Skip to main content

100 in the Light

Three years ago today, the world lost a woman who had been with it for over a century. She didn't live the easiest life, but it was a blessed one. Without her, scores of people who are near and dear to me wouldn't exist. And, selfishly, I must admit to being one of them. I am, of course, referring to Callie Mae Hubbard, also known as my paternal grandma.

Passing away just one week shy of her 101st birthday, Callie Mae was my longest-lived, and last remaining, grandparent. They are all gone now. Both grandfathers were unknown to me, and Gummy (my maternal grandmother) had died 10 years earlier. There was a lot I didn't know about Callie Mae, but what I did know, I liked. She was one-of-a-kind.

In early-twentieth century Mississippi, life for Callie Mae couldn't have been always smooth sailing for an African-American woman trying to keep her head above water, but she managed somehow. She taught school, and married Oscar, whom she would have twelve children with, including my father. She would lose Oscar, suddenly, in 1961, and be left to raise her younger children the best she could. She would later live to see three of her adult children perish before their time. Through it all, her steadfast belief in God, and the support of family, saw her through.

By the time I was aware of things, Callie Mae had moved up to Champaign, to be closer to where much of the family had moved to. My parents and I would visit her often at her cozy home in the north end of town. I'd often see her reading from her Bible, then putting it down and whispering some sort of prayer to herself. Sometimes she wouldn't let us leave without taking some vegetables she'd canned from her garden out back, or some wrapped meat from her garage freezer.

Callie Mae and I didn't engage in direct conversation much. Already rather old when I was born, she was somewhat hard-of-hearing, and we truly came from different times and places. Finally, however, we found some common ground during what would be our last conversation. Callie had fallen and injured her hip. I visited her in the hospital, and it was just her and I in the room. There, we talked for awhile, mostly about my dad, but also about other things. It was deeply meaningful to me. That year, she called to wish me a happy birthday. A first.

When traveling down to Mississippi on that late-October day in 2008, to attend Callie Mae's funeral, I thought of all the living she'd done in those nearly 101 years. My mind wandered back to what it must have been like for her: the life she led, the struggles she faced, the strength she must have that I had never really appreciated. The cotton fields were beautiful that day. Beautiful like my grandmother Callie Mae Hubbard, whose time on this earth was done.


Popular posts from this blog

If You Could Read My Mind

Dance clubs are a funny thing. They contain within their walls a life force and vibrancy sometimes unmatched anywhere else. When dusk settles and the lights come on, people will flood the dance floors to gyrate to music with hypnotic beats and songs about love, lust and fun at the disco. At gay bars, this sort of scenario usually increases ten-fold. It isn't for everyone, but for many it is a respite from the harsh realities of the real word. It is a place that isn't just a structure, but a sanctuary where folks -- minorities in their own communities -- can take shelter and unwind with abandon, at least for a few nighttime hours.
As someone who benefited greatly from such an aforementioned gay dance club, you can imagine my dismay at news of the closing of Chester Street Bar. In business for over three decades, gay-owned and operated, there was a time when C-Street (as it was known by most) was the only haven for those in the LGBT community, near and far, to enjoy themselves …

Third Death

My father has had three funerals. The third (though perhaps not final) one, was last night.
In reality, Lewis died in 1997. Cancer. Aged 52. He had a real funeral. I was there. The next two funerals occurred only in my dreams, yet they seemed real at the time, and their impact during the waking hours was keenly felt.
You see, during the intervening nineteen years, Lewis has come back to life in my dreams, many times. It is more than simply having a dream about him. During these nighttime images, it is noted that Lewis shouldn't be there, that he died of cancer and is resting six feet under. How, then, could he be alive and, seemingly, healthy?

Thoughts on an Election

Before I get started on the ruminations of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, I'll begin by saying I really have no clue as to who our next president will be. I've always fretted over the outcome of elections, regardless of the polls, and this year is no different. Especially this year. A good case can be made as to why Hillary Clinton will become our 45th president. All one has to do is look at the polls. Clinton has a comfortable lead in many states, enough to make one think that she will win handily on November 8th.
Of course, polls can be wrong. 538 gives Clinton's changes of winning in the low-mid 80 percent range. Several polls would seem to agree. Many Republicans are jumping ship from Trump. The race looks over. But of course, humanity isn't as easily predictable as polling would have us believe. Things happen. People can surprise us. And, for better or worse, I think that Donald Trump may very well become our next president.