My grandmother passed away on August 18th after a long battle with illness.
As she provided the foundation for my life, the loss is beyond measure.
I am thankful she can rest without any pain or suffering.
I would like to think I knew her in a way others didn’t. I spent my formative years with her while she was in her prime years. That makes for one hell of a bond and one hell of a teacher.
She was Julia Augusta Noland. Aka Gram. Aka Jute. Aka Jutsie.
You see, we were on a first name basis at the house. A little tiny house in Detroit. She used to sing my name and our address and phone number to me so that I would remember it if I got lost. We’d go grocery shopping together. She toted me to the bank, to church and pretty much everywhere she went – I was right along with her. She fussed at me, she picked out perfect tomatoes for me, she fixed this special coconut cake for me and macaroni and cheese and all of these amazing Sunday dinners. She catered to all of the whims and my then-limited tastebuds. She made this little chart for me to learn things before I went to school. She was there every day, like clockwork. I’d like to think she was not just a mother to me, but she was really a friend.
To her I credit:
- My perspective on the world
- The ability to have a love for all
- The ability to serve – even when I’d rather not
- My sense of God’s presence and that He exists all around us
- My love of cooking and caring for people
- My love of books and literature
- My love of writing
- The ability to tell someone off and still make nice later
- Simple pleasures
- Curiosity about humankind
….and so many other things I cannot put into words.
I must tell you, the finality of the loss has put things into perspective for me. I realize living a life that is less than grand is flat out disrespectful to her and my grandfather (aka Sqush).
More than anyone else, I knew she and Sqush openly cheered for the best life I could have. They were always in my corner and on my side. The beauty of all of this is there is sort of a home coming for me as well. a wake up call. A reminder that I have been set apart. It brings me back to the basics of what I knew she wanted for me. How she expected me to live my life and that she wanted the best for me.
With this I have reached a Breaking Point.
I will honor her life and the life of my grandfather by living the best life I can and being the best version of Rae. I think I owe that to them, and so much more. These were two people who had been very poor, who didn’t begin with much, but managed to blessedly make their way in this world regardless of their circumstances.
By the time I had met them, they were filled with love and kindness despite the harsh years collected behind them. And they filled me with all of that love and kindness – only the kind that a grandparent can afford. It was boundless, it was unconditional, it was strong. The best kind of love a person can ever receive. It set the mark for love for me.
I cannot begin to thank God enough for her life and her presence in mine.
Me settling for a mediocre life would not have made them happy. My grandmother especially was concerned about how I was feeling and what I was doing on any given day. She wanted to know about the details of my life. Whether or not I was dating, if I was cooking, if I was praying and going to church. I have to appreciate that about her. She knew the dailies would add up and count over the years. I can see it now.
The loss has caused a seismic shift.
I am eternally grateful God saw fit to bless me with her and with my grandfather. I pray they are resting at home with the Lord and having a grand ‘ole time up there making late-night coffee, cooking up whatever they want, sitting on the Lord’s proverbial porch and just enjoying the reunion with one another and all of the loved ones that had arrived before them. I’d like to think when she arrived, she was well dressed, with a red lipstick, looking fly and my grandfather was happily on the receiving end to escort her in the gates.
I look forward to seeing them one day. And on that day I pray they will greet me with open arms and tell me, on behalf of God, that I served well and they were proud.
Until then, there is much work to do. Much living to do. Much loving to do. Much cooking to do. Much life to live. Gram would have wanted it that way.