6 Lessons My Grandmother Taught Me

6 Lessons My Grandmother Taught Me

As I sit to write this blog post, my grandmother (seated above in the center) is in the process of taking her final breaths. At 91 years old, she’s lived a long life, and is now preparing to meet the Master. The doctors have done all they can, and hospice care is providing her comfort as her physical body dies.

My heart is beating fast, as I think about the call that will come at some point in the near future. While the grieving process has started, my faith provides me with the joy of knowing that I will see her again. And most importantly, I am filled with gladness that she will meet the same Jesus who was introduced to my mother, who in turn introduced Him to me!

For her salvation, we are grateful! For her soon eternal rest, we are waiting in joyous anticipation!

As we stood by her bedside and sang hymns (literally all of them) from the AME Hymnal, tears occasionally fell from her closed eyes. They served as confirmation for us, that she was at peace.

And in the midst of all of this, my mind wanders to recall the many lessons my grandmother taught me throughout my 36 years on this earth. And the beauty about me recalling these lessons comes the realization that I’ve taken the time to share them with her over the years.

Let me share what my grandmother, “Mom Mom” taught me.

 1. There is No Greater Relationship Than Your Relationship With God

Closing service of the Philadelphia Annual Conference of the AME Church, 2016

Closing service of the Philadelphia Annual Conference of the AME Church, 2016

Let me just go on and start with what’s the most important. Mom Mom was clear! You’ve GOT to know Jesus. There was no if, ands, or buts, about it. Knowing Jesus was/is more important than yo mammy, yo pappy, and yo hubby/wifey!

Our family’s foundation was based around getting to know Jesus through our involvement and participation in church. She was a faithful and active member of my childhood church. And most importantly, she had a relationship with Jesus. This is why I can confidently say, Yes, I’m A Millennial, No, I’m Not Leaving The Church.

I can still picture that mustard yellow Gospel Choir robe she sang in. Actually, it was mustard yellow with a brown zipper and trim. Interesting combination, I know. But when I joined the junior choir at the tender age of 5, and our robes had a velcro closure, I was NOT happy. If Mom Mom’s robe had a zipper, my robe should have had a zipper too.

2. Walk In Your Authentic Self

Me: Smile Mom Mom!  Mom Mom: *Doing What She Wants*

Me: Smile Mom Mom!

Mom Mom: *Doing What She Wants*

Right before her 70th Birthday, I vividly remember Mom Mom saying “When I turn 70, I’m going to say whatever I want, and people will just shrug and say “She’s just an old lady”. The truth is, she’s been 70 since she was at least 50.

Mom Mom was never mean or unaware of other’s feelings. However, she was firm and unwavering in her convictions. And she would stand flat-footed and tell it like it was.

Mom Mom seemed to fear no one. She was not concerned about politics or popularity. She wasn’t concerned about ruffling feathers, especially if it meant fighting for some type of injustice. She walked in her authentic self.

Thanks Mom Mom!

3. Family Business is Family Business

Mom Mom stopped advancing technologically probably around the dawn of the first generation iPhone. Thank God for that! She’d probably pass out while observing the amount of OVER sharing which occurs on social media platforms.

Great Grandmom Sallie (L) and Mom Mom (R)

Great Grandmom Sallie (L) and Mom Mom (R)

Mom Mom did NOT play.

Family Illnesses…FAMILY BUSINESS!

Family Disagreements…FAMILY BUSINESS!

Family Finances…FAMILY BUSINESS!

Relationship Issues…FAMILY BUSINESS!

Basically, her rule of thumb was “Shut your mouth”. Mom Mom grew up old school, which called for a sense of privacy and a sense of pride within the family. Therefore, anything that could potentially lead to disgrace was dealt with INSIDE of the family!

4. The Same Dog That Brings A Bone, Carries A Bone

I’ll admit, it took me a long time to learn this lesson. I was a very social child. The teacher would move my seat thinking I would be silenced. Foolish teachers. I believed talking was as necessary as air itself. *Kanye Shrugs*

Mom Mom dropping wisdom

Mom Mom dropping wisdom

At any rate, Mom Mom was adamant about teaching me this simple lesson; if a person will come to you to discuss other people, they will certainly go back to other people to discuss you.

Did yall get that? Somebody needs to Tweet it!

This lesson was echoed through my grandmom, my mother, and my aunt, with a simple rule of thumb; only speak what you can bear to hear repeated (Tweet that one too).

People are people, and some folk who smile and grin in your face, secretly dislike you.

SideNote: If you know Jesus and have discernment, you can pick up on this and govern yourself accordingly.

Until friendships are tried and true, Mom Mom taught me the importance of basically…SHUTTING UP!

5. Wit and Humor Are Necessary Life Tools

For those who shared space with my grandmother, you know she was HILARIOUS.

Her humor was witty and often came with eye rolls! Her responses were quick, unexpected and left everyone around her in stitches.

Wedding Dress Shopping 2017.

Wedding Dress Shopping 2017.

Mom Mom’s humor also taught me how to be tough. She laughed at things, that to me experiencing them, were not funny. But her laugh was so gregarious and lengthy, you couldn’t help but laugh too.

When First Down puffy jackets were popular in the late 90s, my mom purchased one for me at Christmas. In my excitement, I asked Mom Mom if she liked it. Her response; “I like it so much, I’m going to take it outside and burn it”. And then she laughed.

When I got my hair cut into a short style and asked Mom Mom if she liked it, she broke out into her own song entitled “Bald head, you aint got no hair”. And then she laughed.

When I was about 6 years old, I begged Mom Mom to allow me to bring Cricket the talking doll with me on our walk to the store. She forewarned me that Cricket was heavy, and told me she would not carry her when I grew weary. I persisted. With only one block down, Cricket began to feel like a sack of potatoes. I begged Mom Mom to carry her. She didn’t. As I dragged Cricket by the ponytails along the sidewalk, Mom Mom laughed.

Her humor and her love for life will certainly be missed.

6. Love Is An Action Word

My cousins are clear that by the time I was born in 1982, my grandmom had mellowed out, and allowed me to get away with things they couldn’t dream of. I mean…they are probably correct. HA!

Mom Mom being escorted to her seat at my wedding, May 6, 2017

Mom Mom being escorted to her seat at my wedding, May 6, 2017

Mom Mom let me eat Fig Newtons before I finished my sandwich, and she let me drink milk from a blue 1 cup measuring cup. And even as an adult, if I asked her for anything, she’d fuss for 30 seconds and then oblige my request.

That’s how Mom Mom showed love. She put it into action.

As a caregiver to her own mother, several of her brothers, and to my grandfather before his passing, Mom Mom poured out her love as she cared for others. Her example of love in action was reciprocated by my aunt and my mother when they became Mom Mom’s primary caregivers in 2016.

Mom Mom taught us that love should not just be spoken about, but should be acted upon. She lived out our Christian responsibility to Love God and Love People.

In the African tradition, our loved ones never leave us. In death, they continue to serve as guides. I’m so grateful that Mom Mom has lived her life in a way, which has provided our family with an incredible guidebook.

As she prepares to take her rest, I’m thankful she was assigned to be MY grandmother. Her legacy will live on for generations to come.

Me: Mom Mom, where are you looking?  Mom Mom: Don’t ask me!

Me: Mom Mom, where are you looking?

Mom Mom: Don’t ask me!

In Loving Memory of my “Mom Mom”, Lula Richards

March 20, 1928 - July 26, 2019

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