My grandmother passed away one year ago. She was an awesome lady. She was confined to her bedroom for decades, immobile due to Rheumatoid arthritis. Her mind was sharp and her knowledge of the world was unlimited. Her ability to care for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren was never hampered by her health. Her love was stronger than anyone’s and allowed her to fill her role as matriarch in the fullest capacity. It’s difficult to believe that I will never be able to hear her voice of wisdom again in this lifetime.
Mama Nora had an uncanny way of giving advice that at first would seem unnecessary, unrelated, and perhaps just out of nowhere. Then, a few months later, sure enough the situation she warned of would surface. I will never forget when I told her excitedly of my first “real” job. She advised me not to sign my name to any document without reading it and without my intention behind it. I was taken aback that she wasn’t as excited and felt disappointed that she would take a negative tone during that moment. Low and behold – as I refused to sign a legal document drawn up by the director of the organization which held that first “real” job, I recalled immediately my Mama Nora’s advice. I told her about it and asked her how could she know that would happen. I still don’t know because she just smiled and told me she was proud that I stood my ground. That was that!
There are countless memories that I have of my beloved grandmother. Most often I recall times we spent together as she would “watch” me after school while my mother worked. My grandmother was able to walk at the time but it was difficult for her to cook for herself (she admitted to me years later). She had a Home Aide to help with tasks that she could no longer perform. The Aide would cook breakfast for us both and Mama Nora discovered I had a problem eating eggs unless she cooked them herself. She insisted on cooking those eggs for me daily, despite the pain she must have felt. Of course I didn’t realize at the time that the Aide was there because my grandmother was ill. It was all glamorous to me and I considered her to be Mama Nora’s maid. It fit right in with my grandmother’s image of a high society lady.
During those early years I was deemed learning disabled and deaf by the school board. Most people regarded me either with sympathy, pity, disappointment or as inconsequential. My grandmother exuded high expectations of me. She expected me to act like a lady first and foremost. She instilled in me the qualities of her southern roots and what it meant to be respectable and proud. She never accepted less of me than anyone else because, as she often said, I was a “Francis”.
Mama Nora, thank you for teaching me how a proper lady grooms with extra care. Thank you for teaching me how to respond to people in a polite yet firm way when making it clear that I will not be underestimated. Thank you for being right and speaking up about my choices even when I wished you were wrong. Thank you for not ever once saying, “I told you so”. I am glad I had the chance to tell you that you were right and that I was sorry for being wrong. Thank you for reminding me to dig deep spiritually whenever I am lost and finding consolation through God. I love you for many things and always will. Your legacy lives on.