By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee
This is what grief, pain, sadness looks like. When my son, Tommy, died ... I died for several years never knowing I could smile, live again.
Damn ... thank God for memories ... because they aren't the present. By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee.
From a tiny girl to this day ... my memories became stories of yesterday. As a young girl I never knew I would be writing like I do ... today.
What everyone knew though was ... I wrote the longest letters anyone ever heard of. I wrote 24-26 page letters to my mother, cousins when I lived away from them.
I would draw pictures to send, also. My envelopes were the prettiest ... I would draw pictures on them ... color them with markers, pens.
That's 'where I wrote' ... in my letters. Writing letters, drawing were some of my 'talents' as a younger person. No one ever said you will grow up to be a writer ... enjoy writing. They always thought I'd grow up to be a fashion designer ... as a child I had ideas for beautiful clothes. I would make my own paper dolls ... draw, design their clothes.
I discovered something I thought amazing when I got into my twenties ... a Frederick's of Hollywood's catalog! Why was it amazing? Because I was already drawing clothes like some of the models wore!
I'll never forget that feeling as I looked through my first Frederick's of Hollywood catalog. Sure, the clothes were, are sexy ... that wasn't on my mind ... the designs were what I 'knew' from my own drawings as I grew up!
I heard his voice as he guided my hand underneath the covers. I was too young to understand why I was standing beside his bed. I just knew someone with authority had called my name ... "Faye-eee"
He had called it softly as I walked through the hallway by his door. How was I to know what in this world he wanted? That's one of my earliest memories ... I was probably 3-4 years old. That wasn't a good memory.
Running in the sunlight, squealing ... laughing ... I stood in the darkened pantry watching the other children play. I wasn't old enough to question why? I was isolated in this tiny room which in reality was a pantry with shelves of cans of food.
I remember the feeling of 'I want to play!' I'll never forget the memory of the light coming through the window ... all was mostly dark around me. Sometimes, through the years I see photos that give me a flashback to that moment as a tiny girl. Photos that are taken from inside a dark room, camera aimed toward a window ... capturing the window full of daylight. It doesn't bother me today ... it used to.
The man came into the room ... gently laid my little body down on the floor. He put a cookie in my hand ... everything goes black. I can't remember anymore. This man was my uncle ... he was babysitting the children. I was too little to have the vocabulary to tell anyone what happened ... to this day ... I'm still 'too little' to see past the darkness. So, this isn't a whole memory from ... yesterday.
I was panicky ... why were those people laughing, hollering 'Praise the Lord' so loudly? I was in a line of people with the wonderful black lady who cared for my little brother and I. We loved her with our Hearts. She was one of my best memories. She came every day to our home when I was small. She cleaned our home, cooked, and did our clothes ... and best of all ... she sat, told us wonderful stories!
I've never forgotten Josephine and her daughter, Maxine all this time. I never got to see them all through the years ... I've wished to. They gave me some good memories as a little girl when sadly ... there weren't a lot of. I remember running to her and hugging her around her legs. I was a little girl so happy to see someone I loved.
I never grew up knowing color ... my memory of my first real friend was another little girl ... I didn't know we weren't the same color. I knew I loved her ... her little smiling face, sparkling eyes full of joy glad to see me as I was to see her. Looking back I can see her grandmother standing over a big, black cast iron pot next door in the yard. She had this long stick ... stirring white sheets. I can see her smiling at me. I smile at this moment to her memory in my past.
Praise the Lord! The man hollered, shaking his head side to side. I could see sweat on his skin. Looking back I can see the man was a black man ... he was praising God in his own way. As the little girl in this memory of mine ... the line moved slowly toward something not very far ahead of us. I kept trying to stretch taller to see ... I never could. My little brother was with us ... he was smaller than I. He just followed along.
I was the one with the curiosity that sometimes led me down paths in life ... I hurried back from as quickly as possibly when I learned I wasn't tough enough, big enough ... mean enough, bad enough to keep traveling.
Some of these paths I took in my life I won't ever talk about to anyone. There are memories one can speak of ... tell to others to tell a story ... there are some that can only cause grief when it's unnecessary to hurt people. I would never hurt anyone even if I was the one done wrong. Why?
I care ... that's the only answer I can give. Only several people ever knew what I went through ... they always have been protective of me through my life. I'm a very private person ... because of things in my life I can never share with others. Some people talk about everything ... I don't talk about everything.
