*Sigh* Me in the early 1980s. Me when I thought dad was the fastest runner on the planet (he always beat me running backwards). Me when I thought my aunt Bettie was the funniest person on the planet (sometimes I still think so….sometimes). Me before my first Barbie (which happened to be black w/ brown hair and a purple astronaut outfit). Me when the only things I looked forward to were eating biscuits with Grandpa A.; counting cars from the window with Grandma A.; waiting for my mom and dad to come home on a Saturday morning with some new cereal I begged for (some of the stickers from those boxes stayed on my grandmother’s freezer for almost 20 years); bedtime stories with my mom doing all the voices; snapping green beans in the kitchen with grandma. So many sweet memories.
As of last year, all of my grandparents are gone. Two of them I lost before I finished high school. The other two I lost as an adult. Although some of them have been gone longer than others I still remember their voices, their facial expressions, their wisdom and their hands. I don’t know why but with my last grandparent, as she lay in the hospital, I couldn’t let go of her hand. I had to lock that memory in my mind of how it felt to hold grandma’s hand. It was only the two of us together in that room for a good hour. I held her hand for a long time. She didn’t say a word. She didn’t move a muscle beyond what the machines moved for her.
In that moment of silence I heard her voice play inside of me. “I’m so proud of you, Bran!” She said it when she taught me how to count. She said it when she taught me the alphabet. She even said it when I wrote a huge letter “B” with a permanent purple marker on one of the chairs in her room (I was 3!). She said it when my first article was published in our local newspaper (I think I was in middle school). She said it when I made my first jaunt across the pond to Italy (then to France). She said it when I graduated from high school and went on to a very prestigious university. She said it when I had to come home from that prestigious university because I was stressed out and couldn’t keep my grades up (believe me, no partying was done). She encouraged me with her stories about how she didn’t finish college in four years. She and her sister were daughters of a share cropper in Southampton County, Virginia. The two young women worked as maids in Norfolk during the summer to pay for their college fees at Virginia Union University, one of the few colleges available to African-Americans in Virginia during the early 1940s.
She worked as a teacher’s aide for almost 30 years in the Richmond Public Schools system. She was so humble about her education that I didn’t know about her educational journey until my 11th grade year in high school. Out of all my grandparents, I was the closest to her. I am so grateful to God for allowing me to know her. She was my quiet champion. To her I could do anything I put my hand to. The same Bran she held as an infant was the same Bran she saw standing before her as an adult. To her nothing had changed; the possibilities were still endless. And now I try to live with her in mind, trying to allow my possibilities to be endless.
Possibilities of me becoming…..
A film director…..
A tv show host…..
So many possibilities……………….