Because of a flood decades ago, I have nothing that my grandmother wrote, except, I suppose, all that she wrote on my heart. She was a professional storyteller and sometimes I can see her sitting on a stool in the kitchen, a big yellow bowl in her lap, whipping egg whites with a wooden spoon until they’d formed the proper peaks ready for angel food cake. I remember bits of her stories, but mostly I remember her face when she told… her eyes did get brighter, and she rose to great heights because the stories she told came from deep inside her, and always gave me hope.
So whenever I create a grandparent in a story, you can bet that Nana is there, too.
Here’s a poem from my novel, Almost Home. Sugar Mae Cole’s grandpa wrote it long before she was born, but she pulls strength from it on her first night in a group foster home.
When you don’t think you can keep going,
You might be right,
But just in case you’re wrong,
When you’re flat out and don’t know what to do,
It might be a while before you know,
But don’ give up,
If you’re feet are sore,
If you hear a roar,
When the worst that can happen is come and gone
And you’re still standing,
Remember that you won.
— O. Kingston Cole, written upon the occasion
when a tornado hit Plainview, Georgia, and
tore up my house, leaving me and my family