Yesterday was my late, paternal Grandmother Helen's birthday. She would have been 88 years old. In her honor, I decided to share the words I spoke during her memorial service in June of 2006.
When my Aunt Daythol asked me to speak at today’s services, I didn't hesitate to yes. I spoke at Aunt Rozzie’s service, and just last year around the same time, I stood in a similar place, for the same reason, extolling the virtues of my Grandma Roberta. This is an extremely difficult and unique time for me, losing my grandmothers so close together. You never think about what life will be like without your loved ones. I remember the sense of urgency I felt to take a picture, any time they were in the same room together. I never wanted to be without that memory. I would sometimes tell people how they were my precious jewels, as if I could wear one in each ear. My fondest memory is of them together, giving a male friend the third degree in Granny Helen’s kitchen. For those of you who knew them both, you can only imagine!
My cousins Kevin and Lance and I were allowed to call our Grandmother, "Helen", as we matured, and she sometimes went by Hayes, which was the name that my great grandmother Nevada affectionately went by also. On the flipside Granny had a term of endearment for KK and Lance that I shall not repeat at this time; and most times, I answered to “girl”.
No matter what she called us, she never failed to feed us well, always including our individual favorite dishes in her holiday dinners. From spending time around her, I grew to love crossword puzzles and sports. Whenever someone asks me how I came to love sports so much. I smile and say, “I got it from my Granny Helen”. She taught me how to use a few choice words too, but I will save that for another time.
On Sundays, during football season, I would go to her house to watch my favorite teams play. She had the NFL Sunday Ticket. She and Bob would sit in the living room and I would sit in her room and we would watch our respective games, checking in on one another periodically. Granny was a beautiful mix of spicy and sweet and for her many gifts, I am eternally grateful. My one regret is that I never learned either of my grandmother’s recipes, but that’s ok, because now, I just bug my Mom and Aunt Daythol for instructions, all the way from California. They both laugh and have pity on me. Secretly, I think they are pleased that I am finally interested in it at all.
Helen will always be truly special to me and so many of us in this room. On behalf of our families, Hayes, Young, Mitchell, Branch, McShan, and Barksdale, I say thank you for coming to share in this time with us. God Bless!