In the picture above, I am with my grandmother – “mama”. She passed away two weeks ago. I miss her. We were very close.
When I was 14 years old, I experienced a series of unfortunate events. I was crossing the main street on my way to school when I stopped in the middle of the road. Somehow I knew that I had stopped, but I could not bring myself to move. I thought that I was imagining what was going on. I also thought that I was imagining that I was imagining what was going on. It was all very confusing so I decided to stay put. In the middle of the road. People were shouting at me, calling me mad and telling me to “get outta de damn road”. Yes, this was in Jamaica.
I got out of the road. Slowly. I still went to school that day, but had to return home early. I was sick. A weird kind of sick. It was all in my head. Everything seemed fake to me, almost dreamlike. I had the sensation I was sitting in the backseat of a car, watching myself drive it down a road that wasn’t really a road, but clouds.
When I got home, mama greeted me. I lived with her back then, while my mom was in a different country working to provide for the two of us. My father was missing in action shortly after the conception. Such is life. Anyway, back to mama. I told her I was sick. She took me to my room and helped me get in bed. I stayed in bed for 3 weeks. She fed me. She talked with me. She took me to the doctor, who thought I had epilepsy and prescribed me 400mg of Tegretol to be taken daily, at varying dosages. That was a misdiagnosis, which another doctor confirmed when I was 26. Mama also made sure that I used the bathroom. Sometimes I wasn’t sure that I needed to go. Small accidents happened. She didn’t seem to mind. She never seemed to mind anything, actually. Except, that everyone was loved unconditionally. That’s what she taught me. How to love.
Four years ago, mama had a stroke. She became paralyzed on her left side and later on her right side. She was mostly in bed, except for physiotherapy and rides outside in her wheelchair. I remember visiting her shortly after her stroke. I wanted to do everything for her. I could only do a little though. I fed her, read the Bible and sang her her favorite church hymns. I helped prepare her for her bath. I rubbed her down. I pushed her around in her wheelchair. I talked with her. I kissed her often. It was tough seeing her that way, but I was happy she was still around.
Now she is gone. I miss her. A lot.
We bury her body on September 11. Her spirit lives on though. And because love is infinite, the way she loved will keep her alive forever. For me, loving others is remembering mama. And I always want to remember her.