This woman is a warm-hearted, humble, generous and strong black woman. Lifelong of struggle, however she never showed me pain. She cares for and loves all four of her children. As well as her four grandkids, four great-grandchildren, and a great-great-grandson. But she spoiled her only granddaughter the most, me, of course. This magnificent woman is my grandmother, Carrie Mae Jackson.
Every weekend I would stay over my grandmother’s house, but dreaded Sunday mornings. She would wake me up at 7 in the morning to get ready for church. My grandmother loved attending church. I will always remember her churchy fragrance, and how it tickled my nose with a grown up scent as she would let me spray it on the pulses upon her wrists. I enjoyed watching her brush her interesting wigs with a determined face to get rid of all the kinks. Everything needed to be perfect. Finally, to top off her church attire, she put on her pink hat, which of course matched her pink church suit, 3 inch white heels, and a oversized white pursed, filled with mystery, to make it complete. “A beautiful queen,” I would always think. And I was the princess, wearing my white flowery Sunday dress and itchy stockings, which I despised.
I remember a time where I was sitting in the crowded church, watching people pass out on the floor. “They caught the holy ghost”, she would say. “They caught the crazy ghost grandma”, I would mumble back. When everything settled down, and it was time to sing, I turned to my grandmother and observed that she has soft light skin with many little freckles. Her skin was the color of a caramel cappuccino; the freckles are her special sprinkles that made her unique. While she was singing along with the choir, and fanning the heat away, I can see her glow. It was there where I knew she was happy and I knew she enjoyed being in church. Next thing I knew, she hit me with the bible. Apparently I fell asleep while the preacher was preaching. She then gave me a hand full of jolly ranchers and peppermint patties and suggested me to listen. Five minutes later, I was knocked out once again.
My grandmother knew how to get the family in a joyous mood. Through her amazing cooking!! Every Sunday, after church, she would slave in the kitchen, fry up golden fried chicken, mouth watering collard greens, hand snapped string beans, candy yams and perfectly created Mac and Cheese. What would be Sunday dinner without dessert? She would make the best double stacked chocolate cake that made my taste buds want to dance. When the rest of the family arrived, we would all cram in the living room, tell gut busting stories, and have firmly heated debates while my grandmother’s cooking caressed our noses and grumbled our stomachs. Sunday dinner was the Jackson Family Tradition. However, it slowly began to fade. . .
My grandmother’s joyous smile stopped shining, and in her eyes I started to see the pain. When she would talk, I heard her pain. She was becoming less energetic, less enthusiastic , and sometimes seemed gloomy. Something was wrong with my grandmother, but no one found out until January 26, 2009. On that day, she was diagnosed with esophagus cancer.
I didn’t know what to think, or what could happen. I called her immediately to make sure it was true. Maybe this is all a dream, or a really cruel joke, I thought. She tried to consul me, but I was not trying to listen. All I could think about is “why my grandmother”? The sweetest person I know. For the rest of that week, everything was dead to me. I couldn’t smile, or couldn’t eat. I would call my grandmother every day and night, just to make sure everything was alright. I feared her death. I was afraid that I would lose her at any given time.
That following weekend, I spent the night over her house. Before that weekend, I haven’t seen her for about two months. I ran up to her and gave her the most embraced hug I ever gave her. And then raspberry kisses to make her laugh. Seeing her smile somehow eased my worry. Later that night, we talked and talked about things I never knew. She told me about life in Mississippi. She lived with her mom and dad, as well as her 7 brothers and sisters. When my grandmother was 14, her mother passed away, leaving it up to her to raise her brothers and sisters. My grandmother also told me about the beginning of her marriage. She married my grandfather at the age of 15, and at that time, he was 20. I guess that is legal back in her times.
A week later, it was time for her to go into chemo therapy. Every day I was in the small and smelly hospital room with her. Day by day, her strength and smile were coming back. Soon, she was able to come back home. One month later, she moved into my home. For the rest of that year, things began to brighten up. Even though she was not as mobile as she used to be, she still had her warm-heartedness. Everyday afterschool, I went up to her room, and just to spend time with her. My dad always told me to be blessed that my grandmother is still in life, and indeed, I was.
I loved hearing stories from my grandmother. I learned something new every day when I talked to her. For example, I never knew she had owned a gun. Neither did I know she still had it at her house. That’s kind of scary! Her favorite color was green. Her biggest fears were snakes. She loved to read her Bible, and most definitely loved to watch CSI: Miami. Yes, I do love my grandma and I wish I had her here. My grandmother and I would walk 4 blocks up the street just to get an ice cup. Also, she would cut me a huge slice of watermelon, and sit with me on the front porch until the lightning bugs came out. She would wake up early in the morning just to cook breakfast for me. But, my fondest memory of my grandmother was when she would hold me when I was little girl and rock me to sleep, back and forth, while we listened to Al Green until I fell asleep in her arms. Even today, when I hear one of his songs, I think about her and miss her terriblely
My grandmother was a remarkable woman. Her smile and laughter still remained despite of the tremendous pain that she endured everyday of her last years on earth. She taught me that anything is possible and through faith, you can overcome any obstacle.
Grandma, even though you are not physically here with me, your smile, courage, faith and strength will forever dwell in my heart. Rest Grandma, rest your weary body because your soul is rejoicing in heaven with God.
Joniece Jackson (Jo), is a traveling poetic writing author of The Hidden Goddess With A Twisted Mind. In this blog she shares her hidden adventures and twisted thoughts to readers like you; Bold.