Do it for the Gram…(Grandma, that is…)

Hello beautiful people, and welcome to your weekly dose of Celestial Goodness. As always, thank you for joining me in this space and on this journey! A few months ago, I had the joy and the honor of hosting a very special guest—my mom.

This week, I have another special surprise for all of you. You may have guessed from the title of this week’s blog and video—My grandma. The Jamaican Queen herself! See the video here:

So we are going to have a conversation and I hope that it will leave you feeling inspired, uplifted, and warm inside. In a similar disclaimer, made for when I spoke with mommy, I realize that many of you may not have a good relationship with your mom or grandmother, and you have may already had the experience of losing your grandparents. I am sending you an extra burst of love.

Here we go!

  1.  Celestial Goodness (CG): So grandma, who are you? Beyond the title of mother and grandmother how would you describe yourself?

Grandma: Well, I would describe myself as a loving caring person. And of course, I remember that I was a teacher—a proud graduate of the Shortwood Teacher’s College.

CG: That’s in Jamaica everybody!

Grandma: They say once a teacher, always a teacher. I think everyone is created by the same creator, the divine. No one is better than anyone—some people have better opportunities, and that makes it better and easier for them, but that doesn’t make them better than anyone else. We are all connected. We are all brothers and sisters—children of the universe. I would like to remind everyone of this little gem—of this saying. “Full many a gem of purest ray serene. The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear: Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And shed its sweetness on the desert air.” It’s just the opportunity.

CG: Grandma is very poetic by the way….One of the things that she is describing about herself is that she is very poetic, and she writes a lot of poems, herself!

  • CG: So grandma, what is something important that you feel like you learned from your parents and upbringing?

Grandma: There will always be struggle in life, but we should never give up. There is always hope. The darkest part of the night is next to dawn, so when you feel like you are in a dark place, just remember that dawn is coming. If at first, you don’t succeed. Try, try, and try again. Never stop trying…

CG: And never give up.

Grandma: Yes, and never give up. Something we need to remember, God, the creator of the universe and all things, he could have created this world with just one sentence, by speaking. But he took seven days to complete creation, and that is a lesson for all of us to know that we will get there. Never give up. Some things take time.

CG: That is a very wonderful lesson.

Nature reminds us that some things take time…
  • CG: And so, one of the things I would like to know… Please tell me some more about your parents? Maybe some of your favorite memories or something that you would like for me to know?

Grandma: My parents were also kind and loving. They believed that every child was their child and that we are all the same. They taught us to be respectful to the elderly, to love the land, the creation, and to embrace the goodness of the air, the fire, the water, and the earth. They were thankful for the sun also—everything in life is sacred, and we depend on the sun to help give us that energy. Even the tiny plant that is embedded in a seed is precious and we should respect that!

  • CG: So gram, what was the experience like for you leaving your life in Jamaica to come to the United States?

Grandma: Oh, well…that was a journey. That was a journey and it was different. Everything was different. The first visible thing was the climate and the temperature. Jamaica is tropical, and here we have the change of seasons. Especially the winter. At first, I loved the winter, the snow—this white thing coming down. It was the first time that I had ever seen snow. I was glad. I remember my brother said, “Aha, you love it? You wait. You wait. You don’t see anything yet.” And it was true…it was really cold!

The next obvious thing, and this one was kind of sad—was racism. I remember I went into a store to purchase some things, and the employees followed me around in the store. Someone else said to me, maybe because you had your bag over it [arm}, and that is how they do to black people here—they followed us around. It didn’t stop there. Little things kept on happening. They weren’t even subtle, just right open. One day when I was working at a nursing home—the health care center, a nurse, he said to me, “What can your black skin do for you?” he said it, believe me, “what can your black skin do for you?” I said, my black skin makes vitamin D for me, in the presence of sunlight, and I laughed and laughed and laughed. He walked away and never said anything. I never let it bother me. According to our national hero, Marcus Garvey, he said, “the black skin is not a badge of shame, but a symbol of national greatness.” Marcus Mosiah Garvey, that’s our national hero.

CG: One of the things grandma has taught me is to be proud of who I am. Now you are hearing it from her.

