The very clever Clever Girls Collective asked its bloggers to write a post in honor of Mother's Day and in support of the Heart of Haiti campaign about a woman who helped us along the way. This Mothers Day, The Clever Girls would like to offer you the chance to buy something from the Heart of Haiti collection, to benefit rebuilding of Haiti by local artisans. Get 15% off your purchase from May 3-8 by using the code: CLEVERGIRLS.
I've been blessed many times in my life with help and assistance from some amazing women, but none more wonderful than my grandmother, Haley Campbell. My grandmother, or Granny as she liked to be called, was a tiny, scrappy woman from the hills of Kentucky who was probably my first role model for hard work, perserverence, and having a positive outlook on life, no matter what cards you are dealt.
Family lore has it that I was a large and fussy baby, nearly too much for my 90 pound mom to handle. Mom and I traveled from Korea to the US when I was nine months old. It took four layovers and 47 hours to get from Seoul to Louisville, Kentucky. To hear my mom tell it, I screamed the entire time. I am a much better traveler now, and try to keep the screaming to a minimum.
A magical thing happened when we arrived in Louisville. My mom had never met my grandparents and my aunts, who were waiting at the gate for us, looking exactly like the faded black and white photos she was clutching in her had. According to my mom, I took one look at them, and immediately quieted and reached out my arms. Somehow, I knew I'd come home.
Throughout my early life, Granny was my strongest ally, best friend, and biggest cheerleader. My mom and I lived with her during my toddlerhood, while my dad was stationed in Germany. When my dad came back to the US and was stationed at Fort Knox, my grandparents would drive from Ohio to Kentucky every Friday to pick me up, and return on Sunday with me. When we moved back to Ohio, I spent nearly every weekend of my childhood at her house, mostly with my cousin Barb and other cousins as they grew older.
I remember being in her tiny kitchen, a pot of chicken & dumplings simmering on the stove, cornbread baking in the oven, with gospel music blaring on a tiny radio, and all of us dancing. Granny had a special kind of dance, part shuffle, part clog-stomp, keeping time to the music, while the kids joined hands and danced in a ring around her. By today's standards, we were probably very poor, but we didn't know it. What we knew was that we were in a house full of the richness of love.
As I grew older, Granny encouraged me to study hard, and when I graduated from high school, she was there, in the front row. She never let an opportunity go by to brag about me, to the neighbors, people in the grocery store, at the doctor's office, or just about anyone who would listen.
I went off to college in the fall of 1979. Granny wrote me letters, telling me what was happening at home, how her garden was faring, and whatever she happened to be thinking of at the time. She didn't have much money, because by now she was no longer working, but she always managed to tuck a neatly folded $5 bill into the letter "just in case" I needed it. It seemed like her letters and her $5 bill seemed to always arrive at the exact moment I was down to my last $1 and subway token, a few days before my work-study check was due and I could breathe again. That $5 saved me more than once. I knew that $5 was a great deal of money to her, and it meant the world to me.
Granny died when I was in law school, after a battle with stomach cancer. I've missed her every day since. I like to think that somewhere in heaven, there's a little woman from Kentucky, dancing her special dance, with a choir of gospel-singing angels as back-up.
I was selected for this very special “CleverHaiti” opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity. All opinions are my own.