Ruby Red was born out of grief. She’s nine. She’s spunky. She wears her heart on her sleeve. She appeared out of the blue and stole the first line of my next novel. She took off running and I’ve been tagging along ever since.

It’s difficult to make sense of life after both your sister and brother die within a few months of each other like Ruby’s did. Her whole world turned upside down so Ruby turned to blogging to try and put things “right” again.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Grandma's Red Convertible

When my grandma turned fifteen she took the bus up to the Woolworths Five ‘n Dime in Durham ‘n got herself a job. It was the summer ‘fore some a Martin Luther King’s friends sat at the lunch counter there protestin’ segregation . Things was different back then. Black folks ‘n white folks weren’t allowed to sit together ‘n eat a sandwich ‘n drink a Coke. It’s good that them people did that sit-in ‘cause if they didn’t me ‘n Kerrington probably wouldn’t be livin’ next door to the other ‘n we probably wouldn’t be friends. But that’s not what I wanna talk ‘bout. I wanna talk ‘bout Grandma seein’ some cut-glass perfume bottles on one a the counters at that Woolworths. They was the most beautiful things she ever did see. On the day she got paid for the first time she bought two perfume bottles—a pretty aqua one ‘cause that’s her birthstone color ‘n a clear glass one. When she got on the bus to come home she took them bottles outta the bag ‘n unwrapped them from the tissue paper. She just held ‘em one in each hand all the way home ‘n thought how for the rest a her life she’d always have nice things. She showed me them bottles one day ‘n they was just as pretty as they was fifty-five years ago.


Well, today is Grandma’s seventieth birthday. She been talkin’ ‘bout a havin’ a red convertible for a long time ‘n when she woke up this mornin’ Grandpa said to look out the front window. Low ‘n behold there was this bright red convertible with a big bow tied to the sterrin’ wheel. She went right out in her pajamas ‘n fluffy slippers ‘n took Grandpa for a spin round the block. After lunch she ‘n Grandpa drove down here to Hawboro ‘n picked me ‘n Jessie Mobley ‘n Kerrington up from school ‘n took us for a drive up to Durham. She wanted to show us the place where that old Woolworths used to be on Main Street—the place where she started thinkin’ ‘bout how the rest a her life would be.

She drove round the corner ‘n parked the car ‘n then took us to the Parlour for double dip ice cream cones.

We was sittin’ at the table eatin’ our ice cream when Grandma said, “In the summertime I’m gonna drive us from one end a North Carolina to the other. “From the top a Mt. Pisgah over to the Outer Banks ‘n across the Pamlico Sound to Ocracoke Island.” Kerrington ‘n Jessie Mobley looked at each other ‘n then at me. “All a us are goin’?” Jessie Mobley asked. “Me, too? I’m goin’ too?” Kerrington smiled real big. “Yep! We’re all goin’.” Grandma said.

“I hope I’m as rich as you are when I grow up,” Jessie Mobley said. “Who’s rich?” Grandma asked ‘n put her cone back in the dish. She sat up straight ‘n dabbed at her mouth with a napkin. I knowed she was gonna tell that story ‘bout buyin’ them perfume bottles at the Woolworths ‘n she did. Then she said matter-a-fact like, “If you want to be rich, you’ll be rich. If you want to have nice things, you’ll have nice things. It’s all your choice. How do you think I got this convertible? I been thinkin’ ‘bout how I was gonna look drivin’ a fancy car like that ‘n where I was gonna drive it. I never had one worry ‘bout how I was gonna afford it. Listen honey,” Grandma put her hand on Jessie Mobley’s ‘n kept right on talkin’. “The rest a your life is the rest a your life. You ‘n only you are in control a it. Choose to be happy or choose to be sad, choose to be kind or choose to be mean, but most a all choose joy!” Grandma smiled then reached out to hold hands with Kerrington too. “You young ladies, all a y'all,” she said ‘n looked at both a them ‘n then at me, “are entitled to…every…good…thing.”


On the way home I thought ‘bout them perfume bottles ‘n I thought ‘bout Martin Luther King sayin’, “I have a dream.”  If Grandma says we’re entitled…then what ‘bout Rubin ‘n Loraine? Loraine dreamed everday ‘bout bein’ a basketball star ‘n Rubin dreamed ‘bout inventin’ sometin’ ‘n bein’ famous. Wadn’t they entitled too? Wadn’t they entitled to grow up ‘n be rich ‘n drive ‘round in a fancy red convertible? I never dreamed ‘bout nothin’.  I got some deep thinkin’ to do on that.

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