H is for Helen:
More specifically, Mama Helen, which is what I started calling her when I was younger. Who is Mama Helen you ask? She is my paternal great-grandmother; she was a major force in raising me, along with her daughter (my grandmother, who I also call Mama Jean) who actually adopted me. When my own mother wasn't around I was able to look to them both for guidance, encouragement and love.
My great-grandmother even allowed me to stay with her for a year when I was about 15 or 16, when it was against the rules. Now that's love; risking where you stay in order to take in a family member when their living situation isn't as it should be.
I can remember all of the lessons my great-grandmother told me, all of the stories she would tell me about the one time she was so thirsty that she decided to see if the water tasted any different from the "whites only" fountain rather than the one for "colored's only". While my great-grandmother's sister was scared to death, my great-grandmother wasn't. This let me know that my Mama Helen had always been a rebel and she was going to do any and everything she wanted to do. I would also love to hear stories about how she was psychic; and honestly it was true because she had an uncanny ability to know things were going to happen before they did. One story in particular was when she called here to her family from Detroit and told whoever had answered the phone call (I can't remember now) and said to them that Jake (one of her brothers) was drowning down in the river. Sure enough, the person who'd answered the phone, along with a few other people went to the river and Jake was in the water trying to swim and they were able to pull him out. My grandmother would also tell me how she could see family members who had passed on. It would scare the living crap out of me but I couldn't help but get excited about it, because even as a kid I was interested in the Supernatural.
My great-grandmother was an inspiration to me because of her spunk, sass, and because she was just so cool. Not to mention, that she would give me and my siblings any and every thing we wanted. I remember the her house always smelled like turnip and collard greens. I learned how to make potato salad and black eyed peas from her. I learned so much from her...
When I first entered college, I was living on my own and I would walk to school since it was right across the street from my apartment at the time. She would always call me right as I was beginning my walk. She would talk with me until I made it to campus safely and she'd call me back again, and wait til I made back home after my classes. My great-grandmother was such a sweet woman but she would give you a piece of her mind if you crossed her and if you ever messed with any of her family or grandbabies you had better walk or Run is probably a better word to use, because she would be coming for you.
Mama helen passed on when I was about twenty-one or twenty-two. I took that really hard, in fact I was a great deal of shock over it for a while. But I've had a few run- in's with her smelling her favorite perfume in the wind, as I walked home from school one day, feeling her presence once when I was upset and crying; sitting on the steps that lead to my apartment and another time when I worked at Popeyes, I was working the drive-thru and it was sunny and bright outside, there was this huge tree that casted a shadow on the ground and I swear I saw her face in the shadow. I don't know, maybe it was her way of letting me know that she's still around watching over me and that definitely gives me peace of mind.
I really, really miss my great-grandma but I think back to all of the times we got to spend together, all of the stories and lessons she taught me and I'm content.
Mama Helen, In her own words: This is what she would say when she'd feel something big was about to happen-
"I can feel it, just as sure as I'm sitting here."