Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Model Grandma

The first memory I have of Grandma Clara was that we that 'we' called her Nanny. That applied to one of my first cousins and I. She had five other grandchildren who called her Grandmother or Grandma. The other first cousin and I caught on and we started calling her Grandma also. Now that I am a grandmother myself, I can see that the Nanny thing was most likely to distinguish this grandmother from that one. I didn't see my other grandmother as often and when I did, they were never both together, so the part about distinguishing one from the other became a non issue.

Grandma Clara was a model for all grandmothers to follow. She made every one of us feel that 'we were the special one'. Although, now as an adult, I know it isn't so. When I was let's say ten and younger, you would not have been able to convince me or my other six cousins that it wasn't the absolute truth. Certainly could not convince me because I was her baby's baby; regardless of any other factor, you can't change that.

Something else about Grandma is that she had glaucoma. For those who don't know, it is a blinding disease where seeing shadows eventually become total darkness. Her oldest child, Agnes was her caregiver. Aunt Agnes' her husband, son, three others of my cousins and myself all lived at Grandma Clara's house on Myrtle Ave. Now and then I think about that and it makes me snicker. Eight people and one bathroom! I tell you what, we had it down to a science. The five of us kids were six years apart from the oldest to youngest. School mornings we had a routine that was strictly followed by all five of us. You better be waiting outside the bathroom door when your turn came or you got skipped and even went to the end of the line.

Back to grandma. When she got her social security check, she would often slip all of us a 'piece of change'. It's no wonder she didn't always give us a little every month and I don't blame her. I have observed occasions where one, maybe two of my cousins stood there waiting for their money and grandma would ask for confirmation "Is that a five?". "No, Grandma, that's a one". I tell you what, Grandma couldn't see but she knew exactly how much money she had.

You see this photo of her standing in front of her church? I'm positive it was Mother's Day. See the white carnation? I had one of my cousins help me to decide when was this pic taken and we figure it was about 1965 and she would have been about 76 years old. Well, eventually she got to where she didn't want to 'bother anybody' to drive her across town to go to her church on Wilson Ave, so she started attending the Seventh Day Adventist Church. It was coincidentally down the street about a 10 minute walk. Even though it wasn't very far, she still needed assistance getting there and back. Any one of my other cousins could have taken her (an they may have now and then) but I think I remember taking her most often. I said it was a ten minute walk, any one of us kids could have gotten there and back in five minutes but you had to walk a little slower if you were walking with Grandma. You had to alert her to the cracks and the uneven sidewalk slabs.

I hope I don't sound like I was her little angel. I must admit, that I did her wrong once. She told me not to go anywhere and I did anyway. I made the mistake of taking her blindness for granted once and I paid for it when I got back. I have asked forgiveness for that dirty deed. She assured me I am forgiven but don't do it no mo. I also remember when there was a thunderstorm, we had to turn out the lights and sit there quietly while the Lord was doing his work.

One of my cousins and I shared her bedroom. Hers was the largest bedroom in the house and fit three twin beds, dressers and a desk very comfortably. The one thing I remember best about Grandma is that when she went to bed at night, she got down on her knees to pray most nights before she went to sleep. Now and then, she'd get in bed then pray but she did pray every night.

At the end of her prayers she would say the first verse of The Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Added inspired note after reading Sandra's article My Grandmother Always Said…… :
My Grandma used to always say, "Keep on living, you'll be old someday." I do get it.


  1. That talent to make each child feel like "the special one" is certainly a wonderful one. Love the science of the bathroom line, it reminds me of growing up in single-bathroom houses. Great tribute!

  2. Darlene,

    You have some great memories of your Grandma Clara. Sounds like she was a strong woman who showed her family plently of love. Thanks for sharing her with us for this 2nd edition of the CoAAG.


  3. Darlene,

    Wonderful memories. Yes - the thunderstorms, no t.v., no eating utensils, no nothing. Some of us still turn the lights out when it's storming.

    Thanks for sharing your story.


  4. I have a Nanny too---my gr. grandmother. And like you, she still occupies a warm spot in my heart. Thanks for sharing this story.