Grandma: Another thing that I instill in my children—as a group, Jamaicans as a whole—our blackness, our national pride…although Jamaica was colonized by the British, and they were racist too—it was subtle—they were subtle with it—not all white people are racist—you know, but the British were subtle with it. [In Jamaica] we have a group of people there—the Maroons. I will tell you a little story about the Maroons. Just to let you understand. The British went to Ghana, in the time that they were colonizing, they went to Ghana and they captured these people. They were mostly the Ashanti or the Akan tribes. They took them to Jamaica to be slaves. A little about the Ashanti empire and the Akan empire—are believed to be the same.

CG: Grandma was a teacher, so we are getting a complete history lesson.

Grandma: King Tutu the first, there was a story about the golden stool that was descended from the skies. It was the stool for the kings. I am cutting this short, but the British wanted the golden stool. They [British] went there and started to fight the people so that they could get the stool. They [Ashanti and Akan] fought bravely, but the British had allies—India and some other Africans. The Ashanti and Akan too had allies from different places. There was a queen mother—Yaa Ashantewaa.

Yaa Ashantewaa

She hid the golden stool, and she told her men to make a fake one. They had lots of gold, so they made a fake stool and gave that one to the British to help stop the fighting a little bit. They sent Yaa to a place called the Seychelles. They plundered and robbed, and still didn’t finish taking all the gold. They took the people as slaves to Jamaica. A group of those people [the enslaved]—there was a woman, Nanny, and a man Cudjoe.

Nanny of the Maroons

They along with the others spoke the same language so they could communicate with each other. When they arrived in Jamaica they ran [escaped] to the hills and formed their own colony. They fought the British. When other slaves got to Jamaica from all over Africa—when they ran away, the Maroons kept them in their camp. They fought until the British had to sign a treaty with them. Those set of free people, they set up their own laws and everything. They kept the culture.

CG: This remains even today.

Grandma: Until today! So the Maroons are said to be the true Jamaicans because the colonizers had killed the Arawaks.

CG: The Arawak were the indigenous people on the island. Jamaica’s actual name is Xaymaca, the Arawak word for “Land of Wood and Water.”

  • Celestial Goodness: What are some of the things that you are most proud of in your life?

Grandma: I am thankful for my children, I wouldn’t say proud, but thankful for my children. I was very excited at the birth of my first granddaughter.

Me the baby, with grandma and Sam

CG: I don’t know who that is…LOL

Grandma: She’s right here. This princess here. And so, I thank God for his blessing towards them, and they are open to receiving those blessings to try and prosper, and to help other people as well.

CG: Very good.

  • CG: What advice do you want to share with your children and grandchildren?

Grandma: Keep moving. Although you are prospering and doing well, there is always room for growth. Never stop. Keep growing. Keep helping. The more you help others, the more blessings you receive. Blessings cannot be too much—it cannot be measured.

Blessings can’t be measured

CG: I love that!

  • CG: I am pretty fortunate that I was able to know all of you—all of my grandparents well. I have learned a lot from everyone, but you have probably helped to shape my life more than any of the others. You have been the most present. You have often encouraged me during difficult times in my life, and you have advised me to look problems right in the face and tackle them head on.  In your own life, what has helped you the most in surmounting life’s obstacles? Do you feel that your outlook and thinking about life and all that comes with it has evolved over the years?

Grandma: Yes, I think so. I think so. But, problems and obstacles are a part of life’s journey. When you fail, or fall, or get disappointed, you keep going. I always say that when I fall, I will not stay down. I will roll until I can get up. I get up, pick myself up and start over again. Things happen, as part of the divine plan and sometimes, some disappointments are God appointments. It’s all in the divine plan. Sometimes people or situations come in your life for a special reason. Sometimes, people come in to accomplish some aspect of life.

CG: They come to help ignite something.

Grandma: Yes, and when that is accomplished, that is a divine act. Either they stay, they depart, or they move on. It’s all a part of the divine plan. We never feel disappointment. Disappointment as I said before is sometimes “God appointment.”

  • CG: So gram, what advice would you give your younger self?

Grandma: Ahhhh…

CG: Just keep rolling.

Grandma: Haha, just keep rolling. Keep rolling, keep loving, keep being kind to others, and that’s it.

CG: I love that.

  • CG: As my grandmother, what about me most reminds you of yourself?

