There was as a buzz of excitement in my world, my mother was traveling from Chicago to pick me up so I can go to stay with her and my little sister in Chicago (apparently I have a little brother too, but I never met him). Grams had managed to find my a full luggage set that included a round one for hats, and a purse that matched the set. I got a new dress coat with a matching hat, new dress, shoes and hair was straightened for the trip.
I was excited that I was going to get to spend a couple of weeks with my mother. See my sister who I haven’t seen in a couple of years and my baby brother. The last time I saw my sister, we were in Tuskegee, AL at our great aunt’s property. During that trip I drank from a well, explored their farm and learned friend chicken came once was a living clucking chicken (long story). I couldn’t remember the last time I would spend this much time away with my mother, except for the trip to Alabama.
My Grams packed everything. I had more then enough clothing for my trip and my great aunt gave me an artist kit that included color paper and pencils that fit perfectly in my purse. I agonized over which Barbies to bring and narrowed it down to my Diana Ross Barbie (I don’t think its was an actual Diana Ross Barbie, but she was close) and two others.
Grams made my Mrs. Ross doll a dress to match mine and the other two were packed away in my Barbie carrying case. I was ready.
Here is the back story. I do not think I have made it clear why I was living with my paternal grandparents. Yes, part of it was because when I was three I was walking to the corner store by myself, but it was also because my dad’s band was taking off and he was away and my mother was in the beginning phase of a drug addiction. My situation wasn’t unique, in the 70’s and early 80’s grandparents taking care of grandchildren became the norm and not the exception. Back then as the drug epidemic was hitting the urban black communities, but it was also effecting the suburban black communities too. This was before the Country recognized addiction as an illness, a war was proclaimed and thousands of parents were unemployed, incarcerated or dead. I felt like the exception, because I had a relationship with both of my parents.
The morning of my trip, everything was packed, my travel outfit was pressed. Grams went over the rules on home to conduct myself in public. I was not to embrace her outside her presence.
1) Speak when spoken to.
2) Ask for permission to do anything
3) Respect my elders
4) Sit with my ankles crossed and hands in my lap
5) Speak properly and clearly
6) Say “please” and “thank you”
The list went on and on. As the morning wined down, I realized I was getting extra hugs and random kisses. By the time we were loading the car, I felt like something was going on and I didn’t know what was going on. Halfway into the ride to Penn Station, I started crying.
Grams: “Baby, what’s wrong?’
“I don’t want to go!” I whined.
Grams reminded me how much I wanted to see my mother along with my sister and brother. That two weeks will fly by and I will be back home before I knew it. Grams always knew the right things to say. I calmed down and returned to watching the scenery speed by. Watched as the scenes when from greens to grays. as we went deeper into the city, less sky and more buildings. Grandad pulled up to Penn Station and Grams let me out while he got my bags out fo the trunk, I took the hat case and Grams took the other two and still was able to grip my hand. Her hand wouldn’t hold mine again for eight years.
We found my mom.
“Hi Charmane, wait until you see the M&Ms.”
I let go of Grams hand and took my mom’s.
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