My family has gone through a lot of loss these past few years. All together we have lost 4 family members since August of 2015. In these past years I have had ups and downs of emotions that go along with each of the people that are close to me that I have lost and I thought that another way that I could remember them well was to write about them. So that is what I will try to do, starting with my grandmother.
Today is my grandma’s birthday. Her birthday has always been special to me because it is 4 days before mine, so I always felt like we had this special bond because are birthdays were so close together. I also felt close to her because she had 4 sons but she really wanted a daughter.
Now don’t get me wrong she loved those boys with all that she had. She worked really hard to care for those boys and that wasn’t easy in the 60s and 70s and 80s in Memphis, Tennessee. But I remember her telling me she really wanted a daughter. She would tell me that when she was a little girl she would play with her dolls and would take care of them like they were her children and when she was young she thought about having a daughter so that she could teach her things and do her hair and she just thought that would be the greatest thing. Well God gave her 4 boys, sorry grandma.
Flash forward her oldest grandson (my cousin) was born 2 months before me and she loved him so much because that was her first grandbaby. But then I remember her telling me that she was so excited when I was born because she finally had a daughter! Well this made me feel pretty special, but little did she know that she would have 2 other granddaughters and 2 more grandsons. All of my uncles would always tell us, especially after she was gone that she loved all of us grandkids so much! But sometimes you could tell that she would spoil us girls because we could usually get away with things that the boys would get in trouble for, like running around the house.
It was always really special when we got to go down to see Grandma and Grandpa Griffith down it Memphis. We would usually only make it down once a year for Christmas, so I tried really hard to cherish those moments.
Some of my favorite memories of my grandma were when she would let us cook or bake with her. This was always a really big deal because you know the kitchen was her domain. And also it wasn’t that big so having a lot of people in that kitchen would stress her out. She would always make everything from scratch. It was rare that she would use a box mix. And also she never in her life had a dishwasher, she always did the dishes by hand. But lots of times she would bake something and then have us build a gingerbread house in the dining room and she would help us put the gumdrops on and just make it look nice.
She would always be up and around doing something. It got to a point where we had to tell her that she should sit down and let us do things for her, which she hated. She loved taking care of everyone that was in her house because she felt like that was her job! And boy was she stubborn. Ooh yes she was. She stood strong to her convictions. That is something I loved about her. She and my grandpa would argue and she would yell at him and say “Virgil!” and he would yell and say “Mary!”
Oh but they loved each other so much, they just didn’t so it like people expected them do. They way they loved each other was by doing things for each other. My grandpa would get up around 5am and make her breakfast and bring her her coffee and the newspaper all the way up those creaky stairs. And she would do everything else for him it seemed like haha. I remember on their 50th anniversary we called them and asked them what they were going to do to celebrate and they were like “Nothing.” I was surprised but that’s just the people that they were. They didn’t think that being married that long was anything special it’s just what you did. You made a commitment and went one day at a time.
Oh and she served her church. That was something that was so important to her. She attended the same church for her whole life and that is something that is so amazing. She would organize events and people and that was something she was very good at. She was always the deciding factor in our family, even though EVERYONE had an opinion.
My grandma died unexpectedly last spring. She was 76. A little over a year after my grandpa, her husband. I feel like when we went back to Memphis it kinda felt like it was all over. Like who was going to drive this Griffith family ship now? Like they were both gone and going into their house, it felt wrong without them there. Something that has helped me honor her memory was actually something that I found while going through stuff in their house.
2 journals/diaries. One from around the time she was 17 and one from around the age that I am going to be soon, 20. And something that was so interesting in these journals, was that even though we lived in different times we had so many of the same feelings. She loved being with her friends. She often felt inadequate. She was worried about her future. She took loving people very seriously. And reading those I feel like am beginning to know who she was, not just the person that I saw as my grandma.
There are still going to be hard days, but I am so glad that I have the rainbow of memories to look back on and smile at.