Bangles and Colorful Cloth for Ma

25 Jun


“Dedicated to Great-Grandmother”

When I was born, you were then young ninety-years old,

your hair pulled tight at the nap of your neck, gray; no longer

black and bold. At night, you let it down to braid before you went

to bed, it fell to the floor; at first I would watch in silence from the crack

in the door.

The night you caught me I was six, you called me into the room

smiling…asking that I bring you a single broomstick. I quickly

plucked it from mother’s only broom, and rushed back into the

dimly lit room. You showed me how to break it into small pieces;

when I looked bewildered your smile accenting all of your dark

wrinkles and creases.

It was then that my eyes opened wide as you put the stick right

through the lob of your ears, its magic I thought; but this is my

great-grandmother I have nothing to fear. As a child, I did not

realize that there was a hole, because when I would touch the

bangles on her ears, she would quickly scold.

Just like the time when I tried to sneak a peek at her button up

shoes by raising the hem of her long dress, she did not have on

shoes, there were moccasins on those tiny feet…who would have

guessed. Yes, I was only a child without a care, and I spent many

hours sitting at the foot of her old rocking chair.

I never tired of the stories she would tell, sometimes we cried

together and now I can say it…as a child she lived in a white man’s

world, she called it “hell”. Her parents had walked on the “Trail of Tears”,

proud and strong, with every step wondering where they had gone


She helped raise me and she taught me the way, and as her mind

begin to wander in those later years, I was sad when she would tell

her stories; she only remembered the bad. This grand old woman

dressed in bangles and cloths of many colors, with that big ball of

hair at the nap of her neck was a great-grandmother like no other.

She died only days before her birthday; she would have been

one-hundred and five, my daddy said, Ma would have scolded

you saying, don’t you ever cry. I was fifteen-years old and the

world was bright and colorful with the artwork of fall, a befitting

day to bury this beautiful and proud Chickasaw.



Posted by on June 25, 2015 in Poetry


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8 responses to “Bangles and Colorful Cloth for Ma

  1. calensariel

    June 25, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    What beautiful memories. Very visual.

    Liked by 1 person

    • elizabeth ann johnson-murphree

      June 25, 2015 at 7:07 pm

      Yes, she was a noble lady and taught me well; had she not lived so long I would not have had the privilege
      to know her. Thank you


  2. bowmanauthor

    June 26, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    A lovely story and picture. She is an inspiration to us all because of your words and love. Thank you for sharing this very important person in your life.


  3. reocochran

    July 19, 2015 at 4:19 am

    Almost a miracle that your great grandma (“Ma”) wanted to keep on living to help fill your head with stories and life with love.
    So sorry your great grandmother had parents who were on the Trail of Tears. So interesting to learn about your Chickasaw special family ancestors. I bet you wish you could know more about their history.


    • elizabeth ann johnson-murphree

      July 19, 2015 at 5:45 am

      Well there is not much that I do not know, I can tell you it is a privilege to be a part of that heritage. Thank you for your comment. Ann

      Liked by 1 person

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