|BWS Stories - NABBW and GRAND Magazine Contests Winners|
NABBW and GRAND Magazine Contests Winners - My Favorite Grandparent Memory - Runner Up!
Ronald Harris is a 58-year old Vietnam vet born and raised in Norfolk Virginia. After 29 years of drug and alcohol abuse, he is a born again Christian since 1994, with a wife of twenty-four years, two daughters; the youngest a junior at Howard University. Presently, he is a Veterans Employment Supervisor for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor here in Philadelphia, PA.
My Favorite Grandparent Memory - Runner Up!My grandmother, Julia Cheeks Towns, was born on January 1, 1900 which I thought was the most amazing thing (!) and I never failed to let be known when birthdays came up. She was a small, elegant woman of Indian descent (I just knew her father must have been a chief) evident by her hair silky black hair that bounced as she regally walked thru the house, or along the narrow streets of segregated Huntersville in Norfolk, Virginia. While meek and a woman of few words, the respect she always received spoke volumes.
Nothing made me prouder as her grandson than our walks to the corner store, Robert Hall men’s store, during the Easter season, or our Sunday morning strolled down brutal Wide Street to the New Calvary, and all the “How ya doing, Ms Towns” she always received; even from the neighborhood drunks and so-called “tough guys!
“Mom”, as I always called her, raised me from the age of nine, and was THE one ray of light in my youthful days of low self-esteem, and scarcity of confidence. Since she wasn’t one for a lot of hugging and physical affection, I doubted her love for me—a love that was made apparent one summer day in 1961. A week prior to the close of school year, I was struck by a Broadway taxi while playing Eye-Spy (Hide and Seek). Luckily, no bones were broken, but I hit my head so hard I had to get stitches, and Mom had to take me for periodical check-ups.
This particular morning we arrived at Kings Daughter’s clinic early (they didn’t give Negroes appointments), and we sat and watched white clients come and leave like a revolving door. Even at 11-years old, I knew that white people always came first, but after four hours, I guess, Mom had enough though you couldn’t tell by her demeanor as she calmly walked up to the Receptionist and asked to see her boss.
Moments later, this tall, middle-aged white doctor came out, and an intonation erupted from Mom that had I not seen it with my own eyes, would not have believed it was she. “Me and my grandson were the first ones here, and I done seen white folk come and go and I ain’t gonna stand for it. We’re here because a white taxi driver hit him, and somebody’s gonna see him right now!”
By this time everything had come to a shrieking halt, mouths incredulous that such potency was coming from this frail, 60-year old nanny with a 4th grade education. She came back, yanked me from my seat and said, “Come on boy, we gonna see a doctor, I got clothes to wash. Within half-an-hour, they had removed my stitches and re-bandaged my head. At the bus stop and walking home, not a word was uttered, but this little black boy was beaming. I kept echoing silently, SHE LOVES me! SHE LOVES ME!