My dad hated how his mother always seemed to let the world off the hook, turned a blind eye to its evils, its shameful acts. Thought that her always turning a cheek, thought it was sad. His parents were poor, they had very little his whole life. My grandpa was a projectionist, worked in the local movie theatre in town. Dad grew up with one older brother, one younger sister, and as the middle child, paired with a clever mind and a penitent for mischievous, he was a handful for the fragile mind of his mother to handle.
Once, when he was maybe 9 or so I think he said and they were living in Norfolk, Virginia, he came home from school and his lunch wasn’t ready so he went up to the roof of the apartment building and screamed at the top of his lungs MY MUMMA’s A WHORE, MY MUMMA’s A BITCH. His mumma was so far on the other side of that she could have claimed sainthood from the Virgin Mary herself on her entrance to heaven, just sayin’.
Heck, she probably had a handpicked by God squadron of angels guide her home, just to make sure she got their ok.
Now, my father has sorted out his demons and his wicked ways, but here’s a story he related to me at his 70th birthday. Now, took place when he was 6 years old, living in Virginia, in Norfolk, and at that tender age he stole bicycles from around his neighbourhood and sold them to the local gang.
I ask you, what were you doing when you were 6 years of age? I would imagine most were not stealing bikes to hawk to local gang kids for spare cash to buy cigarettes, eh?
Yeah, sometime after his 9th birthday, his parents moved back to North Carolina, soon after he was sent to his grandmothers, his mumma’s mumma, to their tobacco farm – he was too much. Too too much.
See, my grandma had severe panic attacks, that later in life turned into Agoraphobia. For, I don’t know, probably about the last 40 years of her life she did not leave the house; or rarely left the house.
When we’d visit she would sit there on the sofa and the whole thing would be covered in paper towels. Gawd knows what amount of paper towels they went through, as she couldn’t sit on the sofa without them. She never ate her own food, but always sent out for fried chicken from this place down the street. She was a fabulous cook, but still, never ate her own food. Not surprising when she got older she had rather yellow skin and a big goiter on her neck.
Now, a few years before she died the river flooded its banks in her hometown, and they had to be evacuated to the local high school. And you know what? She ended up on the front page of the newspaper, picture and all. Why you ask? Cause she was minding the youngins for the frantic parents who were so tired and scared about what they would come back to. Remember, she was probably like having major panic attacks the whole time, considering her Agoraphobia and, well, the whole touching things without paper towel, and eating strange food, still she always thought of others.
That was my grandma. My southern grandma.
My dad’s dad, he stayed by grandma’s side, you know? I sometimes think grandpa did funny things just to see her laugh. Like when he wore the cowboy hat that one time when we were visiting, and sang silly songs that day rocking back and forth on Great Grandma’s porch, one hot summer day.
So maybe that’s why I think dad was wrong. Yes, she got walked over, she turned her cheek, she believed everyone meant well, and God bless her, would give her last dime to anyone that asked, and not blink an eye. She gave hundreds and hundreds of dollars she did not have to give, gave to those evangelical rich as sin preachers who beg for it on TV. That was just who she was. She believed that their sin was between them and god, and what was it for her to question? If they asked, she reckoned they must need it more than her.
“You reap what you sow”, I often heard from my other Grandma, my Canadian one. For her, how you treated others was a defining truth, a test of one’s character, and showed to you what lay at their core. For her, it in some ways was all one needed to know about someone. How you treat others, what energy you put out into the world, whether hatred or hope, this sense of honour and respect were tenets not merely confined to Christianity, she would say, they were universal truths.
This thing called respect lays at the core of the success or failure of our communities, our neighbourhoods, our friends and co-workers.
And believe me, working the last few years in the logistics of retail, removed as I may be (thank the gods), I still hear the sad and dishonourable way in which retail workers are treated. The disrespect, the entitlement some customers exhibit, the sense of superiority they seem to deem for themselves, and so they act as though it is therefore their right to treat such pions with contempt, like servants.
I, sadly, have not my southern grandma’s forgiveness for the evil that some do. I am by far not as giving as her, not as kind, and certainly not even a 1/4 as selfless as her.
I don’t know, this has been rolling aorund in my brain last couple days. As I watched the video’s that came out after Representative Elijah Cummings funeral ceremony, and you know, I was struck by the mention of honour, and the reaction from the crowd in attendance whenever it was mentioned.
Today, to watch some MAGAs and GOP sycophants on TV, to read of their dishonourable actions, to hear with my own ears the racist and derogatory words of those who now feel they have the right, this Trump effect, this idea they have lost all sense of propriety and respect is some sort of elitist politically correct snowflake libtard fantasy?
This idea, that Golden Rule, to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, seems to them just some quaint notion.
“There’s nothing weak about kindness and compassion. There’s nothing weak about looking out for others. There’s nothing weak about being honorable”…former President Obama Eulogizes Rep. Cummings – October 25th, 2019
Actually, this sense of how being honourable in some, um, quarters of the U.S., heck, here too, that being respectful and honourable are somehow dirty words? Being these things are just elitist traps to exhibit superiority and all part of some evil plot to squelch their freedom of speech?
Sure, eh? Just go out der youngin’s and get whatever ya want, don’t bother being polite or respectful, don’t bother aspire to be thought an honourable person, don’t bother with any of that libtard crap. Watch that man up there, up on the stage? Be like him. Cheat on your wife, grab em by the putang, lie, cheat and betray your friends, your allies, whoever gets in the way of what it is you want, be like him? This is what they teach their children? Do you think there is actually ANYONE that thinks this guy is a shining example of humanity?
But there is, and god help us all, boggles the mind, but there is about 40% of Americans who are I suppose so far down the rabbit hole they may never understand just how manipulated they have been. And I know of a couple, one of whom happens to be my own father, and that saddens me.
All that hatred, that fear and loathing, the self-righteous white delusion that spews from so many factions, it will eventually be, I believe, the undoing of the Republican party.
Well, so maybe I do have some of that Pollyanna rose-coloured glasses of my southern grandma, tempered by the wisdom of my northern, even so.
Like that southern grandma, I suppose I can say their sin is between themselves and their God.
Or, what it means to be a strong woman. If anything I think both my grandma’s would agree, that kindness is not weakness.