Grandma: Ahhhhh, your honesty, your laugh. Your love of nature, and you love to travel. I’ve traveled to five different countries.

CG: I remember, you are the great adventurer.

  1. CG: I think that you are a very brave person. Tell me about one of your favorite adventures?

Grandma: The first adventure was when I boarded the plane for the first time. I think everyone has that excited, and I boarded the plane and went to the Grand Cayman.

CG: I love that.

  1. CG: Is there anything that you regret not doing?

Grandma: Well no. I believe in divine intervention, and all that happens is part of the divine plan, and for the greater good.

CG: Well you heard it from her yourself.

  1. CG: You have seen some major moments in history—for Jamaica, for the United States, and for the world. What are some of your most memorable historic moments in life? I believe that you saw the moment when Jamaica became independent?

Grandma: Yes. It was a great moment, and I feel great, everyone was happy. You might think this strange or unusual, but although I was happy, and like the rest of Jamaicans, glad for our independence and such, but what I felt most, was the time when President Obama signed the Marriage Act, and then again after the Supreme Court upheld it. I remember the White House was painted in all the colors of the rainbow. I felt that joy because before that, I saw horror.

The horror of hate, and not just only to black people—the horror of hate among whites and of hate among other group of people. And [also] those who were gay or just trying to be themselves. I have seen children trying to take their own lives, children being sent to therapy to change who they are, and it was really really horrifying. I could relate to that because many of our ancestors endured the horror [of hate]. I wrote about it in one of my poems, and if you don’t mind you can read a part here.

CG: So grandma’s poetry book. “Poems by Mount Humble.”

Grandma: So you don’t have to read all of it, but this is how many people who are [LGBTQ] feel. [The feeling of persecution and judgment]. This is explaining how they felt, and this is where their fate was “too abominable.” I remember my ancestors; the black people being persecuted. Their fate was too abominable. “As they hung for all to see.” That was lynching. “They did not get a wooden cross, instead they got a tree. And as they hung and in agony and in pain, their hearts reflected on Jesus who suffered thus the same. Each drop of tear upon the Earth, in splendor grew tall trees [their ancestors and off spring], each drop of blood vaporized, then fell on rivers and seas. The seas took them round the globe with glorious glee they went, bright rays of sun descended, and they were back to heaven sent.” This is saying, and now alas the radiant sun which shines their offspring bright. This is referring to when President Obama signed the Marriage Act. Magnificently he, the silent sword—the pen with the other hand did write. Goodwill and freedom for us all, and yet there is a fight. We all forgive, we do love still, and bid you do what’s right. So even though there are [some who hate] and persecute us and do terrible things, we still love them. The creator said you aren’t supposed to hate. They are killing us every day; we see that right now. So, we still have a lot of work to do. We cannot follow them down the path of hate.

CG: Good. Grandma teaches us to embrace everyone, and allow people to be themselves, and allow people to live in the way that is you know—as long as we aren’t harming other people, we are letting people be their authentic selves.

  1. CG: What are some things that you are grateful for? What are some of the biggest lessons that you learned in life?

Grandma: Well, I am grateful for good health.

CG: Grandma is in good health, I mean look at her.

Grandma: I am grateful for my children, my surroundings, for wisdom. I am grateful for the younger generation, who I see—they are not sitting down. I am grateful for the knowledge that they have and they are using it up. There is hope for mankind through the younger generation. There is hope for a better world.

CG: This past week was Earth Day, and I have seen so many people making an effort to take care of the Earth and the climate, so that is really great too.

  1. CG: What is your hope for your children? What is your hope for your grandchildren? What is your hope for the world?

Grandma: That my children and grandchildren may continue on the path that they are…and you know, world peace. I would love to see peace all over the world.

  1. CG: Very good grandma, and Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Grandma: We need balance, whatever in life that we do, we need balance. We have to respect the Earth, and learn to heal ourselves. We can heal ourselves, and learn from our mistakes.

Thank you, Grandma, that was very insightful. I really love and appreciate you.

Thank you to everyone for joining Gram and I as we have this conversation. I hope that you may also feel inspired to talk to your loved ones about their life, you may learn some interesting things. May the stars shine brightly over your week, and may it be an amazing one. Thank you as always! Have a wonderful week!

Grandma wants you to have a good week!

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