About Elizabeth

December 19, 2008

in Personal

My family knows me by my first name, but to friends and the general public I am
known as Elizabeth Burr, which is also my grandmother’s name. My grandmother had a massive stroke, and after three days in intensive care, she passed away on December 11th.

I can’t describe how much my heart broke when I found out she was ill. It was hard to believe at first, because my grandmother was a very strong woman who seemingly had nine lives. She’s been shot in the arm at close range, she’s had four of her houses burn down (the last one almost took her life), she’s survived breast cancer, she’s had both knees and a hip replaced (all over the age of 65). Yet and still, as recent as this summer she was on her tractor plowing the soil on one of her farms. It’s like nothing could stop her.

Except high blood pressure.

My grandma used to joke and say, “if I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” LOL. She died at the ripe old age of 85 (or so we think–grandma rarely gave anyone a straight answer about what year she was born. A lady never reveals her true age!).

My grandma was special to me because she often acted as my surrogate parent. Growing up in a single parent household, I had to stay with my grandparents every summer because my mom couldn’t afford childcare when school was out of session. A few times I lived with my grandparents for the entire school year.

I was very close to my grandmother. We always had adventures and special things that we did together. Road trips, garage sales, shopping, cooking, baking, gardening, farming, fishing–we always had a good time together. Our recent past time involved cooking chitlins together for the holidays. I would clean them *all* day long, we would cook them all night long, and by 3 am, they were ready. She and I would dine as soon as they were done because all of our hard labor in the kitchen deserved (somewhat) instant gratification.

Looking back, I realize that my grandmother’s influence on my life is paramount. She was staunchly independent–she could do anything she put her mind to. She would listen to all the advice in the world, but when she had her mind set on something she was going to make it happen in whatever way seemed most logical to her. She was well educated, having both her bachelor’s and master’s degree, which strikes me as even more impressive given the time in which she grew up. I realize now that her career as a teacher and her educational background are what influenced me most in my own educational goals.

My grandmother had a very sassy side to her as well; she had the funniest sly remarks and jokes. Don’t get me wrong–she was always  graceful and kind to everyone (sometimes too nice). She just had the best retorts of anyone I’ve ever known.

Another significant example my grandmother set for me was her love for my grandfather. She loved him. No matter what he did, no matter where he went, she loved him and would do anything for him. He felt the same about her.  My grandfather never finished third grade, but my grandmother was by
his side so much so that people could never tell he was illiterate. I
remember she would fill out his paperwork for his truckdriving job, and
when he opted to become a truckdriving instructor at a local college,
she had to brief him on what his faculty application said lol. Today, they rest in peace together.

My grandmother never wanted much. She just wanted her space (hence the farms), her animals, and her family. My grandmother had the biggest heart. She always made sure she had extra bedrooms for anybody who may need to drop by, or if a grandchild or cousin or nephew needed somewhere to stay.  She may have owned over 30 horses, but each horse had their own pet name and she treated them like they were her lap dogs.  The same went for her cows, pigs, emus, ostriches, chickens, geese, goats, pheasants, et al. Every animal had a name, a voice and a story. 

My grandparents didn’t believe in racism as a crutch. True, they were Black and grew up in segregation (random fact: my grandma used to pick cotton for a living when she was young). Like many Blacks of their time, White people got under their skin.  But I believe they chose to make their home in New Mexico largely because there was somewhat less direct racism that occurred there (as opposed to Texas, where my grandfather is from). They could have a farm, and even if they didn’t farm the land, they had their own space to be at peace. They always did their own thing, and didn’t have a problem with being the only Black farmers they knew, or the only Black family in the town they resided. 

My biggest takeaway from both of them is that I should never feel limited by my surroundings or circumstances. Don’t be afraid to do your own thing, and do what makes you happy.  My grandparents were always thankful for what they had, but they never stopped dreaming. Be proud of who you are and what you have, but never stop dreaming for bigger and better.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jason December 31, 2008 at 1:03 PM

:’-)

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Ray December 31, 2008 at 1:19 PM

Inspiring post. Make me want to live life so that one day I can earn a post like that.

Reply

Tiana Suber January 1, 2009 at 8:42 AM

your grandmother would be very proud of this blog you wrote. Good Job! The Sky’s the limit.

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Roy January 2, 2009 at 8:35 AM

Sorry to hear about your lost. Your Grandmother is a remarkable person. I think that in this day and age, we will be lucky to see and do half of the things our elders did.
~Roy

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Kimberly January 4, 2009 at 6:11 AM

Really enjoyed this….being a southern girl! I could smell the chitlins cooking as I read; which shows how good you R. Look me up on Twitter; I could really learn alot from you.
Wishing you only the best in your endeavors,
Kimberly

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elder_binah January 9, 2009 at 5:53 AM

Liz,
Your tribute to your grandmother was highly appropriate.
She was your mentor and your ambitions and your
accomplishments show proof of the power in your name
Elizabeth.
Your grandmother was teaching you by word and by example
(deed) how to live up to your extraordinary name,
“Elizabeth”
You have been truly blessed to have exposure to such a
gorgeous person as your grandmother, to say the least.
“Elizabeth” has significance in my earliest experiences.
My life was saved at 4 months old by my grand aunt Bessie
whose name means Elizabeth. She kept me from being burned
alive. She helped the family:
During the depression days, aunt Bessie with only fourth
grade schooling saved our family with her own cooking
business.
She was so much like the description you gave of your
grandmother.
Aunt Bessie did so many valiant things, one being:
She saved a movie star’s mother’s life after the medical
doctors gave up. She called the movie star Miss Barry, a
soap opera star who repayed her with many riches. When
aunt Bessie was 94 years old, I asked her why does she
think she lived so long. “I never refused to help anyone,”
was her answer.
Aunt Bessie lived 102 years, was healthy and well. She went
to sleep one night and did not wake up.
I didn’t know her name was derived from Elizabeth until I
looked up your name:
Name Information
Elizabeth (Eli-Sheba)
Origin of name: Hebrew
Meaning: Diminutive of Elisabeth: From Elisheba, meaning
either oath of God [Yahweh], or God [Yahweh]is
satisfaction.
The Heavenly Father’s true Hebrew Name is Yahweh.
Don’t you agree thataA person’s name is so important!
Let’s take a closer look at the meanings of your name:
Eli
H5941
עלי
‛êlîy
ay-lee’
From H5927; lofty; Eli, an Israelitish high priest: -
Sheba
The name Sheba is a baby girl name. The name Sheba comes
from the Hebrew origin. In Hebrew The meaning of the name
Sheba is: Diminutive of Bathsheba: Oath; Voluptuous.
Bathsheba was King David’s wife in the Old Testament.
[John the Baptist's mother in the New Testament]
Bathsheba was King Solomon’s mother. Here’s what Strong’s
Dictionary says about that:
H1339
בּת־שׁבע
bath-sheba‛
bath-sheh’-bah
From H1323 and H7651 (in the sense of H7650); daughter of
an oath; BathSheba, the mother of Solomon: – Bath-sheba.
H472 [Hxxx=Hebrew reference number from Strong's Exhaustive
Concordance]
אלישׁבע
‘ĕlîysheba‛
el-ee-sheh’-bah
From H410 and H7651 (in the sense of H7650); God[Yahweh] of
(the) oath; Elisheba, the wife of Aaron: – Elisheba.
I hope you look at yourself in the mirror in the privacy of
your room. Smile and then dance for joy that you have such
a beautiful name and had a grandmother who was a fine
mentor for you.
As you dance, maybe you would hold up your hands
outstretched and thank Yahweh your Creator and Heavenly Father.

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