I remember spending so much of my childhood with my paternal grandmother. All of my memories from a young age of 3 and 4 are of being with her. She was 65 years old when I was born; I only realized that when she died at the age of nearly 93. I can remember sitting on the back doorstep from her kitchen onto her porch with a little orange bowl that was my special bowl filled with Cheetos. I have a few memories of her husband, my grandfather, who died before I turned four. I remember him peeling pecans for me to eat. I remember when my mom and him would go run crab traps in his boat, and Grandma and I would get our lawn chairs, walk up the levee across the street from their house, and wait for them to return.
I remember sleeping with Grandma in the years following Grandpa’s death. I was always afraid she would die in her sleep. I remember staying awake just to be sure she kept breathing.
I remember one night when I was sleeping with her and I sleep-walked into her closet and shut myself in. I woke up and couldn’t figure out where I was or how to get out. Screaming or banging on the door would do no good with Grandma because she took her hearing aid out to sleep and was deaf in the other ear. But I must have made some noise anyway, because my cousins, who were awake in the next room, heard me and came to let me out.
I remember sneering when Grandma would go around singing hymns to herself. Now, those are some of MY favorites—“This is my story, this is my song; praising my Savior all the day long”, “What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms; I have blessed peace with my Lord so near, leaning on the everlasting arms.” I remember Grandma and I walking to church together—Immanuel Baptist, the church SHE named because she said, “If we start this church, we need God to be with us.” I remember sitting in the pew next to her during the invitation time, my heart pounding inside my chest, thinking, “What will He do with my life if I give it to Him?”
I remember all of Grandma’s birthday parties that were really family reunions. We got to see all the cousins and aunts and uncles we didn’t get to see often, as well as those we saw all the time. We got to see all the little ones, then next year they weren’t so little any more. There was always good food—barbecue or boiled seafood—and plenty of beer to go around if you were old enough for that, Coke if you weren’t.
I remember passing by Grandma’s coffin when she died, with my sick mother behind me. I remember laying my head on her chest and sobbing, not because I wouldn’t see her again, but because I would miss her so much until I did.
I remember several months after my own mother’s death, seeing a vision of both her and Grandma Hattie dancing around the throne in Heaven.