Remembering Some of My People
Before I was 9 years old, I learned some things from my grandma. I learned how to tie my shoes. She showed me how and then left me to it. I sat leaning against the door jamb between Granddaddy’s study and the kitchen. Everybody had to step over me, but I wasn’t going to budge. I kept trying over and over again. Occasionally, she would stop by and show me again what I need to do to tie my shoes. I think it was a long time but who can tell when you are 6 years old? I do remember twining the laces up around my legs like I was a ballerina dancer but finally I did it. I can remember I was shocked and then so very, very happy and pleased with myself. I’d worked so hard at it, and it worked.
I think that was a seed well planted; to try and try until you know how to do something.
I remember my grandmother telling me that it was very important when you took your car to an auto mechanic to remove your rings. I remember being puzzled by that and it wasn’t until years later that I understood what she meant by that comment. It was so you didn’t get overcharged.
I have my mother’s hands. I think I have my grandmother’s hands too. I can remember holding her hand and being fascinated with how interesting it was. I loved pushing the veins that stood out on the back of her hand. I loved when we measured hands; mine so much smaller than her own. I can remember she had really strong fingernails. She used them like they were screwdrivers. In my mind my grandmother could do anything.
I don’t remember her cooking. Her mother, my great grandmother Neddie did all the cooking. Neddie had breakfast every morning of a bowl with a layer of bran on the bottom. Then, she took a large, shredded wheat and ran it under warm water to soften it up. Then, she sliced a banana on the shredded wheat. A bit of sugar and milk and that was breakfast. She always covered the cut end of the banana with some tin foil and put it in a drawer in the kitchen. She would eat it the next day when she had breakfast. Day in and day out that was her breakfast. Neddie would always, first thing in the morning after she’d gotten dressed drink half a glass of warm water while she stood looking out of the window over the kitchen sink.
And she did something with Miracle Whip that I have never figured out to this day. I think she…