Grandmama was a diminutive woman but she gave great advice. She told us to speak to everyone we met. She told us to be polite. She told us to always say sir and maam, please and thank you. She advised us to treat all people with respect, like we ourselves would want to be treated. She told me many times, “Lynn, if you don’t ring your own bell don’t expect anybody else to ring it for you.”
Grandmama outlived my Grandfather by many years. She lived alone in a little house on Conecuh Street. When she got into her early nineties it became obvious that she needed to move to the nursing home. Back in those days there was a waiting list to get into the nursing home. Sometimes it took months or even years to get a bed. Daddy put Grandmama on the waiting list. After several months, Daddy came to my office one morning and told me the nursing home had called and said they had a bed for Grandmama. He asked me to go with him to her house and help get her moved. When we got to her house she knew something was up. With no fanfare or prelude whatsoever Daddy told her to go pack a bag; we were taking her to the nursing home. She got up, walked into her bedroom and started shuffling things around. After a few minutes she came out holding a broom. She was holding it like a soldier holding a gun. She stamped her little feet and said, “When you take me out of this house it will be in a pine box.” So we left. Later that day Mama went to see Grandmama and convinced her to go to the nursing home. She continued to give me good advice.
The best advice she ever gave me was in the summer of 1967. I had a summer job in town and went to Grandmama’s house every day for lunch. I was sixteen years old. I had started dating a cute girl from Tuskegee. I asked Grandmama what she thought I should do about my girlfriend. Her response: “I think you better keep that girl from Tuskegee.” I did. Thanks for the advice, Grandmama.
Lynn Jinks is an attorney with Jinks, Crow & Dickson, P.C.