If you’ve ever lost your family, or had no family to begin with, perhaps the best thing that could ever happen to you is to have someone adopt you. That, or hijack someone else’s clan and claim them for your own.
Over the last few months, I have come to know and love the Joseph family (our kids go to school together), whose matriarch has wriggled her tiny Island frame into my heart and home. She’s known simply as “Grandma”. Like all mothers, her given name has faded from public knowledge. She is “Algie’s mom” or “Kayla’s grandmother”. I myself have known her for nearly a year, and all I know is that her name begins with an “R”…or is it a “P”?
Grandma has taken the place of my own mother, since I’ve been on the outs with her for the last seven or so years. When I have gone to visit the Josephs with my kids, waddling up their cobblestone steps, she would greet my kids and I from her downstairs apartment, and then briskly whisk my son Stone away to fatten him up with goodies that she’s prepared. As I sit here and type, she has absconded with my son to the grocery store to give me a bit of reprieve so I can contend with my new born.
I call Grandma the Ninja Assassin for a few reasons.
1. She always wears her shoulder length hair in a bun, as though she’s about to whip out a household tool to do some menial, but much needed chore.
2. She’s of Asian and Black descent, and her piercing slanted eyes burrow into your soul, compelling you to tell the truth or conform to her smallest request.
3. She’s 4’1″ and 110 pounds (sopping wet). She can glide silently across the creakiest of floor boards undetected. I discovered this the other day when she walked up the stairs to my room where I’d fallen asleep with my week old infant in my arms, much to her displeasure. After watching me for 3 minutes, she walked (I think she floated) over to my bedside and jarred me from my sleep saying “You wan’ me to take the chile?!?” It was a demand in the form of a question. I hurriedly passed the baby over to her and feigned sleep. I can hear ANYTHING. I thought to myself. How could I not have heard her?
4. She cooks a mean meat soup. And got me to eat bull foot. I don’t eat ANYBODY’S feet, ya heard? But like I said, she has magical ninja powers, and by afternoon’s end, I was gratefully staring at the bottom of an empty bull foot soup bowl.
In 2008, I lost my last surviving grandparent – my grandmother who lived in Larteh. In God’s perfect timing, He sent along a surrogate granny who would do all the things that the late Antie Emma would take pleasure in, like bathing my 1 year old son and simultaneously changing poopy diapers. Like yesterday for example.
Stone had left a steamy, gooey gift in his diaper, which Grandma expertly tamed and banished. 5 minutes later, Liya left a midget sized payload in her diaper as well.
“You wan’ me to clean up her diaper too?” she asked in her sing-song accent.
I have 3 more years to wipe backsides and change diapers, I thought to myself. So YES, I want you to clean hers too.
“Yes Grandma. Sure…If it’s not too much trouble.”
The words had barely left my mouth when she scooped up little Liya and had her repacked in seconds. Like a what?? Say it with me – Like a NINJA.
It’s a little too soon, but I know the day will come when I will muster the courage to utter those three forbidden words to our new Grandma. Whether she says them back or offers me a chocolate turn over instead is fine with me. It’s all love either way.