I’d dealt with my emotions regarding the state of my grandmother when I last saw her in April. I told my coworker that I didn’t want the next time to see my grandmother was at her funeral. So I drove 7 hours from Houston to Little Rock to visit her in the hospital.
When I arrived to her room, she was eating her lunch. It was comforting to see her feeding herself. There was an instance sense of relief that swept over me. To go from being found unresponsive to having the full activities of your limbs is a miracle in itself. I was grateful to God for that moment. I will always have a pleasant memory of her as my last memory.
Although her memory was a bit cloudy, at first, it came rushing back once we began conversing. She kept telling me, and the nurse, over and over, how proud she was of me. “This is my grandson,” she said to the nurse, “and he’s going to be a school principal. I’m so proud of him, I sure am!” Shortly after, she asked me to bring her some ice to chew on. Suddenly, I was flooded with all the memories of summers in Crossett, AR as a child. Route 44 cups of ice from Sonic, backyard trampolines, pecan and pear trees, boundless flowers, honey suckles, ice cream trucks, bees and wasps, crazy cousins, annoying siblings, and leather straps!!!
It’s something about making your grandmother proud that no other feeling on earth equates to. Ms. Penix, the matriarch, the Queen of the family; only her opinion mattered. I do not have any other memories of her besides love.
She would always let me sleep in her bed. It felt like a cloud. I’d remember sinking into the covers and falling asleep. I’d wake up to her sleeping on the living room couch and my siblings asleep on the living room floor. When my parents would come pick us up, she’d slip me a couple of dollars into my hands. “This is between you and me!” She say staring in my eyes. Looking back, maybe I was her favorite lol. But I cannot take that credit. We were all her favorites, but I was her MOST favorite. #letsdebate
And now she’s gone. And to be honest, I cannot fathom a world without her. Some people you just never expect to be gone, and she was one of those people. But each time I look up at the summer sky and see the clouds graciously floating, I know she is in great hands. She was so good that God wanted her back. And that makes me okay with it.
I was in training earlier this week. We were practicing restorative circles. We sat in a giant circle and passed around a red duck. The duck gave the person holding it the right to speak and share a memory. We were asked to share our childhood nickname and how we received it.
Immediately, I wanted to cry. “Baby Jay!” my grandmother would call me. I was her baby. Even as an adult I was Baby Jay. I shared that and it was an emotional experience. I can still hear her calling me that. When the red duck came back around, we were asked to share our favorite childhood memory. Again, the first memory to come to me was summers at her house, sitting outside eating ice. In a circle full of 25 adults, almost each person shared a grandma story. It was hard to listen to. My hurt still heavy from my loss. But I got through it. It made me realize how precious all grandmothers are, not just mine.
So this is my prayer…
God, thank you for every memory I have with my grandmother. Thank you for allowing her to be an example of what a strong, black woman is. Thank you for everything she was to everyone: a mother, a friend, a provider, a confident, and most importantly, a grandmother. Lord, thank you for blessing her with a long earthly life, and now eternal life in heaven with you. There is not greater reward. I pray for the comfort of everyone affected by this loss. Give us beauty for ashes; joy for mourning. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.