I wish my great grandmother hadn’t died when I was still so young. But I feel blessed to have touched her, to have known her smell, walked the floors of her little house out in the country where she made lye soap, tended a wood-burning cookstove and did all manner of hard handwork in the back yard.
I was only 5 when she left, so I don’t remember details like what her voice sounded like, or what color her eyes were, or how long her hair. I remember feelings. I remember how it felt to be near her – warm, moist, yet coarse and firm. I knew even then what it meant to be a woman of contrasts.
I remember the little girl who lived out there too. Her name? Long gone. But I remember her reddish-brown skin like the inside of pecan shells, her pigtails which hung low at the nape of her neck, while mine perched high on the sides of my head like rabbit ears. I remember the kinship we had – the mischief in both of our eyes. we would run around playing made-up little girl games in the tall grass out back, make our own social club clubhouse out of the abandoned school bus forever-parked next door. who did that little girl belong to? I can’t recall. it doesn’t matter. Our minds were not yet preoccupied with thoughts of belonging or ownership. we took such things for granted.
I remember the joy of how it felt to be wild yet loved. Of knowing that no matter how far we went, we would always be seen by eyes that knew us, that cared. and we would always have a place to return to. a place that smelled like lye soap and wet grass and wood and ma annie.