Today would have been my Grandmother’s 115th birthday! Happy Birthday Grandma. May your beautiful soul rest in peace and harmony in that place of milk and honey that you used to talk about. Those memories of our weekly visits to your “new testament church” is still fresh in my mind.
As an eleven year old child, I recall asking my grandmother if she understood the language that the members were speaking when they were “speaking in tongues”. She would always reply, that God speaks to each of us in a different way and when each sister or brother was anointed by the “holy ghost” it was between them and the father Jesus Christ. I never understood it and I would always question this total acceptance! She was so frustrated with me, that she nicknamed me “hard believing Thomas” she always said that the Lord would anoint me one day and then I would understand.
We used to go to church every Sunday morning and we would sing, clap our hands and then I would watch those who were anointed with the “holy ghost” jump around and make strange noises that I did not understand. Some would even fall to the floor and roll around while the other brothers and sisters would say “Amen” in unison and say their own individual prayers. This was a pivotal time in my childhood because I was trying to make sense of my environment. I would kneel at the alter with my Grandmother and wait for my turn to be anointed. Every night, my Grandmother and I would kneel by the bed, clasp our hands and pray before we went to sleep. She taught me the Lord’s prayer. As I got older, I learnt to pray independently. I still pray everyday and more often if I need guidance or if I have to make a difficult decision.
However, I always believe in the ten commandments that my Grandmother taught us and although I did not realise it then, those formative years totally informed and shaped my value systems. In some ways, I think I have taken on the mantel of my Grandmother and my Mother after her! Now, I realise that I have become my Grandmother and my Mother. I find myself telling my children the same stories that my Grandmother used to tell me, to teach them the same lessons! Sometimes, I can actually hear her voice in the background as if it was yesterday. Those morals and values still guide my actions today and I pass them down to my children happily.
Grandma was a wise, spiritual, charming, feisty and vivacious woman. She always had a quote to motivate you and she was always trying to inspire you to be the best person you could be.
-No mountain was too high and no river was too deep
-The power of the mind can move mountains and if you truly believe, you can make the impossible possible
She was unshakable in her beliefs and “good manners” was always of paramount importance. Nothing irritated her more then rudeness and bad manners.
-Children should be respectful, children should always greet an adult and acknowledge their presence
As children, we would be told off if we did not say good morning or good afternoon to an adult or neighbour we had passed in the street. I can still hear her voice saying, “manners maketh the man”.
-Good manners will take you anywhere in the world
In spite of all these rules, she was also full of life and joy and laughter! She would encourage the grandchildren to sing and dance and perform. We grew up with lots of love and an appreciation for the art form because of her influence and her foresight. She made us feel like we were always special and she always reminded us that we were all blessed with our own individual talents. She would tell us the bible story about the people who did not utilise their talents and the results. If you did not use your talents you would lose it. She would always encourage you to use the talents that God gave you.
We grew up with confidence and self belief. On Sunday afternoons, we would go to the local community ground to watch the local teams play cricket against each other. If no match was on, we would play cricket in our long driveway with mum and dad. My brother would play with my mum and I would play with my dad. We took turns batting and bowling. Since I am a Jamaican, cricket is a game that runs through my veins!
Oh! how I miss my Grandmother! She has had a powerful impact on my life. I am the person I am today because of her vision, her constant encouragement and her indomitable spirit. Now I give my children, the same advice that my Grandmother used to give me.
-The power of the mind can move mountains and you can make the impossible possible if you truly believe
May God bless her soul.