My Hustler Granny

We’ve all heard the saying, “They don’t make them like that anymore,” talking about some appliance or person whose value is great because of perfection or endurance. This is what I can say about Granny, formally known as Brunice Lewis. I wrote about her when I started this blog in 2008. Granny was my husband’s grandmother but she was my granny too.

Granny, Andrina and Me, 1998

Granny liked me from the start, offering me her bed the first time we met, which was during the hour of my afternoon nap. I liked her, too, lying on her linen with little fear of saliva-scented and otherwise soiled sheets. From the beginning, being with Granny felt like home, and she taught me how to make a better one.

She came to Michigan from Alabama when she was 15, finding day work with a rich family in the old money city of Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Her day work often turned into night work, cleaning, cooking and caring for her employer’s business and children. She wasn’t ashamed of her work but let it work to her advantage. Though she was hired to cook, she learned additional culinary skills and put them to use as a caterer. Granny learned how to invest her money and used it and her time to invest in people. She taught me how to garden; I know when to plant what, how to dead head and pull weeds, and how to separate overgrown plants and transplant them and other plants. And because of Granny, I know how to make homemade sausage and Red Velvet cake. I met Granny because of my husband, but our relationship went beyond him.

Like with her daughter, Andrina, my mother-in-love, Granny and I shopped, talked on the phone and dined together. Most times it was Granny, Andrina and me. And sometimes they would call me on the three-way and say they wanted to buy me an outfit, just because. Other times Granny would just make me some beans and cornbread or a Red Velvet cake, just because. But I know her service wasn’t just because, it was because she loved me. And, oh, how I loved her.

I admired her for her grit and her wit and for just being an all around hustler. She knew how to make a dollar because she couldn’t depend on any industry. She was her own industry, making and selling pies, cakes, single dishes and whole dinners, and cleaning homes. Even with her busyness until her ailing days, Granny had a tremendous capacity to love. Her memory challenges me to step it up, keep it up and never forget about people. And for that she was truly my shero.

Copyright 2010 by Rhonda J. Smith


2 responses to “My Hustler Granny

  1. Andrina Smith

    I love you Rhonda! Thank you. This brought tears to my eyes.

  2. musingsofastrongblackwoman

    You’re welcome, Drina. I love you too.

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