My grandmother looked good in blue. She would wrap her gray hair around the torn strips of a brown paper grocery sack at night, and in the morning her hair bounced with curls. Her high cheekbones were smoothed over with caramel skin, and her eyes seemed to sparkle when she looked my way. “Keep looking up,” she’d say to me.
She’d lived enough life for any four women her age.
Her first husband – my paternal grandfather – died at the age of thirty, leaving my grandmother to raise two young boys on her own. I wonder what I would have done. I wonder how a single black woman raised two little boys in a rural Virginia community back in 1941. In my mind I see her straight-backed with her head held high and I wonder how she defied the odds to grow straight and lifted instead of bowed and bent.
“Keep looking up,” she’d say to me.
My dad says they might not have made it if it hadn’t been for the family. Countless aunts and uncles and cousins who scratched together enough to help my grandmother stand on her own two feet and raise those two boys on her own.
She took what her family gave her and she turned it into a general store and that’s how my grandmother fed two little boys whose daddy had gone on to heaven too soon.
When my own daddy was grown with two daughters of his own, we’d ride over the hills and into the country as the asphalt shimmered in the heat. On those summer Sundays when I was little, I’d sit in the hard wooden pews in my grandmother’s country church. Women would fan themselves with images of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., printed on cardboard and stapled to thin wooden handles. Men would wipe the backs of their necks with crisp white handkerchiefs. Folks would keep the beat with leather soles on the wooden floor beneath us. I’d suck hard peppermint candy until it turned to lace inside my mouth and wonder why my grandmother sang the hymns so loudly.
“Keep looking up,” she’d say to me.
When I grew up and had children of my own, we rode over the hills and into the country and sat in the wooden pews of that same country church to say good-bye to my grandmother. My dad stood watch by her side through the day and I cried when I saw her in blue.
Blue like the sky up over my head.
My grandmother looked good in blue.
by Deidra, Jumping Tandem
church photo by Melissa Stone PhotosLeave a Comment
Linda Urban says
Deidra, this is beautiful. Thank you.
Thanks for reading, Linda. Thanks for sharing a bit of this joy with me today.
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I adored my grandmother and I can tell you did too. This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for some remembering, your and mine. My grandmother had white curls looked good in blue too.
These good memories are a gift. A legacy, really. I’m glad this spoke to you.
i lost most of my grandparents by the time i was 10…i wish i had known them more…beautiful write deidra
This is the grandparent I knew the longest. I miss them all – even the grandfather I never met.
This brings tears to my eyes. Those precious granny’s!!
Keep looking up indeed! Sounds so simple but looking down is depressing and looking in makes us self focused! Looking unto him…the author and finisher of our faith! Love you!
Yes. It’s good advice. Up…always!
Ah, April. You are wonderfully beautiful, friend.
Thank you, Deidra. That really encouraged me. What a legacy and heritage your grandmother left for you. What beauty 🙂
So glad you were encouraged! So glad to pass along a bit of the legacy…
Your grandmother, my mother in law! A truly remarkable “lady” with all the dignity and demanding all of the repsect that the word ,lady, exemplifies. Like grandmother, like grandaughter!
She rubbed off on you, too, Mom! 😉
Michelle Derusha says
I love that your sweet mom commented here!
Such a beautiful story, Deidra. I really enjoyed reading it this morning. I’m going to repeat that mantra to myself today: “Keep looking up,” and I’ll think of your strong grandma in blue.
isn’t my mom cute? 🙂
Thank you for sharing….I, too, thought my Grandmother looked good in blue…it was her color. Your story took me back to a time I sat in a country church listening to my Granddaddy preach and hearing my Grandmother sing the hymns loudly. May God bless you….thanks for sharing your memories.
There’s nothing quite like a hymn sung with gusto, is there?
So loved this.
Thank you, Leslie!
Lyla Lindquist says
This morning I watched a video my dad sent of my granddad telling stories in my niece’s kindergarten classroom last week. They were celebrating the 100th day of school and were to bring something related to 100. You know, 100 M&Ms, 100 pennies, 100 toothpicks.
Little Leah brought her great Grandpa Al. He turns 103 in a couple of weeks.
I remember singing hymns with Grandpa Al and Grandma in the hot wooden pews of their little church. They sang ’em loud as well. Now I know why. Beautiful recollection, Deidra.
Oh my goodness, Lyla! What a great story! 103?!?! That’s amazing.
What a beautiful tribute to your lovely grandmother and a testimant of how family can be there for one another. It all comes down to LOVE.
Have a LOVELY day!
Love…it’s the greatest, isn’t it?
Beautiful, Deidra… just beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing her and her legacy with us!
Hey Thelma! You make me smile. Thanks so much for reading this. Thanks for your sweet heart. You are a blessing, friend.
David Willis says
A beautiful story told well. She must have been quite a woman. Thank you for sharing this. You do her legacy well and bring her honor.