I go on to ... forget. There are things in life that are best to let go ... forget ... if you can get up from the ground when they happen ... it's best to just walk on ... dusting off your ass ... never look back ... pretend it never happened. Just like some are doing with our very real history today ... just forget it ... it never happened. We all knew it did ... but, we don't want to think about it. So, if we don't think about it ... it isn't there staring us in the eye. Remember the saying, 'out of sight ... out of mind'.
Josephine had tears on her face. Shiny tears rolled down her dark skin shining in the overhead light. She smiled ... sadly. She was muttering words softly ... I couldn't understand. All that noise! Everyone was laughing, talking, hollering ... I turned my head this way ... that way to look up at everyone. They were crying at the same time! I was too little to understand ... and I began to be afraid.
I held Josephine's hand tightly ... my little brother held her other hand. We were the only little white people there. Did anyone pay us any mind? If they did, I don't remember. I remember people were gentle, kind to us. I don't think they saw us as different. I don't remember seeing them as ... different. Only different words when describing.
There it was! A long box ... a black man lay on soft white, puffy material. He was asleep. I remember looking at the man ... he was smiling slightly. He had on a suit, white shirt. The noise around me was grief, happiness that this man had finally 'went home to be with the Lord'. This was my first encounter with ... grief. I was too little to understand ... I was at a funeral. Josephine had taken my little brother and I to her church to a funeral.
Another early memory was when Josephine told us something that stayed in my mind as a child. The world was coming to the end ... soon. I would feel panic until enough things happened to make me forget.
I remember being dressed in the most beautiful dresses my Grandmother Lola would bring when she visited me. She paid a lot of money for them. I was a pretty little princess at one time ... dressed in the prettiest clothes, lacey socks, black patented shoes. My hair was below my waist ... curly like my beautiful mother's hair was.
I was a little princess until age nine ... my castle turned into a roach-infested, rat-infested, dirty dungeon. Truthfully ... not a dungeon ... but, a house full of such unhappiness but, full of love for me. My Grandma Alma and the only grandfather I ever knew ... George (he was my step-grandfather ... I never knew the difference). I pure loved Grandma Alma, George.
Grandma Alma was paralyzed ... George was blind. This was Hell where they lived. This was where everyone unwanted ended up at. Grandma Alma, George did their best to care for everyone ... looking back ... oh my God ... they were the ones who needed to be cared for. Their every day was pure Hell ... I don't know how they did it.
Many memories came from Hell ... I learned to hate hearing a man saying, whispering my middle name (everyone called me that) ... 'Faye-eeeeeeee'. I would feel dread knowing what they were trying to do ... try to get away from them.
I hated my name 'Faye' ... to this day ... I pure hate being called 'Faye'. It opens the door to awful memories ... some I can't bear to think about.
Don't ... ever ... call ... me ... Faye. I might not ever answer, speak to you. I am a very nice person, one of the nicest people ... depending on the mood I'm in ... I just might tell you to 'go to Hell' ... that's where I learned when I was called 'Faye-eeee' ... bad things happened.
Memories are my stories today ... they are what I write about. I write about grief. I write about pain, sadness. Why do I write about such things? Because I have known them best in my life ... one should only write about things they know. This is what I have known. I can write about happy, funny, good things too.
So when I write ... you read ... don't worry about me regressing to the past. Don't think I live in the past ... always moaning, groaning, whining and crying 'woe is me'. Don't think I'm wallowing in my pain like a pig wallowing in mud. Don't think I'm close to a breakdown because I can't cope with my grief. I have to remind my readers to NOT do this. Truthfully ... I am alright. I've coped with, put these things to rest ... I have peace inside today. It's just that ...
My memories from yesterday are my stories today.
Note by this Author:
If I couldn't write about my Life ... all I've personally experienced ... I wouldn't have a thing to write about.
I have to remind my followers from time to time to just read my stories no matter how painful, sad ... just understand 'I'm in the moment' ... when I write about different things.
It's like acting ... how can I make you feel at least some of what I have experienced without you actually experiencing it yourself?
You can through my words and then ... go on with your own life. Who knows ... maybe my words can help good things to happen in your life ... you can avoid things that happened to me.
Maybe my words could, can make a positive difference in your life ... I pray so.
Photos/true story owned, written by Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee.