Driving Grandma


Each night before we go to bed, grandma shares with me plans for the next day. Part of our morning breakfast conversation is a review of where we are going and the time she wants to leave out. It is all good. I am happy to drive my grandmother to the places she wants to go. One of our traditions during the week of Thanksgiving is to go to ALL the discount stores.

My grandmother does not drive much these days because her vision is not so great. Over the past couple of years, she has been in a couple of bad accidents; her reflexes are not what they use to be. Consequently, she is terrified to drive.  According to her, people drive as if they are the only ones on the road. About a year ago, my grandmother signed up to use the public mobility service to get to her appointments and the masjid on Friday’s for Jumu’ah. Turns out she enjoys the company of others and not being stressed all the way out by traffic and people who drive as if they are the only ones on the road.  

Yesterday we went to Ross, TJMAXX, Kroger and Aldi’s. Today, I thought we were just going to the post of office to send back one of her many purchases from QVC and/or the HSN and CVS. However, grandma insisted we had to go to Marshall’s because it was directly across the street from CVS.  I said, “I guess we are not waiting for mommy to arrive tomorrow to go to Marshall’s.” Grandma said, “We are going to a different Marshall’s tomorrow. We are going to another Marshall’s out by the airport.” (Should have known that.) And since we were out and all was going well we headed to her favorite Dollar Tree and Walmart. Both are in a busy shopping area with lots of traffic. She told me I could stay in the car while she went into Dollar Tree. Have mercy. Happily, I sat in the car and told her to take her sweet time. Her sweet time she did take. She came out beaming with delight.

Good People one day we are going to be anxious about driving or driving slower or making up driving moves. Because I have witnessed over the years my grandmother becoming frightened of doing ordinary things and sure she will not be able to keep up, I have become much more patient and forgiving. I know that I want strangers to extend kindness to her when she is taking too long to get her money out, put her things back in her purse so they can get to the next customer, pull out of a parking space and so on I wait patiently and with kindness. I have shared with you all before a courtesy I made up. Between the hours of 10 and 3 the road belongs to seniors. Do not blow your horn, switch lanes and go around them all fast, hiss, roll your eyes or make a fuss. Blowing your horn and making sudden moves agitates them and may cause an unnecessary accident. The other stuff just hurts their feelings.  

We are safely back home. Grandma is content. She told me to tell you all that today she was at the mercy of me.


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Making Conversation

i am going to need y’all to follow my stories this week. my grandmother is the boss. she will let you know her being the boss is not up for discussion.
i asked grandma, “what were you cooking/ making back there.” (Thinking I was making conversation.)

She replies, “Don’t ask me what I made. You will eat whatever I made. I do not remember ever asking my mother what she was making.”

Thankfully, i am a faithful user of Black Jamaican Castor hair grease. my edges are intact. 
Good People i know i have asked this question before and it was all good but not today. needless to say, i ate all my food, though i was satisfied before my plate was clean. i was not about to get the beat down for being disrespectful.  Not today. In this part of the world, you eat everything that is prepared. Dare you not to and the comments and looks will commence.

Grandma is happy and now knocked out in recliner. Until tomorrow Good People, be well.

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You Upset My Nerves So


In my grandmother’s house you will get up for a hot breakfast, place your attire for the day on the ironing board for her to press, and be dressed and ready to go before her or else.

This morning’s hot breakfast: cream of wheat, french toast, scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, and a banana. (I could not eat all of my breakfast this morning. God favored me and distracted her from noticing and or she will bring it up later. I am betting on the latter.) We exchanged our usual pleasantries at the start of breakfast. “As-Salaam-Alaikum. How was your sleep?” At about the 10 mark my grandmother asked, “sharlimar, do you have a suitcase?

“Yes, I have a suitcase. You have seen my suitcase. I have had the same suitcase for like ten years.” (Tone is everything in such responses. Trust my tone was ever so sweet/respectful.)

“That is what I thought. I was sure you had a suitcase. Yesterday, when you came down the escalator I knew it was you before I saw your hair. I know your legs and how you stand. (All of this is said with a smile.)  But you upset my nerves so when I saw you carrying all those bags.”

“Grandma, I had two bags. My backpack and carry-on bag.” (Tone is still just right. Urgh.)

“That is not a carry on bag. That is a duffel bag. One of those bags hippies and college students carry.” (In my head are thoughts about how we learn to be prejudiced etc. but I am not about to voice any of that. I have good sense.)

This is where I took a deep breath and waited for my grandmother to deliver her message. I was sure there was a message and a directive.

“We always compliment you on your hair. Your hair is always done nicely, though I never know what color it is going to be, your hair is well done. You always have your lips painted and earrings. You got that from me and your mother.” (They do always compliment my hair, lipstick and earrings. I appreciate that they notice.)

I am still listening, waiting for my grandmother’s message coupled with her directive. That she was not giving me the business about my ugly shoes was not a surprise. At this point in my life, she has come to terms with my ugly shoe collection. She nor my mother would be caught dead in my shoes. Most days I am wearing clogs, Birkenstock, or flip-flops. My shoe game is punk. Side note – I do have a few pair of shoes when I must step up and I have my sister Kinshasa. I will be okay.

“You upset my nerves so coming down that escalator with all those bags. You are a woman. You are a lady. You are a professional woman. You carry a suitcase. You pack your things in a suitcase and check it when you get to the airport. The only bag you should be carrying is a nice purse. That purse you are carrying is big enough for whatever you will need on the flight. Have you ever seen me carry a duffel bag or your mother? No.” (Still not bold enough to say anything about respectability politics. I have good sense.)

“I did not pack my suitcase this trip because my suitcase is on the bigger side. I do not have the carry-on size. I did not need to carry a big suitcase for this trip.”

“sharlimar I do not care what size the suitcase is. You travel with a suitcase. And you will be checking that duffel bag when you go back to Baltimore. Don’t you ever think about traveling like that again. You must look like the professional woman you are. How you have your hair looking nice, lips painted, earrings and nice outfit and mess that up with all those bags? ”

I repeat , I had two bags. My backpack and carry-on bag.  I am amused by my grandmother’s message about how I am to travel as a woman, more specifically an African American woman. And I am grateful she did not go in on me about my shoes. I left breakfast this morning knowing that looking respectable and well put together is serious business for my grandmother, for my African American grandmother and for me her African American granddaughter. I am not going to be out here in these streets, airports etc. not representing. Good People she took it back to my great-grandmother, Granny. I knew she was serious bringing up Granny. Enough said Grandma.

Fast-forward four hours later in TJMAXX, grandma brings up my ugly shoes. LOL!


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