Caribbean Story Part 11: Life Gets Confusing
In Part 10, the Davises were making social and economic strides. Miranda was advancing academically. Mona Spooner and Marvin Laws got married and Merel Olivia Laws replaced Miranda as the baby in the family.
In this episode (11 of 12), Lulu nags Miranda about her co-ed relationship and Grandma Mattie sheds light on that subject. Miranda is a bit confused.
Caribbean folks like the Davises who were considered lower class citizens did not date. The young people smiled and blushed at each other until they realized that they like one person more than the rest, and then they started a courtship. At that point relatives, church folk and neighbors would all be aware that the couple were involved in a serious relationship.
Miranda at age sixteen liked Herbert Paul, her fellow youth leader in their church group, but she was not interested in having a boyfriend. They engaged in interesting conversations and sharpened each other's wit. Lulu became over-protective, and began to limit their time together. Miranda was confused that something as simple as enjoying a friendship caused such constant nagging.
“Miranda, you sure you and he only talking?”
“Miranda, make sure he don’t touch you.”
“Miranda, let him leave before dark.”
“Miranda, don’t let people talk bad about you.”
Granny to the Rescue
Miranda realized that her mother did not have the language to express the anxiety she felt, let alone the love that instigated it. Miranda appealed to Granny Janie to talk Lulu out of the constant nagging. Granny Janie walk over to Lulu’s house and tried to ease the tension.
“Sit down, both of you,” Granny Janie began, and led the way to the dining table. “It was me who talk to Miranda when she begin to see them monthlies, but I didn’t know that the job was mine to talk about everything. Now I even have to talk to you, Lulu because you not acting like a mother. Just because you mess up, don’t mean that she will do the same thing.”
Lulu got defensive. “I know how to act like a mother. I will buy school uniform for Miranda until it is time for her to leave school. Even if she get pregnant, she wilI have nothing to wear but uniform, because I will be the only mother in my house.”
Caribbean School Girls In Uniform
Grannie Janie laughed out loud. “Yes child,” she managed when she stopped laughing. “Miranda is a bright young lady and she got dreams me and you never had. Just encourage her. Help her become what she want to become. She got plenty to talk about with girls―and with boys. Please don’t make her be like you to stay away from people, because you know that don’t help.”
Turning to Miranda, she continued. “Miranda, you grandmother proud o’ you. They make you youth leader because you sensible. Keep you head on and remember that what sweet in the goat mouth could get sour at the bottom. Don’t plan to enjoy anything that could make you cry after nine months. You got you mother sense plus you grandmother sense. Let that boy and everybody else know you don’t come cheap.”
It was not Granny Janie's first attempt to deliver Miranda from her mother's wrath. This grandmother had always been the real mother figure in her life.
Grandma Mattie's Explanation
Miranda also complained to Grandma Mattie. While pushing back and forth in the wooden rocker, and looking with compassion at the image of naivety on the straight back cushioned chair, the grandmother unfolded a story Miranda never expected to hear.
“I believe I know why Lulu is so frightened about you talking to boys. Apart from the fact that she loves you, something inside is nagging her and she handle it by pestering you."
“What are you saying, Grandma Mattie?”
“Lulu ask you Granny Janie not to blame her for being pregnant. She did not explain that, and you father did not tell me either; but he tell his sister Myra, and she tell Mona. He told them he was sorry.”
“Are you going to tell me, Grandma?”
“I think you big enough to understand. Now, please forgive you father. Don’t hate him because the last thing he had to say before he died is how much he love you. As for you, Miranda, there is nothing or no one he could love more than you.”
“I love him too, and will always love him; but finish the story.”
“It’s what Lulu said, plus what my son didn’t say that make me put two and two together. Lulu was a good girl, Miranda; your father was not as good as she.”
“How can you say that, after all the great things everybody always speak about him?”
“When you were born, he come to see you and you mother. He told Lulu that he was sorry and I know he really was. I am only trying to explain to you that you mother have good reason for how she behave. “Grandma Mattie stopped rocking now, and leaned closer to Miranda. “We have to understand her and forgive her the way she forgive you father.”
“For what? You mean? You mean? He forced her?” Tears welled up in Miranda's eyes.
Life as she knew it was built around the facts she took she granted. Now she was not so sure.
One More Surprise
After Grandma Mattie’s revelation, Miranda had many questions. Her mother Lulu did not see the need to discuss anything at all about a dead man. Her aunts Myra and Mona were in Curaçao and it did not seem appropriate to ask questions by letters; the answers would take too long to arrive. Granny Janie was not yet aware of what Grandma Mattie had explained.
Matilda suspected that Grandma Mattie was talking with Granny Janie about it when she found them in conversation outside the church after service; but they looked too happy for that and Grandma Mattie was showing Granny Janie a letter.
“What are you talking about so soon after the pastor’s message on kind words?” Miranda smiled.
“Something really kind,” answered Grandma Mattie, while folding the letter and putting it in her purse.
“Is it about me?”
“Yes,” they replied together, and started laughing together.
"You'll know real soon," offered Granny Janie.
“Ummm,” thought Miranda. "Granny Janie doesn’t lie.”
© 2018 Dora Weithers