Friday, May 12, 2006

Where I Come From

The book of Proverbs ends by describing an ideal woman. She intimidated me most of my life. Rising before the sun, never being spiteful, knitting and sewing, and always speaking kind words are phrases used to describe her. One line always jumped out at me and assured me that my heritage still fits. "She can laugh at the days to come. . . .” (Proverbs 31:25).

What happens to a child who hears laughter throughout her childhood?

Grandma was a beautician. A shampoo basin, huge mirror, pump chair, and a dryer, known as a Steel Magnolia, all sit on her back porch. Her beauty shop rendered the most happening styles in Conyers when she was in business. Grandma spent hours passing on her wisdom to me, her only granddaughter.

When I was 8 years old, she began teaching me the secret art of good hair. We spent our Saturday nights on the back porch while Granddad listened to the Braves. She would recline back in the shampoo basin and give me systematic shampoo instructions. Standing on a milk carton, I jumped at the chance to wash her hair. Controlling the shampoo hose was a bit advanced for me, so Grandma solved the problem.

“Caroline, stop! I have an idea!” she exclaimed. She said that we were changing our clothes. We sat wearing bathing suits (and sometimes swim goggles) and laughed as I learned how to shampoo hair.

Orly, my name for my grandmother on my mother’s side, also passed down her wisdom to me as well. She taught me to devour books. Orly taught school her entire life, and books fueled her. We would go to the Nancy Guinn library once a week to gather our books. She read everything, and then read it again.

We would sit in her little farmhouse in North Rockdale reading. Not only did I love spending time with Orly, I also loved getting out of work. Her books brought peace into my life, and I still read to find that sort of comfort. Orly demonstrated that reading is a world that no one can invade, and I have the freedom to enter it whenever I choose. Now, I am the one who reads constantly. Even though I lost her when I was 14, she still seems closer to me than almost anyone. She taught me to seek peace in my life. I think of her when I find it.

My mother comes over every few days to shop in my closet. We wear the same size from head to toe. How can that be? I assemble the outfits, select the best shoes and jewelry, and she fashionably graces through her week. We never know what she might wear.

A few weeks ago, my two-year-old niece, Sarah Grace, could not stop crying. After two hours of screaming, she heard the doorbell ring. When they opened the door, they found that the guest was a life-size chicken, standing in the doorway, flapping her wings. Sarah Grace instantly stopped crying and shouted, “Dolly is a chicken! Dolly is a chicken!” How did she recognize my mother who she calls Dolly in the suit? She already knows that Dolly is the only person who would pull a stunt like that. I am not planning to borrow the chicken suit from her closet, but it is there if I need it.

My mom and grandmothers might not check off the entire list of the Proverbs 31 woman, and they never counted on me to get it all right. However, we get it right sometimes. We know how to find peace, and we know how to laugh.

2 Comments:

Blogger the reverend mommy said...

beautiful.

9:00 AM  
Blogger the reverend mommy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:00 AM  

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