Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dear Bigmama

I remember your 76th birthday. It fell on Thanksgiving back then, same as this year, and the year before you left us. I had not yet left you for Cal, had not yet become a mother, and you were not yet fighting. We were all gathered at Mama's house, comforted by the aroma of her soulful cooking, laughing out loud from a collective familial humor, genuinely feeding off of and enjoying the company of each other. Aunt Shalonda and aunt Vicki were there, and so was uncle John. The babies of the family were still babies back then, running around doing their thing, having to be told a time or two to stay out of the way. Those were the days.

You loved to wear your dresses. You were wearing one that day. You had your hair hanging in your signature press 'n curl and a big smile on your face. Plates were non-traditionally being served and reserved between the aunts and granddaddy, and wrapped up to be taken home by uncle. You made your way down the hall behind granddaddy as he had something to show you. It was then that Mama and I made our move. She placed your cake on the table, and I strategically placed a 7 and a 6 on top. Seeing you coming, aunt Vicki met you at the end of the hallway before you could make your entrance back into the party, with both hands cupped over your eyes. I can still hear the two of you. "I can't see!", you blurted out. "Hush woman", she replied in a laugh. She held you steady, until we were ready, and when she lifted her hands, we broke out in song. Happy Birthday to You. This moment forever lives on - when it is on its last breath, I revive the memory via visual media.

I asked Mama for this year's Thanksgiving plan. She said there wasn't one. She said she wasn't feeling it like she used to. Its true. Nothing is like it used to be. You, aunt Vicki and uncle John are no longer with us. I don't think this family has had any celebration like that since you began your fight and lost. I suspect there will be no gathering at Mama's house, or comforting aroma of her cooking because your absence is much too painful for her. To celebrate, would be to acknowledge that which we can not change.

Here's to wishing you were here.


  1. So sorry for your losses. Mayhaps as time begins to heal the wounds-you will consider donning the holidays hat. It's something to consider y'know...traditions have a ways of keeping people and their memories rich and alive. (hugs) Can you burn, Miss Barbara? :)

  2. Its funny you say that friend, when we were still in our place, I'd have the folks (grandma and granddaddy) over for Christmas and/or Easter. I do pretty well in the kitchen.

    We started to kind of bounce holidays off of each other, but grandma has just thrown in the towel this year, and we no longer have a kitchen =/. I'm playing around with the idea of making a special request. I may not survive the holidays without her sweet potato pie, lol.

  3. Well, we are just going to have to come up with a plan, girl! This must be a really hard time for you with Thanksgiving right around the corner. I am not yet sure what the plans are going to be like for me this year. I'm sure I'll stop by Mama's but you-know-who(s) will be there, so I don't expect to stick around that long.

    I'll check in with you the closer it gets to see what the bizness is.

    Love ya!

  4. I put out the call, and she answered! There will be TWO sweet potato pies with my name on them, woot woot. Now all I have to do is track down some dressing, cranberry sauce and some mac & cheese and I'll be on cloud nine =).

    Hope your visit to Mama's is as painless as possible. There is always relief in knowing that drop in visits are completely allowed.

  5. Awww, this is a bittersweet post. I agree, none of the holidays are what they used to be. families aren't as close as they used to be and as the older generation passes, it's out duty to carry on the tradition for the next generation.

  6. Hopefully you will still be able to celebrate with Emma and remember the good times you had with your grandmother.

  7. @ Kiianah: So true. Sometimes, when the foundation is removed from the family structure things just crumble. Great thing about family though is that, nine times out of ten, the family is always able to pick up and start anew. The flames die down, and love blooms again =). We're almost in a place where we can keep things going =).

  8. @ Madison: We will. We enjoy looking at videos and pictures, and talking about her =). Fortunately, Emma got the opportunity to spend time with her before she passed away, and I share pictures of the two of them together =).