and we made coffee: a tribute to my grandmother.

6 Dec

Yesterday was her 78th, birthday.

“Every woman should be two things: classy and fabulous.”

-Coco Chanel

I have had the privilege of growing up and knowing both of my grandmothers. Both of them have brought different things to my life. One of them is the “homemaker” grandma who has a garden and who taught me how to clean, plant, cut the grass, and throw down in the kitchen, and who has helped me with all things spiritually.

My other grandmother, my mimi was the one who made me “the girly girl,” she taught me about fashion, exposed me to many of my first shopping experinces, painted my nails, braided my hair, and sprayed me with perfume. Both of grandmothers told me stories, historians is what I would call them–filled with memories, documents, and moments in time from when they were born in the early 30’s until now. . . i imagine what they have seen.

Mimi used to lay in bed with me on early mornings, and as the sun came through the window and the birds sang she would tell me about her childhood–and her experiences with race in America and in the south. She would tell me about the trends of her decade ( one being smoking cigarettes. . something she did for almost 20 yrs, and quit.) She would tell me about my mom as a little girl, always one of the 3 children who was “large and in charge” the boss; just like me. I loved staying with my grandmother, as much as I didn’t know about her past before she became the matriarch of our family–she would teach me and allow me to know. She would cook, the BEST cookies and actually took chances with me being the top chef; one day making a BRAVE attempt to teaching me to make bread pudding.

Ive been drinking coffee out of a sippy cup since age 5, and all credit goes to Mimi. She would add a little cream and sugar, I would stir it and we would be good to go. As she poured, I stirred. She worked at Morehouse in the Office of Admissions, I would sit at her desk as the different young men came in, giving her hugs and smiles—as she was one step towards them becoming apart of this prestigious university.

As I grew, Mimi grew with me. I was changing, as was she.

As time passed and I went into my junior year of high school things in my grandmothers life began falling downhill. I couldn’t imagine what its like to start to forget. Forget how to do things. Forget where you are. Forget who people are. She began to forget. Not because she wanted to–maybe because her mind was not at work. She had retired from Morehouse College and just sat at home everyday, she was no longer my “out and about grandmother. . .” Alzheimers began to manifest the place in her mind where memories lie. Its been hard to take care of someone who took care of me, she has moments of remembering but some days where everything is just another scattered conversation. The glitter is still in her eyes, and sometimes although her sentences make little since, I still know exactly what she is talking about. We both laugh.

As she poured, I stirred. One ritual my grandmother never forgot is how to make her coffee and all that goes into it. The Beans, turn to liquid coffee. She pours it, adds cream and sugar, and stirs. Just like the coffee we serve as her beans, her seeds–her children and grandchildren. As we have grown and are growing we become this coffee–that keeps people awake, the conversation that keeps people alive and well. She poured memories into me, with her stories and songs. Added Cream, teaching me how to be a young lady. Added sugar, her love. And she stirred. I stirred. We stirred.  We kept stirring. We her family all hold pieces of what she has lost, we have pieces of her in our lives, our personalities, our words, our smiles, and most importantly our minds.

I was the babygirl, always with my mimi–who dressed me in fabulous dresses with frilly socks and bows to match. I was the teenage girl, who got dressed for prom with mom and mimi standing right there fluffing my hair, and zipping me up. I am now the young lady, I am not always physically there–but there are no words enough to express the love a grandchild has for a grandparent or to express the words a “noelle” has for a “mimi.”

As she celebrated her birthday and I was not able to be there, I called. She told me Happy Birthday, and I told her the same. She cheerful told me “I love you.” I chuckled and told her the same. No matter how much of her mind she has lost, I know where part of it lies within my heart, my mind, and our cup of coffee.

Love you. One of my #1 girlfranns, friends, and people.


3 Responses to “and we made coffee: a tribute to my grandmother.”

  1. Dad December 8, 2010 at 3:55 am #

    Absolutely Wonderful. Your writing has become impeccably engaging. makes it hard for anyone to stop reading after they have begun. I’m very proud of you.

  2. B. Epps December 8, 2010 at 6:04 am #

    You know I love this! lol, can’t wait to meet your mimi.:)

  3. D'Jara March 6, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    Absolutely beautiful noelle…shedding tears…i am so proud of you! There is no telling where God is going to take u 😉 and ur mimi is the bomb-diggity!

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