#KIMBERLYLUXE #FROMAWILDFLOWER

Caribbean, Summer 1999.
Dear Journal,

There her hand lay, directly cupped under mine. Limp and brittle designed with intricate detail formed by veins and her skin’s lack of elasticity. Contrary to my hands, that were just formed- born, ten years prior, her almost century fingers relied on the help of mine to take her somewhere she had never gone before. We journeyed to a place of hills and valleys. Looped along broken walls. Swam through many rivers. And enjoyed eating mangos and cherries under the Bahamian trees. I was the first to help her connect the ink of midnight to the light of the sun, and for that, I was her treasure. I remember the joy we felt when riding on “e’s” and concluding on “h” and I remember my hand only leaving hers when it was time for me to routinely wipe away her sixty+ year old tears. Her tears were the closest I’ve ever been, in my human and spirited life, to the story that essentially wove me.

“Mom, I taught grandma how to write her name!”, I proudly boasted when returning back to the states from my summer long vacation at grandma’s house in Bahamas. What I thought would be joyful news to my mother, seemed to be news that left her frozen and cold.

This temperature was new to me. Quite contrary to the sun I had spent three months basking in, but quite similar to the salt that had gotten in my eyes when I dove into the sea.

“Mom?”, I asked gently, concerned that the announcement may have come on too strong.

But still, she didn’t respond.

So I neared her, with a plastered smile of little confidence positioned on the bottom half of my face.

“Mom. Aren’t you happy?”, I asked again. Hoping that I could coach her into a state of happiness or lead her into the direction of ‘the right’ answer.

“Yes Kimmie, that’s very good,” she said quickly, coming out of the trance and unconsciously mirroring the same smile of little confidence I had once donned.

Years passed, as did my grandmother. And at her funeral the story stuck in my head. A part of me wanted to use it as closure; I wanted to be happy to have helped my grandmother achieve her desire to write something as simple as her name. But a part of me, questioned whether or not I had truly helped since my mother’s response wasn’t one of genuine gratitude.

My naïvety at ten years old allowed me to see my grandmother as perfect. I automatically equated her lack of transcription to be a direct result of old age. But as I entered my twenty-somethings I soon learned the true story behind my grandmother named “Elizabeth”.

My mother had always been gifted as a child. She had a deep hunger for education. Loved to indulge herself in literature. Loved to use her smarts and wittiness to get her ahead.

My grandmother also had a desire to be educated. But growing up in Haiti, she wasn’t given the opportunity to go to school. She was too poor and didn’t have the resources, help, or support to. So when she and my mother moved to the Bahamas, my grandmother worked as a maid – cleaning mansions on the island that still exist today, while my mother attended and got ahead in school.

One day, my mother ran home excitedly. Eager to tell my grandmother, that her school wanted to let her skip a grade for being so smart. However, what she thought would be joyful news to her mother, seemed to be news that left her mom frozen and cold.

This temperature was new to her. It was quite contrary to the Haitian and Bahamian sun she had spent all of her life basking in, yet it was quite similar to the salt that had gotten in her eyes when she would dive into the beach’s sea.

“Mom?”, she asked gently, concerned that the announcement may have come on too strong.

But still, her mother did not respond.

So she neared her, with a plastered smile of little confidence positioned on the bottom half of her face.

“Mom. Aren’t you happy?”, she asked again. Hoping that she could coach her into a state of happiness or lead her into the direction of ‘the right’ answer.

But my grandmother wasn’t happy.

Jealousy plagued a part of our history and eventually tainted the souls of generations to come.

Enraged, my grandmother withdrew my mother from school and made her do maid-service with her.

My mother eventually married my dad and they went on to move to the United States. That’s when my dad, my king, my best friend, the love of my life let my mother go to school while he took care of my sisters and I.

My mother never kicked my grandmother to curb. She never erased her from our lives or told us stories that would taint our judgment of her. My family loved on my grandmother unconditionally and understood that her ignorance was what led the bad choices she made as an uneducated and inexperienced young mother.

Fast forward to me being ten years old, and I’m in my grandmother’s room looking through her old journals and bibles when I stumble on mountains of papers with her trying to write.

The soft heart within me saw what she desired and wanted to give her that, considering I had just mastered both print and cursive.

And for three months of my life, we wrote.

And she cried.

From the time the sun went up to the time the sun went down. She kissed my hands and my forehead repeatedly and even planted a cherry tree for me that she would pick from every weekend. I taught her about language, literature, and ligature – but most importantly, I taught her about selfless love. I’m a firm believer that God is a secret keeper and that he allows others to benefit us in our most darkest and deepest seas. He birthed me from the vagina of the very woman my grandmother once thought enemy and planted me within the depths of her heart. A place she only allowed God into. You see, I never understood her tears or her extreme amounts of gratitude, but God did and he made sure that before she died he let her know that she had been forgiven by sending me there to hold her hand directly cupped under mine. Limp and brittle designed with intricate detail formed by veins and her skin’s lack of elasticity. Contrary to my hands, that were just formed- born, ten years prior, her almost century fingers relied on the help of mine to take her somewhere she had never gone before. We journeyed to a place of hills and valleys. Looped along broken walls. Swam through many rivers. And enjoyed eating mangos and cherries under the Bahamian trees. I was the first to help her connect the ink of midnight to the light of the sun, and for that, I was her treasure. I remember the joy we felt when riding on “e’s” and concluding on “h” and I remember my hand only leaving hers when it was time for me to routinely wipe away her sixty+ year old tears. Her tears were the closest I’ve ever been, in my human and spirited life, to the story that not only wove me, but the story that never broke me.

Kimberly