This weekend I had an awesome time at my Grandmother’s 90th Surprise Birthday Celebration. It was wonderful to be rejoined with family and share the love of my Grandmom. Family from Connecticut, Nevada, Washington D.C., Virginia, Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Brooklyn, NY all came to experience this special day. While it was great to be amongst family, it was surreal to be apart of celebrating another year to “The Rock” our Grandmom. Don’t get me wrong we have some strong men in our family, but looking at our family picture together, the women sitting on the bench, my mother, grandmother and my great aunt, epitomizes three amazing powers of strength and perseverance.
Everyone has that one person in the family who holds it down and keeps everyone in line from their children, grandchildren and the great-grandchildren plus any in-laws added to the mix. While my Grandmom may not always feel loved through adverse times, she is always respected. I heard each of my family members tell their own personal experiences of how my Grandmom has been their “Rock” and have received a piece of her “God-influenced Assertive Virtuous Word” in which we all not always agreed with at one time or another. I could not help but reflect on my own experiences.
My personal experience with my Grandmom is dear to my heart. It all began during the end of my Freshman year of college. My mother had a few health ailments surrounding her heart and just experienced her second stroke, however this was quite massive and she would not be able to return to work. My grandmother flew from New Jersey to stay with us for a while in California, making sure my mother, my sister and I were taken care of and the visiting nurses were not taken advantage of our situation. Well let’s just say her ways differed a bit from my mother’s ways and my viewpoint on how the house should be run. Our lives changed, at then I thought for the worse, but now that I am older and wiser, I say for the best. I at the time thought I was “grown” , a bit spoiled and just as bull-headed as my Grandmom. I was nick-named “Hilary” from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Words were crossed between the two of us and they weren’t so delicate. When trying to find a solution on how to adjust to this change, my practical approach was always superseded by her “Godly” way. However, one thing we did agree on, was that no matter what, I was returning to college my Sophomore year at Hampton University. In her eyes, I was doing well, delivering stellar grades and as a family we were going to make sure I returned. Now, the method of returning was different from mine…but we reached a compromise. That summer job where I thought my earnings were going to “Up My Fly” in gear and shoes was agreed by my Grandmom that it will be used for book money and possibly my student discounted two-round trip airfare to school from California to Virginia. Ugh Go Figure! Yes, my reaction was a bit selfish. I was also introduced to the student loan office and all the red tape and worries of whether I would receive that “Financial Clearance” to attend class each semester thereafter until I graduated. My monthly school allowance was a measly $50, barely enough to supply my laundry and hygiene needs…forget anything social. My Grandmom thought that was sufficient for necessities. She has always been frugal and lives by coupon clipping til this day. Thus, in order to survive I quickly secured a part-time job if I was going to have a social life and look any resemblance of “Fly”.
This Grandma eventually moved my mother and younger sister to the east coast my Senior year in college as the managing of visiting nurses in California from New Jersey was a bit difficult. My mother moved to a well-established Assisted Living facility which she still enjoys to this day. While over the years where my sister and I have been helpful to our mother, we have had college, careers, marriage and own families to tend with that have not always afforded us to be close and tend to all of my mother’s needs. My grandmother and mother wanted us to live our lives, as we were still young as they both had. It has come to the time where I will soon need to move my mother closer to me.
Til this day my Grandmom still drives around town and travels to attend every grandchild highschool and college graduation and spend holidays with her children despite how far they live. She always manages to provide her wisdom when discussing marital woes, family accomplishments and the like. As I have aged, we now agree more than disagree. I was apprehensive at first when sharing with her my decision of my divorce. While the family knew through word of mouth that divorce was imminent. I ignored the phone calls and emails from all extended family. I went into isolation and did not discuss the matter of divorce to my family. When my Grandmom asked me this past Christmas the reason of my decision, upon telling her she nodded her head and understood. The woman who throws the notion of marriage down all of her grandchildren’s throats when she hears two people have been courting for too long, instrumental in attempting to hold all the marriages in our family together, albeit not always successful. It was a wonderful feeling that she had my back and empathized with my journey. She shifted the convo to how my current dating situation is going.
While I am independent, the backbone of my family and the strength that keeps the wheels moving on the engine I called life. When it is time to pass the torch, I hope I can fill the big shoes that have already laid the foundation. I hope I will be the backbone of my children and children’s children life.