I know something BIG is happening this week and it’s a different kind of “something new.” Election for POTUS is 11/6 and Tuesdays are also typically the launch day for books, which is why I’m declaring Nov. 5th the official birthday of my fourth novel, SOMETHING NEW. It’s available in trade paperback and ebook. It happens to be the birthday for my grandmother who raised me, Zola Mae Brown, who passed away of heart disease when I was 19 (she was just 60). It’s odd that she’s now been gone longer than she was in my life. How is this possible?
My grandmother is still ever present in my life. Like all mothers do, she molded me into who I am today. Even though she left us before I graduated college or got married or had babies or published a book, it feels like she’s been there. For my third childbirth, I decided to use hypnobirthing (no drugs) and I brought a picture of my grandmother to keep on my hospital bedside table. Having her picture in the room made me feel like she was a part of it, just as she’s been a part of me raising my children ever since. I hear her words coming out of my mouth. Her actions in my own. She was a stay-at-home mom, a good cook, kept an immaculate house, loved to garden. She was an “old-fashioned” wife and mom, the type of woman who at least on the surface seemed okay with the “housewife” term and obligations. She quilted. She made me and my sisters matching dresses.
She loved country music. She was cool with DIY projects. Even though she only went to school through 8th grade, education was very important to her. From the time I was little, I remember her talking about us going to college. In many ways, we are good at opposite things. She was a country girl who became a domestic goddess. The only thing domestic about me is that I work at home. She pulled off elaborate holidays with eighteen grandchildren. I loved watching she and my grandfather two-step in the living room. She had to stand on her tip-toes. She also had a big crush on Tom Selleck.
Yes, she was very proud of her girls. She saved every achievement. No doubt I could feel her pride and wanted to make her even prouder.
Can you tell I miss her? That I’m choked up thinking about her? She was only 4’11” so I surpassed her in height in junior high. She became my “cute, little grandmother,” though that didn’t mean she wasn’t boss. She could be tough. She expected us to follow the rules. But, dang, she was cute.
I love to write about families and, in particular, generations of families. In Fixer Upper, I put three generations together on the vineyard in eastern Oklahoma in an old farm house. In Something New, I’ve put three generations together in a loft in downtown Oklahoma City. It’s not a long shot to say I fantasize about that, my grandmother, sisters and my children under one roof. But, then, I guess we really are, aren’t we?
I can still hear her saying:
“It takes two to tango.”
“Don’t get in the mud with the pigs.”
“Marry for love.”
“Things will be better in the morning.”
“Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”
“Rise and shine!”
A little gallery in honor of my grams. And for my grandmother’s birthday, I hope you’ll tell your mother, grandmother and other loved ones in your life how special they are to you. xo-Malena