I remember I was sitting in the sofa.
I should say the new sofa because the furniture was only a few months old, but it was battered and broken, as always. Living room furniture was disposable at grandma’s because her almost fifty grandkids broke it with ease. It was the one thing that was always new at grandma’s, but you would never know because it was always in such bad state.
But I digress, I was sitting in the sofa and my aunt, her youngest daughter, came in with a check. It was her food stamps.
My aunt found a pen and asked her to sign on the line. I noticed she took the pen and made an X. She didn’t made a signature.
I didn’t said anything because I had excellent manners (also, I was terribly shy) but I must have made a face or stare or something because they both noticed. My aunt snickered and made a remark that I can’t remember and my grandma threw her head back in a chuckle and exclaimed “oh girl! Your grandma doesn’t know how to write!” Then she sobered up some, looked me right in the eyes and said “but you do, you are going to school and you are a very intelligent girl. You’ll go to college and be a professional. You have to work very hard on your grades ok.” I nodded.
Later I asked my mom why grandma didn’t knew how to write and she explained that she didn’t went to school because back in her days going to school was a luxury that not all kids had. My grandma was the black illegitimate daughter of my white great-grandmother and as such she had to stay home and help around the house and take care of her two (white) sisters.
I didn’t understood then, but now that I’m a mom I do; it didn’t matter to her that she had no education because we did, and we were her extensions. She still lives through us, everything that she was is instilled in our souls and we have been able to accomplish things that she couldn’t, but therefore, she did.
I remember you told me to work hard grandma. I tell my daughter to work hard too, and she’s going to be our extensions; all her grandparent’s and all her great-grandparent’s, and all those before them and mine.
Because I remember you.