but He still saw fit to bring me forth, and I view marriage that way. My husband is not perfect, I’m not perfect, and we won’t do everything right, but I made a vow and I’m going to stick to that vow just like God has stuck with me,” she said.

Happily ever after: The Sanders’ have five children: Elijah, 20, Joshua, 15, Isaiah, 14, Jermeria, 12, Aiyanna, 7. 

Aisha, 40, is a Lynwood, California native and graduate of Mesquite High School [Ridgecrest, CA]. She is a hair stylist, and runs her home-based businesses, ‘Braids by Aisha Monique’, and ‘Yanni Cakes’, her specialty cupcake brand.

Jermel, 39, is a Bessemer native, and Jess Lanier High School grad. He works as a truck driver for US Foods, and DJ’s  as ‘DJ Truth’ on the side. 

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Aisha said, “business has actually quadrupled.”

Jermel said, “I haven’t missed a beat on the road, but my DJing has been cut short, but God’s hand has been on us, spiritually, mentally, and financially,” he said.