I saw in my Facebook timeline that today is Grandparents' Day. And I immediately think, she called me Sammy, and I loved hearing Sammy on my grandma's tongue. The hard 's', like her nose was scrunched when she said it, and the sweet 'ammy', like I would always be a little girl in ball-balls and barrettes.
You know, I still don't know why we called her Grandma Doll — her name was Rosa. Surely, I was told the story behind that nickname, but I can never recall it. To me, though, Doll always seemed to fit, I think because, much like her momma Prince Ella, she embodied something legendary, like even as she lived, my memories of her were so dearly romanticized that they outgrew her very self.
My Grandma Doll was a myth of a woman: her perfectly browned skin, aged and honest; her wise but jovial (on the good, pain-less days) eyes; and her quietly tired hands, worked and magical. But really, no one knows my Grandma Doll's hands like Bill Withers. I wonder if he knew he'd be singing about a whole generation of grandmas and great-grandmas when he wrote this song?
Ah yes.... "If I get to heaven, I'll look for Grandma's hands."
My Grandma Doll went Home just a couple weeks after Easter this year. She'd say, finally. Let her tell it: She's been trying to die for years, but "I guess Jesus not done with me yet." Yes, Grandma Doll, He wasn't done with you till He was done with you. Her tiredness turned to impatience, but as eager as she was to get outta her old, aching body and into her full spirit, she respected the process, the time, I think. And I certainly appreciated her last years here, all the good days and all the bad; though truthfully, for me, there were more good, more days spent in the garden and eating Boston Market, than bad — at least, that's what God allowed me to see. He knew what my heart could handle.
I do have one regret, probably the reason for this blog. I wrote her into a poem too late. Instead of catching her while she was alive, it wasn't until she passed that her poem came to me some 3,000 feet up.
So just in case God's upgraded that beautiful mansion in the sky with WiFi, I thought I'd share it here:
We are Rosa's Garden, A poem for Doll
She wasn't your stereotypical queen.
Our Rosa. Our Doll.
But if you watched her closely,
through eyes belonging more to God
than to yourself,
you'd see. Our Rosa, our Doll,
She was a queen.
Her crown, a silk scarf
wrapped about her hair.
Her statement accessory, not jewels
but a toothpick,
perched from between her often sassy, rarely apologetic lips,
the same lips (I've been told)
that held melodies of angels.
Her charm, it was in her weathered hands,
hands that would rather
tend beautiful flowers than sit in pain.
But Our Rosa, Our Doll,
Our queen held something better than a throne.
She held time.
As sure as God is good,
she held time as sure and as steady
as the earth held her flowers,
as the earth holds her flowers still.
And we bloomed.
As the sun shone and the rain fell and winter surely came, we bloomed.
As her years outnumbered her desire for tomorrows,
As her strength began to weaken,
And as our queen, our Rosa, our Doll,
woke up to see her home in heaven,
her garden here continued to bloom.
As for Doll's garden... Well, here we are.