My granny is my reason.
Let me start from the beginning, though. I have always been my granny’s baby. I’m her first grandchild and only grand daughter. I was blessed to grow up in a house with her and my mother, so our relationship developed easily. My mom worked full time, so my granny was the one that would pick me up from school, and she was who I would spend my time with until my mom got home. We went shopping, ran errands, visited family, and watched a lot of church (this is when Benny Hinn and his miraculous healings were all the rage.)
Our relationship is still strong to this day, and it honestly seems like my moving away has made us even closer. We talk at least twice a week, and no conversation is shorter than 10 minutes. When I’m home you can find me in her room, in her bed, under her covers, or following her around like a puppy. What can I say, I love the lady.
A few months ago, my grandmother got sick. It was pneumonia, and she ended up spending a week in the hospital. I was not there the first three days; my mother convinced me that it wasn’t serious, and that I didn’t need to come home. I’d just started in my new position at work, and she wanted me to take care of business as usual. I obliged, even though all I really wanted to do was be able to see my granny. I needed to be there.
So I got on the road.
I’ll spare you the details, but I will say that if I never see my grandmother in that state again it will be too soon. It was then, seeing my granny barely able to speak or move around for herself that I realized that I won’t have her forever.
A realization like that hurts like hell. From the beginning of my memory I only know my grandmother as fast moving, hard-working, strong and stable leader of our family. My granny couldn’t fail, she couldn’t bend, she couldn’t break. She never would.
That week, it became very obvious that she is not made of steel. She is human, and even though I’ve known her all of my life to be a magical being, the magic she consists of will not keep her here with me forever.
That’s the thing, it’s always the thing; black women are absolutely magical, but we are just as real, if not more so. It says a lot that no matter what, black women have to be made of steel and magic and sunflowers to be considered close to human. There is nothing fair about it; black women are not seen as human, and in order to be seen as human we have to exceed all others.
John Lennon wrote a song in the 70s called “Woman is the n-word of the World.” It was stupid then, and it is stupid now. What makes it even stupider, is that Bette Midler died on the Twitter stake by tweeting it, defending it, then half-assing an apology about it a few weeks ago. Sucks that I can’t watch Hocus Pocus anymore.
This is the thing: black people are the n-words of the world, duh. But to take it even further, it is so very clear that black women have battled much more that a white woman has and ever will have to. This world has made it dangerously difficult for black people in general and black women specifically to be real, because we are expected to either be perfectly blameless or ridiculously flawed. We have no space to be what every other person gets to be, and that is a person.
It became very clear to me as I watched my granny toss and turn in her sleep and never find comfort in that hospital bed that we cannot be rock solid at every waking moment, and we shouldn’t have to.
If I learned anything from watching my granny in that hospital, it’s not that life is futile - I knew that already. Seeing her go from bedridden to going to the gym 3 days a week shows me just how magical she, and I am. After all, I’m made up of the same stuff.
My granny is just fine, by the grace of God. In fact, she’s living her best life, and I am loving watching her thrive.
I do not want to lose her, ever, but I feel a little better about it now. Without having to even say it, my granny has taught me the beauty, joy, and purpose of life. She taught me that my magic never runs out, even when I feel like it has. My realness is valid, and I have everything I need inside of me, regardless of what others see.