Rita Mae Washington Mose
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.
This posting is dedicated to my grandmother, I called her Gran Mama Rita! It brings tears to my eyes as I write this! She’s been deceased for sometime now, but the memories, the family gatherings, her personality are pronounced and strong. It’s not even a matter of closing my eyes- she’s present and alive, appreciate for all that she has instilled in me as a woman and child of God!
Her loving spirit is evident. I have a flood of wonderful memories. First let me acknowledge this tremendous gift that my Cousin Omar and his mother Aunt Shirley gave me-yes this priceless black and white photo. I had never seen it until last Christmas Holiday when I returned home to Buffalo. Upon my departure Omar presented the photo on a disc and it really was the best present I could have ever received. There “Gran Mama ” stood next to a vehicle looking so sharp, so assured-as she always did. What a smile!
She loved her crossword puzzles and was so competent that she’d complete the New York Times Puzzles. It was clear she wasn’t hindered by the challenge! She gave herself an alloted time to complete them. Just like Scrabble lovers, she too had an extensive vocabulary, word comprehension and a trusty puzzle dictionary. She’d would masterfully complete her puzzles and resort to the dictionary only after she she’d maticulously completed the entire puzzle. I won’t repeat what she’d say-if she realized that that the word giving her grief was right there on her finger tips. I guess the thought would make her spout some well reserved profanity! Oh yeah-she knew the King’s English! That was so funny to me and my brothers.
My grandmother lived in a small appartment but that never hindered her green thumb. She’d take a small plant-research it’s name, origin and climate needs and if you returned week’s later she’d have blossoms and new growth sprouting all over the once tattered specimine. Her plants would receive showers, homemade plant food and loving conversation and in-kind they’d grow beautifully!
Always when I visited her, she’d have a stewing pot on the stove. Her cooking pots and pans on the stove were usually filled with a meat and some beans or rice, she’d say, “You don’t want any of that!” We’d laugh together because I didn’t. But Lord knows if it were fried chicken you’d hurt yourself eating until it was gone. Now my household occassionaly has a delicious crockpot of black eyed peas and smoked turkey simmering-wouldn’t she get a kick out of that!
Gran Mama Rita tried to save me from a childhood punishment that I rightfully deserved by slipping a quarter in my hand. The idea to pay back my debt, but that was too late. My mother had given me explicit instructions after school to buy a loaf of bread with the quarter she had given me, instead I spent it on my friends and treated them to candybars. “Who needed bread ?” must have been my thought! My Mother relinquished me to my room “to think about it”-door closed and there I lay on the floor crying for the evening.
Grandmama’s quarter didn’t save me from that punishment, but her love helped me in my solitary confinement.
Friends, I could go on and on about her, the sage advice she shared and her legacy of abundant living ! A wonderful pound cakes she lovingly called “rabbit cake,” it lingers in my taste buds. Oh there’s so many fondly recalled memorable moments: her expressed pride of her nephew Grover Washington Jr, my being able to sit in Jazz clubs and outdoor venues with Granmama listening and experiencing Grover’s musical genius- “Play Grover!” she bellowed! My being able to see and feel her family ownership and pride during our college and high school graduations- “That’s Shirley, my daughter!”; seeing her battle her illnesses- “I’m ok!”; witnessing her dance to some Mowtown Music (mouthing the lyrics)- “That’s good music!” and watching her laughter at our many antics “What are you all doing?”- she wasn’t embarrassed about appreciating the simple gifts of living!
And yes we’d discover many family photos that mysteriously disappeared and reappeared in her photo albums! What a joy! What a refreshing spirit! She’ll forever reside in my family’s heart and I say, ” Thank you Lord for my sweet Gran Mama Rita!” To know her was to love her!
Come on friends let’s celebrate God’s gift of daily life, laughter, good food, great music, and love of family-SIMPLE ABUNDANCE!
Some favorite Motown hits that Gran Mama loved!