Tuesday, September 4, 2007

woman most remarkable...

One of the most indelible images in my life is my grandmother. I am pretty sure she also made quite the impression on my cousins. She is my paternal grandmother and her husband died on the year I was born so growing up I only knew and embraced one grandparent. My grandmommy and granddaddy on my Momma's side I never really came to know because i had only met my mother's Mommy once or twice and given that she had broken up with her husband ages ago I will probably never meet my maternal granddad. Now isn't that a confusing mix of family tree! LOL

Let's go back to father's mother. She was feminine dominance personified! She had the tongue of a virago and could wield a torrent of verbal lashes on anyone who displeased her. Hell if I can use my vocabulary to dissect people on yahoo and msn messenger, I definitely pale in comparison in terms of impact to my grandmomma. Man, could she eviscerate us when she gave us the "sermon!!!" She really gave justice to one of my own personal lessons "I would rather be whipped physically than given a tongue-spanking." The "sermon" was a gospel of words which seesawed from a firm description of the misdeed we had committed to a harsh almost demeaning lesson on avoiding the repetition of such an act or else physical punishment would follow! Any cousin of mine can give testimony as to how mentally exhausting a "sermon" can be especially if you committed something to warrant the experience.

One of the most unforgettable episodes which to this day still frightens me when I think about it was when she dealt with one of my male cousins. She had found him wearing a shirt which looked like one of those worn by your rockstar idols, Steven Tyler or Axel Rose. It was torn beyond recognition no doubt in an attempt at emulating his screaming banshee of a musical idol's garb. She gave him a thunderous hour-long sermon which rendered him debilitated and deranged. Dwelling on the existence of more decent-looking clothes in his closet to the condemnation of the act of his mangling his current outfit was just among the contents of the lesson she gave him that moment. He must have locked himself up in his room for days after the sermon and hid from grandma whenever he saw she was about.

She adored her plants! She had beautiful pots with these green beings all over the compound. On many mornings I would find her using her own hands to dig through a pot and remove worms or placing a recently acquired seedling on an ice cream container with some soil in it. Oh she loved these living but inanimate creatures. Eternal damnation befell anyone who broke one of her pots or stepped on one of her beloved folliage! Hahahaha! The "sermon" would be administered plus a spanking or two. I never knew how we managed to escape her punishment when on more than one occasion we played with her smaller pots and hosed them with water or removed all the leaves of the ones we thought were ugly LOL. She must have been on vacation then or something.

On certain days of the week there would be a massive procession of people in the compound cooking "cacao" or the cocoa seedlings or fruit which my Grandma sold as pure dried cocoa in brown wrapping paper. There would be other grannies sitting on chairs while stirring extracts inside massive pans. The air was thick of the smell of burning wood and the products they were making. My grandma would be in her element in these gatherings. Her voice gave commands which could be heard three neighborhoods away and taking charge of everything in the whole process. What a figure indeed even among adults like her!

And she was deeply religious too. She encouraged and motivated the practice of reciting the Rosary in each and every family. Her prayers would be heard across the compound and we would keep our voices quiet and the television volume down lest we attract her attention and the necessary disciplinary measure! It was extraordinary how she could manage to always pray on time despite her many activities throughout the day. She was popular in the city too as she got invited to mass Rosary recitals and funeral prayers. Our church loved her because of her faithful service, charisma in prayer recitals and unwavering presence on important events in the church calendar. I could very well say she was well-respected not because she gave monetary donations but because her passionate efforts at helping in many Church services stood out more than anyone else's.

She is still alive to this day and still wields a remarkable presence when she makes appearances on family occasions. But she is now a shadow of the tiger she once was. Her voice is a bit gentler now yet still firm and she has mellowed down on the "sermons." Arthritis has attacked her feet and hands. She can still walk but she has a slight and barely visible limp now. She forgets things and people too. She cannot recognize me I think because of the many changes I have undergone LOL. Her physical challenges may have helped in the toning down I believe. But remarkably she still wakes up so early and manages to get to Church even on her own. She even takes time to go around and watch television in some of the homes within the compound. Ah what healthy diet and vegetables can indeed do in the long term run! She is remarkable...

I have so much respect for her because...she was a hands-on grandma. She never hesitated to wade into dirty soil when she was gardening or to wipe dust from our faces whenever she saw us looking barbaric. Of course I got my share of "sermons" which also left me physically drained and mentally demented. But in many ways when i think of it now I can say we need her now more than ever because the families within our clan have become too divided and too concerned with private interests. Many of my nephews and nieces quit school and lack the drive to better themselves. They are like stray sheep who need an able and strict shepherd. We need her discipline and dominance again. But I know of course that that is demanding too much. My grandma has reached past her prime and does not have the same diesel fuel running through her veins in the past. She deserves to lead the quiet and relaxed life too. And all of us are more than willing to give that to her. We want her to be happy. This entry is a tribute to her presence in my life. I am thankful for the discipline and mark she has left on me. I will more than look forward to seeing her again when I get back from my trips.


Dick Rick said...

Hi Liisa, a piece truly worthy of Reader's Digest's "Most Unforgettable character". Very well written and described. I've said this once and I'll say it again - go write a book; there's an audience out there thirsting for such talent.
Hmmm...your grandmother reminds me of a boss I once had; dominating yet caring. You feared them when they were around yet you missed them when they weren't.
Cheers mate. Razrman

Anonymous said...

Hey Liisa, your words brought back memories of my Granny who left us many years ago, another excellent post.


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