Great women raise great men.
A loveprint has staying power. It travels well. It has depth and value. It exists in parts of the soul that is deeper than memories, and, is able to appear and re-appear at the most perfect of times. It is the healer of pain, the remover of scars, and the new layer of skin that allows us to move on, forward and up.
I have detailed my search for facts, my want of details, and a more complete knowledge of self. As the search moves forward and up in several directions, what I am finding out is that no matter what facts are added, no matter what memories are ahead, the loveprints that cover me and walk with me are clear to me. The value of love shared with me can not really be measured, so I want to use this vehicle to tell the stories, share the stories, and maybe someone will decide to look within themselves and find some love on them and in them that might have been forgotten. Maybe, someone will read this and have it reach a loveprint of their own. It might even move them to reach out to a loved one with appreciation and thanks.
Big love can come in small packages. I have often said that I refuse to live in fear. That is because I have learned that most things feared have some power and value to you if you stand firmly and look closely at it. The fear that I once had is now respect. The one person that I feared in the world became the person that I respect the most. She was big in persona, and she was the most formidable force that I have ever witnessed on this earth. She could make miracles happen, she could make me taller, she could change any room that she walked in, and if you asked my siblings and relatives, she could walk on water. Her smile was the ultimate compliment, standard, and authority. It had the power to erase doubt, add happiness, and confirm goodness.
My grandmother, Hattie Sue Harris, shared the same birthday with me, and it was a common point of discussion for us. When I was having one of my better days, I was her 51st birthday present. When I was resisting her love, I was her aging her faster than she wanted. She was the family matriarch, and with people in the family, she was the tip top of all things. My grandfather would not waver to many, but he had a clear understanding of who really was in charge. She was powerful, forceful, strong, and stable. She was constant and consistent. She was the pillar. And I never knew that she was short until much later in life.
She was Big Mama, the ultimate woman, the superhero, the therapist, and soother of souls, and the worlds best cook. She was everything. I think all of us kids knew this back then, even if we never said it to one another in words. We knew the sets of rules. Behavior and our grandmothers house, and our behavior anywhere else (which included the knowledge that any such behavior would get back to her, so you better watch your step at her house or anywhere else!).
Her house was the center of the family universe. It was always full of life and love, and was the usual meeting place for family branches from all over. Any given weekend, there would be relatives from DC< Maryland, New Jersey, Philly, etc. gathered there. I know I am describing many G-Ma’s, Mimi’s, Nana’s, etc. , and that is my point. I did not recognize then that I was included in the blessing. I did not realize that this was why she was there. This was a greater good. Not everyone had a version of this. Many did not have her excellence as a standard.
The house smelled like love. It sounded like love. I knew what love was. THIS WAS IT. I knew that I would be love, and loved there. I had a big family and extended family. It was joyful. There were young people playing outside (we would NEVER play inside) the grown ups were inside or at the picnic table out back. There was my great uncle spinning the hits from in my mind, the greatest collection of music in the entire world. We kids knew the day was turning up when he began doing his little dance in the basement. (A collection that was hands off!)
When I said the house smelled like love, love smells like hours of preparation, care, and joy. It came from a kitchen where cakes, pies, the worlds best fried chicken, greens, ham, fish, and more were always ready for anyone who dared announce their hunger. There was a grill outside just in case my uncle decided to fire it up and crush some burgers and hot dogs in between hands of cards. And let me tell you, these card games were epic. Marathons of talking smack, laughing at one another, and reestablishing a pecking order just beneath Hattie Sue. She was always the tops.
The house was always immaculate. From the yard to the steps and everywhere inside. Even as she cooked, it was in order. Each room had its own energy, and each one demanded respect. Sundays were filled with gospel on the stereo, and words of wisdom and love from Hattie Sue. She could put words together, let me tell you. I do not remember her ever cursing, but she did not have to. To this day, I can see the look in her eyes, the curling of the lips, and a stare that said PLEASE CONSIDER YOUR NEXT WORDS AND ACTION YOUNG MAN! It was the moment that I feared. I did not ever want to return to it. I did not want to be around it. So, I tasked myself to never repeat whatever behavior would bring it.
I got to live with her for a bit in my teens. My school bus stop was right across from her house, and it worked. As one of eight kids, any time I could get one on one attention and lover, I took it. She settled me down, lifted me up, built up my spirit and my soul, and made me better. Every day. Every single day. She gave me chores, she gave me smiles, and she gave me goals. She gave me a way. She gave me an example. She gave me a North Star. She was the way.
She gave us a home. We all had houses, but she was HOME. I pay attention to what people run to and away from. She was the magnetic force for good. She was the lead dancer, even when she was sitting down. Her ability to demand that you show her your best still walks with me. Her decision to smile at you was epic. Her desire for goodness for us all was her force each day. She gave of herself because she knew that she had much to give. More importantly, she gave herself. She gave you time. She gave you wisdom. She gave you nutrition. She gave you Hattie.
I never feared again. Not anyone. She taught me that love is often tough, it is often loud, it is often challenging. I learned that love is not determined by the size of the person, but the depth of their intent. She gave me rules to love by, steps to take, and a way to be better at all of it. She taught me that faith is the voice of love, and that it is the voice in your head that guides you to do right. She taught me that anyone that cooks for you, cares. That you should focus on doing good, often. She taught me that short in size didn’t matter nearly as much as the size of heart. She loved me enough to tell me what I needed to know instead of what I wanted to hear. She told me the truth.
She walks and talks with me daily. I hear her voice. I hear her laughter. I see her smile. I remember that look. I will never forget her love.
Thank you for being the example of love in action, and action in love.
I thought of you today, I love you out loud. I need to write this now so that it is in the air forever.
You deserve that.