On Good Friday, I got the call from my mom that my grandma was in the hospital after having had a massive stroke. A few hours later we learned she was not expected to make it. She is currently on life support, and I’m still reeling from the news. Over the past few days, there are quite a few things that have come to mind. I wanted to share a few...
My grandma says she first knew she wanted to be with my grandfather at 9 years old. 10 years later, they were married. They raised 4 beautiful babies together, and buried a fifth who died at birth. My grandma had 10 grandchildren living in every part of the United States. And yet she and my grandpa didn’t miss a single graduation, a single wedding, a single baby born. It seemed they spent all of their money (and spare time, too) on traveling to see family- and they were proud that they’d raised kids independent enough to make homes and lives for themselves all over the country.
My grandma taught me how to apply nail polish, how to chat up a stranger (she was a master at this), and not to take crap from anyone. I inherited my love of music from her (she played the piano), and my love for children, too. In fact, I even look more like her than any other person in my family. I always imagined that because of that, I had a special connection with her. And yet, we probably all felt that way, because my grandma didn’t play favorites but she DID have a way of making each of us feel special.
My grandma was embarrassingly proud of each of us- once pulling a mail man into her house to listen to me sing while she accompanied me on her piano. Another time raising my hand for me when someone at her church opened the floor to anyone who felt moved to sing for the congregation. She’d slide her freshly done acrylic nails (usually a no-no for a pianist but she didn’t care) up and down the scale before settling into the right key, and I’d stand in front of her small church congregation, and sing.
This is the first song I ever remember her teaching me for us to play together. It was at a pastor’s conference my grandparents attended while we were staying with them for a few weeks over the summer when I was 12. She gathered a group of other kids at the church to sing in a little back up choir, and she accompanied me, as always. Our version was just a tad bit simpler than this Aretha version- but I can still remember her humming harmonies as she played in the background. And, to me, it was perfect.
Thinking of my grandma tonight.
Listen to Surely God Is Able (Live) by Aretha Franklin & The Franklin Sisters on @AppleMusic.