Happy Birthday Grandma

You ever asked yourself when exactly are angels born?

Well, mine was born 96 years ago from this day, my grandmother Libbie. And every time we have the opportunity to reminisce about the Saturday mornings I would sleep on her sofa couch as a child, reality makes the effort to remind me she’s mortal. No matter how we don’t like to talk about something as common as death, she will eventually go beyond her constraints on Earth. Not sure how well I will handle it but she earned the right to do so.
How do you ask someone 96 years old ‘could you not leave, please’? She has lived throughout the 20th century in the rural south. That includes: Jim Crow, the Great Depression, and Civil Rights. She worked through them all, to support several siblings, and 3 children; 2 of which she has out lived and buried. She worked in homes and toiled soil, took care of babies, white and black, all on a 6th grade education. All with her southern belle accent and hospitality. She’s been a single mother, independent since the 1940’s. She volunteered and song in the choir. Acquired respect for her sacrificing and unselfishness. She seems God given and gave it back when she was baptized on the banks of a Florida river.
There was once a time, while I was innocent, I would love waking up Saturday mornings at my grandmothers home. The routine as such: eat breakfast, chase the passing train behind her house, switch the Co Ca Cola bottles at Winn-Dixie, and watch the Andy Griffith show or cartoons on the pull out couch. The Life! We would go to the farmer’s market so she could get fresh fruit. I remember, one particular time event that followed the usual routine.
After leaving the farmer’s market my grandmother parked her olive green Monte Carlo on Bethune Beach, once an area restricted for segregated blacks who couldn’t attend the “World’s Famous” Daytona Beach. She laid two towels down behind her car and we took off our shoes and walked on the beach.
She warned me, “Killie, don’t track that sand back in my car if you ain’t gonna clean it your self.” I took a large mason jar, from the back seat, that I’m sure she was reserving to make some homemade preservatives of sorts or maybe something pickled. As we walked the shore, my inquisitive Sagittarian nature got the best of me and I took scoops of the sand and place them in the jar. I also seen these shiny dark snail shells and put a few of them in the jar, sitting on top of the sand. And as we continued to walk, I seen some beautiful colored sea shells that I wanted to give my mother and sisters, aunt and cousin, who I was positive were back at home leaving hair all of over the bathroom, but I proceeded to put those in the mason jar.
But as I was trying to get enough shells for everyone in the family, I realized they wouldn’t fit in. I asked my grandmother to hold them for me. She like any civilized southern belle said “Sorry, baby, you have to figure out what you want to keep and what you want to let go of.”
At that moment, my innocence pardoned my ignorance to reflect on what she really meant. So, we returned back to her car from walking the coast, and the whole time I was losing nearly all of the shells I collected for my family but was unable to stuff in the sand & snail shells filled mason jar. My grandmother would pick up each shell that fell. When we finally made it back to her car.
She said, “Now, you can’t take all of this to where you going. So, only put what matters in the jar, so it won’t spill all over the inside of my car”.
I proceeded to stuff a few shells, maybe 3, inside the jar. I left the other shelves sitting on the towel because I thought there wasn’t enough room. She took the jar from me and dumped everything on the towel: sand, shells and snail shells. She said, “I thought the shells were for everybody in the family?”
I confirmed with a low-key unacceptable “Yep!”.
She then said, then put in the large shells in the jar, and randomly said “God, family, friends, and fresh air”. Then she grabbed a handful of snail shells and dumped them in there and then she filled it with sand then closed the lid.
Now, when we were in the car she looked in her rear view mirror and said, “always remember what I put in the jar first” and I replied “shells?” She said “No! I put in God, family, friends and fresh air”. She went on to say, “if you was living in that mason jar those are the most important things in your life. Everything isn’t meant to be put in before those but just are able to be fit in.”
Now, the moral of the story is to be blessed, love your family and appreciate each day. If you exhaust your energy on the smaller things then the bigger things won’t make the trip to wherever you’re headed. There will always be time for what just fits in your life but you never get enough of the important things. She’s not able to go on walks on the beach with me because she lost one of her legs but my life has been filled regardless.

But I want to tell her thank you, love you & Happy Birthday Grandma.


2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Grandma”

  1. That was very touching I must say…it definitely made me think of whats more important in life. I’m sure if she gets to read this she will be proud of the man u turned out to be and the fact that u kept those words in mind for all those years…Happy Birthday to her.

  2. Those Saturdays together are her gift to you, stacks and stacks of days together that are not just in your memory but have gone into the bones of who you are. She gave a child her time. That’s love that’ll never die.

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