Monday, November 10, 2008

My Big Mama in Me

This post is dedicated to my 'Big Mama'. For those not familiar with the term, I'm speaking of my grandmother. She happens to be my paternal grandma, or in everyday terms, my daddy's mama. In honor of the anniversary of her birthday, I'm going to take some time to remember her in the way that only I can. You see, I never got to see Big Mama through 'grown up eyes'. What I mean is, all of my memories of her are during my childhood. I was 17 years-old when Big Mama went home to be with the Lord. But, the many memories I have are filled with her warmth, strength, and joy, all made from scratch like her hot buttered biscuits. LOL.
I'd like to think that I am very much like her; a charming, graceful woman with a ready smile. She was a woman of character, she believed right was right, wrong was wrong. She was a woman with a deep, quiet strength. She had a sense of centeredness. She loved her God and loved her family. She was a predictable, yet mysterious woman. But, you knew who she was because her personality never changed. She always treated you with dignity and respect, no matter your age, race, or gender. Her level of respect would never change. She could be so serious at times. When there was work to be done, she meant for you to get to it--no dawdling, no excuses. But when the work was through, then you would see the side of her that was playful and free.
She had certain air about her, and a certain flair that was right there on the very 'tip of your tongue', but you just couldn't quite figure out. It's like she was so charming that she could always stay one step ahead of you, never allowing you to catch up, but you were allowed to follow as if she were the pied piper. She exuded confidence and self-assuredness. She had a proud walk. I'm told I have it, too. She would walk like she had the biggest, juiciest secret stored right there in her bosom. And, if you'd only be good, on your bestest of behavior, she'd take that secret, split it two, dress it up with honey and butter and share it with you--each and every delightful bite.
She loved life and loved to laugh. She enjoyed good conversation, as well reading and journaling. (Looks like she passed it on, huh?) She was especially fond of current events and history. She loved the arts--music, poetry, recitations and plays. She knew the value of a good education. She knew that ed ucating oneself, whether through public or private school systems, college or university, or self-educating through the reading of books, magazines, news and other publications, would bring personal satisfaction, fulfillment and hopefully a good paying job!

One of my favorite memories as a child occurred when I was about 6 or 7 years old. My older brother and I would spend a couple of weeks or so during the summer with Big Mama and Big Daddy in the country. We would take long walks down their dirt road, or go visit the 'hog pen', or just play in all of that red sand. Sometimes we'd go up the dirt road to visit with great- Aunt Juanita and great-Uncle Buck. But one particular day, we stayed inside and listened to records. For you youngsters, that's like a CD, except it played on a phonograph/record player and oftentimes there was only one song on each side. Well, Big Mama was feeling pretty playful. She came in from the kitchen and reached up on top of the shelf and pulled down a record. She put in on the phonograph player, then reached up again and brought down a wig. She put the wig on her head and started the phonograph player. It was 'Proud Mary' by Ike and Tina Turner. You know, " rolling....rolling....rolling on the river...." Big Mama began to lipsync with the song...not only that, but she moved her hips in rhythm with the music. She even swung her head around like the Ikettes, on the instrumental part (being careful not to lose her wig, of course!) Ohmygoodness! We rolled! My conservative, Christian, laid-back, easy going grandmother was lipsyncing, dancing and head swinging to 'Proud Mary'! If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I never would have believed it!
That day I saw a different side of Big Mama--and I liked it very much. I found that she had a fun, playful side. I'd only seen the Big Mama that made sure all the chores were done. This Big Mama was spontaneous, hilarious, and a pretty good lipsyncer and dancer! LOL
Just one last thing about my Big Mama. I'd always felt a 'strange' closeness with her. I say "strange" not meaning weird, but meaning unusual. It was not only a physical closeness we shared, because she loved her hugs and kisses, but she and I shared a mental closeness. You see, even as a child, I could be serious and then suddenly whimsical. I could be studious and curious, and in the very next vain, be nonchalant and carefree. Big Mama, it seemed, KNEW me. She understood what made me tick. She knew my likes and dislikes. She knew that I was a good child, one who would not need constant watching, but who would need stern instruction. She knew all about me and accepted every fiber. She knew I'd love to read and write when I got older. She knew I was a little tomboy at heart, loving to run and play in the dirt. She also knew as a child that I couldn't sta-a-a-and to keep shoes on my feet! ( and still can't as an adult! smile)
How did she know all of this about me? Is it because she saw herself in me? Perhaps she saw herself in the way I walk, or heard herself in the way I talk, or even perhaps caught a glimpse of me making one of her facial expressions? Whatever it was that she saw or heard, she let me know she loved me for me, and willingly embraced me.
Even though she's been gone for a time, I can still feel her love--I feel her warmth---I feel her care and acceptance. How? Well, it's right here. (sound affect: tapping on glass) When I look in the mirror, I can't help but to see--- my Big Mama in me.

Happy Birthday, Big Mama!
I love you!
November 8, 1921- December 28, 1981.

( P.S. Please forgive me for being late. I experienced technical difficulties. Laptops are nice when you can get them to charge.)

1 comment:

DeShaun said...

Carla, I actually cried a bit. This actually brought tears to my eyes. You know this would have been an excellent beginning to a good hearty novel. I can agree Carla that WE ALL have a little bit of family in us. So touching how you described your Grandmother with the utmost respect and love AND I can tell that she is truly missed and longed for. Funny how you can see so much of her IN YOU in your everyday life, thoughts, and actions. I call it good upbringing. When family is extremely close you carry it with you for a lifetime and also pass it on to your offspring. You described her as if she was in front you. I can relate to a time when I was little...I would go to church EVERY Sunday (which I have gotten away from and shame on me)....although I would fall asleep in church after 1 hour which is a long time for a 6 year old...I can still smell her perfume which was that 'ole school' Estee Lauder that got in your throat...see her manicured fingernails (no polish), a hat that would outstand all hats...and real white gold diamonds rings that you hardley see these days.....boy would they shine....I wanted those rings and still do. Times have changed a lot...I miss the closeness and the tight reins....don't u???