I've been thinking about my grandmother alot lately. She died when I was in seventh grade, but my family often talks about her whenever we get together. I've spent the last month constantly visiting my aunt/hairdresser/therapist as I began my journey of getting my dreadlocks out. (Yeah, I did it, more on that in another post) We shared lots of stories about my grandmom. She was a sweet woman who didn't like to hug and kiss. If you tried to offer either one to her, she'd laugh and say "Go'on girl!"
Through my aforementioned AHT, I learned some stories about her that I didn't know. Grandmom was a woman who had simple needs, like listening to the Phillies' play on her very old decrepit radio. Around Christmas or birthday time, she'd tell you what she wanted. If you got her something not on the list -- say a nicer radio -- she would scream "Oh girl, What'd you get me this stupid thing for?? I don't need this!" But there were some gifts she treasured, like when she got her first nice winter coat from another aunt, or that time she cried (a rare occasion) when she was given her first rocking chair, one that I'll always picture her in. My AHT told me about a time when she was a teenager and learned that one of her friends had been murdered. She plopped her big ole self in Grandmom's lap and cried and cried as Grandmom just held her and rocked her in that chair.
So I was at TJ Maxx awhile ago searching for Christmas gifts. I reached for a book about being thrifty at the same time as an older black woman. I mentioned that this would be perfect for my stepdad, since he's the cheapest person I know. The woman perked up and told me that she was cheap too, and that she learned all of her money saving skills from her mother in law, who she is in the process of writing a book about.
We stood in that aisle, and she told me that everyone calls her Mama Bee. She is a cancer survivor, lost her job a few years ago and had to start all over. She's in her 70s now and is studying all kinds of things, including martial arts. I gave her my business card and she was in shock, because she realized my last name is very similar to her maiden name. She was filled with great one liners, I wish I had a pen and paper to write down everything she said during our conversation. She mentioned how her husband lives with his girlfriend now, and was having children with his girlfriend at the same time as she was giving birth to his kids. She said she's moved past it, and has a good relationship with her husband's other children. When I asked her if this scenario doesn't bother her, she gave me this ancient proverb: "Sit by a river long enough, and eventually you'll see your enemies floating by."
We were talking forever, and when I told her it was time to go, she told me I was an inspiration. that was weird, since she was the one who had been doing all of the talking. I told her I was 33 when she asked and she said that it was clear I lived a good life. "Whatever you're going through, you're handling it well. You don't have any frown lines, or any worry lines. You're standing on top of the mountain, and I want you to keep doing that." I almost cried, because that was exactly what I needed to hear. Thanks, Mama Bee. And thanks, grandmom.