I remember your sitting on the stool behind the counter “waiting” on the customers who came to visit more than to purchase something. But they always left with something: a story, or advice, or a laugh, and always with an encouraging word, ‘keep looking up’. Thanks for making my day brighter and reminding me of how blessed I have been and still am for the family God surrounded me with. It takes a family who is a part of HIS family.
I love you more than you will ever know!!!
Love you back!
Michelle Derusha says
Oh your family is the sweetest! This makes me happy today!
Ditto what Michelle said. LOVE seeing your mama and daddy here in the comments. What a treasure!
How beautiful, Deidra. I wish you would write more about her, maybe a book someday. What an amazing story to tell! Your grandmother sounds like she had strength that I don’t quite understand, yet, with the way I complain all the time. Thanks for sharing this encouraging and beautiful story!
My grandmother was a treasure. Strong, yes. A spitfire, really. But such a soft heart. Much like yours…
emily joyner says
Deidra, how can I thank you for this beautiful, true story of your Grand-mother’s faith at all times!!!! I too, had a Grand-mother who had great faith and shared it with me, and now I am a Great-grandmother trying to instill in my 2 little ones what I was taught, as it is the very least that I can do. I hope God is pleased.
Keep writing and inspiring us – as I really needed to “look up” today!!
Emily – Keep looking up, girlfriend!
Jan Waites says
Very special memories!!! Loved the story, and the truth behind it!
What a beautiful tribute, Deidra. Thank you for sharing your blessing.
She left a beautiful and lasting legacy. A treasure, really. Thanks for reading, Priscilla!
jan calloway says
So beautiful! Reminds me of my dear sweet granny! Been 30 yrs. now, but what I’d give to have her with me. I’m a grandmother now, and so enjoy it!!! GBY
I realized the other day that “grandmother” may not be too far away for me. I’m not rushing anything, mind you. Just sayin’. It helps to have had such a wonderful example. 🙂
michelle @ this little light says
This post is just beautiful. Grandmothers are such a gift. I wish I knew your grandmother’s voice, because I have a feeling “Keep looking up” is going to be a new mantra of mine. Thank you so much for sharing!
It is a great mantra. And when she said it, her voice was filled with love. 😉
What a beautiful honor to a beautiful woman your grandma. What a strong lovely woman she was. This honor brought tears to my eyes. As I type the tears rool down. Thank you for sharing such a specail piece of you. You grandma must have been beautiful as that bvlue sky. Keep looking up. Love that.
*sigh* I’m so glad this touched you. Yes, she was strong and lovely…
This is lovely, Deidre. What a lesson she carried in her life!
A true and rare gift, indeed.
i love that you have blue. and “keep looking up.” wonderful piece!
Yes. It’s rare that I look up at the blue skies above and don’t think of her…
Beautiful! Makes me think of my own grandma…she was 100 years old and 6 months when she passed. And she definitely lived enough life for 4 women! This is a lovely tribute.
Wow! 100 years old?!?!? What a wonderful treasure you were given. What a gift!
oh, this was beautiful. and she taught you well… as you just taught us all that looking up to the One who makes the blue sky will keep us going too.
((hug)) I *heart* you!
What a lovely memory of your grandmother. I too had a strong grannie (my great-grandmother) that I was fortunate enough to have until I was 25. She taught me so much about faith and reliance on God in all things simply by her life, no better lesson to be learned.
Isn’t it wonderful to have had such a good role model? And just by living her life. I want that. I want to be able to give that to my children and to their children…to pass on the legacy.
Hey Deidra, I’ve always been a firm believer in looking up 🙂 It’s nice to meet you.
Looking up. It’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. Thanks so much for reading, Jodi!
Robin ~ PENSIEVE says
“I’d suck hard peppermint candy until it turned to lace inside my mouth…”
–my favorite line :).
But the entire post? I…love…it….
Thanks, girlfriend! Love you!
Kristen@Moms Sharpening Moms says
Oh, Deidra! I love when you write about your family and its legacy. It’s not hard to see why you are beautiful you. Also? I learn oodles from you on how to be a better wife, parent and friend.
I get that same “keep looking up” feel from you, too. Love you!
You know, I have a feeling that you’ve got this whole “keeping looking up” thing all figured out. You are a blessing, my friend. 🙂
That was really, really beautiful. I just couldn’t not say so — thanks for sharing!
Thanks so much for commeting. And…congratulations on that baby boy!
Beautiful & heart warming. Brings to mind familiar verses …I lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help… (Psalm 121) God bless and thank you for visiting my blog.
so beautifully written. recognizing and honoring our heritage is so self-affirming…seeing others do this inspires me to dig deeper into mine. thank you.
Flower Patch Farmgirl says
“Until it turned to lace”. Oh, this yanked me back 25 years.
Beautiful post, every way you slice it.
It’s Really Up to Him « Moments & Memories says
[…] Although it’s hard to be patient and trust that God knows best and wants to give us the best, there is no sense in worrying about tomorrow or an unknown future because it’s really up to Him. I’m going to do my best to keep looking up. […]
Benjamin Ruchal says
Beautiful… (By the grace of God I am what I am)…1Corinthians 15:10.