When I was a youth in Minneapolis, MN, my grandmother would pick my brothers and I up to go to Sunday School and Church at 9:00 every Sunday. She told us that she would be there at 9:00 and if we weren’t ready, she would leave us. I don’t know what would actually happen if we were late because during the dozen or so years it applied. We were never late.
Throughout life I have ranked timeliness somewhere between cleanliness and Godliness and have done my best to be on time everywhere for everything. I recognize that there are some events where it is “socially acceptable” to arrive late, that doesn’t prevent me from establishing my own determination of what is late and abiding by it. Only one thing keeps me from being on time for absolutely everything… other people.
It seems that the people who have played the biggest roles in my life have no appreciation for time. I still have hope for my own grandchildren who have not yet been corrupted by their parents who should know better. I have resigned myself that showing up on time for birthday parties, social affairs, pretty much everything, is a futile effort and spending time in my life I’ll never get back.
You’d think as time passed this would be less of a problem? Before my grandmother passed, our family organized an appreciation dinner at a hotel where her friends and family could acknowledge how important she’d been in their lives. I’d flown into town and was staying at her home, along with my mother and one of my brothers. That she was being honored was a surprise to her, she thought she was attending an event having to do with me. She suffered from diabetes and was mostly blind, yet she rushed us all to get ready and out the door so that we wouldn’t be late. If she’d gotten her way, we’d have all arrived at the hotel at noon for a 2 pm event. The future doesn’t bode well for me in terms of caring less about time.
I am who I am and accept it. The others in my life are who they are and I’m trying to grudgingly accept that as well. I still arrive at work 15-minutes early every day, on the rare day I’m only 5–10 minutes early… I’m late. I’m the only one that cares, except of course my grandmother who’s looking down smiling.
I have always liked vanilla. I enjoyed it added to warm milk, it helped medicine to go down, I love Vanilla Coke. I never gave it a thought as to how I first came to enjoy vanilla, until I thought about my grandmother.
From when I was about four years old until I left Minneapolis to attend college at Fisk University in Nashville. I lived a few blocks from my maternal grandparents. My grandmother picked my brothers and I up every Sunday and took us across town to Zion Baptist Church where we went to first Sunday School and then the main service. We usually stopped on the way at the car wash where we all got out and conscientiously watched her Chevy Nova go thru the soapy bristles. When we were old enough we could go to her house by ourselves although we were always admonished to watch the traffic when crossing busy Portland Avenue.
We were never required to give notice when visiting. My grandparents were retired and most always home. The one constant was that anytime we visited, ever. There were Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookies in a large shoe shaped cookie jar. They were straight from the recipe on the package of chocolate chips. Sometimes we got to help make them and of course lick the spoon and get every last bit of cookie batter from the bowl. The vanilla was one of the last ingredients to mix in. It was only a teaspoon and it was darker than the batter and we stirred it in until it disappeared.
My grandmother was an amazing woman. The matriarch of the family. It was only within the last few years that I discovered from my cousin Jacki that my grandmother picked her and my cousin Buddy up once a week to spend time with her which made it all the more remarkable that the cookies were always there.
In this age of programmable cell phones, many people don’t remember their own cell phone number. I do recall mine but the only other number I know in the universe is my grandmother’s. What I would give to be able to call her once again. She was blessed with long life and when she passed away it was Mother’s Day which was somehow fitting. On some days, I will remember her for her strength. On other days for her wisdom. Today it’s for her chocolate chip cookies.