Some of the greatest lessons of my life I learned at the feet of my grandmother. One of my favorite stories of her took place when I was at an age where everyone believed I was too young to understand what they were saying, but I wasn’t. I was the youngest of thirty two grandchildren, My grandmother had nine children, seven still alive at the time this story took place.
Everyone around my grandmother had spend the day buzzing about one of my cousins. She was in town and she brought her boyfriend, a black man. The kids were all trying to figure out how to keep this big secret from by grandmother. She was born in 1914 in Louisiana and grew up during a time of segregation, she was a Bible carrying Methodist turned Southern Baptist after she married my grandfather.
I had heard everyone talking about this throughout the day. By evening time, I was where I always am late evenings, at my grandmothers feet as she sat in her favorite recliner. A life changing conversation took place.
My grandmother asked when her granddaughter was coming over for dinner. Everyone was side stepping it and as we say in the south, “Him hauling” around it. After over two hours of persistence one of the kids finally said, ”Mom, she is here with a friend.”
Well needless to say that was not enough explanation for my grandmother as to why on of her grandchildren wasn’t coming to see her. So she kept asking. Finally they said, “Mom, its her boyfriend and he is a black man.”
There was a silence. My grandmother sat there for a moment and not another word was spoken until she said, “Well, don’t black men eat?
My grandmother’s response showed the entire family that anyone was welcome at her dinner table. no matter what their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Truth is, in all of her life she never gave the impression that she had any prejudices, but her own family made assumptions and in part I think were justifying their own prejudices through a false portrayal of her.
She was a good woman, she had solid principles and morality. She was threatened by no one, but loved everyone.