411 Focus

She seemed the perfect grandmother, one that just stepped out of the pages of the books I'd read in grade school

Contributed By:Dorothy Nevils maslivend@sbcglobal.net

Taste and see... Love...

I just celebrated a “seems like a forever” friend this past Sunday! I have to say “I celebrated her,” rather than “I celebrated with her,” because we, by no stretch, bend, or extension of the imagination, are on the same level! If you remember John’s assertion about his unworthiness “to untie His sandals,” you kinda get where I stand with the woman of the hour!

I’ve known Mrs. Riley since the eighties, having attended the same church on West 11th Avenue, an alley away from Washington Elementary School. Those were the days when any “mama” – or one who looked the part – was mama to any other mama’s child. Just one look, and the kid rolled up its foolish script and put it away for the rest of the day, maybe longer.

Seriously, though, I cannot recall Mrs. (always pronounced “miss,” married or not) Riley’s ever having to give a kid the eye… except her grandson, Charles Jr. – always with the Junior attached.

She seemed the perfect grandmother, one that just stepped out of the pages of the books I’d read in grade school, correcting every misdeed the child may have hatched before the child itself could get it to production. I never had a grandmother, but she seemed what grandmothers should be, perfect!

Everybody knew her for the magic she worked in the kitchen! Back in those days, we had bake sales, and Mrs. Riley’s (I still can’t call her Lucille… It seems disrespectful) cakes were the first to go! They were so good! Heavenly delicious, even if “devil’s” was the first name! In fact, people learned to treat bake sales like airline flights! Put in a reservation! When the entourage appeared at the back door, it was as if the queen were coming… and it was worth the wait, for not just one “cake bearer” descended the stairs, but a train of them, each bearing a favorite put together with love!

We also had birthmonths celebrations, as many churches do, and, for some reason (that everybody knew), those sharing her birthmonths considered themselves “highly favored,” even though their offerings could never measure up to Mrs. Riley’s.

The show of love in the Chateau was massive as generations showered her with adoration. She danced, laughed, embraced, and showed all present what it looks like to be the “Queen,” what I always called her as daughter Sharon laughed and rolled her eyes to the ceiling as she related the many “privileges” Lucille took with the generations of adoring grands and greats who dared not say no, it seems, to anything that went across her mind.

I sit here now, and smile, for I cannot help but think that this is how it is supposed to be, that looking back on our elders is supposed to be a recollection of lives and experiences teeming with love and appreciation… that those who were the “wind beneath our wings” would be so loved, so appreciated, so revered, that it would warm our hearts… and the hearts of our children for generations to come!

May each of us live a life worthy of being celebrated, a life full of lessons, a life full of love… love of family, love of community, love of goodness.

Then, let us teach our children to do the same.

Story Posted:11/02/2018

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