On January 23rd, 2017, ago my beloved grandmother, Grandma to me, Granny to others, Grandma Becca to her great grandchildren, was laid to rest. She passed away at the age of 96, a long life by any standards. Needless to say, her passing left my heart heavy and leaves a void that only a grandmother can fill. It would be a disservice to her, however, to simply talk about what a good woman she was but I have to acknowledge what a strong black woman she was and how she fit the very definition in my eyes.
Grandma was born in rural South Carolina in 1920 and only made it to the 3rd grade before she had to drop out of school and help support her family as many black people did in those days. The rest of what she learned was taught to her by the white lady she used to work for. She joined her church at the age of 12 and was an active member ever since. She got married at 16, had her first child at 18 and had six more since then, all of whom have grown up to be good productive individuals who raised good productive children themselves. At the age of 49, she opened and ran a local store for 16 years, doing farming along with it. Along the way, she lost two husbands but never her faith in God. The things that too many parents put up with children now would never be tolerated by her and her children and grandchildren were all better for it. The legacy that she left is unmeasurable.
Would I suggest that being like Grandma would get us as a people where we need to be? Not necessarily. A lot of things that were done in my grandmothers time were out of necessity and we are past many of the barriers she had to face. Our children no longer have to drop out of school to go to work and many would agree that starting a family at the age of 18 is too early in these times. However, many examples she set were timeless. She always believed in marriage before childbirth, the value of prayer and hard work. Grandma knew the value of a good education, not having had the opportunity to further hers, so she always encouraged her children and grandchildren to further theirs. She could have used every excuse at her disposal to not be a good mother or a productive individual but that wasn’t her.
Grandma was a classic disciplinarian, did not spare the rod but everything she did was out of love and not wanting to see her grandchildren going in the wrong direction. Thankfully me, my sisters and cousins were all raised to respect our elders, authority and to be good citizens but even if we didn’t get that at home, we sure got it from Grandma. We make sure to instill it in our children and even the grandchildren that some of us have now. We will miss her very much but will always be grateful for everything she has done for us and for the precious memories. Goodbye Grandma. I’ll see you on the other side.