Black Author Showcase

Agents of Literary Change

Today, for reasons I have yet to determine, my late, paternal grandmother weighs heavily upon my already ultra-engaged mind. Malinda Cartwright was a force of nature - a "piece of work" to be sure. This East Texas-born mother of nine, born in 1889, remained mentally sharp, enjoyed near 20-20 vision, and had all but two of her original teeth when she died at at the age of 104. Until the end, she was determined to offer the 'grim reaper' nothing short of a moving target. 'Miss Lindy,' — Gram* to me—provided me the mental gymnastics I crave in stimulating conversation. We also enjoyed our frequent twirl around her living room, which served as a dance floor, whenever she really felt the "need to move," as she put it.

I recall a visit I made to her apartment where, at age ninety-six she still lived alone, and did so until age ninety-eight. Even then, she had to be convinced to move in to help "tend to" her ailing oldest daughter. She relented. On that humid summer day, I arrived with purpose, lugging my full-size video camera, a tripod, and an new S-VHS video tape. After some earlier urging, I had convinced Gram to sit for a lengthy interview, and answer my long list of questions about her life and times. That video tape is one of the most valued items if own.

I entered, received and delivered a big hug; enjoyed our brief 'two-step,' and some healing laughter. The spotless little apartment was, as always, an inviting, embracing place to be. I immediately noticed two items that were always within her reach: her opened King James Bible, placed exactly center of her coffee table; and her Mossberg 410 shotgun set in its place behind her front door. Gram had an unshakeable belief in the Almighty. She also believed in being ready to give Him a helping hand, whether or not required.

There are so many things to tell about the two amazing hours that followed. However, I will, for now, constrain the recounting of all that was said. I learned of secrets my beloved father never told (about himself), and the fact my gram eloped to marry my grandfather, David, whom I never meet. He died from injuries suffered in a car accident when my father was seventeen. One of the many poignant things Gram said was:

"Baby, these years have gone so fast, I can't even tell 'ya."
"But Gram, you're ninety-six years old," I remarked.
"I know. But you just wait, you'll see."

She was right then, and she is right today. With each passing moment comes the realization of just how brief this life is, even if one is blessed to hang around more than a century. Simply put, life is but a minute. If we are not careful, precious time—the gift we all possess in an unknowable quantity—can be frittered away. Do you end some days having surrendered time like so many unused cell phone minutes, or having allowed it to be stolen by others who do not value their own time, let alone yours? Don't! It's my message to you and to myself.

What of your dreams? Are you fervently pursuing them? Dreams delayed or deferred are often dreams denied or destroyed. Imagine a brimming cookie jar set on a table in a dark room. There's no need to turn on the light; if you can make it to the table, finding the jar and grabbing a cookie is no problem. However, the day comes when the hand must go deeper, and deeper into the jar to retrieve the tasty prize. Then, comes the day when the fingertips must search the bottom in order to find a remaining treat. That's when the light goes on. Okay, there are better analogies but you get the point.

What of your time? Word to the living: fully use all your minutes. Purposely live and love during these 'Living Years.' This is no dressed rehearsal; it's the real show. Most importantly, as I constantly admonish myself, BE HAPPY. Find it, seize it, and share it. Far too quickly, it's Oops! Out of Time.

*Gram is the inspiration for 'Gram d'lena,' the beloved grandmother in my third, and Pulitzer nominated (2007) novel, 'A Family Gathering.' read digital excerpt: turn pages online)

Gene Cartwright
Founder/CEO, | iFOGO Village | Gene's Novels
iFOGO Village

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