A Blue State of Mind

"The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams." Oprah

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Location: The Western U.S, United States

I spent 48 years caring about what people thought of me. I'm not spending the rest of my life caring about that anymore!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mother Mae Gratis Bowens May 17th 1942 - December 17th 2006

This is a repost from an October entry. Aunt Grat's decided enough is enough with the cares of this world so she's decided she'd rather be with Jesus and claim that Reward she's worked so hard to achieve. I'll see you in the Morning, Grat.

I have a favourite aunt, we call her Aunt Grat. Actually I have four favourite aunts but whenever I think of the one aunt that made great impressions on me, it always comes back to Grat.Aunt Grat and my grandfather moved to Boise, ID when I was 9 years old and when there were VERY FEW Black people living there. My siblings and I eagerly awaited the arrival of summer because it meant my parents would soon be loading up the car and driving us up to Boise to spend the summer.
I guess that's when my love for traveling was first realized-during the daylong drive from the shimmering lights of Vegas, through the quiet plains of Ely on through Wells, the breathtaking mountains of Twin Falls and then finally cool Boise. Well, at least cool in relation to my hot state. Depending on my father's work schedule, my parents usually stayed in Boise a week or a few days, hugged us and gleefully headed back home knowing no children for a full month. Sometimes I wonder whose smiles were largest-us kids or our parents.

Each summer my two siblings would move in to Aunt Grat's and Uncle Al's house which already was filled w/her three children, my Aunt Mary's three, any other friends that wanted to spend the night or summer and my two siblings. I went to my own personal Heaven-Big Daddy's house.

Big Daddy lived about six or seven minutes from Aunt Grat but to me it was a whole other world. There were no eight to ten noisy kids arguing about the tv, waiting for the bathroom, grabbing for food then disappearing when chores were due. At Big Daddy's two-story Victorian there was just me, Big Daddy, Big Momma Nancy (Big Daddy's 4th wife) and Unc Artus.

After chores, I would hide away down in Big Daddy's basement and plow through issue after issue of Nat'l Geographic. Big Daddy knew I loved to read and fondly told me that not only did I resemble his first wife appearance-wise, but I also had the love of reading that she had. Each week Big Daddy would visit the neighbourhood thrift store and bring new copies of Nat'l Geo and chuckle proudly when I would advise him that I had completed the last stash.

I loved that old basement. It was always cool and smelled of wet earth. Although you could hear people walking above, only when they opened the door and hollered down at you could you hear voices. The rare times when the other grands would descend upon my Heaven, they would go down into the basement then come out creeped out because of the dankness and darkness. Everything I loved about it.

Big Daddy's gone, Unc Artus too. Big Momma and the house w/the wonderful basement are also gone. Aunt Grat's still here though, thank God! I started this thing about Aunt Grat so let's get back to her.
Time has not been good to her. Diabetes has taken hold of her body and become a horrible tenant. The brown eyes that could see a lie from across the street have become dim and watery. The 5'8'' lean frame that could stand precariously close to the edge and pull a 3 pound perch from the fast moving Snake river has leaned and slowed, requiring a walker. The mind that could tell the best jokes and mind teasers has dulled to mumbles and rambling sentences. One thing that hasn't slowed or been reduced due to illness is her love for God and His Commandments.

Since I was able to comprehend, Aunt Grat has loved the Lord w/all of her heart, mind and body. She was faithful to the Church and every pastor. She attended all services and made us attend too. Every cousin and sibling knew that going to church Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays was a requirement, no discussion. She worked hard in the church, cooking and selling chicken dinners to raise money for the church. Organizing concerts, picnics, fishing contests, anything to help the church.

She became the State Supervisor of Women when her Supervisor left the position. Knowing there would be times of struggle ahead, Aunt Grat forged ahead into the vineyard to do the work of the Lord, her eyes fixed firmly on the Cross. She traveled across Idaho and other states to support church work and church leaders, although most of the time none of the oh so important church folks came up to Idaho to help her. She dragged us to sing in prisons, to work revivals by leading the testimony and praise services, help w/the sick and shut in and everything else she thought we needed to do.

After a new bishop came in, he quickly sought to kick Grat out on her behind and he succeeded-the hoe-chasing, alcoholic fake that he is. And all those church folks (notice I'm not calling them Saints because Saints wouldn't treat her like this) that she ran up and down the highway helping? You guessed it, no where to be found. They're too important to talk to Grat now that she's no longer a State Supervisor and suffering from failing health. Now that she can't drop dollars in their offerings and we're not there as professional slaves, they don't need her.

So, most days Grat sits at home listening to Gospel DVDs or The Word tv programs. Her house is now quiet because all of us have grown and moved on...even her three children are out of state or out of touch. My aunt Minnie has now become Grat's care provider, herself ailing from diabetes. And after Uncle Al died, Grat became the pastor of the church but that too is in poor health. Most time the attendance at the church is no more than Aunt Mary, Aunt Minnie and Aunt Grat and one or two more members.

Rather than throwing in the towel and just staying home, Grat continues to serve the church as faithfully as her health will allow. She continues to press her way to the church just in case someone comes who needs comforting, prayer or just to see how she's doing. And although she can no longer see the words of the Bible, she is able to deliver her messages from the pages written on the tablet of her heart. When others would have long given up and given in to hatred and resentment, she has remained humble and faithful. She is stedfast and unmovable, always abounding in the works of the Lord because she believes her labour is not in vain---up the road is eternal gain.

I only hope that when I am faced w/the same troubles thrown into Aunt Grat's life, that I will be able to fight on like she has. I can only hope.


Blogger Kiyotoe said...

hopefully everybody has that Aunt Grat (for me it's Aunt Alice) in their life. That person that gives you an example of what/who you SHOULD and could be......

look at that smile on her....makes me feel like she loves me too and i've never even had the pleasure.

December 18, 2006 6:27 AM  
Blogger Skittles said...

Although this was meant to be about Aunt Grat, it also shows the other wonderful loving people you've had in your life.

December 18, 2006 5:03 PM  
Blogger sarala said...

So sorry about your Aunt Grat. It sounds like she was a great lady.
Your story of reading Nat'l Geographics in the basement as a child is great. I can almost see you there.

December 18, 2006 6:11 PM  

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