Thursday, February 07, 2008

Granny Gums' 91st Birthday

Today would have been my granny's 91st birthday. I'd like to think she's in heaven celebrating with her husband, three sons, two daughters, and two grandsons who preceded her in death. What a party that would be!

My grandfather cooked and baked from scratch, my uncle was an Army cook, and both of my aunts were versed in the kitchen. I imagine that there would be lots of food and reminiscing as they look down upon us.

I scanned the picture on the right when I was in Houston for Granny's wake and funeral in December 2007. This is the woman I remember who'd take care of her family and neighbors. She'd walked to the store for ailing or otherwise unable people without a second thought, or even a grocery list.

It seems only yesterday that I spoke to her on the phone, but it's been several months. Today's her birthday, and I intend to celebrate as if she were still alive. We were the party family, chronicled in many photographs my cousin Carl and I scanned in his living room before and after granny's going home service. I like the sound of that - going home - as some African Americans refer to death and what might follow. Kathleen Battle sings a spiritual of the same title.

Perhaps our family took it for granted that Granny Gums would always be around, sitting on the corner of the living room sofa. We have our memories, which can be unreliable, save for the dated photographs that had to be gently pried from the albums in order to be scanned.

I'm imagining a scene at Miss Joe's Café in Heaven. Granny's obviously the owner and hostess. The guests are enjoying themselves, the music (blues, jazz, bebop), and the food. Henry Q., my grandfather, and Uncle Eddie are barbecuing out back, my Aunt Mae is making potato salad, pinto beans, and cornbead, while Aunt Goldie is baking lemon glaze cakes and dinner rolls. My cousins Dwayne and Broderick are waiting tables, and my uncle "Baby" Charles is the bartender. What a wonderful party I see in my mind's eye. Deceased relatives and family friends gathered to wish Granny a happy ninety-first birthday!

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