Sadie. Mom Mom. The person I was named after and the best grandmother I could ever ask for. She was born on the 4th of July, and it set the tone for her whole life: independent. I can still see her yellow hands, bulging with blue and green veins from years of hard work. Wrinkled and soft. She was a little lady with a big heart, and she was love.
In the summer that I turned 11, one of my sisters and I would go see her and my dad for what I thought was just another visit. But it wasn’t a visit. We had gone to stay. The food she made for us was good for the soul. I could taste the love in it: fried chicken, fried corn, fried apples, hush puppies, baked sweet potatoes, collard greens, homemade soup, and sweet potato pies. She always made sure we had enough to eat; she never wanted us to be hungry.
Every day, she tended to her chickens and her garden. When she was done, she would sit under the car port in her white rocking chair. She would be ready for another round of coffee. Always her Folger’s Classic Roast. No other blend or brand would do. When it was ready, I’d pour it into a teacup on a saucer, put in two heaping teaspoons of sugar. No creamer. Just how she liked it.
In 2011, she fell down and fractured her hip. She wasn’t able to make it to my high school graduation. Her health wasn’t the same after that. She developed a cough at some point, and it never really went away. She smoked More cigarettes every day. When she was in the hospital, she went a few weeks without them. I thought that she would finally quit, but she was back to smoking when she came home. I even hid a pack of her cigarettes in a cereal box, and never told her where they were. She just got someone to buy her more. I left home that same year to spend time with other family members, before going to college. I wasn’t able to see her as often, but I came back from time to time. I always looked forward to her food.
Sometime in 2017, I remember saying to her on the phone, “You’ll be 90 next year. Are you ready?” Her reply was, “Yeah, I hope I make it.” But she didn’t. She died early in 2018, in February. It was a cold Sunday; it may have been raining. I could hear my sister crying on the phone in the bathroom. My first instinct was to call her and tell her that I had lost someone very dear to me, but I remembered that it was her. Ever since I was a little girl, I told myself I would be ready when the day would come. Even at 24, I was not ready.
I had called her a week before. She sounded fine, as well as she could at her age. Yet this time felt different. We stayed on the phone a long time, an hour or longer. Neither one of us wanting to hang up, like we both knew what was to come, yet couldn’t bring ourselves to say.
When we pulled into her yard the day of her funeral, I was expecting to see her in her rocking chair as usual. I forgot for a second why I was there. When we got to the church, it was already packed. It was a small church, and a lot of people had come to see her off. My mother, sisters, and I had to be squeezed in wherever we could fit. When I sat down, someone handed me an obituary. I started crying not too long after that. The obituary was well-written, and described her perfectly. After the funeral was over and we were all back at her house, I hugged her chair in the kitchen and cried. When I got back home, I put her obituary on my desk. Every time I would glance over at it, I would tear up. My mother kept asking if I was okay, and I kept saying no.
On July 4th of that year, me and my sister went back to visit her grave site for what would have been her 90th birthday. I wasn’t able to see where she was buried after the funeral, so I was able to get some closure.
She was my last living grandparent, and she died before I could really get to know her. There are so many questions that I still have about her family, how she grew up, and how she got her food to taste so good. But I’m okay with knowing that she lived a full life. My grandmother taught me the hard work of a woman, and what love is. And she will always be in my heart.