It is said all the time that you do not have to be blood related to be family, and this has been the case since I was a child. At 10 years old my best friend, gave me another family, including another grandmother, who was called, 'Geenaw'.
This Monday Geenaw joined other loved ones in a more celestial place. Her 88 years on Earth was an endless giving of good things...not Martha Stewart good things, but real women/real life good things.
Like any grandmother, food was a great gift she gave us. Geenaw introduced me to Top’s BBQ, The Rendevous, and of course her catfish is legendary. Mustard. That's right, mustard. It is a recipe that my family adopted from her and still uses today.
From the age of 11 to my early 20's, I visited Memphis on a yearly basis during the summer time and once or twice getting to attend Memphis in May, a really big city event. Memphis became my second home to where I knew the street names and how to get around. I became a frequent visitor at Graceland, The Memphis Zoo, Mud Island, and The Pink Palace and introduced to all of them by Geenaw.
The best part of her tours was being introduced to the extra pieces of personal fondness she added to each trip, each adventure, even learning about the Sears building across from the first Krystal Burger and being shown the motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.
I do not know if she ever knew her impact on my visits, but then again maybe she did. She was not a woman who needed kudos just desserts. I'm talking good stuff like cakes, cupcakes and candy bars.
Geenaw made me feel like one of her very own even when we would play Yahtzee. She wanted to beat me like any other family member she played games with, and that is how I knew I was an official granddaughter.
Thanks to Geenaw I fell in love with the Memphis Zoo and visited it with her frequently growing up. She taught me about volunteering at the Zoo and how life in your 50's and 60's did not have to include soap operas and unnecessary mall trips, but enjoying life's creatures and little treasures. I loved visiting the zoo so much, that when my own family had a reunion near Memphis we took a trip to the Memphis Zoo, and I got to step in her shoes and play tour guide.
Thank you, Geenaw.
I think I'll go to the Zoo today.