Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mother's Day, Part II

Here is a recycled post about one of my two very fabulous grandmothers.


August 8, 2006

My mother's mother was called Honey. She moved to Jackson around the time I was born so that my mother could take care of her. From the moment I met her, she lived in a retirement complex called "Madonna Manor." It was a dump by the time she moved out, but pretty nice in the beginning. Of course nothing in Jackson is free from crime, and by the time I was in college, there was a woman a couple of floors down from Honey who got raped in her apartment. If I heard that now, I would be panicking to get my grandmother out of that environment. In Jackson, you just buy an extra lock for your door because you've given up on moving somewhere completely safe.

I digress. Honey was a remarkable woman. She became a single parent in the 1940's when her lovely husband walked out on her, my mother, and her older brother. Realizing quickly that she was going to have to support these children, she decided to become a nurse. With childcare help from her younger sister in Georgia, Honey managed to make it through nursing school (a feat my ex-husband couldn't do with me paying the bills and having no children), establish a home for herself and her children, and even managed to get a grand piano for my mother who somehow never missed a piano lesson no matter what food was or was not in the cupboards.

She did all this without a driver's license. Honey never drove. I don't know why she never learned to drive. It made her seem older and more frail than she was though. I remember my mother always having to drive across town and take Honey somewhere. To the doctor. Shopping. To church. To the library. Wherever Honey needed to go, my mother was there to take her. Until I turned 15 and got my driver's license that is. Then I picked up some of the responsibility. There was this time I had to take her to the podiatrist. It ended badly with me dashing from the room trying to make it to a bathroom before vomiting. From that day forward I vowed to take care of my feet and get pedicures on a regular basis from clean places.

I digress again. There are too many stories to tell about Honey. If I don't tire of typing to myself, I'm sure I'll hit on many more. The point I wanted to make today was that Honey was about my mother's age now when I was born. For all of her complaining, for the million times she said, "I'm blind and I can't see" to anyone she thought was in earshot, for all the hours I had to sit in front of her vanity and have my hair ironed into doodoo curls, I know that she was one of the most remarkable women I could have had in my life.

The endurance of that woman was incredible. She was strong, stubborn, and smart. There was no model back then for single moms. There was no child support or alimony. There was just her sheer will and determination. The things I learned from Honey could spin off into another blog altogether.

The point? My grandchild will not have these things to say about my mother. For all the praise I have for Honey, I think my mother is twice the woman with twice the smarts and twice the determination. I can only imagine what she could teach my children. And what stories will they tell if their family is gone before their memories start?

This is not the way I imagined it would be.

Honey lived to be 97. She did eventually really lose her sight and became quite dependent the last 5 years of her life. However, she also picked up and moved across the country at 92 years old. When my parents decided to move to California, Honey didn't bat an eye. She said, "When do we leave?" She made new friends, experienced new cultures, and loved to tell her stories to anyone who would sit and listen.

Honey and my mother didn't always get along so well. They loved each other dearly, but I think 30 plus years of caretaking to someone as negatively vocal as Honey could be took a toll on my mother. In the days before she died though, Honey told my mother that although she wanted to live to be 100, she was content to know that she had lived long enough to see my mother fulfill God's plan for her life. Isn't that what every child wants to hear? That their parent thinks they done good?

Honey gave that to my mom, and it meant the world to her. Momma has given that to me all along though, and it has made all the difference in my life. I'm grateful she didn't make me wait until the end to let me know that she is proud of me.