SHEENA BARNETT: Grandma’s laughter, love keep memories alive

By Sheena Barnett

“How wrong we were to think that immortality meant never dying.”
– “Our Lady of Sorrows,” My Chemical Romance
The last time I used those lyrics in a column, I had finished my year as editor at The Daily Mississippian at Ole Miss, and they were the final words of my farewell column.
I was about to graduate from college. Some of my staff were graduating with me; others were staying behind to continue working at The DM.
I meant for those words to be inspirational. I just knew we’d all do something great, something that would be remembered long after we were gone.
The last year has brought a new meaning to those lyrics.
My grandma died a year ago this week.
When she died, it felt like the world became an alien place. Everything looked familiar, but it did not feel the same. My grandma, who had been there for practically every single event in my life – scraped knees and bike accidents, countless dance recitals and shows, proms, every single issue we published at The DM – was no longer there.
I didn’t know the world that lay in front of me, but now I am well-versed in it. It’s been a rollercoaster of grief and, surprisingly, comfort.
For a while I was afraid to remember or talk about her, for fear that that thick, suffocating grief would swallow me whole. But I quickly learned that talking about her, remembering her, even just thinking about her, brought me comfort. She may not be here, physically, but she’s in my heart. Through my memories and love for her, she lives on.
After all, there was and will never be anyone else quite like her.
My grandma could cuss like a sailor and tell the dirtiest of dirty jokes, but she could also fill a stranger’s ear full of her grandchildren’s achievements. (She had me down to three accomplishments: I went to Ole Miss, I worked at the Daily Journal, and once, in New York City, I paid $15 for three shrimp.)
She always said exactly what was on her mind, good or bad, sweet or saucy.
She made the best – no kidding, the best – homemade banana pudding, chicken and dumplings, potato soup, amalgamation cake, tea cake, hoecake and something we called Parchman stew.
She was the best at tucking me into bed, wrapping me up like a mummy, making sure I stayed warm but that I also couldn’t move much.
A former beautician, she’d wash my hair with such force that it felt like a cross between a punishment and a massage.
She had the prettiest smile and the cutest laugh.
She loved us as much as we loved her.
Her greatest accomplishment was leaving us with a lifetime of love and laughter and memories, and in that way, she’ll live on, for as long as we can remember her and pass on our memories.
She was bigger than life.
She is immortal.
Contact Daily Journal writer Sheena Barnett at 678-1580 or

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