“Under arm flap wings”

                                            A Letter to my Grandmother

Dear Mummie,

I remember when having under arm flap wings just was not such a bad thing. Mummie; I remember the times when you asked me to help pull the freshly washed clothes through to the back of that old fashioned washing machine pushed up against the kitchen sink. The clothes would move slowly through the big rollers from the front of the washer wringer and out of the back. I would use my tiny hands to help pull them through and drop them into the large nearby straw basket on the floor. Mummie; I always knew when Arthur would come to visit you Arthritis that is, and being a young slave girl laundress in the big house really taught you well because you always warned me about putting a pillow slip atop our heads in the hot summer Southern sunlight beaming down that way the sun would not disturb my eyes. I would stand on a step stool as you would reach to me wooden clothes pins one by one. I was a little girl doing a big girl job so I would feel really good about myself. I remember when you would spot the dandelions in the grass in the hot sun you would have me pick them in between hanging clothes, and you knew how to stuff them down in the front of your apron.  Mummie; I knew you enjoyed hanging out those clothes, and I did, too. When it was time to hang the last piece getting down off of the stool you would have me gather more dandelions to braid.  It was so much fun just having that time with you Mummie.   The healthy grass would grow alongside the bad which is a lesson in and of itself Mummie; You saw my innocence, and possibly the cross I would have to bear as a visionary, ‘…Lord Have Mercy…” and then it was time to braid my very own crown with your painful hand your would be so determined to make it just right. I guess being a laundress on the St. Claire Plantations that was your only freedom as a child being able to braid grass. Oh Lord, when she would put that grass crown atop my head; I felt like a queen in a castle because I knew how much you suffered from crippling arthritis, but you took so much pride in helping me make that crown it never got old. I love every moment. Mummie you still made me your little queen, and I knew how to strut with that crown because I knew just how happy that made you to see me enjoying that gift. Now, it was time for the real treat after hanging up the clothes on lines rows and rows of freshly washed sheets sway back and forth in the little spurts of summer’s breeze. I could always tell when Mommies was missing her country life because living in the city ain’t always easy. Unfortunately, the family was run off by the night riders and Mummie and My Grandpa along with six babies had to flee in the night from Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana to New Orleans, Louisiana, and had to leave behind her six handmade babies quilts.  Yet, she took such pride looking at those sheets blowing, bending, and swaying from the spurts of billowing winds meshed with the scent of Tide wash detergent in the hot Southern summer heat. Finally, we would make our way back into the house after dragging her aching legs up the back scorching concrete steps. Mummie; I knew you could never take me to the neighborhood park let me swing on the swings, or jump rope with me, but you gave me so much more, for sure. Mummie; you literally gave me wings because; I knew when you would lie down on your back in the bed call me to give you a glass of water with an aspirin, I anxiously awaited when you raised your sweet smelling arms so; I could lye my tiny head on your loving pillows those under arm flap wings. I felt safe if only in that moment. Mummie; I remember when under arm flap wings just was not such a bad thing.


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