I can truly say that granny was one of my favourite people on earth. I didn't only love her, and want to be around her like all the time, but for some very significant, important and also dark times in my life I really needed her.
And she was always there.
Her door was never closed to me. The door to her home and heart was always open. And not only that, there was always space for me. She made space for me. She made room even when it was costly, and inconvenient. When there was nowhere else to go, there was always granny's.
It wasn't only that, but we enjoyed each other. There was an ease that only comes from having experienced much together that was present in our relationship. Granny was granny, mum and friend. The jokes, the stories, the jesting, the advice and telling off. It was all there. Our relationship went much deeper than the advice and law-laying, therefore when she did give advice or reprimand, it went deep into my heart and I cherished the reproof because I knew she really truly, madly, deeply cared about me.
I remember consciously deciding that I was going to get granny to say I love you.
I knew she felt it, she showed it in a thousand ways, and I was secure in the knowledge of it, but saying it was another thing, I wanted to hear it.
So during one of my many spells living with her, I made a point of saying I love you at the end of conversations or before I went out. The first time I could see how uncomfortable it made her, she just ignored it. This went on for a while, until she said 'you too'. And then one day, on my way out after one of our chats, I said, 'ok granny I'm gone, see ya, I love you', and she said 'ok then, love you too'. I left. Didn't make a big deal out of it, just smiled to myself. Mission accomplished.
Granny dealt in a special brand of love. A love you could be confident in. A love you could step out on knowing it would hold you up. No fair weather love, you knew you couldn't be separated from her love, not by anything. You could disagree, but the love remained, and it remained strong. A God kind of love.
I never tired of hearing her stories. Over and over about what it was like in Jamaica, the fights she had at school, the delicious mangoes from this particular mango tree, stories about Mimi (her mother) and life when she arrived in the UK. I loved baking bun and cornmeal pudding with granny. Stirring the pots on a Saturday afternoon, while she cooked and told stories, peeping through the kitchen window at the arriving guests, with her berating me for stirring up the food too much. She taught me all I know about cooking. And she gave me a great love for it too.
Granny was the first person to believe in and nurture my singing voice. She gave Nat and I our first opportunities to sing together at church. She encouraged us to share our gift and taught us many songs. She was the first person to enjoy my singing voice, which planted a seed in me that is still bearing fruit today. Thank you granny.
When we found out that her kidneys were failing, I asked God for more time. When I found out I was pregnant with Ava I asked God for even more time, please let me give her Ava. That was probably my proudest moment. Laying Ava in her great grandmothers arms when she was a day old, having her pray over her and speak life and a blessing over her future, I could not have asked for more. Seeing how thrilled granny was filled my heart, and we captured the moment on film- so glad we have that to share with Ava. And although she won't remember meeting her great gran, the memory of her will live long in Ava's memory and heart because we will paint a picture of her life in the stories and memories we will share, the recipes we will hand down, the pictures we will talk about, and her example we will live and follow.
I'm so thankful for the happy memories we made. She taught me that life is more than routine, work and going through the motions. That in the midst of it all you can create happy memories, even in the midst of great pain and confusion- indeed that you must. That it is important to consciously create meaningful memories together and not just let life happen. She didn't teach this knowingly, she just did it. No grandiose gestures or statements of love, just everyday love filled moments. She enjoyed her family, and that was a great gift to me. To know that someone simply enjoys who you are is an amazing gift.
I thank God for the blessing of knowing ahead of time that this moment was on its way. I have the pleasure knowing that everything I am saying I have said to her. My life is blessed because of her, and it would have been far poorer had she not been in it. There aren't many people I can say that about.
I couldn't have asked for a better granny. She couldn't have done any more to have been better or more amazing. She was perfect. The perfect example of love. Love is a doing word, not just something you say from time to time, and she did love well. When I grow up I want to be just like her. If I'm half the person she was in my life to my child, future children and grandchildren and great grand children, God willing, then I will have done well.
Granny and I would often talk about this moment. She said you better be sad and somber when I go, I said I would sing and do her broomstick dance around her coffin. That day I did neither. I mean yes, I did cry. I am so so sad she's gone, but beyond thrilled that she is in a place of such exquisite, unspeakable joy. She deserves it, and I can't wait to share eternity with her. I look forward to the jokes, the jesting, the joy and fun! Oh what a day of rejoicing that will be!
Thank you granny, I love you. I wish you could have lived to 100 to receive your letter from the queen like we always talked about. I wish you could have stayed forever to be honest or at least for a while longer, but I'm so grateful for the long life you had here- wow 89 years! Our lives are a culmination of thousands maybe millions of moments, and we built a phenomenal relationship on everyday love filled moments. I will cherish every second I ever had with you.
We are so blessed to have known you. See you again someday.