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Friday, 20 May 2011

Mother's Day, Part 2

So I've figured - me being the reluctant letter/card/email writer that I am - that now is about the time my Mother's Day card would have reached the States if my grandmother was still alive. Considering that in the US, Mother's Day was the 13th this year (I think), then by the time I sent a card or let my mum's complaints over the phone get to me - you know how it goes: that none of us, her children, ever write to Grandma, whereas all 15,000 of my other cousins do - it would have been about now or early next week that the card would arrive. So it's honest if I write something now rather than dead on time.

Sadly, she died last year and I was asked to write a poem about her for the funeral. I thought it would be hard, seeing as words often fail me at the most inappropriate moments - and I'm meant to be a writer! - but, after talking to other members of the family a couple of days before, I simply transcribed what they said and what we felt.

Underneath the schmaltz of the poem, there truly is something magnificient about someone who can stop strangers in the street, and either tell them off like children, or invite them to stay, or give them food and/or clothes. The kind of person who can command that sort of authority and respect is rare. And so, in response to all of those facts, I wrote this:

My Grandmother is like no other grandmother you’ll ever know
My grandmother sings hymns on her chair, with a plait in her hair
And she prays, and she gives, and she shares, and she cares
With a heart big enough to sustain dynasties

My grandmother’s left a legacy
So tangible you can see it in smiles across the globe
She’s touched lives she’s barely known
Because that’s the kind of grandmother who used to sew clothes for
And feed her neighbours with food she never had
A woman who made others glad
And didn’t think twice
Always ready to give advice
Picking up pieces of other people’s lives

My grandmother is like no other grandmother you’ll ever know
Because you could bask in her anecdotes and her gentle words
And you could bathe in her proverbs
Which still reverberate across the Atlantic and back
And what my grandmother lacked she never showed
Because she was a proud woman who always gave and never owed

My grandmother dressed in smiles
She also loved to look smart, she was a woman of style
As well as substance
She used the scriptures for sustenance
And carried her own elegance
Until the end
She was a mother to many, and to even more a good friend

My grandmother is like no other grandmother you’ll ever know
An example of duality without hypocrisy
Renowned for her generosity and her obstinacy
Loved for being candid, always spoke her mind
Yet she was still loving, and considerate and kind

My grandmother is like no other person you know
Because she’s left behind a legacy so tangible
You can feel it in the lives of people gathered here
A legacy so potent you can smell it in the air
And you can hear it in the words and the stories others tell of her
From Kingston to London, Atlanta to Florida
A legacy so clear you can see it in the eyes
Of people she’s clothed and fed
A legacy that means she may now be gone
But will never be truly dead

Because my grandmother lives on in our memories
We celebrate her life
And though she will be sorely missed
We can all count ourselves blessed
To have met such an extraordinary person
Who is now, finally, at rest

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