She was an amazing women. In the 70’s she started her own business “We Wash It Laundry”. A progressive women ahead of her time. She would only hired black women to work with her and they were like family. Hot summer days were spent there gingerly accepting hugs from the large women who always had home baked goods to share. I remember the heat from old machines that press sheets. Sometimes we had to stay late. We would wrap sheets fresh off the press and bind them with plastic wrap. We could climb into them after a long day and their crisp warmth, would immediately envelop me, into a deep sleep.
She had cancer. I slept with her even though I was already 12. I wanted to be with her all the time. She never complained, even when not feeling well. She smiled at her customers and they clearly loved her. She stood on her feet all day. She worked without a/c in that hot little laundromat. There was a little shed out back with the toilet. It sat on the corner of a busy intersection with just a gravel lot barely large enough for three cars. Somehow her smile, those big black women and those home baked treats made this place magical. I miss it. I miss her.
She taught me a love I had craved but never experienced. She showed me the power of service. She loved completely and unconditionally. Others said she had flaws but I never noticed them. We could just sit and look across the lawn of her back yard without a word spoken. Her deep blue eyes revealed all her life held and I knew she understood the pain we had both endured.
She died too young; my grandmother. One of the most powerful influences in my life. For some reason, I missed her very much this year. Maybe I thought of my father losing his mother. Maybe I wished my children could have met her. She is forever young in my mind, because she died so young. I was 12 or 13 when she died on Christmas and it broke me. I shut down and could not imagine a life without her smile; void of her love.
The only time I ever felt this sad was the day Cameron contracted West Nile virus and the doctors said she had a 50/50 chance of waking up from a coma or dying. She was only 4.
It is these memories that shape us. That have the power to inspire or destroy. That move the trajectory of our life. My work ethic, my compassion, my love of all people and things spring forth in me, from her influence.
Today I have the love of my 83 year old maternal grandmother, my mother-in-law, my mother, my children and all the amazing women in my life. My life is full. My grandmother lives on through me. My love for cooking, for having house parties, for inviting anyone in for a meal and a chat. She was the gathering home in my life as a child. Now I’m the gathering home in my children’s life. And I am so very thankful.
With love to all those remembered and celebrated on Mother’s Day~