As I wrote about this complex character, foremost in my mind was the fear she lived with every day. She was passing for white in a place and time in history where that was dangerous. She married a man who loved another woman his entire life. She lost her brother when he was told about her true heritage. With her parent’s death she was left alone without their love and protection. A life of betrayal and abandonment made it unbearable to receive it from her children.
The circumstances of her life created a tough woman who found it hard to forgive. But when she showed love it was complete. Each time we saw anger it was because of an action she saw as a betrayal. The first incident we witnessed was when Daddy allowed Miss Ada and James to take a seat in the front row of that church for Granddaddy Tucker’s funeral. Later we learned he also refused to evict them from the farm as she demanded. Her response was to cut him from her life, pictures and all. Only a debilitating stroke, her need for his assistance, and Daddy’s consistent commitment eased her anger and brought forgiveness. We also witnessed her punishment for betrayal when Aunt Sara and Uncle Roy came to the house and took her furniture. She held that anger to the last days of her life.
But there was another side to Grandma Em. She was a woman capable of great love. Through her relationship with Missy, kindness toward Nettie, acceptance of Daddy, and acknowledgement of her love for Momma we were able to see her loving nature as well.
As I wrote about each character I often created a visual picture in my mind. Grandma Em took on the image of my Great Grandmother Goggie pictured here. I invite you to celebrate both of these women.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Santayana