Sunday, January 21, 2007


Another heavy box to carry...

Last Wednesday I got some sad news. My best friends G-ma had passed away. She was old and couldn’t remember me or my brothers, and on really bad days couldn’t remember her own grandkids let alone her “adopted” grandkids. But this was one special lady, I don’t know how old she was but she was married twice, once to "C's" g-pa and then her second hubby, which was the only g-pa "C" knew, who is in the negro league baseball hall of fame/museum what ever it is called…and yes I know it is right here in KC but I have never been there.

G-ma was your typical Midwest 4X4 grandma, (4 feet tall 4 feet around), smoked the More 120 ciggys, they were brown and about a foot and a half long, she wore the requisite tent dresses and made the best soul food in 5 counties. There was a Life Magazine article written about her and her family in the 40’s when BFF’s dad was a little shaver, I remember reading the article but that is all I can remember, I have no idea today what it was about, just blacks in the Midwest I guess.

I asked her once what it was like growing up in the depression. She looked at me like I had snakes on my plane (and yes I did just make a new colloquialism) So I asked her again and she looked me the eye and said, “I have no idea”
I was flabbergasted! “what do you mean ? were in your early twenties, or late teens right? How did you not know what it was like?”

“Chile, (just like Hunny Chile..) I don’t know what it was like because that event didn’t affect me or anyone I know. We grew all of our own food and made all of our own clothes and sold off what we didn’t can, nor eat. Our land was bought and paid for and there was no stocks or bonds in our family, so we jus, kept on living.”
I hadn’t thought about that.

She used to call my house when I was in high school looking for “C” and when he wasn’t there she would ask me to help her do something. I didn’t mind “C” did and he would sometimes get mad at me for helping, I think his dad would make him feel bad for not helping and with me helping it was pissing him off. One of the big things I would do for her when she couldn’t find “C” was mow her lawn. It wasn’t the biggest lawn, but it sure the hell wasn’t small. The calls would go like this…

My mom would answer the phone…Hello?
“Yes, I don’t know if you remember me this is…well the boys just call me Grandma, is Nightmare home?”
Mom giggling, because no matter how many times she called she would say this and it wasn’t like 50+ years of smoking and her cultural background made it hard to disguise her voice..NIGHTMARE GRANDMA IS ON THE PHONE!! She would yell down the stairs….

“OK I got it” hello?
“Nightmare…have you seen that lazy no good grandson “C”? “
“No grandma I haven’t “
“well I need my grass cut, I gots ladies from church coming over tomorrow and I can’t hav'em seeing my grass like this!”
“I’ll be over in a few minutes”
“OH Well I’ll pay you for it”
“No that’s ok You don’t need to”
“well I got some beans and cornbread, and greens, if’n y’all wants some of that”
“That’s a deal!!”
So I would drive over and spend an hour mowing her lawn and drinking her kool-aid, and then noshing on some of the best soul food on the planet!

She has spent the last 15 years in assisted living and losing her marbles slowly but surely. But she is still alive and yelling at me and “C” in my memories and thoughts.

Rest well Ruth. I will help gently lower you to your final resting place and I hope you know peace, you always said you knew God....

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