Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ode To Granny Gums

My ninety-year-old granny took her last breath today at 2:30 p.m. Houston time, surrounded at home by family. I'm told that my cousin turned off and unplugged the oxygen tank, after checking her pulse, and finding none. She had been unconscious since last Wednesday night. The doctor and hospice nurse had written her off as not surviving through Thanksgiving. She had several stints in the hospital this year, each visit according to the attending doctor would be her last one. She repeatedly proved them wrong as a testament to her will to live.

Granny was born in Texas in 1917, and I can only read about what her life was like back then as an African American girl in the segregated south. She lived through the Great Depression, two World Wars, the Korean and Vietnam War.

A month ago I was cleaning the living room when I felt my granny's presence next to me, and saw her face in my mind's eye. It was a harbinger of bad news. I immediately called my mother and demanded to know whatever secrets my family was hiding. My mother tried to assure me that all was right as it pertained to Granny Gums (my nickname for her). Mother called again in about an hour to confirm what I felt in my bones three thousand miles away. Granny was in the hospital, and wasn't expected to live more than a few days back then.

Granny would always tell me that I'd live a long time because I'd call her just as she was talking or thinking about me. Granny had so many isms and expressions, her most famous when someone would ask her how she was doing, she would respond: "Fine and dandy, mighty handy, sweet as candy!"

I want to believe that Granny will be around in spirit for years to come to advise and/or warn of potential pitfalls, just as she came to me telepathically one month ago to tell me she was hospitalized. We were very close in life, and I don't expect that to change now that her soul has left her physical body. She can now travel wherever she desires - New York, Germany where my cousin and new wife and newborn lives, or the outer stretches of Kermit, Texas, where my other cousin lives.

I've fond memories of Granny. My fondest being of her transporting me under the cover of dawn in a wheelbarrow to her house when I was five years-old. I was wearing footed pajamas, school clothes on a hanger, and lunchbox in tow. It was probably a five minute journey, if that, but we were together in the quiet of the early morning.

Granny was my biggest supporter, along with my aunt Margaret Ann, who'd walked to every daytime assembly during my three years in junior high that I was on stage regardless of if I only said, "Good Morning and Welcome." I don't think she had a favorite grandchild or great-grandchild, but some of us were closer to her than others. It's a given fact in a family as large as ours that there would be cliques, alliances, and hurt feelings.

Granny was the go-to person for family and neighbors alike, running errands and sitting with recent widows and widowers in their living room or front porch. She was known for her energy, spirit, and beautiful smile.

I remember her being a human shield when a few of the grandchildren were about to get a spanking. We'd sit suctioned at her side, careful to not blink for fear of one of our mothers snatching us from Granny's protection.

Granny gave me a nickname, Keneritz, one day after struggling to recall my christened name because my younger brothers and I have similar-sounding names, as do three of my cousins. Some of my relatives refer to me using this nickname, and I've coined my budding production company with the same moniker.

I know I didn't imagine my granny's visit, nor are my feelings for her fleeting. She is the strongest woman I've known to date, measuring in at 4'11", and probably one hundred pounds. Her strength was emotional and spiritual. I remember she was firm in her faith and belief in God, but that didn't rule out her telling me years ago that she communicated with my deceased grandfather, despite the raised eyebrows from her children. I look forward to speaking with her in my dreams and waking life.


Michael De'Shazer said...

Best wishes and strength to you in this time of loss. Stay strong and God bless.

Keya said...

I've known your Granny for years. My mother and your Aunt Cleo went to High School together in Houston. Your Granny was always present at our family reunions and birthday parties for my Granny - who will turn 97 this year. My Granny - Josephine Jones - is not able to speak but her eyes still light up when she hears things familiar. If she could speak, I know that she would remember your Granny, and how she knows about keeping up with grandkids on the north east side of Houston.

Keya Gayden Grant
My Mother is Wilma Jones Gayden and does plan to attend the service this weekend.