One year ago today, my great-aunt Aloma passed away. Known to me as Granny Loma, she played a recurring role in my childhood. In summers she hosted far-flung relatives and Independence Day barbecues. The other seasons felt her presence too; Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas parties, Easter Egg hunts in the field behind her house. You could stop by whenever to talk to her, and she always had something to say–and no qualms about saying it either.
On my trips back home after moving to Madison, she was the one I made a point to visit. She made sure I left with a wise word and a joke (and frequently a strawberry shortcake, my favorite of her desserts). She called me when my mother and I argued to make sure I understood my mother’s perspective and hers too–protect your children, guard your family. Let them learn but never leave them lonely. Tell them the truth but understand their lives are their own.
She was the type of woman that spoke her mind without hesitation–there was never a question of how she felt or what she thought. She had five kids of her own and helped raised everyone else’s too. When she told you to do something, you did it (and heaven forbid if she had to tell you twice). She lived in big t-shirts and white tennis shoes. Her hair was always flawless. She sang beautifully and loved the Lord with all her heart. She was the matriarch of our family, our center of gravity.
I told myself I should ask more questions while she was here, but the opportunities passed; the moments slipped by. Of course now more than ever I want to know her yellow cake recipe, how to can vegetables, what it felt like to to be a wife at 14. The things I took for granted as a college student, juggling classes with work and extracurriculars, interest me most in my new day of home and career. The answers I look everywhere to find were five minutes away on Tanner Rd. all this time.
Somewhere–in the warmest, friendliest corner of Heaven, Granny Loma is preparing a feast to welcome us when we join her. To give of all of us–her husband, children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews, and anyone who needs it–a warm smile, a big hug, and words of truth spoken with heartfelt sincerity. That was her way.