Saturday, August 27, 2011

Granny and We Tribe

One thing I love 'bout my family is that we close-knit. For instance, I have dozens of cousins and we don't distinguish with labels like first-, second-, or third-; every single one ah dem is just plain ole cousin. That's how I like it. A next thing: there's nothing half 'bout brothers and sisters, neither.
And is nuff ah we, plenty ah we. All over in England, Canada, the U.S.- in more than ten states; all over the West Indies-one ah we even lived in Costa Rica, a few in Africa.
My Uncle Stuartie used to call the family, "the Tribe." See, in a tribe, the whole village raises a child and throughout my life my Granny and aunts helped grow me, even some of my teenage years. When I was born and my mother continued her schooling, my Granny, Jah Bless her, tek mih in an' mind me. I mean, I went to live with her and she took care of me. So, for my few toddler years, 'til I was 'bout four, I was raised by the tribe, the village. And Granny, is the Matriarch.
In November Granny will be Ninety. In her time, she has read current news articles declaring: How To Survive The Great Depression, A Hundred Years Since Emancipation, Germans Blitz London, Fidel and La Revolucion, The Collapsing of British Colonialism, National Independence, Federation Folds, and CARICOM Lives. She's outlived dozens of Prime Ministers and Presidents. She limps with a walker now, but I see photos that could've made magazine covers- one with my late Grandfather back in the days and, truss mi, Barack and Michelle couldn't stand next to dem.
She chastises me:
"Why you talking so? Speak English, proper English."
But Granny, the damn English don't even speak proper English.
Everyday I remind myself that its she one who labored over the stove for me, regardless if I was behaving:
"hard ears"; "boderation"; "schupid; like yuh doan have no sense, or wah?"; "mannish"; or like I don't "have no manners."
Wait, side note. My Great-auntie just fight mi off a piece a buns and ask, "Is you one have mouth?"

Disassembled hand-powered grinderSo, the Elders in my tribe are pushing up in years and now its time I mind them. I been visiting with them here in ATL, and my recent days I been cleaning ceiling fans, helping turn mattresses, boiling ginger, opening guava jelly bottle/jar, grinding up pepper with a grinder (not a blender, an ancient grinder). Sometimes, right when I'm concentrating on writing, one of them screeches out my name, pushing my annoyance button, 'til my vexness turn up. Through clenched teeth I reply boyishly, "Yes, Granny." (or Auntie) Truss mih, is all love because when its all said and done, they are my biggest supporters, they have loved me without conditions nor obligations, and for the longest time.
And I am thankful. I am grateful I have people who cherish and share a bond from all over the globe. This is my Tribe. And I love it to Life.

Bless up Uncle Stuartie.
Never gone! Never Forgotten






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2 comments:

  1. Your blog reminds me of my family too and the unconditional love that is possible within our families. Do you feel like this is the norm? How do you assess what the norm is for West Indian/American/African families today? Is there anything lacking? If so, how do we remedy this? Lastly, what provoked you to write this?
    ((i))

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  2. @((i)) Is unconditional love within our families the norm? I can only speak from my point of view. Not having unconditional love for family is an anomally in my tribe. I think that many West Indian/American/African families today have unconditional love within them, but as a close Idren (friend) reasoned with me, "Love is an action word, its what you do, Kaya."
    If the action is lacking, then the words ring hollow to the recipient. One way, I learned, to remedy lack of action in love is to learn the action, the verb, the doing part. I had to ask myself if my feelings of love are always translated through my actions onto the recipient. So, find what the recipient considers acts of love. (don't do unto others as you would have them do unto you; do unto others as THEY would do unto themselves) Because, how I view acts of love may not necessarily translate into how the recipient perceives love.
    I was compelled to write this piece simply because I was connecting and bonding with Granny an dem. :-) Maybe not a profound answer, but that is TRUTH and nuttn nuh Higher than TRUTH!
    One Love and sorry I took so long answering your comment. Had to think it through.
    ~Kaya

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