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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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grandmothers

Wednesday Wind Down: Matri

Happy Wednesday, Family!

Mother’s Day is near and I’ve been reflecting lately on lessons I’ve learned from the matriarchs in my family. Before I dive into that pool of goodness, I must acknowledge the mamas in this virtual living room and those mourning their mamas. I love you all and I see you. I appreciate you and I’m hugging all of you right now.

April is a reflective month for me because two of my late grandmothers’ birthdays are in that month. When May comes, the flutter of mother’s day rests on my heart in the same sentimental space. It’s a peaceful area. I feel the spirits of my matriarchs everywhere and their wisdom wraps me up and steadies my seas. Below are four lessons that steer my life to this day.

Photo by Timothy Paule II on Pexels.com
  1. Keep your mind sharp.
    When my great-grandparents drove down from Ohio to visit us in Alabama, it felt like Christmas morning. Not because they had a bag of presents, but because Great-Grandma Coffee was my mental playmate. I was nerdy elementary kid and she reveled in it. A few books of word search puzzles was always in her bag and my eyes lit up every time she held it in her hands. When she calmly pulled out a pen from her purse and rested her knees in that rocking chair, I knew what time it was. The challenge was on to see who could finish a page first. We could go through 50 puzzles in a matter of days. She had a head full of trivia. If I beat her, it was a miracle. Our word search battles were the stuff of gladiators. Her daughter, my grandmother, was the same way… always stretching her mind. Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy were constantly playing on the television and I loved it all. Thank God for matriarchs that weren’t afraid to show their wit.
  2. We are stewards of the Earth.
    My paternal grandmother taught me early that God gave us a divine charge to take care of this planet. Recycling was non-negotiable and eating fresh foods was normal. She read every label and screened every meal to ensure it was nutritionally balanced. Aloe plants thrived in her apartment It’s because of her that I only purchase 100% juice and that I can tell you which vegetables contain certain vitamins. She’s why I eat broccoli like candy and monitor my fried food intake. Her mantra was that we were made from the Earth, so She had everything we needed to survive. I loved that about my grandmother and I appreciate her wisdom in marrying our faith to Mother Nature.
  3. Do it well or don’t do it at all.
    One thing about my grandmothers and my mother, they were/are notorious perfectionists. My aunts are the same. What you could not do was do something halfway and they find out about it. No way. Make that a hell no with stadium lights around it.. My grandmothers could dress to the nines and could organize an event better than any professional planner. They stressed that the only thing you truly own is your name and is imperative to keep it intact. Whether it was re-applying the crooked stamps on the envelopes or making sure my choir robe was pressed, everything has the stamp of your name on it, so care about everything that leaves your hands.
  4. Serve from the heart.
    I watched my matriarchs serve people from all walks of life when they needed Love most. Their hands were extensions of God. I saw grace with my own eyes from elementary school onward and it germinated grace in me. My mother called the parents of her Sunday School students every Saturday to ensure they were coming the next day and to offer a ride if they needed. The little brown Chevette carried a caravan, you hear me? Every week, she picked up youth choir members and anyone who wanted to go to church. That single mother on a shoestring budget made several trips if necessary. My mother. Every week. Rain or shine. My aunt wakes up asking God to show her who to help today, then… she actually does it. No matter what it is. When you serve others, you do it from the heart of God, or don’t do it at all. Period.
Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com

None of my grandparents are living, but they live within me. Their wisdom stands around me when life gets rough. I appreciate everything they instilled in me and all that my mother still pours into my soul. It’s a priceless gift.

I pray that you are surrounded by maternal wisdom from surprising places if you’re not able to retrieve it from your family. Matriarchs are all over the place – in your community, your church, your neighborhood senior living center or retirement community… anywhere. Reach out for it and be amazed at the richness you’ll find.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Family. I love you and stay well out there!

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #9

To my awesome Grandparents:

I must say… *sigh* I am soooooo glad that you were my grandparents. You did an excellent job! Ahhhh!!!!!

I am the daughter of so much coolness. Military and entrepreneurial blood move through my veins. Intellectual stealth crowns my head. The relentless pursuit for better fuels my tank and that’s because of you.

My observational skills were on point whenever you were around. I loved your laughter and your wit. They worked seamlessly together every time. Watching you cook, listening to you dissect newspaper articles (giving me the comics, of course), and rummaging through your music collections were the highlights of my day… and when we “went to town,” I was in heaven. That backseat of the Cadillac was my cozy little makeshift office with paper and books strewn across it. You never bothered me about until it was time to go inside the house, then you would say “All right now, clean up your little house.” That’s how you all were — teaching me lessons along the way for my tiny feet to follow. I remember competing with you in wordsearch battles to see who could finish the book first. I was fascinated with your mathematical wizardry; you could count anything in your head. You knew phone numbers of almost everyone in the neighborhood. And let’s not talk about the way you dressed… Whew, you could put a runway to shame. You only bought quality. Period.

Photo by Raphael Brasileiro on Pexels.com

Because of you, I’ve never been afraid to take public transportation. You taught me how to read the bus schedule and highway signs so I wouldn’t get lost. We walked the streets of Downtown Birmingham like it was Times Square. I watched the cobbler fix your shoes. I noticed how you spoke to the pharmacist. I saw you mourn with friends and feed the poor. You taught me loyalty, integrity, and how to be part of a community. Those sentiments still run deep in me.

I truly believe you were undoubtedly made for me. All of my quirkiness didn’t scare you. My shyness was your friend. You knew how to tap into my heart when I wanted to keep it closed for safekeeping. Somewhere between time and love, our souls met in the middle and my life is richer because of that sweet collision.

On many days, I wish you were here, then on others, I’m glad you’re not. You would probably hate being here right now, but the selfish me would love having you near. As grown as I am, I would most likely be at your houses every week talking smack, listening to wisdom, and cooking on your stoves. We would play cards or board games as usual and I still wouldn’t mind helping you with anything.

I miss you so much, but I’m glad you’re safe. I’m glad your souls are at rest and I can’t wait to enjoy heaven with you. I love you forever.

Sincerely,

CJW

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