My Grandma Ora Foster (1895-1971) on Her Last Visit by Robin R. Foster
I was either six or seven years old, and we had moved from the house next door. It was a huge house next door, but my father had built the one we stayed in at that time. He sent money to my uncle and his family who came up from down South to stay there. My father always referred to it as "the red clay." It was Memphis, Tennessee. We lived in Joliet, Illinois.
There were three floors. They were on the second floor, and my other uncle lived upstairs from them. My father had eleven living siblings. Two were living next door, and three lived in Cleveland, Ohio. Grandma Ora lived at one son's house.
Grandma Ora wants to visit
I was visiting my uncle on the second floor. The phone rang. My uncle picked up the phone and was talking to someone. I heard him say, "Momma, no you can't come now." That was Grandma Ora on the phone. Something just did not sit right with me. His mother could not come for whatever reason, but she could come and stay with us.
No one knew I heard that conversation. I went home and told Daddy that grandma wanted to come for a visit, but my uncle told her she could not come then. That is all I said. My grandma soon after appeared at our house.
What I remember of Grandma Ora
My mom had two of us share a room. Grandma came with a lot of her things. The basement of the house next door had things she brought with her. She had a lot of things in the room where she stayed in our house. She had the most beautiful hats on the shelf in the closet. Now, I know they were church hats.
Grandma had beautiful clothes. Those were probably church clothes. I followed her everywhere. She was a diabetic. I noticed that she had Sweet 'n Low in the kitchen.
She told stories, and I would take it all in. One thing she said really struck me. She said that my father was the only child that had obeyed her. One thing that she taught them was not to find their wife in a bar and start their family out "on one leg." I did not know what that meant. She or my mother told me. It meant having all your children whole or with the same spouse. This was a lot to leave on a six- or seven-year-old when I look back now, but my grandma was not going to be around much longer.
Grandma Ora's very own lesson to me
It was time for me to get my hair braided. We were in the living room, and my mother was on the sofa. I sat on the floor at her feet while she braided my hair. Grandma Ora's attention fell on me. When I think back on this, I know now she wanted to teach me something because her time was running out.
She had her blue Bible that Uncle Willie had sent her from Germany. She told me that she wanted me to memorize the 23rd Psalm. You might think that I would not be able to do that especially in one sitting, but in that respect, I am the same today that I was back then.
She turned to the page in the Old Testament and handed the Bible to me. My mother and my grandma sat there and just watched me. I said that I would memorize the 23rd Psalm by the time my mother was finished with my hair.
I sat there reading each line and repeating them back without looking at the text. This is something I knew I had to do. She had high standards. I sit now in my mind remembering that day. I look up at her now knowing how valuable this gift would be throughout my life.
My mother finishes my hair. I give the Bible back to Grandma Ora. For the first time, I recited the 23rd Psalm. She told me that whatever I needed in my life the answer would be in the scriptures. I am the person I have become because Granda Ora took the time to teach me a scripture.
As I sit here, I can close my eyes and be with her on that day. What I would say would be simple. "Thank you, Grandma Ora. I love you."
It has taken me longer to tell this story than I anticipated. I will have the part about the funeral next time.