I have only a few patches of memories of my grandmothers. They both died before I hit my teen years, and my recollections are hazy at best.
My mother’s mother died when I was five. My recollections of her are of a tiny wisp of a gentle lady who wore shoes so small they almost fit me for dress-up when I was a very young girl.
My father’s mother died when I was 12. She lived 500 miles away in Virginia, and we saw her a couple of times a year. She would visit at Christmas dressed in lovely church clothes as she emerged from the Piedmont Airlines flight at the Columbia airport.
Both of my grandmothers were in professions traditional for women who worked in the mid 1900s. My dad’s mom, Granny, was a teacher of gifted and special ed children. My mother’s mom, Butter, was a much-beloved church secretary.
Recently Granny sat on my shoulder for a few minutes. My husband and I had met up one of his high school friends, Jackie, and her husband for a concert in Charlotte. Jackie and I had exchanged emails with details of the trip, and she had noticed my email signature that included my full name, Reba Hull Campbell.
Somehow our conversation turned to my maiden name, and Jackie mentioned her favorite teacher in all her school years had the same name as my maiden name, Hull. I mentioned in passing that my grandmother and my mother were both teachers students would have called Mrs. Hull.
After just a matter of sentences exchanged between us, Jackie and I figured out that my Granny was her second grade in teacher Newport News, VA. Jackie had only lived in Newport News a short time as a child because her father was in the military. She and my husband knew each other as teen-agers in Mississippi, so he had no reason to know of her early years in Virginia. This connection could have so easily gone undiscovered without the randomness of the email Jackie and I exchanged.
Jackie described her second grade experience as filled with my grandmother’s gentle nature, encouraging words and kindness to a young girl whose bad first grade experience could have soured her on school for life.
Chills ran through me as I imagined my Granny sitting on my shoulder at that moment listening to Jackie and me recount our collective memories of her. My mother described that kind of moment as a God wink…one of those treasured random connect points in life that that is impossible to put into words.
Jackie told me later that evening that she had felt a connection to me but didn't know why. Granny knew why, and it was just a matter of time before we discovered this amazing cross point in our lives. I feel closer to my Granny knowing she made such a difference in my friend's life.