The Legacy of My Grandmother

June 23, 2008
By Maurina Brooks, Columbus, OH

It was just the little things Grandma did that made all the difference in the world to me. Whenever she looked at me with her sweet angelic smile, it made me feel so warm and safe inside. She never said a harsh or discouraging word to me; only words to lift me up and let me know that she loved me. All of the memories that I made with her and all of the good times we shared really created an unbreakable bond between us. My grandmother has kept her legacy alive in me through her storytelling, showing me love, and always giving of herself to others. It is and honor to pay tribute to my grandmother, Leola Lucille.

Leola, born on October 6, 1933 to Thomas and Leola, grew up at 566 Mt. Vernon Avenue in Columbus, Ohio. After going to Garfild Elementary, Central, and East High Schools, she married James. They had four lovely daughter togethter and were married for fifty-five years. Even though Grandma did not attend college, she was a very smart and witty person who was constantly giving me tips on how to deicorate a room, put together an outfit, or jazz up a melody on the piano. Her life consisted of something more than getting a college education. She raised a family, something that cannot be learned anywhere.

Sharing thoughts, sharing stories, and even sharing recipes were all ways I spent time with and learned from my grandmother. Creating crazy concoctions, making amazing recipes, making uncleanable messes-- all of this took place in Grandma's kitchen. Whenever I wanted to try my hand at cooking, Grandma never said "No." I would run into my cooking laboratory and start experimenting. Grandma would let me make as big of a mess as I wanted to make, and she never told me to clean it up. When I had had enough cooking, I would run out of the kitchen and start doing something else. I would peek into the kitchen and see her scrubbing away at a cake pan. Guilt would overtake me, and I would go back in to help her. She told me I did not have to help, but I did not listen to her. Because she did not say anthing to me about cleaning the kitchen, she let me realize that I needed to help her on my own. She was teaching me even when I did not know it.

Grandma not only taught me practical lessons, but she also taught me how to give. During the 1930s and 1940s, when Granma grew up, times were difficult for Americans because of the depression. Since Grandma was not always able to get everything that she wanted as a child, she tried to ensure the happiness of her children and granchildren in any way she could. I cannot remember one Christmas when Grandma did not give me a present. One year, I had my heart set on getting a Barbie cash register. When I woke up, I was talking about that cash register, and when I went to sleep, I was dreaming about it. I neagged my mother for it for months, but she said I did not need it and that it was a waste of money. I told my Grandma what Mom said, and she stated her famous quote: "You don't have to need it to want it." Under the Christmas tree that year was my Barbie cash register, making that Christmas a day I would never forget.

By sharing stories with me about her life, she was able to pass on her legacy. Within all of her stories were hidden lessons about life and our family history. She often discussed her childhood on Mt. Vernon Avenue, an exciting street in Columbus, Ohio, during the 30s and 40s where men were walking up and down the street selling their wares and street vendors were advertising their goods. There was always something to do, someone to see, or somewhere to go on Mt. Vernon. Grandma was surrounded by music her entire life and she loved to play the piano. Her brothers started a band called the Four Knights of Harmony and she enjoyed telling me about their adventures. One of her favorite stories to tell about them was when she and her sister stowed away in their brothers' car and sneaked into one of their concerts. Whatever story she told, she told it with passion and with joy.

My grandmother's life is an example of love, devotion and self-sacrifice. Everyday she was telling a story, giving advice, of just being ther to lend a listening ear. By spending time with me and telling me stories about her childhood, she was able to teach me how to love, how to have fun, and how to be giving. Although she has gone to heaven, I will be able to carry on her legacy to the next generation. She gave me a piece of her life, and I will cherish her for the rest of mine.

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