All in Grandmother

I am 6 and do not realize how sick I am until Bigmama begins praying over me. I don’t know if I was more scared of being so sick that she had to contact God or of the sounds coming from her mouth. It would be a while before I learned about keening and speaking in tongues.

She had him when she was 17, by a young town hustler who didn’t bother to stay. There’s a convoluted story about how someone paid someone to marry her, but that was for show. She left Daddy with her parents and went somewhere. I don’t know where, or to do what.

She smoked. Kept her hair dyed black. She bitched a lot. She was a single mother back when that was even harder than it is now. Mother of two girls from two different fathers. Mother of a dead boy with a water head, a product of a rape by someone she knew.

I remember her telling me "it all seems like a dream." I didn't really understand. A line from the song "Row, row, row your boat?" Why do I remember that after all these years? I was standing by my rusty swing set in my parent's backyard when she whispered that truth.

My maternal grandmother was named Etoile which is the French word for star. She was born in Covington Georgia thousands of miles from France. She told me one time that she was named for a bar of soap. She was after all the only daughter in a family of 7 brothers. So I guess that made her the star.