I got the text message. It was a group text that you want to ignore but you don’t because you realize that the sender is your mom. (She’s going to probably call soon to let you know she knows you didn’t read it, so you better read it.) The text read:
I thought I read it wrong. So I read it again and again. Then I stood there searching for ways to feel. I felt nothing. When I dug deeper… part of me felt joy. Grandma had been sick for sometime and there was a lot of tension around her care. I felt like her dying was a way for her to do one last good deed before she left. Then part of me felt afraid and uncertain...
Grandma Shirley was the baddest bitch I ever met in real life. She was mean and kind; rational and crazy; adventurous and practical; she embodied everything a powerful Leo woman is said to be in the online horoscopes... For as long as I could remember, grandma had a pack of Newports, a “friend”, and a bottle of Seagrams Gin by the bedside. (She stored her other bottle on the top of the fridge). She was stone-cold, sexy- grandma wore form-fitting, lace nighties not those matronly, cotton moo-moo dresses. She wore heels and had nice things. She went to church but she had a look that she’d shoot you dead if you messed with hers. She wrote poems and stories. She was on Facebook. She knew how to cuss somebody out real good. She traveled… a lot. She was a disciplinarian- her “no” meant “you know better”. She had rheumatoid arthritis and she wasn’t a stranger to pain. She had a horrible aneurism and didn’t die. Her body reminded me of Frida Kahlo’s- a Judas, a container that failed its spirit. Grandma was this vulnerable gentle soul, wrapped in this authoritative, larger than life, assertive, layer. A true matriarch. She’s everything a black woman must be to survive in this world… strong and determined and beautiful. And she’s gone.
Many current events highlight the failings of parents as civic educators... Whether it's the death of an endangered zoo animal; the passing off of a rape as a frivolous, "boys will be boys" sexual encounter; to even the ways in which we interact with each other around controversial issues... the media has been inundated with stories about the inability of young adults and children to respectfully and productively participate in the world around them. What responsibility do parents have in releasing good citizens into the wild?
We think of civic education (or the lack thereof) as the sole responsibility of our already crumbling education system... But kids spend a vast majority of their time watching their parents. And although we cannot guarantee that parents can cultivate a completely tolerant, loving, compassionate, and civic minded person, we can at least try to ensure that we build mindsets in our children that can hopefully combat their primal urges of selfishness.
I've had 3 in diapers. Let's just say, I know how to help make it all easier...