Tuesday, May 24, 2011
(This is a photo of my grandparents for their 50th Anniversary.They were married for 76 years.)
Nellie Gamble is my grandmother's name but I called her Mama. A few days ago I was thinking about how much my grandmother loved me, taught me and influenced my life. The amazing thing is that I realized that I don't talk about her enough or allow myself to think about her because it still hurts me to know that she is now gone. However, lately as I go through another life transition I have been reflecting alot on her life, spiritual teachings and our special love bond.
My grandmother was my protector, my hero, my first teacher and my spiritual mentor. I literally thought my grandmother was a SAINT! She always wanted to be a teacher so she taught all of her children and even taught me how to read at the age of three. She thought that being a "school teacher" was the ultimate honorable job. She always talked about how becoming a teacher was her dream but she abandoned it to get married at the age of 15.
She was encouraged by "her grandmother" to marry a 20 year old local landowner and farmer. He was one of the infamous Gamble boys that was the son of a local white landowner that openly loved his black wife and took good care of their 13 children. (NOTE: This was in the late 1800's in central Alabama so this was very rare)
My grandmother said that her grandmother felt that it would be best if she got married because she was poor and raised as an orphan. The family felt as my grandmother became a young woman she needed a husband to provide her with the life she deserved. Therefore, my grandmother dropped out of high school in the 11th grade and became a wife. Yet even more than 50 years later she talked everyday about how she wished she had finished school and become a school teacher. She said that in some ways she was glad that she made the decision because she always followed the advice of her grandmother. My grandmother said that her grandma was the BEST in the world but I disagree...SHE was the BEST.
Tonight I decided to briefly reflect on some of my best memories and core lessons learned from my grandmother on my blog.
Love is a Piece of Cake
On the third of every month-after my grandmother got her social security check- she would dress me up, put on her best dress and we would take the public bus downtown. She would shop and pay bills but one of the highlights of our downtown adventure happened to be our cake ritual. After all the business had been completed, we would go to Woolworth Department store. She would always proudly take me to sit at the dining counter and order me a piece of German chocolate cake and glass of milk. My grandmother had severe diabetes (what she called sugar) so she never would order any cake for herself but I always knew it was her favorite.
She would always place her "pocketbook" in her lap, place my order and patiently watch me eat. She would never talk while I was eating but seemed to enjoy the process. She was so proud to be able to buy me a piece cake and glass of milk. She absolutely enjoyed seeing me finish my treat...and it was always good! The ritual always seemed like it was our little secret. It was the one thing that we always did together that no one else knew. I now realize how precious those moments were in my life. There was so much love exchanged in those quiet moments with my grandmother at the Woolworth counter eating a piece of German chocolate cake.
I promise you that Jesus was my grandmother's best friend! She talked to him about everything---I mean EVERYTHING. She would declare his name aloud when she got good news, bad news, no news or if she wanted some news. My grandmother was so openly tight with Jesus that my brother and I would be afraid that Jesus would "tell on us" to her when we did something mischievous. I remember thinking as a small child, "I know Jesus must get tired of her because she talks to him, sings to him and calls on him all day long!" Her favorite song was "What a Friend We Have In Jesus." She absolutely BELIEVED and LIVED the words of this song. For this woman Jesus was her BFF (Best Friend Forever)!!!!!
"If God Lets Me Live That Long And Nothing Happens"
My grandmother would declare this ENTIRE statement listed above before she made any commitment to attend an event or activity. She would say the entire phrase before saying "Yes, I'll be there." This was such a part of her daily mantra that she had developed a cadence with the phrase. She said it was almost like it was part of a song. What I learned from her through this declaration was that she always acknowledged that God was in complete control of her time on this earth. He blessed her with 91 years of life.
"Somebody Bring Me My Gun"
I never saw this infamous gun that my grandmother would always refer to, however if anybody strange or uninvited came on our porch or to our home while my grandfather was away she would loudly request that my brother or I would bring her gun. Of course, we would look at each other confused and think, "What gun does Mama have? Where is it?" Before we could ask the question she would give us "that look" and we knew to sit down and shut up. Due to her health and weight my grandmother had limited mobility. This was her way of warning a possible intruder that she would do anything to protect her grandchildren. It worked because this declaration would ward off any stranger that would come to our home announced.
I have tons and tons of more stories and memories to share. Perhaps I will share them in future blogs. For right now I will savor the four memories and phrases that I listed above.
I think there is always one person in each of our lives that God has placed on our individual paths to give us unconditional love. My grandmother was that person for me. She loved me fiercely, patiently and consistently. She taught me that true love never fails.
There is a lot that I don't know but the one thing that I know for sure is that God Certainly Made Grandmothers! I miss you Mama!