Gettin’ Learned with Granny


I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, my Granny, when I was young. To this day, I hold on to a card that she wrote me on my twelfth birthday, urging me to “do good in your schooling, it’s something you’ll need the rest of your life.” When I was just getting up to the age that kids learn to read, Granny took me to a teacher supply store and let me pick out some ‘learning to read’ workbooks. I still remember her paying for them by pulling out her old floral coin purse, counting dollar bills and change out onto the counter. For whatever reason, I also remember the conversation Granny had with my Daddy when he came to pick me up that night. I can still hear her telling him “Rachel got real learned on her spelling today.” I think I remember this so well because at this moment I realized that “learned” wasn’t the correct word to use in that sentence. It didn’t sound like the sentences in the books. Maybe this was the beginning of my realization that Granny was pushing me towards something that she never had the opportunity to achieve. She moved to South Carolina from North Carolina as a young teenage girl with her twin sister Melba. They worked on a farm, where they met their husbands – Granny married my Pop and her sister married his brother. And that was it – seemingly, wifehood and eventually motherhood became Granny’s career. This isn’t to say that Granny’s life was not meaningful or fulfilling, because I truly believe that it was. But I have to wonder why it was so important to her that I become educated, so much so that she would struggle to “learn” me as long as she could. So, I guess what I’m getting at is that lately I feel like I’m reading towards something, as if every book I consume is fueling my journey towards unraveling this great mysterious realm of knowledge that Granny wanted me to pursue. What would Granny have read other than the Bible? Which books would fill her shelves other than hymnals? I can’t really know, but I’m glad that she cared enough to make me wonder about where l could go with literacy and education. But it’s funny to me that, as a sophomore in college, I spend less and less time thinking about where my education could take me and more time thinking about where it didn’t take her.

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