Thursday, January 23, 2014

Tribute To My Grandmother. An Amazing Lady To Be Remembered!

A Tribute to My Grandma. 

This month marks the 12th year anniversary of the passing of Elizabeth "Betty" or "Ole' Bets" Uterpie Neymour-Charlton. She was an amazing mother and grandmother, but an amazing woman in general to all who knew her. 

When she died, it was as if I was being held captive in a terrible nightmare. Although it's been so long ago, I can still remember that night as if it were just last night. My grandmother was my best friend for most of my life. We talked a lot about life and she taught me, at a very young age, the things that to this day, I cherish. Things like how to take care of myself, how to care for my family, home and surroundings. How to have manners and respect for others, to sew/knit, she taught me how to garden (and I always wished to inherit her green-thumb, which I believe I did!). She taught me class and style as she was a very classy lady and now, that is more than evident anytime any one of us (myself, mother or aunt) answers a telephone or gets in any kind of professional or sophisticated setting. My grandma taught me how to spell, read and write before the age of five and begged me to stay in school. Come to think of it, it is because of her that this blog even exists! 

One thing I know for certain is that she loved me, as she did all of her children and grand kids. As a matter of fact, her heart poured out for any child in need and she would give them the last morsel of food even if it meant that she would starve. That is the kind of person she was. For this very reason, she took care of me, as well as my younger cousin for a time, to the best of her ability and did a spectacular job at it, considering all of her physical ailments. Of course it was not easy and I am forever grateful for my two uncles, Fred and Ted, who were like my two dads for being there for us. From breast cancer when I was a toddler to rheumatoid arthritis when I was about eleven or twelve, to cancer recurring twice, which eventually she had succumb to, she fought a great fight. What a fighter she was! I remember every New Year's Eve, we would go outside on the front porch and she would pray for God to hold her and allow her to live long enough for me to be able to take care of myself. She worried about my future well-being and I know that God saw her pain as well and answered her prayers. Just a few months following my eighteenth birthday, she fell ill and was rushed to the hospital. None of us imagined that being the last time she would enter those doors because we all had gotten accustomed to doctor visits, various treatments and therapy. She spent a few weeks in there hooked up to an IV without me knowing what was going on every time I went to visit. One night, it all ended and real life began for us all. God had kept her for as long as she could bear and when she could bear no more, pulled her out of her pain and suffering. I was old enough to fend for myself. It wasn't until afterwards that I realized that she somehow had a 'knowing' about her time to come. My husband and I had been dating for about a year when he proposed. One night, he visited and spent much more time than was usual sitting and talking to her while I aimlessly milled about the house. That night, he said that she had told him that he must take good care of me because she didn't have much longer to hold on. To this day, that tickles the hair on my skin. My grandmother was deeply spiritual and somewhat of an empath; and so when she said something, it was either inevitable or very rare for it not to happen.

Since her passing, I have matured so much. I am sure that it was a devastating eye-opener for all four of her children but at this time, I can only really speak for my own emotions. I have grown beyond the conflicts that come with the passing of a matriarch and am now finding my own way in this maze of life. In the beginning, the pain I felt seemed insurmountable because I never imagined she would not be here to see me accomplish great things, to see my own children and spoil them rotten like she did me.  I was in flight school around that time and there was a tremendous fear that put an end to that goal. At the time, all I could fathom was how mortal we all are in these fleshy bodies and not wanting to take that risk, knowing that I had a child on the way to live for. I smile at those thoughts now because I wish I had known then what i do now. Fear is a killer of life. Over the years that followed, I must thank God for helping me to learn to cope and recover from that major loss. of course I still miss her dearly but it's different now because she still resides in my heart. All of the words that she spoke and I scoffed at in my adolescent hormonal psychosis, I now remember and reiterate to my own kids. My grandmother was indeed one rock of a woman and what made her so strong was her faith in God. The mark that she left on us all is an indelible one. 

If I had the opportunity to say anything to her now, I would tell her "thank you" from the deepest part of my heart. I would tell her to be happy because she did an outstanding job in raising us and keeping us all on the straight and narrow and that her reward is stored for her. On the outside, she was the sweetest person anyone could have ever met, but it was those times of solitude when all of life's troubles came crashing down her physically and emotionally. I wish that I could have taken them all away. If she only knew all of the great things others thought of her, she would have believed them for herself. It is only now that scientists are discovering the direct correlation between negative emotions and your physical health. My grandmother put many a dream aside to do what was right and necessary for her children and family. To an extent, that made her happy. That is the noble thing to do but never at the expense of your own needs as a spiritual being living this human experience.  I would tell her to stop worrying about what others thought or did and worry about how she thought of herself. I'd say to her that watching others' seemingly "good life" doesn't mean that behind closed doors, things are that peachy at all and that in fact, that she was remarkably blessed already. I would tell her to put all of the pains of her past behind her and find the 'silver linings' on any dark cloud she encountered. I would tell her to throw away those self-defamatory, limiting beliefs that held her captive all of her life and live.  I would tell her that her reward to come will greatly surpass anything that she or we could ever imagine. 

I am happy to have had her as such an important part of my life. For the most part, she made me who I am. Whenever there's a conflict between my husband and I or a stranger does something unbecoming, I get livid and must be reminded that not everyone was raised with the same values or moral standards as we were. I know that to a degree, I have to create my own family traditions and practices as well as let go of some beliefs and thoughts that serve me no good but there are just some things about myself that I refuse to change. These are the things that were instilled in me since childhood that make me who I am. If I'm weird, if I like to read/write, speak proper English, act like a foreigner, obsessed with herbal teas, like a tidy place, am health conscious, love plants, animals and children, smile a  lot, have a hard time saying "no", don't like people messing with my hair, drink coffee with my pinkie pointed and am sometimes bi-polar then they all came from my lovely grandma! I'm sure the same holds true for my mother, aunt and uncles. We all had to learn to cope and now must pave our own way. It is touching to see all of our little ones growing up now who never had the chance to know her as we did. This is why I do my best to ensure that I leave the same imprint on my children's lives. I know what a wonderful feeling it is to love and to be loved. 

To know that an entire generation of siblings is now gone gives me an indescribable feeling. Time waits for no man and so we must all do the very best that we can right now with whatever we have to work with. Do not sit complacently and wait for what you want because it may never come. "Seek and ye shall find." Whether you think you can or you can't, you're right

Mams, you may be gone for now, but you will remain in our hearts and minds until we see each other again. I've learned, like Forrest Gump's mother told him before she died that "death is a part of life." We all have to face it one day and so while we are alive, we must make the best of it and do what is necessary to see our Creator's promises fulfilled. I am not certain as to whether or not we will know one another the same way (which I will ask God the answer to and research) but will be just as content in knowing that we will live happier ever after. Today would've marked her 76th birthday. There is so much more that I can say but I will simply close on this note, I love you dearly! Rest peacefully until we meet again!

Above: Me, "Mams" and my cousin,
Eucepia (Suntan) hanging out before bedtime.

"Mams", Uncle Fred and myself.

Basil O. Neymour, (brother)
 Uncle Basil, who just recently passed in October of 2013 at the age of 71.

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