March 27, 2010
Caffeine MUST be avoided :-)
*My mamaw and papaw during their first year of marriage*
A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. It's almost 2 am here and I am not sleeping. Why? Because I had some caffeine. Yep, caffeine. I almost said "the c-word drug" but realized there are a couple of heavy hitters that start with a "c" so I changed my wording real quick. lol
Anyway in my youth drinking caffeine really didn't seem to phase me. I now only have a cup of tea in the morning (sometimes coffee heavy on the milk and sugar) and drink caffeine free diet coke or pepsi the rest of the time. I do drink some water too but really not as I should.
I decided to make some southern-style sweet iced tea for a treat tonight for mi familia. And now I can't sleep. Hence my earrrrrly morning post.
One of the most influential people in my life was my maternal grandmother. We called her mamaw (it's a southern thang!) and she was awesome. Strong, independent, a woman of faith and responsibility. I often wondered why she took on so much but she did it because, simply, it was the right thing to do.
I stayed at her house on Fridays nights while my parents delivered newspapers. Oh the fun I had. Cereal for supper? No problem at mamaw's house. Did I want to sleep on my knees with my head on the chair? Sure go ahead. (Really that one was crazy but she let me try it!). My normal bed there was either with her or she would make me a pallet on the couch out of comfy, old, worn-cotton quilts. Cool in summer, warm in winter... how can that be?? :-)
Let's just say I loved her and make this post a bit shorter. And my grandmother thought I was the cat's meow, the bee's knees, the greatest thing since sliced bread. I was a gifted child and my report cards and academic accolades were the fodder for much praise. I always knew my mamaw was proud of me and I basked in that love and acceptance.
Now two things have marred that relationship (somewhat). When I was in my mid teens I began to gain weight. I worked 20 hours a week at Hardee's fast food restaurant and besides leftovers, I brought home about 30 lbs. :-) Free greasy food and unlimited soda... I had no idea about calories, portion size, etc. It it tastes good, eat it, and I did. I was also getting sick at that point with my kidney disease so my activity slowed down as well.
My mamaw was old school. You kept your hair nice, your skin untanned, minimum make-up and perfume, modest lady-like clothes and you had a trim waist. Uh oh, boy was I in trouble. Most of those things didn't apply to me. However, as I was sick and still a stellar student and a darling of the little country Baptist church we attended, even these faults were overlooked.
Then I became Muslim. Well fastforward what, 16 years or so. :-) My grandmother was suprisingly my first proponent. Until she realized that I did not believe Isa (a.s.) was the son of God. And even then it was just that she was worried for my soul. Really I hated causing her worry but I didn't feel like living a lie so I was very straighforward with all of my family in regards to my conversion.
Then I started dressing different. Oh boy... so now not only was she concerned for my immortal soul but she was uncomfortable around me. It really became a stumbling block in our relationship. Astaghfirallah, I didn't visit her very frequently anymore. I always felt awkward. As my mamaw has aged, she has gotten a little sharper in her criticisms and really I felt like I was always being judged.
OK I know, long post, but I'm coming to the point of my story. So this is the recap of our relationship the past 20 years. I recently moved away from home here to Mass. and my grandmother is very old (82) and her health and mind aren't what they used to be.
Imagine to my surprise when I received a hand-written letter in the mail. From my mamaw. As I read it, I began to cry. A asked why and all I could say was "it's so sweet" but they were also tears of guilt because I knew I had not been an attentive grand daughter.
My mamaw started by saying she wanted to write to me while she could still remember some things. She talked about my silly little antics as a precocious preschooler and how she has always been proud of me. Always. She said I've had alot of hard things thrown my way but I always came through them happily, quietly, and never complaining. Alhamdulillah it is a gift from Allah.
She apologized to me. Wow, I'm starting to cry as I write this. She apologized to me because she thought she had made me feel bad and then she named a few little incidences that really were quite trivial but were weighing on her mind.
I cried. I cried because my mamaw still loved me and was proud of me when I didn't deserve it. I cried because I let a few comments from an old woman keep me from my filial responsibility. I cried because life has no "do overs" and I can't go back and fix what I did wrong. I cried because this remarkable woman who has faced so much in her life felt she had to apologize to someone acting (inside at least) like a petulant child. And I cried because her life is drawing to an end and her memories of me were so strong, so loving she felt compelled to write me and let me know.